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If I Perish, I Perish - Esther Part 2

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2021 10:00 pm

If I Perish, I Perish - Esther Part 2

So What? / Lon Solomon

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July 12, 2021 10:00 pm

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You know, when it comes to good guy, bad guy match-ups, well, there have been some pretty classic ones, haven't there? I think, for example, of Robin Hood versus Prince John. And then I think of Rocky versus Clover Lang. And I think of Roadrunner versus Wile E. Coyote. And then I think of Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader. And finally, how about Jack Bauer against everybody? How's that?

Yeah. Well, today we want to look at one of these classic good guy, bad guy match-ups. One that comes right out of the Bible. One that comes right out of the book of Esther, as a matter of fact. Remember, we're in a four-part series in the book of Esther. And last week, in part one, we talked about how God got Esther to the throne of Persia. And about how God knew exactly what he was doing in Esther's life the whole time. And about how God knows exactly what he's doing in our lives as followers of Christ the whole time as well.

If you missed last week, I encourage you to get the CD from the bookstore or to go online and download the message. But today in part two, we want to go back 2,500 years. And we want to look at this battle that begins shaping up between the good guy, Mordecai, and the bad guy, Haman. And we want to look at the heroic part that Queen Esther played in saving her Jewish people. And once we've done all that, we're going to bring it all forward. And we're going to talk about, well, what difference does that make for you and me? So that's our plan.

And just before we dig in, let's go back and do a little bit of review. If you remember last week, we saw that the book of Esther takes place during the reign of the Persian king, Xerxes. And at the time, the Persian Empire was the largest empire on earth.

We also learned last week that virtually every Jew alive lived inside the Persian Empire. And we saw that in King Xerxes' seventh year, he had invaded Greece, but he got schwacked by the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis. And in 480 BC, he had to retire back to Persia. And then when he came back to his capital city of Susa, he came back, well, feeling sorry for himself.

And he came back wanting some female companionship. And so he fell in love with this young, beautiful girl named Esther, a young Jewish girl, living there in the city of Susa with her uncle, Mordecai. And suddenly, Esther becomes the queen of the entire Persian Empire.

But Xerxes doesn't know yet that she's Jewish because her uncle, Mordecai, had advised her to keep this little detail to herself for the time being. So that's where we've been. We're ready now to launch into Esther chapter 3. So here we go, verse 1. And after these events, Xerxes promoted Haman, there's our bad guy, and advanced him and established his authority over all the other nobles. And all the royal officials at the king's gate would bow down and pay honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would neither bow down nor pay him honor.

Now you say, why wouldn't Mordecai bow down to this guy? Well, it's because of commandment number 1 and commandment number 2 in the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy chapter 5 verse 7, here they are. You shall have no other gods before me, God says.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, look, or bow down to them or serve them, for I am a jealous God. And the Jews believed that to bow down to anything or to bow down to anyone other than God himself was a sin of the absolute worst kind. And that's why Mordecai wouldn't do it. Verse 5, when Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, Haman was enraged. And yet, when he learned who Mordecai's people were, that is the Jews, Haman scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead, Haman began looking for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. So, what did he do? Well, Haman went to Xerxes and said, there's a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples of your kingdom whose customs are different and who do not observe the king's laws.

It is not in the king's best interest to tolerate these people. So, if it pleases the king, Haman said, let a decree be issued to destroy them. Xerxes took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman and said to Haman, do with these people as you please. And so, here we have Haman heading out to exterminate all the Jewish people from the entire Persian Empire. But remember what we said. We said earlier that this represented for all practical purposes every Jewish person in the whole world would have been exterminated. Now, we need to stop here for a moment and understand that this was no random event. We need to understand that Satan himself was behind Haman's efforts.

You say, well, why would you say that? Well, friends, think for a moment, God had promised that the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, was going to be Jewish. That he was going to be a direct descendant of King David. But if all the Jews are killed by Haman in 480 B.C., folks, then there are no Jewish people five centuries later to give birth to the Lord Jesus Christ. And hey, if there's no Christ, if there's no Messiah, then there's no cross. And if there's no cross, then there's no resurrection. And if there's no cross and no resurrection, there is no plan of salvation for the human race. Make no mistake about it, my friends.

