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Just Above the Royal Throne

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
June 17, 2021 12:00 am

Just Above the Royal Throne

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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June 17, 2021 12:00 am

Sometimes when we make heroes out of the human characters in biblical stories, we forget who the real hero of the Bible is. So before we even get past the introduction of this study of Esther, Stephen makes sure we have our eyes focused laterally rather than horizontally. As we’ll discover in today’s message, the real King of Persia isn’t seated in the palace . . . He’s seated just above the royal throne.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know at the outset that the book of Esther has been given to us not to enamour us with Esther, but to enamour us with God. We're given the inside story, not to impress us with the cleverness of Esther and Mordecai, but to impress us with the infinite wisdom of this invisible God. And it is my prayerful intention and desire that after we have finished this little drama called Esther, that you and I will not be in awe of them, we will be in awe of Him. Where is God when things go wrong? Wrestling with God's sovereignty and the problem of evil isn't easy. But today, we begin a series through Esther where the issue of God's providence plays out in a real life drama. But remember, sometimes when we make heroes out of the human characters in biblical stories, we forget who the real hero of the Bible is. We'll meet the ancient king of Persia today, but the real king is seated just above the royal throne. This is wisdom for the heart.

Stephen Davy begins his exposition of Esther next. Theodicy grapples with the question of how a sovereign just God can allow injustice to reign seemingly unchecked. You've probably had that same kind of question posed to you. The difference is the unbeliever will ask the question, but he's really trying to prove that there is no relevant personal caring God. A Christian is going to ask the question from the context of trying to figure out, trying to make sense of suffering and sovereignty.

The secular argument usually goes along four points. Point number one, evil and suffering exist in the world. Point number two, if God were all powerful, he could prevent evil and suffering. Point number three, if God were all loving, he would want to prevent evil and suffering.

Therefore, point number four, since evil and suffering exist, God is either not all powerful or not all loving or perhaps even he does not exist. Now that argument and logic seems watertight, especially when you read passages in the Bible that describe God as the Lord of Lords, mighty and awesome, Deuteronomy chapter 10 verse 17. You read that he works all things out according to the counsel of his will, Ephesians chapter 1 verse 11. You read the descriptions of him by the psalmist David in Psalm 103 verse 8, which describes him as compassionate and gracious, abounding in love. You see, the Bible unapologetically describes God as both all powerful and all loving.

So then how do you reconcile that kind of God with the newspaper? Our world is filled with evil. Theologians dissect evil in the two compartments. They call one section moral evil. That is murder, rape, physical abuse, sex trafficking, stealing, political oppression, genocide, and that's just for starters. But there's not only moral evil, but what theologians call natural evil. That is brutality within the animal kingdom, the world of nature, diseases which kill millions, tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are literally spinning around the sun on a planet that is drenched with evil. For many of us, you can remember where you were on 9-11. In a very real way, one newspaper headline summarized it all when it said, and I quote, history will never be the same again.

And I don't know what you were thinking, but I remember the unsettling thought to me was this country is no longer out of reach from that kind of activity where we had all sort of been in our bubble. The bigger question of course, which many have been asking over the last 10 years is, did God care? And if he cared, why didn't he intervene? He must be malicious or mad or dead. Evil and suffering must mean that the God of the Bible doesn't exist.

Now before you reach that conclusion, you ought to ask a few questions. First of all, why does human suffering bother any of us at all? Have you ever wondered why? If the British philosopher and evolutionist Bertrand Russell is correct that mankind is simply an accident in the backwater of some pond, why would it matter to us if someone dies quickly or slowly, whether he dies painfully or peacefully? If the Oxford professor Peter Atkins is correct when he said that humanity is nothing more than a bit of slime on the planet, evolving over billions of years, why should anybody else's life then be of any remote concern to yours and mine? In fact, where did we ever come up with the concept of evil? No race other than the human race conceptualizes the existence of justice and fairness as opposed to evil and unfairness. You see the distinctive difference in the human consciousness that causes us to care for one another and try to feed the hungry and try to clean up the mess of an earthquake and declare something as unjust or unjust or unfair or something or someone who is evil does not point away from the existence of God, it points toward his existence. Moral evil does not rule out God. The very fact that we can identify something as morally wrong points to a moral law standard, a moral law bearer who gave us what we know as Christians to be, this conscience. We know from scripture that his image has been stamped upon humanity giving us the ability to discern between good and evil, fairness and unfairness.

