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Esther: For Such a Time as This

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 27, 2021 9:00 am

Esther: For Such a Time as This

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 27, 2021 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. opens up Esther, a book that surprisingly lacks the name of God, yet is mysteriously full of God at work.

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Today on Summit life with Judy Greer.

Doesn't matter what your history as it doesn't matter what your ability is it only matters what your availability is. God has placed you at a specific place with specific opportunities with a checkered history. For the purposes of his kingdom. As always, I'm your host Molly made a batch we trust you had a wonderful weekend celebrating the birth of Jesus with family and friends were so glad you're back with us today as we begin a timely today series title for such a time is best yesterday will be opening up the book of Esther about that surprisingly lacks the name of God, yet is mysteriously full of God at work were going to see that God has sovereignly arranged our circumstances just like actors to be strategically involved in his mission.

So grab your Bible gabapentin notebook and take some notes as we dive in yesterday. Bible this week.

You know what you think about about open them through the book of Esther, the book of Esther. You said where is the book of Esther is in the Old Testament. It is right after the book of Nehemiah right before the book of Job. Esther is one of only two books in the Bible in the Old Testament that his name for a woman and believe it or not it is a pretty controversial book is not controversial because it was named for a woman. It is controversial because God's name is not mentioned in the book of Esther. Not one single time. Not one time in the entire book from cover to cover, will you find the name of God, even mentioned he's not prayed Sue in the book of Esther there been throughout history there been Jewish councils and Christian councils that have tried to remove the book have the book removed from the official canon of the Bible. Thankfully, however, God has seen fit to keep it in there for us because it's got something really important to teach us. I believe in the fact that God's name is not mentioned in the book is part of the way that God teaches that says I hope to demonstrate to you today is not accidental that his name is not mentioned in their I'm a zero in on a specific moment in Esther's life that I believe parallels where we are as a church and also were many of you are as individuals. That moment that I'm a zero in on occurs in chapter 4, but in order to get there.

I need to give you some of the back story so you want the chapters 1 to 3.

What happens after chapter 4 0 in on that moment in chapter 4 okay alright so Esther chapter 1 Esther story begin circa 43 BC were so Esther is part of a large Jewish community that has remained in Persia. This modern-day Iran where God had sent Israel into exile about 100 years prior to this because Israel would not obey God. Most of the Jews have already gone home, going back home to Israel from Persia because in 536 BC, which is about 50 years or so before the story of Esther 536 BC a Persian king named Cyrus had issued an edict declaring that the Jews could return to their homeland and rebuild the temple and saw a large group of Jews, the majority returned to the land under the leadership of a guy named Ezra and then another when they Nehemiah whose books occur right before Esther in your Bible.

But there was a large group of Jewish people that remained in Persia and they did not follow Ezra and Nehemiah back to the promised land. In fact, they were sometimes look down on by the Jews who didn't return because the Jews you did return to the promised land thought well these Jews just don't have enough faith and they've gotten too comfortable in captivity in their living in disobedience in so so Esther is is one of those who remained there in the land in Persia, even after God given permission to go back to Gus with me so far. Esther is an orphan girl who is being raised by her older cousin Mordechai the story Esther begins chapter 1 with a king named a house arrest doing what kings do best. That is, throwing an enormous party for himself.

Check it out to everyone and a hazardous display. The glorious wealth of his kingdom, and the magnificent splendor of his greatness, for a total of hundred and 80 days.

Yes you read that correctly you do a six month party for himself and then after the six month party was over, the real party began at the end of this time, the king held another weeklong banquet in the garden courtyard. The royal palace for all the people from the greatest to the least. Verse eight describes the party to you.

The drinking was according to royal decree. There are no restrictions. This was a all-inclusive party in the king's command was.

You need to drink a lot. Verse 10 on the seventh day when the king was feeling good from the wine which is a Hebrew way of saying he was stone cold plastered verse 11 taking a hazardous commanded his UNIX to go bring Queen Vashti before him, with her royal crown because he wanted to show off her beauty. Verse 11 says to his officials.

The implication being, he wanted her to come out wearing only her royal crown on her head so that all of his drunken guy friends could gaze on her beauty will not surprisingly, Queen Vashti is not excited about this at all and so she refuses and good for her. This embarrasses the king in front of his buddies and so he goes back into his bedroom and start sulking and one of his wiseguys come Sue in one of his wisemen and says game broke. This is serious.

