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July 18, 2021 7:00 am
Well you know today were going to finish our four-part study in the book of Esther in part one we talked about how God knows what he's doing.
How we knew what he was doing in Esther's life, and he knows what he's doing in your life in my life. In part two we talked about the centrality of obeying God in part three. We talked about how God loves to turn the schemes of the steamers back onto their own heads, and if you miss any of these messages.
I urge you to pick up the CD in our bookstore. After the service, or to go online to our website and download the messages.
But today, in part, for we want to talk about how God honors those who honor him first were going to go back 2500 years in history and see what happened in the book of Esther and then to wind all that forward and were going to talk about.
Well, what difference does that make for you and me today.
So that's the plan.
But before we dig in. I think a little bit of review is in order. We seen something so far six is a matter of fact, and I'm going to give them to you very quickly number one we saw that the book of Esther occurs during the reign of King Xerxes of Persia, roughly 480 BC.
And at this time the Persian Empire was the largest empire on the face of the earth, and virtually every Jewish person alive live in the Persian Empire number two we saw the God is mighty sovereignty knew what was coming against his people and so ahead of time. He put a plan of deliverance in place by causing King Xerxes to fall in love with a young Jewish girl named Esther and Mary, her and make her his queen even though at the time he had no idea that she was Jewish. Number three we saw that when Mordechai Esther's fosterfather refused to bow down to the new prime minister, a fellow named Damon that Haman set out not only to kill Mordechai, but to kill every Jew in the Persian Empire. We saw number 413 Xerxes agreed to Haman's plan unaware of course that his own queen was Jewish. Number five, we saw that when Haman's plot became public. Esther risked her life to go to the king and plead for the life of her people and finally we saw how God turned to Haman scheme back on his own head and how they hung Haman on the very gallows that he had built for Mordecai so that's as far as we go on this what we've seen so far and it sounds like from just listening to this that the story should be over doesn't doesn't yes but is not over yet is not over yet because remember prior to his death. Haman had gotten King Xerxes to authorize his plan and what was his plan. Well Esther 313 that all the Jews are to be destroyed till and annihilated in one day and that their possessions are to be seized as plunder. Now the king had sealed up this edict with his own signet ring and then Haman had sent this edict out to all the governors in the Persian Empire. The point is that even though Haman was dead. This edict remained a problem and so that's where we pick up the story Esther chapter 8 here we go. Verse three.
Then Esther went to the King again and fell at his feet, weeping, and begged him to lift the evil scheme of Haman, and Esther said okay let it please be written to revoke the edict devise I Haman now there was a problem with this though, and the problem is that the Persian Empire had a very curious practice. It had a very unusual cost him a very unusual protocol. Esther chapter 8 verse eight tells us about it. It says that a decree which is written in the name of the King and sealed with the king signet ring cannot be revoked. We also saw this in Esther chapter 1 verse 19 where the Bible says according to the laws of the Medes and the Persians, Arroyo edict cannot be repealed. When we look at the book of Daniel, which also occurred during the Persian Empire. We find the very same thing in place. Daniel chapter 6 verse 14 then the king. This was Darius this is King Xerxes father, the King Darius set his mind on trying to rescue Daniel. That is, from from having to be thrown in the lion's den, but Daniel's enemies said to the king recognize okay that it is the law of the Medes and the Persians that no edict which the king establishes may be changed or altered. So we must understand that here in the book of Esther Xerxes cannot simply write a new edict revoking or rescinding the first one. However, Esther how to plan a plan that would allow the king to preserve the laws of the Medes and the Persians and at the same time to rescue the Jewish people.
Chapter 8 verse eight then Xerxes said the Esther well write another decree as you see fit regarding the Jews and seal it with the king signet ring for no document written in the king's name, and sealed with his ring can be revoked.
Is that what is at me. Well, it means that Xerxes is giving Esther a blank check to save her Jewish people. Anyway, she can figure out he's a do whatever you can do to figure it out and seal it when my ring and it's good so immediately. Mordechai summoned the king's scribes and had them write out his Mordechai's orders to the Jews of every province and to their governors and Mordechai wrote in the name of King Xerxes sealed the dispatches with the king signet ring and sent them by mounted couriers and what exactly was this new edict that Mordechai set out verse 11.
This edict granted the Jews in every province the right to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed group that might attack them. Mordechai sent this edict to each providence, so that the Jews there would be ready to avenge themselves on their enemies.
Now let's stop for a moment and say that there are some people who have a real problem with what Mordechai did here. I mean essentially authorize the Jews to go out and tell people, but I don't have a problem with that at all.