Satan was in this thing up to his elbows. Verse 13, so Haman sent dispatches to all the king's provinces with the order to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews. I think that covers it, don't you? Destroy, kill, annihilate. I think the point's clear, don't you? Yeah?

Okay. Well, anyway, when Mordecai learned of this, chapter 4 verse 1, he put on sackcloth and ashes, a sign of deep mourning and anguish. And he went out into the city weeping loudly. Then Queen Esther heard about it and sent one of her eunuchs to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why. So Mordecai told the eunuch everything that had happened. He also gave the eunuch a copy of the king's edict to show Esther. And he told the eunuch to urge Esther to go into the king's presence and plead with him for her people. Okay.

So far, so good. Mordecai has gotten the king's edict into the queen's hands. Now he says to her, okay, Esther, tonight at dinner you need to talk to your husband, the king, about this.

Or even better yet, you need to march right down the hall to the oval office right this afternoon and knock on the door and go in and talk to Xerxes about this. But Esther writes him back and says, you know, Mordecai, it's just not quite that simple. Verse 11. She says that all the king's officials know that if any man or woman approaches the king in his inner court without being summoned by him, that person is put to death. The only exception, she says, is if the king extends his golden scepter, his golden wand to that person and spares their life. And Esther says to Mordecai, and oh, by the way, Mordecai, you should know that it's been over 30 days since I was summoned to go into the king's presence. Esther says, hey, Mordecai, you just can't pop in on Xerxes.

Even the queen herself has to be summoned and if anybody violates this protocol, they cut their head off. Well, I love Mordecai's response. He said to her, do not think that because you are in the king's palace, you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you will certainly perish. Mordecai says, hey, Esther, God's going to preserve the Jewish people because the promises of God cannot fail. But you know what, if you don't do anything, a whole lot of Jewish people are going to die in the process and you're going to be one of them.

Don't you dare think that Haman is not coming after you first as soon as he finds out you're Jewish. And then he says to her, look, he says, and who knows, Esther, but that you have come to your royal position. You're the queen for just such a time as this. Mordecai says, don't you get it, Esther? Don't you see that the whole reason God allowed you to become the queen, the whole reason God allowed, Xerxes to fall in love with you, the whole reason that you're on the throne of Persia was for this very moment, for this very crisis that God knew was coming.

Can't you see that, girl? Now, what an amazing spiritual insight Mordecai has here. And you know, as followers of Christ today, this insight that he had is just as true for us that at any given moment and at every given moment, God puts us exactly where we are in life for spiritual reasons, which means that we must always be asking ourselves the question, why? Why did God put me here? Why has God promoted me the way he has? Why has God given me the position of influence that he's given me, and how now does he want me to take this position of influence and use it not to exalt myself, not to advance myself, but to use it to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to use it to advance the kingdom of God and the gospel?

Well, that's the question we should always be asking. I don't know if any of you guys keep up with PGA Golf, but if you do, you know the name K.J. Choi. Mr. Choi won the Players' Championship several weeks ago in a sudden death playoff with David Toms. And after the tournament was over, the interviewer on NBC got Mr. Choi aside and tried to get him. And he said, you know, I want you to tell me, tell me about how great you played and tell me about, you know, how tenacious you were and hung on, you know, in the playoff and how unflappable you were under the pressure. And I love the first thing that came out of Mr. Choi's mouth. The first thing he said, and I quote, is I want to thank God and Jesus who was with me all day, end of quote.

And I was sitting there watching that and I said, wow, this is great. Here now is a follower of Christ who gets it. Here is a follower of Christ who understands, yes, Jesus was with him all day. And yes, Jesus helped him win the tournament, but God did all of this so that Mr. Choi could use his moment on worldwide television not to exalt himself, not to talk about what a great golfer he is, not to talk about how wonderful he did under the pressure, but so that he could use that moment that God granted him to exalt Christ and to advance the gospel and to point people to Jesus Christ. Hey friends, praise God for Mr. K.J.

Choi. Hey, praise God for this man. And listen, many of us here, listen to me, as followers of Christ here in Washington have been granted positions of power. Many of us here have been granted positions of fame and fortune. Many of us here have been granted positions of influence that go beyond anything we ever dreamed we would have.