You gotta do something about this and not just for your sinking you gotta do something for the sake of all men everywhere. In fact, this might be my favorite verse and all of Esther. He says if you don't take this seriously before this day is out wife of every one of us will hear what the Queen did and will start talking to their husbands in the same way there will be no end to the contempt and anchor throughout her round doing it when we command our wives to come out naked in front of her drunk buddy she won't do it. What's his kingdom to come to lawlessness. I say anarchy so Vashti gets kicked to the curb. But now I hazardous needs a new queen.

So I hazardous comes up with a brilliant idea.

He thinks chapter 2. Let us search the Empire to find beautiful young virgins for the king.

Then the young woman who pleases you. Most will be made Queen instead of Vashti.

In other words, he holds a nationwide contest eerily similar to the bachelor.

And here is how the contest work. Contestants were putting the king's harem and the king would try them out each night a different one would appear before him. They would answer some questions. I guess they would do some kind of talent and then that night. The king would sleep with them after it was all over the king would choose his favorite and she would be the Queen now that probably sounds to you like a contest that a nice girl would not answer and I agree, but I'm not sure whether Esther had much choice in the matter at all and that the text makes clear that she was chosen to be in this contest that's in verse eight, which means I'm not really sure she could have refused it is probably more accurate to think of Esther as a sex slave of victim of a cruel and exploitive man in power on the other hand, there doesn't appear to be a lot of opposition onto this on her or her family's part. You really don't find in the story, any kind of you Daniel in the lion's Danner Shadrach me shack Abednego in the fiery furnace kind of defiant opposition or courageous protest, for they say no working obey God no matter what the cost. That is, is absent from the story and back chapter 2 verse 20 says that her family concealed the fact that she was Jewish, which also meant that she was totally silent about her belief in God because talking about her belief and in Jehovah and Yahweh would've indicated that she was a Jew and so she kept her mouth shut about that plus the fact that Esther and Mordecai, who is the cousin who raised her are both still in Persia several generations after Cyrus is given permission for the Jews to return to the promised land is supposed to raise in you suspicion about their walk with God as you start the book. Why haven't they gone back to the promised land. Maybe most importantly, like I told you God's name is not in this book. Not one time, which is an indication that God is likely not the first and foremost thing in their minds. All this to say these are not really exemplary people of faith I would say this is a really messy situation now is get back to the story. The good news is Esther wins the contest chapter 2 verse seven explains why she won the contest.

Esther had a beautiful figure, and she was lovely to look at him in Hebrew, the literal word is bodacious. She was something else. She was a knockout. One final detail before we get into chapter 3. The author tells us really quickly about amending Mordechai, who Jim was Esther's older cousin and he essentially adopts her when her parents are killed now. Mordechai works near the palace and he stumbles onto a plot to assassinate king a hazardous. He boils the plot and he saves the king's life, but the king never finds out about it. That's an important detail will come back to later. Now chapter 3 is where the story really starts to get interesting. Enter Haman the village. Chapter 3 after all this took place. King, a hazardous honored Haman be a gag. I now you know that Haman is the billing because he called in a guy guy and a guy guides are the people that are the sworn enemies of Israel and the ones that God has promised to destroy by the way, fun fact I learned about the story this week whenever Orthodox Jews celebrate the feast of pure dream every year during the season. They do it during the season went. This all took place when they retell the story and whenever they retell the story.

Every time they say the name Haman. All the children in the audience respond by hissing and booing.

I thought that sounded kind of fun you know you want to try not just the children but everybody writes what I say, Haman. You gotta be were his ready. I hazardous promoted payment fantastic and gave him a higher position than all the other officials I hazardous makes this full prime minister burst to the entire royal staff at the Kingsbury gate bow down to him and paid homage to Haman because the king commanded very good this to be done for him to go out but Mordecai would not bow down or pay homage. The members of the royal staff at the Kingsgate asked Mordechai again was Esther's cousin. Why are you disobeying the king's command.

