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July 8, 2021 8:00 am
You know sometimes things in life just don't work out the way we plan to take for example the case of Mac and Virginia Metcalf in the year 2000. They won the Powerball lottery in Kentucky and there one time payout was a whopping $65.4 million.
Well, Mac, quit his job as a forklift operator, Virginia quit her factory job and they prepared for Allied full of mashed potatoes and gravy, but things didn't go exactly the way they plan first.
They got divorced and then Mac was arrested for DUI. He was sued and had to pay Virginia $850,000 of child support. Steve developed a huge drinking problem and in 2003.
Three years after winning the lottery.
He died of alcohol related disease at the age of 45 things didn't go a whole lot better for Virginia either. Police found a dead man in her house from a drug overdose, family and friends filed multiple suits against her to try to get some of her money and in 2005, authorities found her dead body lying in her home where it had been undiscovered for weeks pay what we say earlier tragic, but sometimes things in life don't always go like we planned well today were going to begin a four-part series in the Old Testament book of Esther and in part one of our series. This is exactly what we want to talk about. We want to talk about as followers of Christ, how we should react when things in life don't go the way we plan.
When they don't go the way we hold and the title of part one of our study of Esther is God knows the what he's doing so were ready to dig in but but just before we do. We need a little bit of historical background because understanding the historical setting of the book of Esther is critical to understanding the book itself, and so there are five critical dates in history that I want to share with you that we need to know are you ready to go back to class.
Here we go back to history Eureka number one date number one, 586 BC King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon captured Jerusalem burns it to the ground and carries basically every Jew in Jerusalem and Judea back to Babylon. Date number two 539 BC, 50 years later, Cyrus the great and the new Persian Empire conquer Babylon and Cyrus was a particularly benevolent conqueror who, among other things, allowed the Jews that had been taken captive to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. The Bible tells us only 42,360 Jews took them up on this. The other hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands stayed in the Persian Empire. You say why well because Jerusalem was burned to the ground. Jerusalem's walls were torn down Jerusalem how the houses were torn down and the Jewish people and become prosperous over the 50 years that they had been in captivity while leave that prosperity to go back to a desolate city everybody with me. That's why when we progress in the book of Esther and we talk about all the Jews that are in the Persian Empire. That's why they're still there.
Number three date number three, 490 BC, Cyrus's successor King Darius invades Greece and is defeated at the Battle of Marathon.
He returns to Persia. Darius Dawes and is determined to raise an even bigger Army to go in Greece one more time, but in the meantime, he dies and his son Xerxes ascends to the throne, who and he is also obsessed about destroying Greece and avenging his father's defeat. Now the book of Esther. The events of the book of Esther happened during the reign of this King King Xerxes, date, number four, 483 BC Xerxes second year and this year. Xerxes starts to assemble in his capital city. Sue saw the greatest Army, the largest army ever collected in the history of the world.
Up to that point to attack Reese again and we know from Persian history that it took three years for him to assemble this Army.
During that time, princes and nobles and soldiers were all screaming into Sue saw his capital city, and of course you had to feed all these people and he had to entertain all these people. Finally, date, number five, 480 BC. Xerxes really invades Greece the defeats the Spartans the 300 Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae. Gola seen the movie the 300 you seen the movie.
I would ask when this happened he defeats them. Then he goes on and conquers Athens and burns it to the ground, but his fleet was crushed at the battle of Salamis just outside Athens and he and his seventh year Xerxes seventh year was forced to withdraw and go back to Persia with his tail between his legs defeated just as his father Darius had been now all you folks a professor you still awake your body weight here.
I only got you guys allowed you still with us here. You guys okay I'm you know we glaze over when we do history, but you're with me right okay now with these five dates in this historical background under our belt, we are ready to tackle the book of Esther.
So here we go Esther chapter 1 verse three in the third year of his reign, 482 BC Xerxes gave a banquet for all of his nobles and officials, the military leaders and princes and nobles of all the provinces of media were present as well. For a full 180 days Xerxes displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom, and the Splendora, and glory of his majesty. Now we understand what the book of Esther is telling us here in chapter 1, right.
We understand that Esther one verse four falls during the three years when we know from Persian history that Xerxes was assembling his big army in Susa. As we said earlier, all of these people needed to be fed and they needed to be entertained and so verse four of chapter 1 tells us that Xerxes through a 180 day ongoing continuous party for all of these nobles and all of the soldiers. The point is that everything Esther chapter 1 says it's perfectly with the facts of Persian history as we know them now.
Let me summarize what happens next at one of these parties.
Xerxes decided to show off the beauty of his wife the Queen. Her name was varsity and so he commanded her to get dressed up and come in before all the nobles so they could see how beautiful she was well varsity refused and by doing so, she humiliated the king in front of all of his nobles and all of his friends I say will wind the world which he refused what friends how in the world do I know I don't know why she didn't come, but I'll tell you this.