If we were slime on a planet, if we were just a curious accident from some backwater pond, we wouldn't care about each other's suffering or hunger or disaster and pain any more than my dog cares about a hummingbird. What does the Bible say about the issue of theodicy, the existence of God and evil? Well the Apostle Paul makes it very clear in Romans chapter 5 verse 12 that death and pain and disease and calamity and even the inequality of nature's systems are all fallen because of sin. Romans chapter 5 verse 12, that our first parents Adam and Eve fulfilled what God had warned them of, that there would be death and with that dying and the first murder happened in the first family and on and on. Adam and Eve created pollution that was dumped into the stream of humanity and we proved that we're as polluted as they because we like them sinned. In fact the Bible says for all have what? Sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

They fall short of the image of God. Paul writes that even the world system including nature is fallen. He says even the universe groans.

It's out of kilter. It's groaning for the day of redemption. Romans chapter 8 verse 22, the Bible also tells us that our mysterious God as we read earlier whose ways and thoughts are above our ways and thoughts is sovereign over evil. He is never surprised by sin. He never wrings his hand in worry.

He never calls an emergency meeting of the Trinity. By his foreknowledge he not only saw every evil deed ahead of time, every evil plan, every evil act, every painful deed or act from the beginning of human history to the end of human history but he providentially even to this day counterbalances and counteracts and moves and works invisibly in every detail so that although mankind may choose to do evil rather than justice, God overrules that evil for his own wise and holy purposes. Ultimately God is able to make all things including the fruits of evil things, deeds and actions work for his ultimate purpose. Romans 8 28 and Ephesians chapter 1 verse 11 and maybe you're thinking now wait a second Stephen you mean to tell me that God knowingly allows and even plans for the fact that someone's life might endure suffering or pain or hatred or cruelty or injustice even murder that somehow those things in a person's life are orchestrated by God to produce God's holy purposes. You say I can't believe God would ever allow evil to vent itself against someone else.