By the way scholars say that this is the central question in the entire book. Who is the real king, who's really in charge who should we really need to be bowing down to and obey well the fact that Mordechai won't bow down to Haman, now the fact that Mordechai will bow down to Haman. Everybody okay you want to do it anymore. Okay, you got the point. The fact that Mordechai won't bow down to him makes him madder than a three like a dog trying to bury a bone on a frozen pond and when Haman finds out that Mordechai is a Jew.

He hatches a plan to kill all the Jews you think you know what these people are just troublemakers. They been here long enough were discussed destroy all of them. This is my final solution for them.

He presented his plan to a hazardous who evidently has a pretty hands-off approach to governing.

And he didn't really pay attention to what Haman is asking because he's done or planning his next six-month partier is on Twitter: everybody disagrees with the nasty names are, whatever it is, of the king is doing chapter 4 Mordechai who again hangs out around the palace hears about this plot to kill the Jews and so he sends an urgent message to his cousin, Esther, and he says cleanouts are you gotta do something about this and Esther sends a message back to Mordechai saying verse 11 chapter 4, cousin Mordechai, I appreciate your concern, but honestly, what can I do you remember how I hazardous responds to women disagreeing with him in public, but you remember he had clean, bashfully banished just for refusing to strut her stuff naked in front of always drunk bodies.

Imagine what he would do if I as a woman and had the audacity to confront him and suggesting him that he is making bad government decisions, he would have me killed using Persia wall said that if anybody came before the king uninvited. They could be killed and for this little Jewish girl to appear before I hazardous who is basically the poster child of male chauvinism and tell him that he does know how to run his government that would be a death wish. Mordechai's response to her. Chapter 4 is timeless and it is our main text for this weekend before verse 13 Mordechai says do not think to yourself that in the king's palace. You will escape any more than all the other Jews. In other words, Esther.

Your safety is an illusion. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place. But you and your father's house will perish. In other words, what is certain is that God's will will be done for salvation will be accomplished and his people will be delivered. The question Esther is whether not you were going to be saved and who knows Esther whether or not you came into the kingdom. Who knows whether not God put you into this moment.

At this time for just such a time as this. As we have seen Esther had not lived the privileged life and Esther did not really even start out that well in her walk of faith. But this is a defining moment for Esther and Esther responds with one of the greatest statements of courage in the Bible verse 16. I will therefore go to the king, though it is against the law and if I perish, I perish so chapter 5 on the appointed day, Esther enters into the king's court in king a hazardous who evidently is still taken in by her beauty raises his scepter which was a symbol that she had been accepted by him, and he says to her, my Queen my beautiful queen.

What is it that you need for me asking anything she says you know what I really like is for you to come to a banquet tomorrow and I want you to bring your friend Haman with you. Now the king says okay that's an odd request, but I'll be happy to do it in the next night. He and the Prime Minister come to dinner at Esther's little mini palace at this first banquet. Esther doesn't mention anything about about Haman's genocide plan. Maybe she just doesn't have the courage to do it instead.

After a night of eating and drinking. She invites them to another banquet. The next night because she knows how the king likes to party well.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, Haman goes home from this first party and he's feeling really really good about himself because of all the people in the kingdom. Esther requested him and so now he feels like he's part of this you know power couple power trouble.

That's really the kingdom got the king get the queen and then you got old Haman and he's think admin who would've thought I'd ever turned out this awesome and I'm just like I'm awesome. I got awesome sauce dripping from it.

He's doing great about himself. But as he is going home.

He passes to the city gate and when he does. Mordechai does that thing that Mordechai does is Mordechai standing there and while everybody else bows down a minute Mordechai.he sustained in their wreck paralyzed. Bowing down he liked making the losers is that is the Joe's bar whatever and that's just totally kills Haman's bias and he decides you know what, I can't wait until I kill all the Jews to kill this guy. I'm in the kill this guy tomorrow and so when he gets home he orders that the palace builders construct a gallows 75 feet high and they do it. That very night and he plans Haman plans to go to king*the very next morning and asked for permission to hang Mordechai what just so happens on that very same night that the king back in the palace can't go to sleep till around 2 o'clock or so in the morning he says to one of his guards. I can't sleep going get me a bedtime story and read it to me and so this soldier goes to the king's library and chooses a boat at random in the book, but he chooses just so happens to be the book that recounts the story of Mordechai saving the king's life and the king hear the story and says this is remarkable how exactly did we reward this fellow Mordechai in the service as well. Based on the records here.