Because remember, the Jews weren't going to harm anybody except those people who rallied and came out to harm them and really the way I see this is that what was happening here is that God was using the situation to fulfill a promise that he made to Abraham centuries before Genesis 12 verse three God said to Abraham I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you, and since the common people of Persia only knew about the first edict of the king, the one that Haman had come up with the one that gave them a right to go out and slaughter Jews. This meant that when those people who wanted to curse the Jews wanted to do this when they suddenly got ready to come out and kill Jews. They became immediately obvious.
So God could curse them back and purge the Persian Empire of their presence, so I don't have a problem with this at all. Okay so what happened chapter 9 verse one now on the appointed day when the king's first edict was to be carried out when the enemies of the Jews planned to gain mastery over them. The tables were turned. I love that the tables were turned and the Jews gain mastery over those who hated them for the Jews assembled in their cities throughout the Persian Empire and the Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword. Then Mordechai sent letters to the Jews in all the provinces of King Xerxes, commanding them to celebrate this day annually that it should be a day of rejoicing and gladness because on that day the Jews got relieved from their enemies.
Chapter 9 verse 26 and they called this holiday Emporium and made it a custom that they and their children would celebrate annually in every generation, and many of you know of course that, to this very day in the spring of every year Jews around the world get together and celebrate Emporium in honor and in memory of this great deliverance that God gave them in the days of Esther.
Now that's as far as were going to go in our passage because were going to stop now and were going to ask our most important question and you know what it is. But remember, this is the last time you're going to get to do this in the book of Esther. So this is a memorable moment.
So all of you allowing all of you Bethesda and down in the Jeanette Prince William and on the Internet here at Tyson we ready were ready all right here we go.
Come on now want to pray next week you say Launcelot say this a great story.
I appreciate the story but performs more money will cares about this Sunday when I go out of my house tomorrow.
What is any. This may committee.
Well, let's talk about you know there is an exciting spiritual principle in these final events in the book of Esther that I want us to see its bounce smack dab in the life of Mordechai and it's a principle that holds true for us today as much as it did for Mordechai 2500 years ago and what is that principle will here it is. The principle is that God honors those who honor him first. Now let's talk about this and let's agree, as we begin that Mordechai's life started off as kind of just a very ordinary life. Would you agree with that. I mean, he knew he was a foreigner in a foreign land.
He wasn't married. He, like, just as a common man just hung out minding his own business, but he was Jewish and he did know that Jehovah God was real.
He was a follower Jehovah God, and he didn't read the Old Testament and he didn't know the 10 Commandments and he didn't know how God wanted him to live to please God and he was committed to that and that his uncle and his aunt passed away and he inherited a little girl named Esther that he adopted and raised as on the Lord. But all in all, I think we have to say fairly that the Mordechai's life started off as nothing particularly special.
However, I want you to see how Mordechai's life ended Esther chapter 8 verse 15 then Mordechai went out of the king's presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen, Esther nine verse four. Indeed, Mordechai was great in the king's house and his fame spread throughout the provinces for the man. Mordechai became more and more powerful, and finally Esther 10 verse three for Mordechai the Jew was second in rank only to King Xerxes. We understand what this is saying here. I mean, he's like the prime minister. He's like the grand vizier of the entire Persian Empire, for goodness sake second in command only to the king himself preeminent among the Jews and held in high esteem by all while while they look at the way his life ended and I think we'd all agree that Mordechai's rise to prominence was humanly improbable when we I mean he wasn't even a Persian for goodness sake, he wasn't a noble. He was not Prince he wasn't a soldier, a warrior, he didn't have any money to buy his way up the ladder as a matter of fact, being a Jew, he was part of a religious group that was out of step with all of the protocols and all of the fashions of the Persian court and yet he ended up as prime minister of the entire Persian Empire in all of this raises two questions that we want to answer and then were done for the day. Question number one is how did this happen. I mean, how did Mordechai get to where he got well here's the answer. It's in the Bible. Psalm 75 verse six.
Listen, the Bible says, not from the East nor from the west, nor from the south comes exultation.
God is the one who puts down one person and sets up another hey, how did Mordechai get to where he got in the Persian Empire dance is very simple.