We know from history that Xerxes had a viral temper. For example, on the way when he was marching to Greece. We know that he had some engineers build a bridge over River and unexpected flood came and destroyed the bridge and he got mad Adam and executed a mall right there next to the bridge they had built wasn't even there fall, but the point is, this is not the guy you want to make mad. She not only made a mad she infuriated him. She enraged him and so he threw out his queen. End of chapter 1 chapter 2 verse one.
Later, when the anger of King Xerxes had subsided. He remembered varsity and what she had done.
Then the king servant said let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king and let the girl who pleases the king become clean instead of varsity. This advised pleases the king, so he authorized now. It's very important to look down in verse 16 of chapter 2 where were told that chapter to this search for the new queen took place in the seventh year of Xerxes reign.
That is between chapter 1 and chapter 2. The Bible tells us there is an interval of four years, but because we are such great history students here at McLean Bible church and because we are so on top of Persian history. We know what happened during those intervening four years don't way class yes in year five of Xerxes reign.
We know that he invaded Greece in year six of his reign. We know that he was defeated and in year seven of his reign. We know that Xerxes returns to Susa with his tail between his legs feeling sorry for himself wanting some female companionship and so he starts looking for a new queen once again we see that the events of Esther to also fit perfectly with the facts of Persian history of Ceylon Harbor women subsector.
I heard you say that three or four times now how Esther fits with the facts of Persian history.
I mean, that's great, but what's the point I'm you what's the big wall puppy. Why do you keep repeating that. Why is that so important. Oh, it is important friends listen. If we can't trust what the Bible says about Persian history, how do we know that we can trust the Bible when it says things about Jesus Christ or about the resurrection, or about heaven or about hell, or about how people get to heaven or hell, my friends, the trustworthiness of the Bible is an all or nothing deal. The Bible is either completely trustworthy at every point, or it is completely suspect at every point.
And as we have seen today when we take the events of the book of Esther and we compare them and lay them beside the facts of Persian history. What we find is that the Bible passes the test once again with flying colors. A man all right now back to our story. Esther two verse five now there was in Susa a Jew named Mordechai Mordechai was a middle-aged man may be fiftyish and he was a bachelor. You say how can you be so sure that because the Bible says that for one solid year he sat in the city gates and never went home and no married man could ever got away with that. That's how I know that are so a minute thank you very much. All right, verse seven and Mordechai had a cousin named Hadas, whom he had raised because she had no father or mother. This girl who was also known by her Persian name, Esther was lovely in her form and her features. This is Bible speak for saying that this woman was dropped dead gorgeous. You got it. Now verse seven and Mordechai had raised her as his own daughter. When her father and her mother had died when the king's order had been proclaimed many girls, that is, it is looking for new queen. Many girls were brought to the Citadel of Susa and placed under the care of Haggai who was in charge of the king's harem.
Esther also was taken to the palace. By the way by Mordechai and entrusted to Haggai and immediately Esther one hey guys favor and he provided her with beauty treatments and special food and seven personal attendance and moved Esther into the best place in the harem. Apparently this new queen process in Persia was a lot like trying out for American Idol, and Haggai was a lot like Simon Cowell if he liked her from the beginning. You already had the inside track and he liked Esther verse 10, but so far Esther had not revealed her nationality. That is, that she was Jewish because Mordechai had told her not to do so now. Before girls turned to go in and see King Xerxes.
She had to complete 12 months of prescribed a beauty treatments. Hey, this is the invention of the spa onto glad you know that is where it started and when he came Esther Stern.
She was taken to King Xerxes and Xerxes was more attractive to her than to any of the other women he had seen so Xerxes immediately set the royal crown on her head.
He said that said, I don't need to see anymore women were done and he made her clean the instead of varsity.
The Bible says the minute he saw Esther Xerxes when Varvara involves little or how you say that in Persian 550 and faster than you can say Persian rug up.
Esther found herself as the queen of the mightiest empire in the entire world. How cool is that now were going to stop right there will come back and pick up the story, Lord willing. Next week, but when I asked the question right now that I know you're dying to ask that all of you in our campuses and on the Internet are dying to ask, so are we ready Prince William and Loudoun and edge already good. Okay come on now, this is a memorial day weekend. So what which means gotta be good I go, now 1203 is a hard lawn someone you say I understand the story of Esther.
