Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: 1. Rejecting God’s way leads to a sick society (vs. 1-4). 2. God wants His servants to stand in the gap (vs. 5-7). 3. God has a heavenly purpose for our earthly success (vs. 8-9 & 12-17). 4. The right choice changes everything (vs. 17).

For Such a Time as This

Part 2: God’s Plan for His People

Esther 2:1-17

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - May 27, 2012

*Last week we began to look at this story of Esther that took place almost 500 years before Jesus was born. The Jews had begun to go home after 70 years of Babylonian captivity, but many of them remained it Persia. It was the greatest empire of the day, stretching all the way from India to Ethiopia. And it was ruled by King Ahasuerus, who was also called Xerxes.

*Xerxes was a rowdy, carnal, fickle, cruel despot. And at the end of a 6-month drunken celebration, the king commanded that the queen be brought before that crowd. He wanted to put Queen Vashti on display in an ungodly and indecent way, but Queen Vashti refused.

*In his drunken rage, King Xerxes agreed to a plan to take the crown away from Vashti and give it to another. Here in Esther 2, the king’s plan began to unfold.

*What does all of this have to do with us? -- The answer is: A lot, because Xerxes may have had a plan, but God had a greater plan.

*From the courts of Persia to Grayson, Louisiana on a Sunday night, God always has a plan for His people.

-And there are lessons for us tonight in this part of Esther.

1. First: Rejecting God’s way leads to a sick society.

*We can see the sickness starting in vs. 1-4:

1. After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her.

2. Then the king's servants who attended him said: "Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king;

3. and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women's quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king's eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them.

4. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.'' This thing pleased the king, and he did so.

*Verses 1-4 don’t seem too different from today. It reminds me a little of “American Idol” and all of those dating reality shows that seem to be so popular today. Except that back in Persia, it probably wasn’t voluntary. If the king’s officer told you to come, -- you had to come.

*The corruption becomes clearer down in v. 12-14:

12. Each young woman's turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months' preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.

13. Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women's quarters to the king's palace.

14. In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name.

*The Jewish historian, Josephus, reported that eventually, Xerxes greatly regretted rejecting Vashti. But he could not take her back, because the judgment was irreversible under the laws of his empire. Therefore, to make him forget Vashti, they planned to entertain him with a great number of concubines, so Xerxes could choose the best of them as his new wife. The whole empire was searched for beautiful, young virgins.

*Those chosen were prepared for 12 months before being taken to the king. And after the king had once taken them to his bed, they were made recluses for the rest of their lives, unless the king desired to send for them. These women were looked upon as secondary wives, and could not marry another. (1)

*And all of this was the result of rejecting the true God who created men and women, the true God who designed a perfect plan for family life.

*Well, thank God, it’s not that bad in America today, but we are well on the way. In 1996, Robert Bork wrote a book about the decline of American culture. He called it, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah.”

*Now we are 16 years farther down that road, and we could discuss countless examples. But a picture is worth a thousand words, and this week Bill Clinton went to a big gala in Monaco, where he posed for photos with two adult film starlets. That says a lot. (2)

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