Courage triumphs when we are delivered! — Esther 8
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 26, 2013 AM
We live in a day and age whereby there are a lot of Christians blandly sitting by waiting for God to “do something.” They have forgotten that God regularly works through His people who are willing to follow Him, no matter what the personal cost, in order for Him to “do something.” If you want your nation and world changed, God desires that you “do something” for Him. Jesus’ last command to His followers, was for all of them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) Deliverance of God’s people comes when God’s people have enough courage to “do something” for Him. Esther and Mordecai found this to be true and in the process discovered that courage triumphs when we are delivered!
Although the king had elevated him to a position above “all the other officials”, Haman had felt snubbed by Mordecai. Mordecai was Jewish, whereas Haman was an Agagite. Jews and Agagites had been mortal enemies for nearly a thousand years. Haman then attempted not only to destroy Mordecai but all other Jews as well. He deceitfully manipulated King Xerxes into issuing an edict authorizing the systematic killing of all Jews in the Persian Empire. Unknown to Haman, the queen also was Jewish and the adopted daughter of Mordecai. Esther bravely confronted Xerxes and exposed Haman’s sinister plot. Xerxes immediately had Haman executed. However, the edict remained in effect because of Persian law. How would the Jewish people be delivered?
READ: Esther 8
There are believers who take God’s activity for granted and never expresses gratitude to God. There are also those whose passion for Christ has somewhat cooled because of personal or financial loss. Likewise, there are those who have become so wrapped up in current events they discount everything God has done. They all need to be reminded of how the past helps us to have courage for today. God has not changed. His activity in the past assures us that He is still active. God is at work. We learn through Esther that courage triumphs when we are delivered by…
I. God’s reward at our request! (Vv. 1-7)
1. God had sovereignly worked in various circumstances so that the Jews could be delivered. Now it was the Jews’ turn. They would have to fight to retain what was theirs. They had to actively take part in their own deliverance. The same day Haman was hanged, Esther was given his estate as a gift by the king. Esther knew she had to disclose her true purpose fully, and as “Mordecai came into the presence of the king” it was then Esther who “told how he was related to her.” “The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai.” What had been Haman’s prideful prize was now on his hated enemy’s finger! But notice that ” Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews.” Her work for the Lord was not finished. Esther had to show her courage one more time in order for her people to be delivered by God. “Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.” Since the edict to exterminate the Jews (3:13) was still in effect, something had to be done. She and Mordecai were relatively safe, for no one would now dare touch them. However, Esther did not stop with securing safety for herself and for her relative. She was determined that all of her people be safe. The king had rewarded them, but now they needed him to answer Esther’s request. Esther emphasized the hurt that the edict would cause her if carried out, “For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?” The king understood that as an absolute monarch his laws could not be revoked, even by himself. However, he could grant Esther and Mordecai the power to change the law, “Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.” We learn through Esther that courage triumphs when we are delivered by God’s reward at our request!
EXAMPLE: Today we celebrate Memorial Day. It reminds us of all those who willingly gave their lives for our freedom. That is what Purim is all about as well. It reminds the Jewish nation of how a young girl and a her brave cousin saved their people from total annihilation. As we remember the men and women who willingly gave their lives for our freedom, we need to also remember that God’s laws always nullify human laws. What human authority cannot change, God can. He maintains absolute sovereignty over everything and does revoke human decrees. Often God wants to exercise His sovereignty through His people. They need to allow God to work through them. More genuine believers need to become involved in politics and government. They should do what they can to influence fair, just, and beneficial legislation. What actions can you take in order to influence legislation on a local, state, or national level? Perhaps God is waiting for you to “do something.” We learn through Esther that courage triumphs when we are delivered by God’s reward at our request!
If we are led to expose a problem, we also need to provide a solution. Church members too often conclude their sole responsibility is to identify potential problems. They mistakenly decide responsibility for the solution is the exclusive domain of the pastor and church staff. Identifying problems without offering possible solutions is merely complaining, which according to James 5:9 is simply “grumbling” and wrong! We find that we can either be part of the solution or a major part of the problem. Esther reminds us that…
II. Our deliverance comes from God’s decree! (Vv. 8-11)
1. Though Haman’s decree could not be revoked, a second one could supersede it. Xerxes even gave Mordecai authority to write the decree any way he wished and to stamp it with the king’s authority by using his signet ring. This edict permitted Jews to defend themselves on the day Haman’s edict permitted their enemies to attack them. The language paralleled that of Haman’s decree. The new edict called for exacting retribution against the Jews’ enemies. The Jews could defend themselves with the same measures and weapons brought against them. “The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies.” Interestingly, Jesus gave His disciples the same authority over their enemies as well, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.´(Matthew 10:1 NIV) It was according to Jesus’ absolute authority. He reminds us that Satan has fallen because of Him (Luke 10:18) and because of His authority given to us we have the power over evil influences in our lives as well, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19 NIV) No evil of man can ultimately harm us when we are safely His. Our deliverance comes from God’s decree! Notice that “At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush.” The king’s authority was carried out by Mordecai whose ruling was carried out by others! Just as ” Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes,” we follow God in the name of Jesus! Just as it occurred in Esther’s day, our deliverance comes from God’s decree!
