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What’s Going On? (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2023 3:00 am

What’s Going On? (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 7, 2023 3:00 am

When you’re in the throes of a dilemma, it’s difficult to understand the reason why. Often, it’s only in hindsight that you grasp God’s purpose. Discover where you can find comfort in the midst of fearful trials. That’s on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



When you find yourself in the middle of a predicament, a dilemma, it is often hard to understand why exactly this trouble is happening. Often it's only in hindsight that we can see God's purposes.

Today on Truth for Life, we're discovering where to find comfort as we face fearful trials. Alistair Begg is teaching from Esther chapter 4. We're looking at verses 12 through 17, and as Alistair picks up, Mordecai is speaking to his cousin, Queen Esther. You see what Mordecai is saying here? It seems to me that you're the person in the place for now, and I'm urging you to do something. But don't think for a minute that God will not keep his promise to his people, to his covenant people that runs throughout the entire Old Testament.

You need to understand that. And then, thirdly, who knows whether you've not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? He doesn't say, You have come to the kingdom for such a time as this, or I know the will of God.

No. He says, Who knows? And I like the fact that he says, Who knows?

And I hope you do too. Why does he say, Who knows? Because we can't know such things in advance. We only know them, looking back.

And the reason that the question is posed as it is posed is in part to teach us that lesson. It really is too bad when some of us think that by using grandiose language about the will of God and our knowledge of the purpose of God and what God has told us to do and where God has told us to go—as if somehow or another this is an exemplification of a peculiar engagement that we enjoy with God when it may be nothing more than conjecture on our part. If you had asked Joseph, for example, when he was stripped naked, standing in the middle of the public square, waiting for somebody to buy him, eventually purchased by Potiphar, if you had gone to him and said to him, Hey, Joseph, what's going on in what's going on? What is God doing in your life? What do you think Joseph would have said?

Who knows? You see, it's only at the end, through the rearview mirror, when he finally discloses to his brothers, when he's able to look back down through the corridor of time and to say, All the way God has led me! All of these things! The good, the bad, and the ugly! The bad choices, the wise choices!

You intended this, he says to his brothers, for evil, but God intended it for good. It's the same principle. That is what is being addressed, and that is what creates the dilemma for Esther herself. What is happening is that she is confronted with a situation that is going to call for her to come clean about who she is, what she believes, to whom she belongs. So privately she has an identity, publicly she has an identity, and now she's gonna have to determine, Am I here or am I here?

Some of us are being confronted by that very same thing in our study of Esther. We've got a private little world. We believe certain things in our heart. But there's no one in our office knows. There's no one in our street knows. There's no one around us knows. Something will happen. Someday something will happen that will cause you to have to say, This is who I am, and this is where I belong, and this is what I believe. Who knows?

But you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. To this point, she's been passive. She's the girl that won the beauty pageant. She's the plaything of the king. Her true identity concealed for five or six years. And now she's gonna be flushed out, not as a result of God intervening with a burning bush, a miraculous sign, a dramatic voice from heaven, but a question from her cousin.

A question from her cousin, like a note from a friend, like a call from your mom, like an intervention by your business colleague, like someone who just says to you, Hey! And in that moment, we're either staying on the fence, we're getting off this side of the fence, or off on this side of the fence. We're gonna come out of the shadowlands between our two worlds. That's the dilemma. Choose you this day, whom you will serve.

Who are you gonna serve? The decree. The dilemma. And finally, the decision. There has to be a decision.

And there is a decision. And here, in verse 15, it moves from passive to active. Now Esther is up and about and doing. Up to this point, Mordecai has been sending the instructions largely. She's been responding.

She's been in the response mode, but now she's in the directive mode. Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa. Wow! What are you going to do? Well, we're going to fast for three days.

And I'm going to fast with them as well, and my young women are going to fast with them too. In other words, we discover that she has made a decision. She's absolutely committed. She's committed. Maybe she had recalled the fast in Nineveh, which went for three days for the proclaiming of the good news in that place.

Whatever. This is not a morning fast because of a predicament. This is a fast to say, Oh God, we're really serious about this, and we have a really serious problem, and we're on the eve of destruction, and apparently I have to do something, and I don't want to just go into the king here just willy-nilly. I don't want to stumble into his presence. I don't want to go in on the basis of how cute I am. I don't want to go in the basis of who I have been. I only want to go in there on the strength of who you are and what you want. Committed.

Connected. It's not a solo deal. I'm the one going in, but you're the ones who are fasting. I'm the one that has to go and say the thing, but I'm not going on my own. It's not on my own strength.

It's not on my own ability. We're going to do this together. And I am not only committed and connected, but I am consecrated. I'm giving myself up to the will of God. Notice, if I perish, I perish. I'll go to the king, though it's against the law, because there comes a point where the law of God, the demand of God, supersedes the laws of man. Read Acts chapter 4, just for yourselves, whether it's right for us to obey you or to obey God. We're going to obey God.

