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How to Approach the Lord's Table

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2021 2:00 am

How to Approach the Lord's Table

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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April 19, 2021 2:00 am

Pastor Mike Karns draws lessons from the life of Queen Esther applicable to our coming to the the Lord's Table.

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We're going to look at a pretty large portion of the book of Esther this evening to prepare our hearts for the Lord's table. I read chapter 3 in your hearing. Let me give you four headings to this message. The chapter that I read, chapter 3, ended with these words. So the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was perplexed. Well, that's maybe an understatement.

There was an edict that went out calling for the annihilation of all the Jews in the entire province, in the entire kingdom. So I've given this heading to this first... my first heading is the dilemma. This is a dilemma, a huge dilemma.

And what is the dilemma? You heard it because I read it, I trust. Haman, the Agagite, who is he? Well, he's identified in scripture as the Agagite. He is a descendant of King Agag. You remember back in 1 Samuel chapter 15 when God commanded Saul to kill Agag and all the Amalekites, and he didn't obey God and lost his position as king? Well, this man is a descendant of Agag. Now, we are five to six hundred years removed from that, but he is a descendant of Agag. Did you pick up that chapter 3 told us that he was, verse 10 says, So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hamadatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.

The enemy of the Jews. So this man Haman, the Agagite, he's the second most powerful man in the Persian Empire, and he's incensed with rage against one particular Jew, Mordecai. The Bible says he was filled with wrath because Mordecai wouldn't bow and give him honor. So we've got that, he's incensed with Mordecai, and I think he's motivated by revenge because of the death of all of his ancestors. So what does he do? He secures a royal edict calling for the annihilation of all the Jews and the confiscation of their property throughout the empire, and that to be done by the Jewish month Adar.

That is a dilemma. That is a provocation that I want to speak to you, but you follow with me as I read chapter 4. Chapter 4. When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry.

He went as far as the front of the king's gate, for no one might enter the king's gate clothed with sackcloth. And in every province where the king's command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing, and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. So Esther's maids and eunuchs came and told her, and the queen was deeply distressed. Then she sent garments to clothe Mordecai and take his sackcloth away from him, but he would not accept them. Then Esther called Hathak, one of the king's eunuchs, whom he had appointed to attend to her, and she gave him a command concerning Mordecai to learn what and why this was. So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the city square that was in front of the king's gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries to destroy the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go into the king to make supplication to him and plead him for her people.

Let's stop there. The provocation for Esther. In God's providence, Mordecai is out in a place where he was being observed in mourning and in sackcloth, and word came to Esther. Now what is the relationship between Esther and Mordecai? Mordecai is her uncle.

Her parents died and left her an orphan. And you remember earlier in the chapters, the king had a beauty contest because he was unhappy with the queen, and all the women from the empire were brought, and Esther became the queen of the empire. But Mordecai has raised her. She is the daughter of Mordecai's uncle.

That's who Mordecai is. So Mordecai is questioned about what's going on, and the word comes to Esther. And here's the provocation for Esther, and that is to go before the king and to plead for her people because she's a Jew.

And the edict is for the annihilation and the destruction of the entire Jewish population in the province. Mordecai commands her to go to the king and plead for the lives of her people. Now, I stopped at verse 8.

Let me pick up at verse 9. So Hathak returned and told Esther the words of Mordecai. Then Esther spoke to Hathak and gave him a command for Mordecai. All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king who has not been called, he has but one law, put all to death except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live.

Yet I myself have not been called to go to the king these 30 days. So here is the dilemma that Esther is in. She's been exhorted, commanded by Mordecai to go to the king and to plead for the lives of her people. And there is a law that you don't go into the king's presence unannounced. They had to protect the king against would-be assassins. So if you came into the king's presence unannounced, depending on his mood, depending on his caprice, whatever, you would be executed for coming into the presence of the king without any warrant, even though she's the queen. And she says, I haven't been into the presence of the king for 30 days. Well, why is that? Well, because he's got a harem of women.

He's an ungodly man. He's had no time for her, even though she's the queen. So she doesn't know whether he's mifted her and unhappy with her like he was the previous queen.

But that's the situation. Listen to what Mordecai says to her, beginning at verse 12. So they told Mordecai Esther's words and Mordecai told them to answer Esther. Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place.

But you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Then Esther told him to reply to Mordecai, go gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast for me.

Neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise, and so I will go to the king, which is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him.

Quite a dilemma. There was a quotation in your bulletin this morning that is appropriate here from John Piper. He said, quote, he is a big god for little people and we have a great cause to rejoice that unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign decrees of our father in heaven. That we, the children, might be conformed to the image of his son, Jesus Christ. It matters not what kings decree. It matters not what threatens the people of God. It is the will of God that will prevail.

