Summary: This sermon covers the part of the story of Esther where she learns about the edict and is challenged by Mordecai to do something about it. For application we explore the difference one person can make.
A. I want to begin with a fictitious and humorous obituary – sounds like an oxymoron, right?
1. Our church was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members, their name is “Someone Else.”
2. Someone Else's passing creates a vacancy that will be very difficult to fill.
3. Someone Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years, Someone Else did far more than a normal person’s share of the work.
4. Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one person was always looked to, “Let’s ask Someone Else do it.”
5. Whenever leadership was needed, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results; “Someone Else will get it done.”
6. It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most generous givers in our church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference as they usually did.
7. Someone Else was a wonderful person. Were the truth known, everybody expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone! We wonder what we are going to do without Someone Else!
B. The Jewish people in Esther’s day also wondered what they were going to do.
1. They wondered if someone else was going to come to their rescue.
2. Last week we learned that the Jews in Esther’s day had been threatened with extermination.
3. The evil man, named Haman had been given the king’s signet ring and therefore he had the authority to have all the Jewish people destroyed, killed and annihilated.
4. A date for this destruction was chosen by casting lots, and the decree was written as a law of the Medes and Persians, was irrevocable.
5. Can you imagine how hopeless and helpless the Jewish people must have felt at this point?
C. Yet in the midst of all this, God was not sleeping.
1. In God’s sovereign plan, He determined that He would put one person in a position to make a difference when this horrific plan would be put in place.
2. That one person is Esther, and look how far in advance God began working all this out.
3. It was in the 3rd year of King Xerxes when he removed Queen Vashti, and began the one year Miss Persia contest that culminated in Esther being chosen.
4. Esther has been queen for about 8 years, because Haman’s wicked plan was made law in the 12th year of King Xerxes.
5. So the big question is: Will Esther step forward and make a difference, or will she, like us, and like Moses long ago, ask God to employ someone else?
6. Let’s pick up our story in chapter 4.
I. The Story
A. The Bible says: When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly (Esther 4:1).
1. What do you think of Mordecai’s behavior?
a. What do you make of the way he put on sackcloth and ashes and went into public wailing?
b. Do you judge his noisy lamentation as a mere melodramatic show?
2. Well, actually, this was the custom and culture of that time and place.
a. When people in Esther’s day wanted to express their grief, they wore loose-fitting, dark-colored coarse garments made of goat’s hair, which hung on them like a large burlap bag.
b. On top of that, they would take ashes from the remains of a fire and throw them on themselves so they would be covered with them and appear ghastly and unclean.
c. Sometimes they would even sit in the midst of a cold ash heap covered with ashes.
d. Added to this was their loud lamenting and wailing.
3. So this is what Mordecai did here. He held nothing back.
4. Before we move on with the story, let me say something about handling grief.
a. Although there is no right or wrong way to handle grief, I wonder if the way Esther’s culture handled it wasn’t more helpful than the way we handle it.
b. In our culture, we are conditioned to keep our grief more private.
c. We might be going through family problems, or the loss of a loved one, or facing cancer, and if someone asks us how we are doing, what do we say? “Fine.”
d. Now I know we don’t have to spill our guts or bare our soul with everyone who asks, but wouldn’t it be better if we could be more open about the grief and sorrow we might be experiencing?
e. Allowing others to help bear our burdens not only helps us tremendously, but it is also a blessing and gift for others to be allowed to be close to us and to be there for us.