Summary: A flawless God often uses flawed people to accomplish His will
This last week I listened to a podcast that featured an interview with Carlos Whittaker, a well-known contemporary Christian recording artist and worship leader who was caught up in a battle with pornography that led to an inappropriate relationship that removed him from that ministry and nearly cost him his family. In that interview, he shared how for a long time, he thought that because of that sin, God could never use him again.
So let me ask you a couple of questions this morning: What is the worst sin you have ever committed in your life? And has that past failure ever made you wonder whether God could ever use you again? Before we get to this morning’s passage, let me ask you a couple more questions to help put this idea in its proper perspective: Have you ever committed murder? Have you ever engaged in sexual immorality like Carlos did? Remember that David committed both those sins and not only was God still able to use him after those sins, he was called “a man after God’s own heart”. So if God didn’t disqualify David for his sins, what makes you think that he has “put you on the bench” because of your sins?
This morning, we’ll look at a passage that is going to help us get a better handle on this entire topic. And here’s the bottom line that we all need to take away from that passage.
A flawless God often uses
flawed people to accomplish His will
We left off in our journey through the Old Testament a couple weeks ago with Daniel’s prayer for his people in Daniel 9. We saw there that the exile of God’s people in Babylon was about to end, just as Jeremiah had predicted.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, the Old Testament books are not always arranged chronologically in our Bibles. That is going to become even more apparent over the next few weeks as we go from the book of Daniel, back to the book of Esther and then from there even further back in our Bibles to Ezra and Nehemiah. So I want to take a few minutes this morning to provide you with an overall timeline for the period we’ll be covering.
A few years after Daniel’s prayer, in 536 BC, a group of about 50,000 Jews returned to Israel under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the governor appointed by King Cyrus. Under his leadership the rebuilding of the temple was begun. This first return to Jerusalem is recorded in Ezra 1-6.
Roughly 50 years later, Xerxes, who is also known as Ahasuerus, becomes king of Persia. During his reign, Esther becomes queen and her influence in the Persian court paves the way for a second and third returns. Those events are recorded in the book of Esther and that will be our focus this morning.
A second return of a small company of only about 2,000 Jews takes place during the reign of King Artaxerxes in 457 BC, led by Ezra. That return is recorded in Ezra 7-10 and we’ll be looking at part of that account next week.
A third return takes place 13 years later in 444 BC when Nehemiah leads a small group back to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the walls. The account of that return is obviously found in the book of Nehemiah.
When I read the book of Esther again this week, I couldn’t help but think that this reads a lot more like a screenplay for a modern movie than a book of the Bible. There are political leaders who attempt to abuse women for their own pleasure. There are heroes and a despicable villain. There is deception and intrigue and there are plot twists all along the way. But the most surprising part of this story is that the hero of the story isn’t even named in the book.
It’s really easy to read the book of Esther and come away with the impression that the heroes in this story are Esther, and to a lesser degree, Mordecai. But, as we’ll see this morning, both are deeply flawed individuals who only seem to act when they are backed into a corner. As I read through the book again, I was inclined to agree with one commentator I read this week who wrote this:
And Esther and Mordecai are just one more example of reading the Bible through rose-colored glasses, seeing people in a way that makes us feel comfortable.
[Bob Deffinbaugh – “Esther’s Dilemma and Decision”]
The real hero of the book – God – is not mentioned even once by name in the book of Esther. But there is little doubt that He is in fact the hero, working behind the scenes to orchestrate every single detail to save His people and carry out His promises.