We didn't reward him at all.

So the king decides that he is going to reward Mordechai first thing in the morning. So as soon as the sun rises and the king gets to the office. Guess who just so happens to walk into the room. It's Haman who is come to ask the king for permission to hang Mordechai but before he can say anything the king says hey man, I got a question get it Haman?

What should be done. What should be done for the man that the king wants to honor not remember Haman is very narcissistic and he thinks that he's just awesome so he naturally assumes gangs talk about him and he thinks this is good. I got a chance to really promote myself.

It is, you should make a really big deal out of this. We need to hang a wreath around his neck and give them a special aerobic you need to have a chariot driving down the city street and you need to have a really high ranking government official run behind the chariot and just call Alice he's going by. This is the man in the king loves and this is what the king does for the man whom he honors making a hazardous says that sounds like a great idea. The guy that I want to honor his name Mordechai and the guy who should do the shouting is you riches pretty doggone funny. You gotta admit laughter this little charade. Haman is now madder than a mosquito in a mannequin factory so he takes his plan to kill all the Jews into overdrive. My nieces understood I needed were working to kill them all.

But that night, but that night member.

He's got a go to Esther second banquet and this time Esther works up the courage to tell the king about the plot against her people and she reveals in the process that she also is a Jew and the king says who would conceive such a plot against you, and Esther points across the table it Haman who got his mouth full of mutton and says that's the man right there. Well, now it's a hazardous's turn to be angry so he storms out of the room in rage at which point Haman goes over to Esther and grabs a hold of her dress and starts to plead for his life, but apparently as he is pleading he falls down on top of personnel she's on the ground.

He's on top of her and guess who just so happens to walk back in the room at just that moment.

King, a hazardous who is like what now you're trying to write my wife also and he orders Haman to be hung on the next available gallows, which of course just so happens to be the gallows than a minute construct of the previous night for Mordechai and so it is that Esther got a really rough start in life saves the Jewish nation and her courage transformed our lives as well. Many generations later, because a few generations after this one.

One of the descendents of the people that Esther say that night would be visited by an angel and told that she was pregnant with the Messiah, the son of God and Jesus came into the world and died for our sins, and now we sit here worshiping him today because of the courage of an orphan girl responded in the right way and her defining moment of faith.

I believe it Esther story serves two purposes.

In the Bible verses. It shows us the remarkable way that God brought Jesus into the world and secondly it shows you the way that God wants to use you in his global purposes, and how you were supposed to respond to your defining moment of faith.

You see, I believe that some of you, and we collectively as a church. I believe were at a defining moment of faith. I guess her and want to try to unpack that for you and I will use Esther story to show you four ways for ways that you were supposed to seize your divine moment of Faith Way, #1 is you need to realize first that God continues Mordechai's and Esther's think of Mordechai's as the kinds of people you normally find in a church there good people there sincere in their faith.

They haven't been involved in really any major scandals they got pretty vanilla testimonies are boring you know that the worst things a gun in life or speed or forget the recycle or something like that.

I tell you their testimony to put you to sleep, Esther's, by contrast, are people whose lives are filled with shame or regret or maybe compromises the mistakes maybe like Esther you been the victim of somebody else's manipulation.

Maybe you have been like her. The victim of assault or maybe you look back and see that you have not always acted with courage and faith when you should. What you need to see is that God has a plan for you also. In fact, Esther is the one that God uses to preserve the messianic line. Why, why is it that of all the people in the Jewish nation.

Why did God choose Mordechai. Why choose an orphan girl who was with the compromise life of faith.

Why choose somebody who is vulnerable in every possible way it has to be that God is showing us that he brings his salvation in the world through unlikely week instruments make themselves available to him. Of all the people of Israel. This is who God chose to bring salvation to the world a young orphan immigrant checkered past.

My point is this.

It doesn't matter what your history is.

It doesn't matter what your ability is it only matters what your availability is. God has placed you at a specific place with specific opportunities with a checkered history. For the purposes of his kingdom and message of hope for these times. You're listening to stomach life with Pastor Arthur and theologian JD Greer goes without saying that we love being a source of encouragement for you daily here on the program and as always you can check out our latest online resources and our full sermon at this time of year. Your financial support is more important than ever.

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