My friends Mordechai's promotion was a supernatural promotion. Almighty God made his supernatural sovereign hand on Mordechai God brushed aside every obstacle, he brushed aside every hindrance. He brushed aside every human improbability and when the dust cleared here was Mordechai on top of the pile right where God had sovereignly chosen and elected to put it. Now this is a truth that we as followers of Jesus today really need to learn, namely, that wherever we go in life and wherever we get to in life were going to get there only because Almighty God himself decides to put us there ordains to put us there sovereignly chooses to put us there. What this means is that if God decides to promote us to some position in life. All the forces in this world and hell itself are going to keep us from ending up there and conversely, if God decides not to promote us to some position in life, friends, all of our scheming and all of our manipulating in all of our human maneuvering is not going to get us there and the reason I bring all this up is because one of the greatest problems I see in the lives of Christians today is what I call on sanctified ambition, I mean by this ambition that sees life in strictly human terms, ambition that leaves God out of the picture. Now listen carefully. There is nothing wrong with ambition. There is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself in life or to improve your lot in life or to be a success in life, not a thing in the world wrong with that so long as it is sanctified ambition, so long as it is ambition that understands God is the one who makes the final call on all of this with friends on sanctified ambition is dangerous because it causes millions of Christians every year to compromise their convictions to Solly their their their morals and their ethics to prostitute their Christian testimonies and to sacrifice their families.
All because they believe if they don't do these things they'll never be able to advance in life but folks Bible says this isn't true. An example of Mordechai says this isn't true. The Bible says God gets people where they go, not human, maneuvering, and that we can maintain our convictions and we can maintain our testimony and that we can stand for Christ and we can be true to Christ and wherever God has decided from the foundation of the world that we are going friends. We are going there. It's just that simple. A man, a man yes all right, so to recap, why did Mordechai get the exultation he got will frenzy God. It because Almighty God decided to give it to him and for no other reason, which raises a second question on our final question for the day and that is what on what basis does God decide who is going to exalt and who is not who is going to promote and who is not well let's say and admit that on the eternal level. We have to say that God's decisions to exalt people are completely and utterly at the discretion of the sovereign will of God in you, and I don't have a thing to do with but on the human level in the Bible, God has revealed to us a little bit of the formula that he uses to decide who is going to exalt who is not going to exalt and let me tell you what that formula is found in first Samuel chapter 2 verse 30, and here's the formula it says those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord say that that's it. That's a whole formal that's it that's it. That's a whole formula. Yep, that's it. That's the whole thing.
Prince God has committed himself in the eternal Word of God that he will honor those people here on earth who honor him first, who put Jesus Christ first in their life and who keep him first in their life. He will honor people here on earth who are even willing. Don't miss this to go down in their career to go down in their prestige to go down in their power and position if they have to rather than deny Christ or disobey his word. That's the formula, and you know when we look to the Bible and all the great men and women of God that God is ever honored. They are as different as night and day with the single exception that every one of them were alike in this regard. Every one of them decided they were going to honor God first in their life even if it took him down in their life.
And then God stepped in and said all okay now watch what I do and God honored them much farther than they ever went down. Let me give you a few examples. How about Joseph member Joseph he said no he said I won't sin with Potiphar's wife, even though I know she's going to frame me and throw me in the jail. And yet, when it was over what it got done. God brought Joseph out of jail and mating, the prime minister of all of the job. Why will because those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord. And then how about Abraham. Abraham said no. I won't go down and live in Sodom and Gomorrah, even though all the riches of Canaan are down there and yet by the end of his life.
God had made Abraham one of the richest men on the face of the earth. How do we explain this because those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord. And then how about our friend Daniel who said no I won't stop praying to God three times a day even though I know that means are going to throw me in the lion's den, but friends what God do God brought them safely out of the lines, then in promoting the third in command and the entire Persian Empire in his day. Why did God do this when you know the answer because those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord, and have a David.
David said no, I won't kill King Saul. Even though all my mentor telling me to do it and that's how I can become King David said no I won't do that.
That's wrong and yet God took care of King Saul and made David king over the mightiest empire. Israel's ever known why because those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord. Even Mordechai, our friend Mordechai said no I won't bow down to Haman and deny God like that even though Haman's going to try to kill me and build a big old gallows to hang the on paper by the time it was gone. They hung Haman on the gallows he built for Mordecai. Mordechai ends up in Haman's spot as prime minister of the Persian Empire. While I say it with me because those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord know in modern-day times.
I think when I think of this principle I think of a man named W.A. Criswell W Criswell if you're from Texas. You know this man. The pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas for over 50 years and you guys hear from Texas for okay well anyway you know this man, this man will First Baptist Church of Dallas for half a century, was one of the most strategic churches in America.