EXAMPLE: Governments throughout history have issued edicts in order to get rid of segments of society those in power did not like. Haman tried it with the Jews, Hitler did the same thing, mass murdering 14 million people. An attempt by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 25 percent of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and executions. The Eugenics Society of America, which became Planned Parenthood, has resulted in the mass murdering of millions of the unwanted, the vast majority being ethnics, by governmental edict. Throughout America’s history, men and women have raised up, joined the military, and fought against such oppression. America faces its greatest enemy that could result in the death of millions of innocent people. Esther’s people could have never been freed if she had not gotten involved, and if the new edict had not been shared in every language of the empire. Our enemy today is the apathy of Christian believers who have hunkered down in their Sunday pews rather than going out and sharing the new edict of God. It is time for God’s Army to rise up and fight the good fight and share the new edict, the new testament, the gospel of God! Never forget that our deliverance comes from God’s decree!
The Persian Empire stretched from India to Greece and into Africa as far as Cush, the region south of Egypt. This immense region was populated with various nationalities and ethnic groups. Numerous tongues and dialects were spoken. The new decree was translated into every one of these languages. Then couriers were dispatched to carry it to the various provinces of the empire. The result was tremendous. We discover from Esther that…
III. When we follow God’s command, a celebration results! (Vv. 12-17)
1. The decree Mordecai wrote was sent out in the third month… Sivan (June-July) 474. Since this was a little over two months after Haman’s decree the Jews had about nine months to prepare themselves for the conflict. Here we find again the providential care that God takes of those He has chosen. Even though they have entirely fallen from all outward relation to Him, are deprived of all the rights of God’s people, and are stripped of the promises, God watches over and takes care of them-a people beloved and blessed in spite of all their unfaithfulness. Does this sound familiar, it should. The drama is fascinating! “A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. The couriers, riding the royal horses, raced out, spurred on by the king’s command. And the edict was also issued in the citadel of Susa.” Like the Minutemen or Paul Revere of America’s Revolutionary War, the couriers of Persia race throughout the kingdom with the king’s decree, issued by the king’s right-hand man, Mordecai! Notice the change. No longer is Mordecai sitting outside by the king’s gate, now “Mordecai left the king’s presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen!” The decree was sent and God’s people are triumphant! “And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration.” God holds the reins by His providence; He watches over the accomplishment of His purposes and over everything necessary to their fulfillment; and He cares for His people, whatever may be their condition or the power of their enemies. “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.” And ” In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” Esther teaches us that when we follow God’s command, a celebration results!
EXAMPLE: In the US Capitol building there stands a statue honoring one of the “Black Regiment.” It is a reference to the brave clergy who left their pulpits to fight for America’s freedom. Pastor Peter Muhlenberg knew he could not stand behind his pulpit while men were dying for his freedom. In 1775 he concluded his sermon with these words, “There is a time for all things — a time to preach and a time to pray; but those times have passed away.” Then raising his voice, which sounded like a trumpet call, he exclaimed, “There is a time to fight, and that time has now come!” He set aside his pastoral garments and pulpit Bible, and stood before his congregation in the full uniform of a Virginia Colonel. He ordered drums to be beaten for recruits to join him and almost the entire male audience did, nearly 300 men enlisted on the spot! Later, he became one of Washington’s primary generals. Massachusetts affirmed the truth of fighting for God’s freedom in by printing, giving every church of every denomination the best way to promote the Declaration of Independence. They issued an order that it be read on Sunday form every pulpit in the State! We owe our freedom to the truths of God’s gospel as declared and fought for by our forefathers. We must never forget those who have died for our freedom. And as believers, we must join the battle. The reason is obvious: Esther teaches us that when we follow God’s command, a celebration results!
Now is the time to stop waiting for others to “do something” in your church and in your nation. We learned through Esther that courage triumphs when we are delivered by God’s reward at our request; our deliverance comes from God’s decree; and when we follow God’s command, a celebration results!
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.