I must obey God here. Therefore, I put my life at risk. What has she come to? She's come to the point where she understands. She's made a decision. It's not necessary for me to live, but it is necessary for me to do my duty.

I don't have to live, but I do have to do what I have to do. And so if I perish, I perish. She places herself in the hands of providence. She knows the risk that's involved. She's prepared for the worst. She hopes for the best. There's a great common sensibility about it, isn't there? There's no sort of peculiar drama. You see her wrestling. Well, if this… Well, it runs all the way through the Bible.

You get it everywhere. For example, when Jacob, remember, is on the receiving end of the return of the brothers after they've been to see Joseph, they tell their father that Joseph wants Benjamin to come. Jacob says, I don't want to lose Benjamin. You know, Benjamin's my boy. Eventually they prevail upon him.

He says, Finally, take Benjamin. Then he says, If I am bereaved, I am bereaved. You see, really, until we've got to that point in our spiritual journey, we really haven't got to the right point of departure at all, have we? Because it's only when we can say, you know, if I die, I die, that we can then say, Then let me go on living. Because what's the worst thing that can possibly happen to us in life? For us no longer to have any life.

We could stop there, but we won't. She decides that it's better to die being obedient than to live being disobedient. God had put her in a unique position. Who knows, but you've come to the kingdom for such a time as this.

He says, Think about it. I mean, you won the pageant, there's no doubt about that, but you didn't make yourself cute. God made you cute. I mean, you didn't put your nose on your face, you didn't determine the color of your eyes, you didn't determine the length of your legs, you didn't do any of that.

God did all of that. I mean, you lost your parents. You were an orphan. I took you in.

You had no control over that. I looked after you. I nurtured you.

I cared for you. Think about it. And as she thinks about it, she realizes, God has put me in a unique position for a unique purpose. And God has put you in a unique position for a unique purpose.

Do you believe that? That there is no ideal place to serve God except the place he sets you down. Where has he set you down? In such-and-such a road, such-and-such a street, such-and-such an office, such-and-such a bank, such-and-whatever it is. You are there by God's appointing.

How'd you figure that? Question two. Nothing happens except through him and by his will. You're not outside of his will being where you are today. You are—he has you—exactly where he wants you. For purposes that he has foreordained for you to do.

That's Ephesians 2.10. That there are good works that he has prepared beforehand for his people to do. So today he's got stuff for you to do.

Tomorrow, stuff for you to do. And he's putting you where he's putting you in order that you might do that stuff. So instead of saying, Oh, goodness, if I could only get out of my job, if I could only get out of this place, if I could only do this, if I could only do that, then I would get on with the big, overarching plan of God.

No, you wouldn't. The plan of God is doing what you're doing. Doing what you're doing. Whatever it is you're doing. Unless what you're doing is sinning.

That's a tremendous liberation. I'm not a queen, neither are you. But my life matters.

My little history matters. I'm only one, but I am one. I can do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, with God's help, I will do. Charles Wesley captured it perfectly in this hymn that begins, Fourth in thy name, O LORD, I go, My daily labor to pursue. Right? That's a first reaction.

No! Then you go, Okay. Fourth in thy name, O LORD, I go, My daily labor to pursue, Thee only Thee resolve to know, In all I think or speak or do, The task thy wisdom hath assigned. O let me cheerfully fulfill, In all my works thy presence find, And prove thy good and perfect will. So you see, this transmutes, sweeping up a floor into divine activity. Who knows but you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Now, let me finish in this way.

Two ways, actually. First of all, by asking you to consider how radically different this perspective is from the perspective of our surrounding culture. In other words, when we realize this morning that in the intersection of life and faith, we declare the core convictions of our lives, so that, okay, this is a big vast history involving the people of God and Esther and all those people, but I have a little history, and so do you. My little life has twists and turns. Our shared community experience here is full of disappointments and failures and advances and declines and cancers and compromises and delights and divorces.

And in all of that, God's saving, keeping purpose is at work, thus allowing us to put our heads on the pillow at night, because providence is a soft pillow, and allowing us to wake it up in the morning to say, Okay, forth in thy name, O LORD I go, my daily labor to pursue. Do you realize what an amazing—an amazing apologetic that is in our generation? There was an interesting piece—I wonder, did you see it?

The Disquiet of Ziggy Zeitgeist? I shouldn't ask that question anymore. I learned that last time. But I've been holding onto this, and I'm glad I did, because it absolutely, when I went back and looked for it, I said, This is even more perfect than I realized.

I always tell young guys, You tear stuff out, you file it, you keep it. You don't go looking for illustrations on a Saturday night. You have all your illustrations.

The living of life is your illustration. They will be there as you need them. So I thought, I wonder if Ziggy is a help to this. So I went, and here's the opening line. For the first time in my seventy-two years, I have no idea what's going on.