God will frustrate the evil plans and evil purposes of men that is not consistent with his eternal decrees. And that's what we see unfolding here in this chapter. So there is a dilemma. There is the provocation. There is the risk and the danger.

And what is the risk and the danger? Well, we've seen it here in these verses. The happiness and the safety and the welfare of the king was of the highest priority in the kingdom. Public access to the king was forbidden to thwart any would-be assassins. And access to the king was obtained by either the summons of the king, you remember over in Nehemiah chapter 2, Nehemiah was summoned before the king, and Nehemiah trembled in fear coming into the audience of the king. There was a law, you see it here in chapter 4, a law calling for the death of any man or woman who dare go into the inner court of the king with two exceptions. And even the queen is bound by this. If the king summoned a man or a woman, that would be one exception. Therefore, one could escape the death sentence if the king extended the golden scepter, that is the symbol of his authority and his favor. When someone's unannounced presence into the inner court was detected and made known to the king by the guards, they lived or they died at the caprice, the government and the turning away of the face of the king, that's all it took.

So Esther, knowing the real danger for herself, called for a three-day fast among the Jews and she determined to risk her life for the sake of her people. One of the hindrances to reading historical narrative if you're a Bible student is you know how this turns out. But as it was playing out in history, nobody knew what the outcome was going to be. Nobody knew. It looked like the Jews were doomed. Here's this edict signed with the king's signet with all of the authority behind it. What hope is there?

So don't, I think we lose something by knowing what happens, right? Let's read beginning at chapter 5 verse 1. Now it happened. On the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace across from the king's house while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house facing the entrance of the house. And so it was when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court that she found favor in his sight. And the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, What do you wish, Queen Esther?

What is your request? It shall be given to you up to half the kingdom. So Esther answered, If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him. And we know what transpires. There's multiple banquets and Haman ends up, no pun intended, hanging himself.

He had this plot to kill Mordecai and all the Jews and he ended up a dead man. For a few minutes tonight, in order to prepare our hearts for communion around the Lord's table, there's some instructions here for us on how to approach the king. God, he is our father, but he is not just a king.

He is the king, the king of kings. So how do sinners like ourselves approach this holy, majestic God? When we remember who he is, holy, unsoiled by anything in creation, he lives in unapproachable light which no man has seen nor can see. So when we remember who he is, and then we remember who and what we are.

Sinners, defiled, undone. The wrath of God hangs over us. We have no right into his presence. If we were granted that, we would be incinerated like that in the presence of pure holiness.

If only the high priest in the old covenant had access into the inner court, the holy of holies, and that only once a year, and only after offering appropriate sacrifices, what makes any man think that he can get audience with almighty God? When the Bible tells us our very best, the very best we've got to offer to God is nothing but filthy rags. We have nothing that would commend us to God.

There is nothing about us that would grant us audience with him. So if you think Esther and the Jews and Mordecai were in a dilemma, man apart from Christ is in an unbelievable dilemma. That no man can rectify.

There is no solution apart from divine grace. So how do we approach the Lord's table? Let me suggest to you, number one, that we approach the Lord's table like Esther. A raid in royal robes. Now what happened, verse one, on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace.

She put on her royal robes. The gospel is an amazing provision for sinners because sinners need a righteousness that's not their own. Sinners need an alien righteousness.

Sinners need the imputed righteousness of Christ. We need the white robes of his perfect righteousness and God provides that for us in the atonement. So how do we come? We come mindful that apart from the imputed righteousness of Christ, apart from being clothed in the perfection that God demands of us, we have no access to God. But we come mindful that he's clothed us in such a way that we have access into his presence. That we are accepted on the merits of Christ and his perfect righteousness.

So that's how we come. So how do we approach the Lord's table? Number one, like Esther, a raid in the royal robes of Christ's righteousness. Number two, we come standing in full view of the one on the throne.

Listen to what it says. Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace across from the king's house while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house facing the entrance of the house. She positioned herself where the king would see her. We need to come and take our place realizing that we are in full view of him who sits on the throne. We come with no secrets. We come with no hidden places. We come as an open book. We come with fresh confession knowing what we are.

Still, despite the fact that we are redeemed, we are yet a redeemed sinner. And we come as we were reminded even yet this morning with this prayer on our lips. Search me, O God, and know my heart.

Try me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. This idea that we can engage in activity that is unbecoming of a Christian and we think that somehow we're giving God the slip. God doesn't know?