God would have to be malicious, mad or dead. Then you do not understand the crucifixion. The pain and the suffering and the anguish and the mistreatment and ultimately the murder of Jesus Christ were not accidents, they were planned. That's why the prophets could describe the suffering of the Messiah centuries earlier in Isaiah 53 and the psalmist in Psalm 22 with such detail down to the fact that men would make a moral choice for which they were responsible to cast lots for his clothing that would be prophesied hundreds of years earlier. Everything and the purposes of God are planned, designed and even the moral man is responsible for his decisions for God's sovereignty never overrules his responsibility somehow in the mystery of God his will is accomplished there is no such thing then as an accident. Mankind made immoral and corrupt decisions as free moral agents behind their decisions of Christ behind their unjust treatment of Christ and his crucifixion was the plan of God determined before the universe was actually created. You can even go further Revelation 13 verse 8. So that when the Apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost when the church came into being he didn't say to the Jewish people now look what you've done you've ruined everything you crucified the true Messiah what are we going to do now? No instead he stands and he preaches in Acts chapter 2 and he says these amazing words in fact it is probably the most powerful statement relative to theodicy in the scripture where Peter says this Jesus the Nazarene was delivered over to you which you nailed to a cross that was your moral decision however it was done so by the predetermined plan of God. When Jesus Christ hung on the cross then and said it is finished that wasn't a cry of failure oh everything got messed up it was a cry of fulfillment the plan of our sovereign Lord down to the last detail was fulfilled everything had gone according to plan and the plan of God isn't finished. John Blanchard writes coming a day when God will make a universal adjustment he's going to recreate as we know from a revelation a new earth a new heaven he's going to condemn those who chose their own sovereignty to live forever under their own reign in hell and those who surrendered to the creator God to live under his sovereignty forever confirmed in holiness no longer bound by a sinful nature that's what you call a moral adjustment in the meantime Jesus Christ dealt with the issue of theodicy in fact on one occasion a tower in Jerusalem fell over and it crushed 18 people 18 innocent people died his response in Luke's gospel was to basically remind his audience that it was appointed under everyone to die and it wasn't because those 18 people were more deserving of death than those who were still alive Jesus basically confronts his audience with the question in light of that tragedy have you repented of your sins are you ready to meet the judge the headlines today of natural disasters and moral acts of evil that are nothing less than reminders that life is brief that life is fragile that death is certain but that God is sovereign over all and he will one day make all things right but you still might be thinking yeah but but why not in the meantime eradicate all the evil in the world okay we understand mankind as a as a moral will and they can they can choose to do evil or good but why don't why don't we just eradicate evil why not God you you do that well for one good reason there are many but for one good one for God to eradicate all the evil in the world would mean he would have to eradicate you and me when would you like him to start and there may be things you're hiding that no one else knows which speaks to your conscience even now there is evil in me until the coming day of that moral adjustment at the end of human history by his grace and his love he is allowing those who believe in him to come to surrender to him more fully and to love him more deeply those who do not believe he's giving you one more opportunity today to hear the gospel and come to the cross of Christ which is by the way the symbol of the greatest injustice on the planet and yet the cross is also at the same time the scene of the greatest act of justice where the holy just wrath of God the father burned against God the son who took our place and in that moment on the cross bore in his body our sin so the cross is not only a symbol of injustice it is a symbol of justice now that's easy to say it's it's harder to understand it's really difficult to live isn't it I mean it's one thing to say that God is involved in sovereign over the chaos of the universe it's another thing to say he's involved in ordering the chaos of my life it's one thing to say he's sovereign over the suffering of the world it's another thing to say he's in control of the suffering of my life what if you're not aware that he's sovereign at that moment what if it doesn't look like he's sovereign at that moment and let me even go a step further what if we don't deserve it can he be at work even when we may not care probably the greatest illustration in book form today that answers that question is a little book called Esther it's a book that reveals that God is faithful even when his people are faithless now before we begin you need to understand that many years before Esther story begins because of the disobedience of the Jewish people got a discipline them they were now scattered in bondage the Jews who had lived in Jerusalem had been carted off by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon he had plundered the temple he had destroyed the city had knocked down the walls around 50 years after Nebuchadnezzar a man by the name of Cyrus the king of Persia an up-and-coming kingdom diverted the water of the river Euphrates that flowed through the capital city of Babylon and he had a special elite band of soldiers simply weighed in and underneath the iron spikes that went down into the river and without a battle Babylon was overthrown now before those soldiers showed up Nebuchadnezzar son Belshazzar was having a drunken orgy in his palace when a hand suddenly appeared and began to write letters on a wall well that ruined the party of course the words didn't make any sense so they called the prophet Daniel he'd been carted away to come and interpret the message to Belshazzar and he did it meant effectively you're toast that's in the Hebrew language you study it Daniel's interpretation would come true Belshazzar was killed that very night and the Persian Empire conquered Babylon and Cyrus the great ruled the largest kingdom on the planet God was at work in this pagan king's heart he moved it so that Cyrus proclaimed that the Jews could begin to return back to their homeland the sad thing is many of them chose not to they were grandchildren of the egg is out they'd never stepped foot in Jerusalem they they bought the culture they were the culture so here you'll have Esther intermarry with a Gentile doesn't matter anymore it's ancient history that's why in the book of Esther there's not one mention of Jerusalem