You know this is really great and I'm really happy to know where the spa was invented, but other than that, what differences any of this make to my life. Well talk about that you know if you have ever read the book of Esther. You know that God is in the process here of working out a great deliverance for the Jewish people. The people of Israel and you also know if you read the book that the central player in this deliverance is this young Jewish woman named Esther without Esther becoming the queen of Persia. God's plan for saving his people breaks down and the entire Jewish race may have been annihilated. Now that would've been tragic, but far more important than that, it would've also meant there would've been no Jewish race to produce the Messiah and that would've been eternally tragic now without Esther becoming the queen of Persia. Therefore this whole thing falls apart. Even Mordechai with all of his manipulative skills in all of his scheming ability. He could never have saved his people. If Esther had not been the queen of Persia, so let's think for a moment in order to get Esther to the throne. What did God have to do well.
He had to do two things.
Number one he had to get Esther to the city of Susa so she was there, and available for tryouts and number two. Even before that he had to get Esther to Mordechai who raised her as a godly cultured woman who made sure that she showed up at the queen tryouts who made sure she got to the screening by telling her wisely, not to reveal her Jewish heritage and who no doubt continued to advise her during all 12 months of her beautification process so here's our question for today just how did God get Esther both to Susa and to Mordechai.
Well, the answer is found right here in the Bible Esther chapter 2 verse seven says, and Mordechai had taken her in as his own daughter. When her father and her mother had died. The answer is that God God Esther to Susa and he got Esther to Mordechai to the death of her mom and her dad. Now we don't know for sure how old Esther was when her mom and dad died, but since the same verse Esther chapter 2 verse seven says that Mordechai raised her.
I think it's reasonable to assume that Esther was a very young little girl when this happened and man, you talk about a devastating blow to Esther man, you talk about things not go in the way Esther plan.
I mean after losing her mom and losing her dad. She now gets shipped off to some distant relative, an old bachelor in a strange city where she has no friends where she knows nobody at school where she's a complete stranger to everything. I mean, little Esther must've felt like her entire world was coming to an end and folks we need to stop right here at Esther chapter 2 verse seven long enough to see the incredible amount of pain and heartache that's written between the lines of adverse hey what about all Mordechai. I mean, don't forget about him, and all of this, Mordechai. Here he is a middle-aged bachelor. Mordechai makes his bed. The when he feels like Mordechai washes his laundry when he feels like it. Mordechai actually washes the dishes when he feels like it, and Mordechai Burks whenever he feels like it. Thank you.
And then suddenly into his life comes a child.
Not just any child, a girl child comes into his life. He's got no wife to assist him in raising this child. Men you talk about things not going away.
The Mordechai plan for his life. Hey, that happened also and yet even though Esther nor Mordechai could see it at the time, look here can't we see that God knew what he was doing all the time. Can't we see that God was using wood looked on the human level like tragedy, the death huge tragedy of Esther's mother and father that God was using this to work out his perfect plan look not only for the deliverance of the Jewish people but also for the personal benefit of Esther and Mordecai hey think about it. Esther became the queen of the most powerful empire on the face of the earth, and Mordechai when we read chapter 10 were going to discover became Prime Minister of the most powerful empire on the earth second in command only to King Xerxes himself, you know, God did this very same thing for Joseph. You remember the story of Joseph. I hope God use some really awful circumstances in his life, rejection and betrayal by his brothers. He was sold into slavery.
He was thrown into jail unjustly and God used all of that to get Joseph right to where he wanted him to go to being the Prime Minister of Egypt. Hey, you knew what he was doing in the life of Joseph and what about Ruth God did the same thing with her. You remember that her husband died and her father-in-law died and she followed Naomi back to Israel and they lived in abject poverty. The Bible says that it was or pot en route. I and they were married to the two sons of Naomi. Those two boys were named in the in Hebrew male your own and kill your own, which means in Hebrew weekly and sickly. No one in the world you would name your children weekly and sickly. I have no idea, but weekly and sickly time. Yeah, they did and or pot said look, you know. God bless you till you are the ladies I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying right here in Moab with all my friends and all my neighbors and everything and Ruth said no Naomi, I'll go with you. Your people will be my people, your God will be my God they went back to Bethlehem.
They were refugees they were living in poverty. Ruth was out in the field, picking up graying that the harvesters are dropped on the ground. That's how they were eating analog columns about where we're Boaz Boaz was rich.
Boaz was handsome.
Boaz was godly and best of all, Boaz was available. Yeah, and he saw a Ruth and he went whom they had to say that Hebrew say the same way doing Persian Volvo Volvo and he married Ruth and suddenly Ruth finds herself the wife of a godly man a wealthy man a wonderful man and she also becomes the great-grandmother of a fellow named King David and the great great great great great great great great grandmother of a fellow named the Lord Jesus Christ.
The point I'm trying to make here, my friends, is that in every single one of these cases God knew exactly what he was doing God was so far ahead of Esther. He was so far ahead of Mordechai. He was so far ahead of Joseph and so far I had a Ruth that it wasn't even funny. And here's the key when they trusted God and when they gave God.