Really? He knows all. All things are laid bare before him with whom we have to do. He not only knows our actions, he knows our thoughts, he knows everything there is to know about us. And how long has he known that? Is God keeping a record, learning things?

No. He's known everything there is to know about us from eternity past. And that's what amazes me about grace. God knowing me, far better than I know me, still chose to set his affections on me and save me.

Are you amazed by that? We all ought to be. Because if we know ourselves just a little bit, we know that we're unworthy.

We know there's nothing about us that would cause God to want to save us. Sinners, undone, separated from God, an enemy of God. So we're thinking through these opening verses of chapter 5 on how to approach the Lord's table. Number one, like Esther, arrayed in royal robes. Number two, like Esther, standing in full view of the one on the throne. Number three, like Esther, like Esther, receiving the king's favor. So it was when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court that she found favor in his sight.

And the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Because of the vicarious death of Jesus Christ, God is inclined to be merciful to us. Because of what Jesus has done for us. We have found favor in the king's sight because of the merit of his son for no other reason.

We understand that, right? We believe that. When we read about Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord and others in the Old Testament, it's all of grace. It's the mercy of God on display. We are accepted in the beloved.

And we can be confident that if we come the prescribed way, there was a way for Esther to come before the king. And she came in fear and trepidation because this king was an ungodly man. He was a man given to temperament, given to emotions, depending on how he felt that particular day. Folks, our God is not like that. We don't have to wonder, is God in a bad mood today?

He loved me yesterday, but he's not going to look on me very favorably today. No, that's not our God at all. We can be confident that if we come the prescribed way, we will be received. And what is the prescribed way? How do you come to this king?

What is the prescribed way? You come through the merits of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews says, let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. There's grace and mercy for sinners who come the blood sprinkled way. Jesus has opened up a new and living way. But if we insist on coming on our own merit or coming on some other way, we will not be received. We must come the prescribed way.

Notice what he said to her. The king said to her, what do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you up to half the kingdom. Wow.

That's pretty open, isn't it? John Newton in one of his hymns says, thou art coming to a king, large petitions with thee bring. For his grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much. That's our God. That's the king that we come before tonight when we come to the Lord's table. So how do we come to the Lord's table? We come, number one, like Esther arrayed in royal robes. Number two, we come standing in full view of the one on the throne.

We come confessing our sins, acknowledging our debt, asking God to search us, knowing that there's deception in our hearts. We're blind to our own faults. We need God and his Spirit to shine into our life. We need one another.

We need one another to see blind spots. We come like Esther receiving the king's favor. I'm amazed when I read about the narrative on that last night, and it says Jesus strongly desiring to fellowship with those men on that night.

He wasn't so preoccupied with what awaited him at the cross that it diminished his desire to share that meal with them. There's a savior that wants to meet us at the table. He wants to commune with us. He wants us to appropriate afresh the provisions that he's made for us, not only in salvation but in this life as we live it out. And how do we come? Well, we come like Esther, relying on the king's promise. The king has made promises to us to come boldly and come boldly and come boldly on the right merit and receive grace and help in our time of need. So let's think on these things tonight and profit from the Word of God. Again, he is a big God for little people.

I hope none of us think too big of ourselves tonight. We're little people, little people. He is a big God for little people, and we have great cause to rejoice that unknowns to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors of the world, follow the sovereign decrees of our Father in Heaven that we, the children, might be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

That's God's design. For all of His children, everything He's doing is toward that end of conforming us to the likeness of His Son. And that's why the first part of this quote by Piper is so appropriate. Do not think because you experience adversity that the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity but our holiness that He seeks with all His heart. And to that end, He rules the whole world. As Proverbs 21, 1 says, the king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, and he turns it, whatever way he wills. That's the truth of the matter.

So there's so much happening in this world that could cause us to be full of anxiety and fear. But God's sovereignly in charge. He's ruling.

He's reigning. You talk to some folks and they act like that we're on the losing side, that the church is going to crumble, that God's witness and His light is going to go out. Well, when we read our Bible, the church flourished in some of the most corrupt and pagan cultures that you could describe.

Not a whole lot different than what's going on in our culture. The church is alive and well. Jesus is building His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. We're more than conquerors through Him who loved us. So let's not cower down and be in fear and worry. No, God's working all things after the counsel of His will. And what is the counsel of His will?

It's to do us good and to glorify Himself. Shall we pray? Father, thank You for Your word. Thank You for its instruction. Thank You for this illustration of how we should approach You as King. Thank You for the provisions You've made for sinners like us to do that and to receive favor and to receive life and not death. Seal these words to our hearts for our good, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-28 11:46:33 / 2023-11-28 11:56:11 / 10

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