Summary: Will we pursue righteousness or rewards?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
September 26, 2004
As we get closer to the end of our walk through the book of Esther, I want to tell you that I have really enjoyed the things the Lord has been teaching me through the study. A well-known preacher one time said that before a preacher preaches through any book of the Bible, he ought to read it through at least 50 times. The first time I heard that I thought it was nonsense, but let me tell you I am beginning to see his point. Each time I begin a new book, I take off in some direction, just knowing that it was where the Lord wanted me to go, but as I neared the end of the book, I realized that there was so much more to what I thought was there. Esther is no different. If I thought you could stand it, I think I would preach through some of these books twice, one time the way I thought it ought to be, and the second time the way I learned God intended it to be.
If you never learn anything else from me, I want to leave with you a lasting impression of the wonder of the Word of God. It may be an old book, but if you will only read them, the stories are as fresh and interesting as today’s news, and the truths are timeless and relevant for each of our lives, regardless of who we are or what we do. The Lord wants you to be a life-long student of the Word of God. He wants you to learn it, to grow in it, to love it, because in it is contained the greatest story ever told – the story of God’s great love for you and how He has redeemed you and set you free to a life of great purpose and passion for Him. Don’t ever come to the place where you are unteachable. All of us can learn from God’s Word. If you’re not willing to learn from it and have your mind changed about something in it, then don’t bother opening it up. I wonder sometimes if that’s why some of you don’t bring one or open one when I preach. Listen, if you’ll be an honest student of the Word, you’ll fall in love with the God of the Word.
Do you ever wonder why it is that you struggle with things like Bible study? There is a part of you that wants to read it and study it, but another part that keeps putting it off or making excuses. It may not be Bible study; perhaps it is some other thing like taking your needs to the Lord in prayer, or loving others. You hear preachers say to do the right thing, or to obey the Lord. We tell you to hang in there or put up a good fight and all that religious kind of talk, but no matter how pumped up you may feel when you leave here you realize all too quickly that Sunday morning pep talks don’t help much when your wife is mad at you or when you’re faced with temptation.
Is it worth the trouble? Don’t you ever ask yourself that question? You love and you love someone, but they stomp on you. You give and you give, but you don’t seem to be getting. You read and you pray and you go to church, but things aren’t getting much better. Some of you have been going through some long lasting trying times, and you wonder when you’re going to get some relief. Why bother? Is it worth the trouble? As we look at this 8th chapter of Esther this morning, I want to impress upon you that it is worth it – that living for the Lord is worth it, not just in heavenly, eternal rewards, but in terms of today, the “right where you are” kinds of rewards that only the Lord can offer in this lifetime. Let’s read our text and then we’ll consider some of God’s rewards for righteous living before Him.
“On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her. And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews. Then the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king, and said, If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces: for how can I endure to see the evil hat shall come unto my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred? Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews. Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse. Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace. And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, and a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.”