Oh, I said, This is even better than I remembered. Of course, where did we start? Esther confronts us with the question, What's going on in what's going on? Paul Henry Allen writes this piece as a journalist of some time, acknowledging the fact that the stabilizing elements of culture, the zeitgeist of life, the spirit of the age that he has been able to mark and modulate throughout his journalism career, seems to have lost all of its footings.

So, for example, he makes statements like this. We now have individualism, but we have no privacy. We are all outsiders with no inside to be outside of. We've lost our sense of possibility. There's no arc, no through line, no destiny.

As British soldiers sang in the trenches of World War I to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, We're here, because we're here, because we're here, because we're here. No arc, no destiny, no significance, except in the moment. Says the journalist, I don't know what's going on.

I doubt that anyone does. Like most people, I used to think the world would go on the way it was going on—with better medicine, the arrival of an occasional iPad, or an earthquake—but that was when I knew what was going on. I worry that reality itself is fading like the Cheshire cat, leaving behind only a smile that grows ever more alarming.

What a strange time to live in America. This is our world—a world in which our brightest and our best put up their hands and say, What's going on? And what's going on? And who knows, but you have come to your office, come to your school, come to your friends for such a time as this. That was my P.S.

This is my P.P.S. Decree, dilemma, decision. This story is about a decree.

We saw that, right? A decree that would bring about the destruction of the Jews. So alarmed was Mordecai that he sought for a mediator to intervene so that what had been decreed would not be experienced. That ought to make us think. Because the King of the Universe has also made a decree. The soul who sins will die. Physical death combined with spiritual death means eternal death. That's the decree.

Here's the dilemma. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. We have all broken God's law. None of us can use God's law as a mechanism to climb up into the safety of his presence.

If we are not forgiven in this life, we will be lost forever. And the problem we face is not what the culture says. The culture says, now, don't listen to Begg or any of those crazy preachers who tell you bad things. Don't let them tell you those kind of things. You know that the problem is not inside of you.

That's what our culture says. It's not your problem. It's a problem that is outside of you. And the answer to all these problems that are outside of you, you will be able to answer if you look inside you.

The Bible says no. The problem is actually inside you. And the only answer to what's going on inside you is if you look outside you to where? To the cross of Jesus Christ, where a king, unlike Ahasuerus, who set himself apart from his people, a king who entered into our predicament, a king who wore a crown of thorns, a king who rode upon a donkey, a king who died in the place of his subjects, a king who was the only mediator and is the only mediator between a holy God against whom we have sinned and before whom we are accountable. And this mediator has entered into time and calls us to come to him.

Decision. Have you ever come to him? Have you ever said, I am in the wrong? I'm not okay. Jesus, you are in the right.

You are okay. Somebody said to me the other day when I said, I fancied the idea of having a cemetery in the property here. They said, a cemetery?

Why would you have a cemetery? I said, so that we could think about dying. He said, how strange to think about dying. I said, well, you're going to die, aren't you? He said, yes. I said, and what provision have you made for that eventuality?

He just looked down at the ground. He has made none. What provision have you made? The decree is against you. You stand condemned. The dilemma is undeniable.

The decision is yours. And when we resolve that, it changes not only today, tomorrow, but all of our tomorrows. Providence is indeed a soft pillow.

I like that. We're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg, urging each one of us to come to Jesus, to find our rest in his saving, keeping power.

Alistair will be back with us in just a moment. Easter is a significant time of year for all of us as Christians. It's the perfect opportunity for us to reflect on the pivotal events of Jesus' resurrection and his ascension, and to discuss these things with your whole family.

We want to recommend to you a book called Darkest Night, Brightest Day. It's a family devotional for the Easter season, and it provides 14 daily readings that cover the last week of Jesus' life through the 50 days following his resurrection. Each day provides you with a short devotional that will open the door to meaningful conversations about God's plan of salvation with your children or your grandchildren.

Request your copy of the book Darkest Night, Brightest Day when you donate to Truth for Life using the mobile app, or donate online at slash donate. Now here's Alistair to close today with prayer. Father, thank you that your love is vast beyond the heavens. Thank you that you reach down and enter into our world, your glory veiled. Nobody would ever look at your totally messed up body and say, That must be the Messiah.

They would say, This surely can't be. And yet, bearing shame and scoffing rude in my place, condemned you stood and sealed my pardon with your blood. What a Savior! Father, I pray that individual lives will be doing business with you even now. I pray that you will not let us live in the shadowlands of a double life, that you will bring into our lives the things, the calls, the questions that demand from us the kind of decision that identifies us with you and with your cause and with your gospel, so that when we stand before you, we may do so unashamed. Hear our prayers for your Son's sake. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. We are glad you've joined us today. When Queen Esther said, If I perish, I perish, she wasn't merely being glib or melodramatic. The risks she was taking were tremendous. Tomorrow we'll discover what made her approach to the King so effective. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-07 04:49:04 / 2023-03-07 04:57:43 / 9

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