Summary: A message of encouragement to find hope in what appear to be hopeless circumstances.
GOOD TO GREAT TEACHING SERIES
Great Hope – Esther
Canyon Rim Community Church; May 8, 2005
Mark Scott; Senior Pastor
This morning we turn our attention to the fifth, of six Biblical characters, that made conscience and deliberate decisions which transformed their lives into greatness in the eyes of God. The inspiration for this preaching series is Jim Collins business book, “Good To Great”. One of the most important characteristics his researchers discovered present in every great corporation was a commitment to confront the brutal facts facing them – whatever they might be – yet, never losing faith that they would overcome however overwhelming the odds in doing so appeared to be.
The inspiration for that chapter could have been derived from the book of the Bible which we open today. The story of Esther is a portrait of a brave, devoted and shrewd man named Mordechi and his courageous, beautiful, young niece, Esther, who would become the Queen of the Persian king, Xerxes. It is appropriate that we would consider such a woman on a day when we honor women in our land on this very special day of tribute and recognition.
Already in this series, we have discovered that if a person is going to achieve greatness in the eyes of God, it will require great faith, great purpose, great courage, great passion and as we find today, great hope.
Hope – it is an interesting word – but one who’s meaning is not clear to many people. For most of us, hope is just another word for “wishfulness” – it even has a melancholy nature to it. However, in scripture, it is a much more powerful word. It connotes confidence and even certainty in the face of circumstances that present no visible reasons for such emotions.
Today, I want to help you have more hope for the current circumstances you may find yourself facing. You may be here today feeling you are at the end of your rope. If so, you have come to the right place for I want you to discover three reasons your hope can be strong – if you will anchor yourself in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Before we can do this, however, it is important that we get everyone up to speed on the story of Esther. Because of time’s sake, allow me to present the story to you in a nutshell.
The story takes place in Persia – also called Babylon, in scripture. One of the great kings of ancient history ruled there – a true empire building by the name of Xerxes. His queen was a beautiful woman by the name of Vashti. One day, the King ordered his wife to appear before him at a party so he could show everyone just how striking she was. When she refused, the king was furious. To make matters worse, the officials of the King suggested that if word of her refusal to obey her husband got around, no one else’s wife would think she had to listen to her husband. Imagine – a woman who dared not listen to what her husband said! (You’ve come a long way, baby).
King Xerexes wasn’t happy for long without a queen, so he ordered a search through the kingdom for a beautiful girl to be his bride. It wasn’t too long before the King’s scouts happened upon Esther. Esther was beautiful, gracious and kind -- just what the king was looking for. In no time at all, Esther was married to the king. Now Esther was a Jew. The Jews had been driven out of Israel, their home, about 70 years before and exiled in Persia. Although they did there best to make a living in this strange land, they prayed that someday they would be able to return to their home. Esther’s uncle Mordechai, was the leader of the Jews and a very shrewd individual. Mordechai encouraged Esther to hide her faith from the King and his advisors, which she did.
Haman had, by this time, become a powerful man in the kingdom - Prime Minister of Persia in fact. He decided that given his rise in power, it would be appropriate for everyone to bow down to him. But Mordechi refused to bow down to him. Haman was very angry and asked the King to authorize a royal decree to annihilate the Jews. Haman cast lots to determine the day this was to happen. And so it was decreed that in Adar of the coming year, on the 13th day of the month, all the Jews were to be killed, in every province and every nation of the land. There would be no place to run, and no place to hide. This is where our brave Queen Esther comes into the picture -- Mordechai, having found out about Haman’s evil intentions, sent Esther a message. He told her what Haman was plotting and asked her to go to the King on the Jews behalf.