Summary: Being counted as one of the Lord’s chosen requires more than just words.
Title: Are you standing with the people of God?
2,550 years ago a book was written that recorded how God used a young woman to prevent the annihilation of His people. That book is called the Book of Esther and it’s a book that contains the story of a people known as the Jews who were being persecuted for no other reason than that they were the people of God. Tonight’s message is based on the Book of Esther. And since it will be impossible to understand the message without understanding something of the Book of Esther itself I would like to take a few minutes to give you an overview. The story begins with king Ahasuerus throwing a 180-day party for his nobles and other high-ranking servants. When that party ends he has another one for the residents of the Capitol, both great and small, and this one lasts for seven days. Now exactly why he threw either party is not made known to us but we do know that on the last day of the second party the king called for his queen, whose name was Vashti to come stand before him.
Now the reason he called for Vashti is because she was very beautiful and he wanted to show her off to the common people because many of them had never seen her. But when she is called she disobeys the king’s command and refuses to come to the party. This makes the king furious because the command has been given and all the common servants are waiting for Vashti to appear – and she never does. And because she refuses to obey the king’s command the king’s pride and authority are compromised. And so he asks his advisors what should be done. They tell him that not only has Vashti done evil by disobeying him but that now the wives of other men would do the same to their husbands and there would be nothing but trouble if he did not make an example of her. So in his anger the king issues a decree that banishes Vashti from ever coming into his presence again.
But once his anger has cooled he remembers queen Vashti’s beauty and charm and he regrets his decision to banish her from his presence. But unfortunately for him he has issued an official decree, and according to the laws of the Medes and the Persians once a decree has been issued it cannot be rescinded, not even by the king himself. Now the king’s advisors were astute men and they realized from what he said and did that the king was having second thoughts regarding queen Vashti and so they advise him to conduct a beauty contest to find a new queen to replace her. Now the king thinks that this is a wonderful idea and he instructs his advisors to proceed with their plan. And so from throughout the empire young virgins were brought to the Capitol City of Susa, and among them was a young Jewish maiden by the name of Esther. And as the Lord would have it Esther finds favor in the eyes of the king and he chooses her to be his new queen.
Now prior to becoming queen Esther had been an orphan who had been adopted by her father’s nephew, a man known as Mordecai. Now Mordecai was a godly man who worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and he raised his adopted daughter to worship Him as well. And because he honored the Lord, Mordecai would not bow down to anything that was not God. You see his great grandfather Kish had been taken as one of the captives from Jerusalem when Babylon conquered that city. And he knew that the reason the Jews were taken into exile was because previously they had bowed down to everything that was not God, and Mordecai wasn’t going to repeat that mistake. But in the kingdom of Persia there was a man who took exception to his piety, a man who was second only to the king, a man by the name of Haman. You see Haman had just recently been elevated to his lofty position by the king and as part of that promotion the king had issued a decree commanding that all of his subjects bow to Haman whenever he passed by. And everyone did – except for Mordecai. And what made his refusal especially noticeable was the fact that he could often be found outside of the king’s gate.
And since the area by the king’s gate was such a busy place others saw that Mordecai refused to bow to Haman. So these people repeatedly reminded Mordecai of the king’s command and yet he still refused to obey. And when they asked him why he basically told them that he was a Jew and it wasn’t lawful for him to bow in worship to a man. So immediately these people went to Haman and told him that Mordecai would not bow down to him because he was a Jew and they waited to see what would happen.