Time to finish what he was up to in their life. Indeed, he proved every time he knew what he was doing.
Now let's talk about you and me showing many of us here if not all of us here have had things happen in our life that resemble what happened. Esther, we got tragic things happen in painful things happen in hurtful things happen and maybe some of us even walked in here today with some of this, stuff going on in our life and we turn to God. Every time, and we say God, why why are you letting this happen to me as a loving God, why are you doing this to me and God's response to us in every case, is to point us to the promises that he's made to us in the eternal Word of God. Jeremiah 2911 for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope promises like Romans 828 God works.
What's the next word all low. That's a very important word God works all things together was for good to those who love him friends on here today on behalf of God, to assure you that God is so far ahead of you, just like he was so far ahead of Esther and Mordecai and Ruth and Joseph. He is so far ahead of you and me. That is not even funny.
I'm here to assure you that God knows what he's doing with you and with me exactly like he knew what he was doing with them.
It's just that in our puny human logic and wisdom we can't see it right away. We can see it at first, any more than Esther or Mordechai or Joseph or Ruth could see it but I remember what Yogi Berra said what he say it ain't over till it's over.
And nowhere is that more true. My friends and when it comes to how God runs our lives which means that it's too soon for you and me as followers of Christ to question God is too soon for you and me to impugn God. It is too soon for you and me to accuse God of breaking his promises to us friends. It ain't over yet. Esther had to wait till it was all over. Before she could decide whether God had kept his promises to her and he had Joseph had to wait till it was all over. Before he could decide whether God kept his promises to him and he had Ruth had to wait till it was all for before she could decide if God had been true to his word to her and friends.
You and I have to wait until it swats over before we make that same decision. You know many of you know my dad came to Christ the week before he died, but you may not know exactly how I ended up in the hospital down in Charlottesville a week before he died and was able to leading to Christ. Actually what happened was I was here in Washington and on a Thursday night I got a call from my mom in Charlottesville with her hair on fire telling me your dad's in the hospital.
Your day is on his last leg, your dad's about ready to die. You need to drop everything and get down here right away and I would run around why the work that we get a Giant Food.
I did get people to move my shift around my manager got mad and yelled at me. I had to get people to replace me teaching Sunday school, I mean it was crazy. I jumped in the car. I headed down there as fast as I could go to.
Let me just say if you're going down 29.
Be careful of Madison County, you better slowdown. I'm warning you take it from someone who know Madison County slowdown man came running into the hospital and my dad was sitting up in bed eating a banana.
I was so mad, so Mayor I thought Lord, you let that woman do it to me again.
Now you don't have a Jewish mother you'll get that, but you got a Jewish mother you understand what I'm talking about and I was so upset at her and then the Lord said to me will on you here want to talk today and I'm like oh yeah good point and so I started talking with my dad and the next day I got down on my knees with my father on his knees in the hospital next to his bed with my arm around his shoulder and he asked Jesus Christ into his life. Now here's the rest of the story.
Four days later on Wednesday. My dad had his fourth massive heart attack in the hospital went into a coma never came out and was dead a week to the day after I prayed for them, but do you see my friends, that of my mom and waited until my dad was really desperately sick. I would never been able to share with them would never been able to talk to them. One week after it happened, I was able to look back and say oh my gosh, Lord, you knew exactly what you were doing, get me down there early. Did you listen friends. This doesn't always happen in a week that we can look back and see this doesn't always happen in a month that we can look back or even in a year that we can look back and see it thought it always happens friend.
You wait till it's over. You trust God, and you give God time to finish what he's up to in your life and God promises you that every time you and I will end up confessing that he knew exactly what he was doing the entire time it's too soon to question God's not over too soon to impugn God's not over letting finish what he's up to, and friends may I remind you, in closing, God never says the loops he makes no mistakes. Trust let's pray heavenly father, thank you for speaking to us deeply from the word of God today and you know there are many of us here who were struggling with things going on in our lives that we don't understand that we don't like we don't get any more than I'm sure Esther got it when her parents died and she got shipped off to Mordechai the Lord Jesus I pray that from her story and that of Joseph and that of Ruth and thousands of others like them you would teach us today that you make no mistakes that you know what your doing in their lives and in our lives and that our job is not the question you are job is not to debate with you. Our job is not to impugn you.
Our job is to trust and give you the time you need to finish what you're up to in our lives.
So Lord change the very way we live in the very way we react to things that confuse us and hurt us and that we know like all because we were here today. We sat under the teaching of the eternal Word of God. We pray these things in Jesus name. What is God's people say they have a wonderful holiday weekend. God bless you guys see