Summary: We each have a God-given responsibility to influence the lives of others
Woodlawn Baptist Church
August 15, 2004
(Many of the thoughts and the main points from this sermon were taken from John Maxwell’s book, "Becoming a Person of Influence")
I want to tell you all how good it is to be back with you this morning after being out for vacation. It seems like a long time since I have stood here. I had not realized before I left how much I needed the time off to rest and be refreshed. I asked you three Sundays ago to pray for me and that God would revive me, and I am confident that you prayed those prayers. I cannot say that I am revived, because I do not believe it is a thing that happens and then that’s it. Personal revival with God is a process, a journey of sorts that God takes us on and never wishes us to look back. I realize somewhere along the journey up the mountain, I chose to sit down for a while, weary of the climb, and now I am ready to climb again. You continue to pray for me, and for one another. Pray that God would awaken each of us and that we would climb to new heights together. “Me? Need Revival?” some of you might say. Before you dismiss the thought, ask God to help you see whether you too have been perched on some comfortable ledge halfway up the mountain for too long, and I will pray that He kicks you off!
Remember that in the first three chapters of Esther, we found that King Ahasuerus was the ruler of the Medo-Persian Empire, and through his own foolishness and drunkenness divorced his wife Vashti. This in turn led to the choosing of a new wife by means of a beauty pageant of sorts. Esther, the young girl who was raised by her uncle Mordecai, was chosen to be the new queen. Mordecai held some kind of position in the king’s gate, giving him access to Esther and the goings on of the court, so he kept himself informed of how she was doing and used her position to pass along important information, such as when he revealed the assassination plot that two of his co-workers were putting together. For some reason unknown to us, after Mordecai saved the king’s life, Haman was elevated to the second highest position in the kingdom, attaining god-like status, and by command of the king, everyone was to bow in an act of worshipful reverence. Mordecai, being the devout and God-fearing Jew he was, could not bring himself to obey the king’s command. When others fell to the ground in Haman’s presence, Mordecai stood. When others were jockeying for recognition, he refused to bow. When Haman learned of Mordecai’s insubordination, he was outraged. He determined that this Jew was going to die, but not just this Jew: all Jews! Haman cunningly got the king’s permission to write a royal edict, sanctioned by the king, that on a day only months away, all the people of the kingdom would be allowed and encouraged to slaughter the Jews. In fact, Haman was so committed to the success of this plan he financed it himself. Chapter 3 ends by telling us that messengers were sent throughout the empire, posting notices and communicating to the people what was about to take place. Now read chapter 4 with me.
“When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; and came even before the king’s gate: for none might enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was a great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. So Esther’s maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not. Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king’s chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was. So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king’s gate. And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people. And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai; all the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. And they told to Mordecai Esther’s words. Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.”