This man was the president of the Southern Baptist convention twice and was one of those people responsible for turning the convention back from liberalism to conservatism when he came to candidate at the First Baptist Church in 1944. You know what you do when you candidate you know we have anybody do it here in a while but what happens is the good that the prospective preacher comes in any preachers are like a practice sermon or Leica like like up a preview sermon.
So our body can sit out there and critique human decide. I like him I don't like him, you know, blah, blah, you understand what I'm saying right so Criswell when he did his discounted dating sermon he preached was so much conviction and was so much purity calling sin. Sin and truth truth from the Bible that one of the deacons came up to him afterwards and said you can't possibly plan to preach the Bible like that here you will empty the church love would Criswell said and I quote he said the word we preach from the pulpit's ought to be like the word of God itself like a fire and a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. Criswell said to this deacon. If you call me here to preach the word of God. I'm going to preach in just the way it is."
Praise the Lord now let me just tell you he didn't empty the church as a matter of fact that the church grew to 26,000 people come in every single Sunday.
Why because, say it with me. Those who honor me, I will honor says the Lord, enclosing I want to go from preach and to Medlin because I want I want to leave us with a question and here's the question. The question is where is God asking you and where is God asking me to honor him in our lives to putting first in our lives to take a stand for him in our lives. Maybe with our neighbors were our friends are people at work are relatives or or at school you know and by doing so by taking a stand for him by putting him first in the intent to fly in the face of all human odds of advancement and success and promotion.
And you know what your friends are going to tell you, your friends are going to tell you don't do that is if you do that you're finished with this company.
If you do that you're finished with your friends if you do that your written out of the inheritance. If you do, don't do that folks don't you listen to your friends. Don't you worry about the human odds don't you let them take you in with the wisdom of the world that you'll never get anywhere in this world unless you do it their way. They are leaving out of the equation.
Something very important there. Leaving out of the equation. Almighty God, after leaving out of the equation, a sovereign, omnipotent, supreme, immutable God who says I'm the one that exalts people and puts them where they are. You don't get there by doing what the world want to do you get there because I decide I'm going to put you there. And because they leave him out. They are both so wrong in their also deceived.
Listen, God promises those who honor me, I will honor and God has never let down his end of the bargain in the history of the world and folks, he's not going to start by letting down the bargain with you or with me. So as a follower of Christ pay you want to see God. Honor your life you want to see God bless your life you want to see God exalt your life. That's great. Then remember what he says. First Samuel 230.
Those who honor me, I will honor says Lord.
Psalm 37 verse 34 wait on the Lord and keep his way and he will exalt you. And finally, second Chronicles 69 for the eyes of the Lord go to and throw throughout the whole earth looking for those people whose hearts are completely his watch. I love this so that he might show himself mighty on their behalf.
Want God to show himself mighty on your behalf is good.
Want God to exalt you. That's good. You want God to honor your life.
That's good. But if you do, and I do the let's do would Mordechai do what he Mordechai do pay. He put God first in his life. Hey he had. He gave his heart completely to Christ. Hey he honor Christ in all that he did an obedient even though for time it took him down. He knew ultimately God was going to take him up. Why because that's what God promised. So friends go out there this week and honor God.
Don't worry about the way by which friends tell you. Don't worry about what the world system tells you forget about all that nonsense you got there and honor God in you and I both have the promise of the living Christ you honor me and you watch what I do with your life was pretty the Lord Jesus you know that many of us this week are going to face situations where were going to have to decide if were going to honor God or not.
Some of us are going to face a situation where if we tell the truth it's going to be to our own hurt this week. Some of us face situations this week where we might have to stand against unethical behavior at work or against some injustice that's being done to some other person. Some of us this week are going to have the chance to share Christ with somebody who's not going to be really excited at first to hear about some of this weaker of us this week are going to have the chance to say no to pornography to say no to cheating in school to say no to selfishly manipulating other people for our own advantage to say no to returning evil for evil, or slandering other people are being sexually active before single they're going to be hundreds of things this week were were going to have to choose whether were going honor God, or whether were not so father my prayer is that you would give us the courage to say yes were going honor God, even if it takes is down at first were going honor God and not just the courage, but I pray that you would give us so much confidence in your promise that those who honor you. You will honor that it never even occurs to us that anything but honor and exultation is going to eventually come from this because you promised so Lord deliver us from on sanctified ambition. Give a sanctified ambition that is centered in the promises of Christ and the power of Christ and not in the manipulations and the schemes of this world change our lives because we were here today. God because we sat under the teaching of the eternal Word of God. We pray these things in Jesus name what God's people say amen