there's not one mention of the book of the law of God there's not one mention of the temple there's not one mention of Passover not one mention of the feasts the Persian king in the book of Esther will be mentioned a hundred and ninety times in a hundred and sixty seven verses and the name of God will not appear one time sees answering the question is God faithful when his people are faithless is he at work and sovereign not just in Jerusalem but in Persia when people don't notice when they may not even care see Esther is the story of the Jews who remained in Persia they are about to be in greater danger than they ever imagined in fact apart from the sovereign moving of an invisible Lord within a matter of months all the Jews will be dead thus voiding the messianic promises and this has been the effort of Satan all along he will stamp them out no God will be at work so the book of Esther takes place when the grandson of Cyrus the Great is ruling the Persian Empire we're introduced to him in verse one just a little bit of time here to cover a few phrases look there now it took place in the days of a hazardous the hazardous who rained from India to Ethiopia over a hundred and twenty seven provinces that allows us to date this he would have established these many provinces in his reign no right away the reader is impressed with the glory and power of a hazardous now you might notice that the the author clarifies this is the a hazardous who rained from India to Ethiopia now the reason for that clarification is a hazardous isn't a given name it's a throne name a hazardous is the throne name it simply means chief of rulers his Greek name historians inform us was Xerxes that name also is significant it means sovereign over men now history records for us that Xerxes was petty conniving promiscuous arrogant brutal rash in fact one inscription was discovered where a hazardous wrote of himself and I quote the inscription I am Xerxes the great king the only king the king of this entire earth far and near he's a humble fellow wasn't he when he was offered and I'll give you this by way of an introduction to him it's all we have really time for but when he was offered on one occasion a gift of several million dollars in our economy today by a man named Pythias to support his upcoming military campaign which will take place between Esther chapter 1 and Esther chapter 2 he was so moved that this man would give him such a fortune that he returned the fortune and with it gave him gifts however when a few months later Pythias the same man petitioned Xerxes to allow his oldest son to remain home rather than go with Xerxes on his military campaign Xerxes became so enraged that he ordered that son cut into two pieces and when he marched off with his army to war he had the army marched between those two pieces on his way back having been unable to defeat the Greek city-states which will one day defeat him he wintered in Sardis where he tried to seduce his sister-in-law but was rebuffed he would later have that sister-in-law and her husband his own brother tortured to death so when you read in verse 1 that Ahasuerus reigned from India to Ethiopia it's telling you that he reigned over an empire upon which the sun never set and it also tells you in verse 2 if you look there that he is sitting on his royal throne in in Susa Susa was one of his three palaces he would spend the rest of his life basically going from palace to palace involved in building programs and his harem Herodotus the historian records that the riches of his kingdom were legendary in fact the tribute he received from the subjugated nations around him totaled more than 700 tons of gold and silver annually his kingdom included modern-day Turkey Iraq Iran Pakistan Jordan Lebanon Israel Egypt Sudan Libya and Arabia literally millions of people speaking dozens of languages all owed their allegiance to their sovereign Lord and King the one who said he was the king of Kings well that's what he thought and you see how the writer at the very outset intentionally underscores what seemed to be important who seemed to be preeminent who seemed to be in control in fact several times in these opening verses we're told that Ahasuerus reigned he sat on his throne the people in verse 4 are going to be given a display of his glory and his great majesty but I want you to know that Xerxes is in the palm of God his heart is in the hand of God and God is going to turn it whithersoever he will you see ladies and gentlemen a hidden God does not mean an absent God he may be invisible but he is infallible he may be unusually quiet but he is in control he may be ignored by the kingdoms of this earth but his will is never frustrated he may be unsuspected he may be unnoticed but he remains unconquerable for his Dominion is an everlasting Dominion wrote a man who would be buried in Susa by the name of Daniel his kingdom endures from generation to generation and Daniel had seen kingdoms come and go he do it according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stop his hand or say to him what have you done even though mankind has always asked that question what have you done and what is God doing whatsoever the Lord pleases that he does in heaven and on earth ladies and gentlemen I want you to know at the outset that the book of Esther has been given to us not to enamour us with Esther but to enamour us with God we're given the inside story not to impress us with the cleverness of Esther and Mordecai but to impress us with the infinite wisdom of this invisible God and it is my prayerful intention and desire that after we have finished this little drama called Esther that you and I will not be in love with her we will be in love with him we will not be in awe of them we will be in awe of him to whom alone belongs all praise and all glory Esther is a wonderful character but God is the hero of the drama he's the true king behind all of the events that will unfold as we continue through this book this is wisdom for the heart with this lesson Stephen began a nine-part series from the book of Esther this first message is entitled just above the royal throne I want you to be aware that Stephen has a commentary on this book but right now we only have a limited supply during this series we're making them available at half price while supplies last if you want to add this book to your library of biblical resources you'll find it on our website wisdom if you type Esther into the search box you'll find this resource we could also assist you over the phone you can call us at 866-48-bible or 866-482-4253 either way you'll enjoy this practical book written from Stephen's pastoral perspective if you haven't already seen our monthly magazine heart to heart please ask about that as well we'd like to send you some complimentary issues thanks again for listening to wisdom for the heart today please be sure and join us next time as Stephen continues through the book of Esther.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-03 13:54:37 / 2023-11-03 14:03:44 / 9

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