And if we haven't already, many of us young people are going to have those kind of positions one of these days. But we must never forget the key question, and that is, how can I use this position of influence that the Lord has graciously given me not to exalt myself, but to exalt Jesus Christ, to put the spotlight on Jesus Christ, to turn people's attention to Jesus Christ, and to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what Mordecai said to Esther, Esther, you are where you are, not because of you, you're there because God needs you to be there to serve God and to advance the kingdom. And friends, that's true for us.

That's true for us. Well, let's get back to our story. Verse 16, Then Esther sent a message to Mordecai, saying, Gather together all the Jews that are in Susa, and fast for me. I and my maids will fast as well, she said. And when this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.

Esther writes back and says, you know, Mordecai, you're right. God made me queen for exactly this moment. God made me queen so that I could go appeal to the king on behalf of my people. And this is indeed God's will for my life, and I'm going to do it.

Regardless of the cost. And so, as we end our passage for today, we need to understand that these words Esther spoke, if I perish, I perish, these were not words of despair. These were not words of cynicism. These were not words of pessimism. No, no.

These were words of humble submission to the will of God in her life. Now, that's as far as we're going to go in the passage, because now we're going to stop and we're going to ask our most important question. So, all of our friends at Bethesda, and all of our friends at Loudoun, and all of our friends on the internet, and all of our friends at Prince William, and in the Edge, and here at Tysons, are we ready? You sure? Alright, come on now, come on, here we go.

One, two, three. Yeah. You say, Lon, so what? Say, hey, this is a great story, I really appreciate Esther, you know, with the king, and the whole wand, the scepter thing, and all that. What difference did any of this make to me? I don't see the slightest connection to my life here.

Well, let's talk about that. You know, friends, here in Esther chapter four, when Esther says, if I perish, I perish, I'm going to see the king, she illustrates one of the key tenets of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. A true disciple of Jesus is a person who puts God's will first in their life, regardless of the cost.

Their motto in life is, if I perish doing God's will, then I perish, but I'm going to do God's will. And you know, Esther wasn't the only man or woman of God to ever live this way. Every great man or woman of God has lived this way.

For example, the apostle Paul. Acts chapter 20, after the end of his third missionary journey, he's headed to Jerusalem, here's what he says. He says, and now, compelled by the Holy Spirit, meaning I know this is God's will for me, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that in every city the Holy Spirit testifies to me that prison and affliction await me there. Now look what Paul says. He says, verse 24, however, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I can finish the race and complete the ministry that the Lord Jesus has given me. He says in Acts 21, 13, what are you doing?

Weeping and breaking my heart, he says, for I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. What did Paul say here? Paul says what Esther says. Paul says if I perish, I perish, but if I perish, I'm going to perish doing God's will for my life. This is the code I live by, says Paul. And friends, this is the code that every man or woman of God, every true disciple of Christ lives by.

The code says obeying God's will is the highest issue in my life and I'm going to do it regardless of what it costs me. You know, in the early 1950s there were five college students who were all going to school together and who became convinced that God was calling them to be missionaries. One of them was named Jim Elliott.

Another one was named Nate Saint. And there were three other of their friends. And as they prayed about where God would have them go, they developed this huge burden for reaching the Auca Indians in central Ecuador. Now the Aucas were a truly unreached tribal group and contact with the outside world had been very disturbing when it happened with these people. They had already killed a number of shell oil workers that were there in Ecuador working. And an escaped Auca girl even said, and I quote, They are killers. Never, never trust them.

They'll appear friendly at first and they'll turn around and kill you. But Jim Elliott and Nate Saint and his three friends were convinced that God's will for their life was to go and try to reach the Auca people. Nate Saint said, and I quote, As we weigh the future and seek the will of God, does it seem right that we should hazard our lives for just a few savages?

Here's his answer. During the last war, World War II, we were taught to recognize that in order to obtain our objective, we had to be willing to be expendable. Yet when the Lord Jesus asks us to pay this price for world evangelization, we often do not answer Him a word. Jim Elliott said, and I quote, If that's the way God wants it to be, I am ready to die for the salvation of the Akas.

And then he made his famous quote, He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, meaning his own earthly life, to gain in heaven what he cannot lose. So the five of them went. On January the 8th, 1956, Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, and their three friends were all killed by the Auca Indians that they had gone to help.

