Following God includes trust, understanding, and risk! — Esther 4:1-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 28, 2013 AM
Tyler felt that after his call from God he should have been given a clear sign. When he sought the advice of others, they cautioned him as to his calling. Most did not see that God was actually calling Tyler to be a pastor. In fact, one of the deacons in the church who taught at the local seminary bluntly told him that he needed to work on his interpersonal skills first. Tyler went ahead, signed up for seminary, and soon was working at a nearby church. Within the year, Tyler had quit seminary and was let go from his church position. Occasionally folks expect God to do everything and then blame Him when things in life do not turn out the way they think they should; this is not only unrealistic, it is unbiblical.
Whatever had been Mordecai’s reasons for not bowing to Haman, he was now in great mourning. His feud with Haman, whether legitimate or not, had caused a great crisis for his whole nation. He feared that God’s Chosen People would be destroyed and God’s program thwarted. He knew the amount of money Haman had agreed to spend on this vast project as he had a copy of the edict, and now he would have to learn that following God includes trust, understanding, and risk. Let’s discover how…
Julie Ackerman writes, “Spring is the time of year when God reminds us that things are not always as they seem. Over the course of a few short weeks, what appears hopelessly dead comes to life. Bleak woodlands are transformed into colorful landscapes.” She continues, “The faithful arrival of spring every year comforts me when I’m in a situation that seems hopeless. With God, there is no such thing. No matter how bleak the landscape of life may look, God can transform it into a glorious garden of color and fragrance.” Mordecai had reached a winter life experience. He needed to learn that…
I. Following God includes trusting! (Vv. 1-7)
1. Haman had succeeded in passing an irrevocable law authorizing the massacre of all Jews living in the Persian Empire. Because of his favored status with Xerxes, Haman was given great latitude in drafting the legislation. In return, he promised the king an enormous bribe. Haman cast the lot to choose the day for the Jews’ destruction in the first month of the year, which supposedly was the time to find the best day for important events of the coming year. When Mordecai learned of the edict, he immediately mourned the Jews’ fate. Where was God in all of this? Mordecai would learn trust. This mourning involved wearing sackcloth as a public demonstration of grief and pouring ashes on his head. He also went into the center of the city and wept bitterly. Other Jews joined him and expressed their anguish in like manner. Because of his apparel, Mordecai could not enter the royal palace. Anyone wearing sackcloth, according to Persian law, was “prohibited… from entering the King’s Gate” (v. 2). Nevertheless, word spread to the palace concerning Mordecai’s behavior. Esther’s servants and eunuchs told the queen what was happening, and she took steps to learn what was behind it. Esther sent some servants with clothes to replace the sackcloth, wanting Mordecai to stop the public display and to explain the situation. When Mordecai refused, Esther then turned to a trusted servant, a eunuch named Hathach, to secure the desired information. She likely sent him instead of going herself due to the restrictions of Persian law and culture for the wife of a king. Esther soon learned the sensitive nature of this information. Esther had to learn trust as well! She literally had put her life in Hathach’s hands since her identity was still a secret. Both Mordecai and Esther learned that following God means trusting!
EXAMPLE: Bill Crowder wrote that, “Although I try not to be shocked by the things I see these days, I was caught off-balance by the message on the woman’s T-shirt as she walked past me in the mall. The bold letters declared: ‘Hope Is For Suckers.’ Certainly, being naïve or gullible can be foolish and dangerous. Disappointment and heartache can be the tragic offspring of unfounded optimism. But not allowing oneself to have hope is a sad and cynical way to view life.” As those who follow God we must learn to trust Him in every area of our lives. Both Mordecai and Esther learned that following God means trusting!
