Summary: Esther had good reason to be afraid of her husband. But she overcame her fear based on the sound advise of her uncle Mordecai... and so can we.
As you’re turning to Esther 4 this morning, I want to give you a little background to the story we’ll be reading.
Nearly 500 years before Christ, and about 50 years after Ezra had led the Jews back to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon (they’d been sent into captivity due their sinful and unrepentant hearts) many of the Jewish people still live the land of Persia under the reign of a King named Xerxes (NIV) or Ahasuerus (KJV).
Now, Xerxes was a pagan who was known to be a cruel and capricious man, driven by sensual desires. We’re introduced to him at the beginning of the book of Esther where he has staged a grand festival designed to exhibit the power and wealth of Kingdom that lasted for over 6 months. And at the end of that festival he held a 7 day feast filled with food and drink. Too much drink obviously, because on the 7th day of that feast the King and become quite drunk, and in his drunkenness he called for his beautiful queen, Queen Vashti, to come and parade before guests.
She is offended by his request and promptly refuses. This in turn enrages the King… and he deposes her.
After he has had time to reconsider his anger he seeks to find a replacement for Vashti. His counselors advised him to hold a beauty contest and from amongst the most beautiful women of the land, to choose a new queen. And that’s how Esther became the Queen of Persia.
Shortly thereafter, we’re introduced to the villain of the story. He’s an ambitious and arrogant noble by the name of Haman. Haman was a favorite of the King and he has apparently done something that has allowed him to be placed in a position of high honor. The King passes a decree that commands all his officials must bow down and honor Haman whenever he passed.
But there was one man in the city who refused to do this. Esther’s uncle Mordecai Mordecai was a righteous man, and he wasn’t going to bow to anyone other than God.
Esther 3:5-6 says that “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.”
Haman schemed about how to carry out this plan, and finally he spoke to the King and told him "There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business." Esther 3:8-9
Because the King trusted Haman’s judgment, the King decreed that all the Jews should indeed be eliminated.
With that much of the story now in our minds, let’s turn to Esther 4:1-17.
(READ SCRIPTURE AND PRAY)
OPEN: During the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln found refuge at the midweek meetings of a Presbyterian church there in Washington, D.C.. He would go with an aide, sit quietly with his stovepipe hat in his lap. He would listen intently as the minister would open the Scriptures and teach God’s Word and lead the congregation in worship.
The war was tearing the nation apart and it tore at his soul as well. He’d just lost his own son, and now Lincoln was on grieving, and needing solace and sustenance for his soul.
The preacher finished his message and the people began to leave.
The president quietly stood up, straightened his coat, took his hat in hand and began to leave.
His aide stopped him and said, "What did you think of the sermon, Mr. President?"
Lincoln answered, "I thought the sermon was carefully thought through, eloquently delivered."
The aide said, "You thought it was a great sermon?"
Lincoln replied, "No I thought he failed… he did not ask of us something great."(Bruce Larson, What God Wants Us To Know)
APPLY: The preacher hadn’t asked his congregation to do something great.
He hadn’t challenged the people, or the President of the United States, to do more with their lives. And that disturbed the President, because Lincoln saw his nation in turmoil and saw himself struggling with a deep pain and loss.
Abraham Lincoln understood one central truth out of the Bible… and that was:
· when life is difficult
· and the world is filled with struggles and hardship and pain