Search teams found their bodies floating in the river near their camp. They had all been lanced to death, and the Akas had even tied gospel tracts that these men had brought with them to the lances that they had used to kill them. However, that's not the end of the story. Because Jim Elliott's wife, Elizabeth, after praying about it for just a couple of weeks, became convinced that God's will was for her to go back to the Auca Indians, the very people who had killed her husband, and be a missionary to them. And the other four wives agreed to go with her. And so these five women went back to the Auca Indians after they had killed all five of their husbands. The Akas were so blown away that these women would come and do this that instead of killing them, they listened to them.

And today, 56 years later, the Auca Indians are one of the most spiritually committed, the most thoroughly evangelized Indian tribes in all of South America. Friends, these are the kind of people that God's looking for. He's looking for believers who don't think in terms of the cost.

They think in terms of obedience to God. That's who God's looking for. And so as we close, I've got a question that I'd like to leave us with today.

And here's my question. Where is God asking me to obey Him and I'm hesitating? Maybe He's asking you to return something that you stole, or maybe He's asking us to seek forgiveness from somebody we know we've wronged, or maybe He's asking us to oppose some unethical practice or behavior that's going on in our workplace. Or maybe God's asking us to share Christ with a friend or a relative or a coworker or a neighbor that we know is not going to particularly like it the first time we share with them.

You say, Lon, I've got to tell you, man, you've gone from preaching to meddling now, buddy. Well, listen, friends, you can't talk about obedience to God in the abstract. Obedience to God is a concrete thing and it has to be talked about in concrete terms. Maybe God's asking us to become a non-sexually active single person. Or maybe God's asking us to go back and correct a lie we told or to go back and pay a debt that we owe or to file an amended tax return. Maybe God's asking us to put a porn filter on our computer or to stop worshipping our career and go home early and be the husband and the father that God called us to be. Look, friends, I don't know what God's asking you to do, but if He's asking you to do something and you're hesitating, I can promise you I know why you're hesitating.

It's always the same reason. It's because we know if we do what God's asking us to do, it's going to cost us something. We know if we do what God's asking us to do, we're going to pay a price for it. The price may be our boyfriend. The price may be our girlfriend. The price may be our job. The price may be our popularity at work or at school. The price may be a promotion or the loss of a friendship or being alienated from a family member. The truth is obedience to God might cost you and me this much.

Friends, it might cost us more. But remember who God's looking for, friends. And remember the promise He makes such people.

Here it is. 2 Chronicles 16, verse 9. For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the whole earth. I love this. The Lord's up there scanning the earth.

Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. You get this. And what's He looking for? Looking for those people whose hearts are completely His.

Why? Here's the promise. That He might show Himself mighty on their behalf.

Wow. Friends, and how does God identify who these people are? Whose hearts are completely His?

Huh? Jesus said it. John 14, 15. If you love Me, you will obey what I command you. That's how Jesus tells whose heart is completely His.

So let's go back. 2 Chronicles 16, 9. For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the whole earth, looking for those people whose hearts are completely His. Why?

I love this. So that He might show Himself mighty on those people's behalf. Hey friends, may we aspire to be such people, huh? And may we take the actions necessary to prove to God that we are passionate about being such people. Let's pray together. And with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, I want to give you just a moment. Maybe there's some area in your life where God has been asking you to obey Him and you've been hesitating because frankly you know there's going to be a cost and you just don't want to pay it.

Well, I understand that. The question we have to answer today is whether or not we're willing to obey you regardless of the cost. And so if you need to tell the Lord today that you're willing to do that and that you need His help, but you're going to do it. If you perish, you perish, but you're going to go obeying God.

Then this is the moment to have that conversation. Lord Jesus, as you know, obeying God is hard. It's hard because it always costs us something. But it also forces us to decide who's number one in our life, us or you. And so, Lord, today I pray that you would challenge each one of us here, that the answer to that question has to be that you are first in our life and we will prove it to you by obeying you regardless of the cost.

And if we perish, we perish, but we're going to perish obeying God. So, Lord, speak to our hearts deeply today and for those of us here who need to take some actions, who need to go back and to do some things you've been asking us to do and frankly we've just been unwilling. I pray that you would give courage to us and give assistance to us. And, Lord, this week if we're able, help us take care of it. Lord, thanks for talking to us today. Make us people like Esther. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. And what did God's people say? Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-11 10:03:53 / 2023-06-11 10:14:26 / 11

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