Courage triumphs when we step out in faith! – Esther 5
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 5, 2013 AM
My wife is a great cook; she comes from a long line of great cooks. She had to develop her cooking ability and there were a few experiments along the way but for the most part her trials have been great. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything in life could work out like great cooking? Of course, we know it can’t, but it makes one wish it could, especially if pie was involved! It is during the times of trial that courage triumphs when we step out in faith.
Xerxes had elevated Haman to high office in the Persian court. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, had not shown Haman the admiration the vile Persian official craved. Haman then used his status with the king to seek revenge against Mordecai. Haman sought payback by wiping out the entire Jewish population. When Esther learned of Haman’s plot, it was not as easy as pie, she eventually decided to intervene for her people. She faced a tremendous decision. Esther’s courage was displayed in her willingness to step out in faith! Let’s discover how…
The stakes were high and the risks were great. Even the queen could be put to death for coming into the king’s presence without being invited, but she had not seen the king in a month! Therefore, Esther prepared herself through fasting and praying. The Jewish people did likewise. After three days, Esther went into the king’s court without being summoned. Esther teaches us that…
I. Courage triumphs when we willingly take a risk for God! (Vv. 1-8)
1. Xerxes recognized Esther’s visit meant she had some request for him. However, when he inquired, she did not immediately reveal what her motivation was. The third day would have been after Esther and the Jews had completed their fasting. This reference emphasizes that whatever Esther did next either was guided by God or was at least what had been promised in His presence. Esther’s attire reminded Xerxes of her status as his wife and his queen. It also drew attention to her natural beauty. Esther’s God-given beauty had first brought her to the king’s attention. Instead, she curiously invited the king and Haman to a banquet. By publicly coming before the king, she was putting her faith in God to the test. Would she receive life or death? The king would decide without deliberation. But Esther’s future was not really in the hands of a Persian king; her fate was in the hands of Almighty God. The king carried a golden scepter as a symbol of his royal authority. The gesture of extending his scepter normally signaled permission for a visitor to approach. The Lord still wants His people to take risks in order to help others. God expects His people to step out in faith when He asks them to do so. Failure to do so reveals a lack of faith in God. God is greater than any danger that obedience might entail. On this occasion, the gesture also indicated King Xerxes would spare Esther’s life. He makes a promise to grant her up to half his kingdom. Half the kingdom was a figure of speech, not a literal offer by the king. Bestowing half his kingdom on Esther would have made her his equal. The phrase conveyed both his comprehension that Esther’s need was not trivial and his willingness to grant her petition whatever it might be. So the king attempted to set his queen at ease and indicated he would do everything possible to grant her request. The idea of a banquet pleased King Xerxes, and there he again offered to grant Queen Esther any petition she might ask. Still she did not mention Haman’s plot. Instead, she invited the king and Haman to another banquet the next day. Courage triumphs when we willingly take a risk for God!
EXAMPLE: Courage is not always popular, especially when it concerns spiritual truth. It makes people uncomfortable. It shows them for what they truly are, sinners. Society has made heroes of anyone who dies before their time, unexpectedly, or who seems innocent in the eyes of others. While it may be sad when someone dies unexpectedly, they are not heroes unless they sacrificed themselves for the greater good or to save another person’s life. In every sense of the word, Esther was not only courageous, she was a heroine! There are very few believers in our day and age who are willing to risk it all for the Lord. We have become comfortable in our church pews, taking our mission vacations of convenience, and serving in camouflaged safety. Esther was courageous. . Courage triumphs when we willingly take a risk for God!
Don’t you just hate the weenies of the world? You know what I mean, those who get angered, hurt, or offended because they were not recognized, exalted, or praised for their ungodly contribution to life. We live in a world whereby many demand recognition of the insignificant. And it seems as if the insignificant are trying to become more and more significant in of themselves! Haman was like that. In fact, from his example we discover that…
II. Cowardice comes when we put ourselves first! (Vv. 9-14)
1. Haman took the two invitations as proof of his exalted importance. When Mordecai still did not honor him, Haman erected a gallows that same night. Not all the best laid plans of mice and men are the best laid plans. While for the moment Haman was secure in his plans for the morrow and likely slept well, the King was restless. However, remember why Haman was so overwrought and angered about Mordecai that he could not enjoy his good position. He was prideful and arrogant. On this occasion, to relieve himself of his personal rage and anxiety about Mordecai, he gathered his family and friends and spent time boasting about the wealth he had amassed and the family he had raised. There are those in our world today that do the very same thing. I have always found it curious that those who are the most vocal about their unbelief are angered and often enraged if you do not believe the way they do. Folks who do not trust in God have to find solace in the things and people of the world. This is why Jesus warned his disciples, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26 NIV) Jesus did not mean that we had to intensely dislike our parents, wife or kids, what He meant was that one had to consider the cost in following Him. One cannot say he loves God and love others more. One’s life must be totally given over to the Lord in order to follow Him. Haman was totally given over to himself, felt he deserved his position and the recognition that came with it. Notice the difference in attitude between Haman and Esther: ” If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request,” and then Haman: ” I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave… But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” When we are full of ourselves we often fill ourselves with the wrong advice. Haman does. His wife and others suggest, ” Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy.” Of course, ” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the gallows built.” Cowardice comes when we put ourselves first!
EXAMPLE: We live in a world whereby those who are ungodly not only want you to agree to their personal perverted proclivity, but they want you to agree with their twisted way of living. Much of what is being proclaimed as tolerance in our day and age has none for those who may disagree on theological, moral, or personal grounds. Isaiah warned us, ” Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:20-21 NIV) Peter wrote, “They mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (2 Peter 2:18-19 NIV) When the wags of the day were sneering at Jesus’ teaching, He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15 NIV) Haman teaches us that cowardice comes when we put ourselves first!
Courage triumphs when we willingly take a risk for God! Cowardice comes when we put ourselves first!
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.