Why is it we like to hear bad news before we hear good news? There have been TV shows that failed within weeks because they tried to sharing only good news. We not only like getting the dirt on the rich and famous, we like to get the dirt on others in our lives, whether it is relatives, friends, or others. This has infected us within the church as well because before we get all the information we often go on what we think we know instead of what we truly understand. Mordecai and Esther dared not do such a thing. They learned that…
II. Following God includes understanding! (Vv. 8-9)
1. Mordecai fully informed Hathach of Haman’s plot and sent word, through the servant, urging Esther to plead with the king on the Jews’ behalf. The problem seemed impossible to resolve. The Jews could not overturn Haman’s offer. They surely could not outbid what Haman had promised to give the royal treasury (v. 3:9). Mordecai and Esther provide good examples for gaining understanding in order to follow God. When investigating a problem, a wise person restricts the analysis of the problem to facts and does not deal with speculation. Mordecai provided Esther with a copy of the edict. His information was devoid of speculation or hype. When a problem exists, go to the one most in a position to impact the situation. Mordecai sent word to Esther. (As a Jew and condemned to die, he did not want to personally approach the Queen of Persia). Hence, he followed the protocol of Persian society and went to her indirectly. Offering positive, helpful suggestions, Mordecai encouraged Esther to approach Xerxes. The verb “instruct” literally means to command and is used for the instruction of a father to a son. Hathach lacked the authority to command the queen. However, as her former guardian, Mordecai was within his rights to instruct his adopted daughter to take certain actions. Therefore, Hathach’s statement to the queen would convey Mordecai’s command to her. In contrast, the language to be used toward the king was that of an entreaty. Neither Hathach nor Mordecai had the authority to command Xerxes, and neither did Esther. Hathach returned to Esther and told her exactly what he had learned. Living by faith is not living in ignorance. We render to the Lord the most effective service possible by being informed. We need to gain as much information as we can about opportunities of service to which the Lord may be leading us. Following God includes understanding!
EXAMPLE: How many of you read the entire warrantee for some of the things you buy? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Missy Sullivan noted that many user agreements, warranties, and disclaimers that come with products are nearly unreadable. Intentionally set in very small type, they actually discourage people from understanding them. Because of this, many people don’t read all the terms of contracts before signing them. A university professor of graphic communication pointed to a 32-page user agreement that came with his new smartphone, and said of the company, “They don’t want you to read it.” They do not want to read it because they do not want you to understand it. God desires that we not only try to understand Him, but that we go the extra mile in understanding one another. Following God includes understanding!
There are those in life that are risk takers. These are the folks who start businesses from scratch, work hard, and are not afraid to fail. Often failure teaches us the most in life. God desires that we become risk takers for Him and His kingdom. Mordecai and Esther would learn that there is no such thing as safety in life, especially when is concerns following God. They learned that…
III. Following God includes risk! (Vv. 10-17)
1. Esther continued to employ an intermediary in conversing with Mordecai. Although he was familiar with the danger Esther faced, Mordecai still asked Esther to intervene with the king. As her adoptive father, his instinct was to protect her, but his faith in God led him to place her life at risk for her people. Xerxes possessed life and death authority over his wife. Coming to him without a summons was a serious breach of protocol punishable by death. Since she had not seen the king in 30 days, Esther may have assumed she no longer was in favor at court and she could not understand how her death would improve the situation. When Esther responded fearfully about approaching the king uninvited, Mordecai challenged her by suggesting she perhaps was made queen to save her people. Mordecai warned Esther her status, as queen did not protect her from Haman’s edict. All Jews were to be killed, and she was a Jew. Since she already was sentenced to death, Esther had nothing to lose by approaching the king unbidden. One cannot run away or hide from problems. Not even Esther’s royal status could exempt her from the king’s edict. Her only hope was to approach the king and to risk receiving his wrath. At this moment, the entire purpose of Esther’s life and existence was at stake. Becoming the liberator of her people was more important and significant than being queen, or even than just staying alive. God had made her queen so she could deliver His people. God always places people where they can risk it all for Him. Esther had been more concerned with her safety than with that of her people. Mordecai’s logic had enabled her to make the right choice. Esther decided to risk her life for her people and approach the king. So she requested the Jews in Susa join her in spiritual preparation for her seeing the king. They were dependent on Divine intervention so the preparation involved fasting. The people were to neither eat nor drink for a 72-hour period. Esther promised to do the same, and in doing so, she learned that following God includes risk!
EXAMPLE: Manuel Gonzalez was the first rescue worker to reach the 33 miners trapped for 69 days in a Chilean mine explosion in 2010. At great risk to his own life, he went underground more than 2,000 feet to bring the trapped men back to the surface. The world watched in amazement as one by one each miner was rescued and transported to freedom. We are told of one of the most amazing rescues in history concerning God’s people. It involved great risk for Esther. It teaches us that in following God, it includes risk!
Following God means trusting! Following God includes understanding! Following God includes risk!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.