Pastor Skip Heitzig: Heavenly Father, we are not just coming to You to fill time and to adjust our seat, we are coming to You as needy people talking to the King of the Universe, the Creator, and the one Lord who has reached out, the one with whom we have a love relationship. You are the lover of our soul and I pray Lord that we would get a deeper glimpse of Your care for us through this Book of Esther tonight that we would grow just a little bit as believers. Some of us Lord are weary, maybe we had expectations or maybe things just haven't gone well this week or month. We invite You Lord to deal with our hearts, our situation and strengthen us and encourage us. And I just pray your blessing upon these Your people here tonight, as they have taken time out of their week, their schedule, they have gotten in cars and come here and here we are seated. Lord I pray that You would reward those who diligently seek You in Jesus name. Amen!
The Book of Esther, one of only two books in the entire Bible named after a woman. The other is The Book of Ruth. Esther, in the Persian language, which is interestingly similar to Spanish, means star, estrella. How many of you knew that already? Yeah. I found that out a few years ago. Estrella Star, Esther Star in Persian. That is her name. Her Hebrew name, as we will see, is Hadassah, which means something entirely different. It means immortal tree, but she has given a Persian name in this book.
There is a question a lot of people live with as they go through life. Questions like, why do I have this crummy job? What is the purpose of life? Getting up going to work, I work cutting hair or I work as an engineer or I work in an office or I work doing law, what great purpose is there in that? How could God use that? Well I hope that Esther will answer that question once and for all, because we see somebody who was just another Jewish girl in an empire being placed strategically by God to be, as we heard even earlier, in the right place at the right time.
God never wastes a life, and when a life is dedicated to Him, when a life is converted, when you say, Lord I give You my life. God takes you up on His word and He molds you and shapes you, but He will make sure that your life once given to Him is never wasted. You may never see dramatic, overt, miraculous visible things happen. But, God can strategically move you for his kingdom sake, as we will see tonight in this book.
The Book of Esther is part of a little section of Hebrew literature called, and if you have a pen I will spell it, Meggiloth. That looks like Mega Loth M-E-G-G-I-L-O-T-H. And it means the Five Scrolls. These are five little books or scrolls in the original that are of special importance to the Jewish nation. In fact, on five different occasions throughout the year, the Jews will recite, read one of these books. So, every year it pass over, the book The Song of Solomon is read.
Every year at Pentecost, the Book of Ruth is read and recited in the synagogue. The Book of Lamentations is read once a year on a very special date called Tisha B'Av, which is the celebration annually or the commemoration of the destruction of the Jewish temple. Every Feast of Tabernacles, The Book of Ecclesiastes is read. And this book, the fifth book, the book of Esther is read at a feast called Purim. How many of you have heard of that feast, Purim?
Okay, hands down. I am going to ask you just get real honest. How many of you have never heard of that feast before, Purim? Okay, great, a lot of you, hands down. We are going to change that tonight. The introduction and the explanation of that feast is found in this book. In fact at the very end of the book, it will explain how that feast came about? Without this book, we would absolutely no idea what the captives who stayed back and didn't go to Jerusalem under Ezra, Zarubabel, and Nehemiah, we wouldn't have known what life was like for them. But, now when reading this book, we have a little snapshot of life in Persia, in the Persian Court especially.
We don't know who wrote the Book of Esther, we can only guess, there are three good guesses. I would say it's either, Mordecai, a relative of her who is mentioned in book, Ezra or Nehemiah, simply because whoever wrote it had to be Jewish, because there are a lot of references to Jewish dates and the calendar, the Hebrew calendar, and had to have knowledge of the Persian Court. And Nehemiah and Mordecai had enough knowledge of that. So, I would say one of those two in my opinion wrote this book.
Esther is a book of crises. The book unfolds a crises and the resolution of that crises. And what's great about that to me is that God isn't just the God of calm. Oh! God is in this, it's call calm and peaceful. As if to say, it's a crisis, God can't be in this and I often hear people say, God is not a God of confusion. I know He is not the author of confusion, but understand God can hop right in the middle of your crises and confusion and give you peace even though you don't see it outwardly.
There are still moorings and bearings and a great sense of peace and calm in the midst of a crisis. Interesting thing about this book is we mentioned this last weekend is the name of God is not mentioned is not mentioned in this book, not even once, although the Pagan King is mentioned a 192 times in this book. Prayer is never mentioned in this book. Obviously if God isn't mentioned nobody is praying to Him. And so it has a book that has puzzled people. Martin Luther even said, he wish this book never would have been written. He really had problems with this at first. But, to me that's what makes it so special, because you don't have to have the name of God, but as may we have even said earlier on, you have the thumbprint or the fingerprint, the evidence of the working of God.
One of the reasons you don't see God in this book is because we are dealing with Israel and their backsliding state. They are not really thinking about God, they are not obeying God in Persia. Remember they didn't go back; only 50,000 went back, the rest of them stayed back in Babylon and now taken over by Persia. So, they are not interested in furthering the kingdom, they are not interested in Jerusalem, they are not interested in God's program, they have largely stayed back and forgotten all about God and become very much like the world around them. But, here is the beauty of the book. Though they may have forgotten about God, God hasn't forgotten about them. And this is where providence comes in. If you have never thought about that word or that concept, I want you really to get that message tonight. This book shows the providence of God.
How God moves ordinary events and strings them together just perfectly so that His will, will ultimately be done, and I think God moves that way most of the times the God is moving. There are a lot of different ways God has acted in the past. As it says in Hebrew 1:1, "God who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoken times past to our fathers to the prophets." For example, number one, appearance. God made the Heaven and the Earth appear out of nothing. He just made it happen, and then to Adam and Eve, God appeared. It says, "God walked with them in the cool of the day." And then throughout Biblical history you have certain times where God will speak to His people, speak to a prophet or have an apparition of sorts. That's very rare; that is not a common everyday occurrence.
Second way God moves is an appearance but maintenance. He maintains what He created. In Colossians Chapter 1, "He, Jesus, is before all things and in Him all things are held together." He is the superglue that keeps everything running like clock work in this universe.
So appearance, maintenance, here is the third way God works historically, interference. Sometimes God will decide and it is rare, but He will do it, and throughout the Bible He did it a lot, interference. God will interrupt or supersede natural law with a miraculous event.
But, forth and this would bring us to Esther, this is by and large, how God moves most of the time is by providence, not appearance, maintenance all the time, not always by interference, but providence. So, here we are going God show me a miracle and God doesn't have to do the miracle. He can if He chooses to, but by and large, He just takes natural events and puts them together in such a way that His will, will ultimately be done.
John Nelson Darby put it this way, "God's ways are behind the scenes but He moves all of the scenes which He is behind." See, God isn't always overt, always visible, always audible. Jesus said the kingdom of God does not come with outward observation, but He is all over this book providentially.
Now, a quick outline and we are going to be reading probably more in the front and summing up more in the back, but there is only ten chapters, no problem, we will cover it. Chapters 1 and 2 form a unit; chapters 3, 4 and 5 form a second unit; and the rest of the book is the third division. So, first of all we have supernatural providence, and I will explain more as we go. supernatural providence, God is going to set things up. They ever walked into a situation say, this is a setup, that's what God does; it is a setup, supernatural providence.
Chapters 3, 4 and 5 division number 2, Satanic plot. We see a countermove like a chess game. In fact I believe that Satan thought he was saying, check to God. Of course you will see how God does a checkmate. And after the satanic plot, the third division the rest of the book is sovereign protection, sovereign protection; how God protects the Jewish people.
So, let's go to Chapter 1:1, supernatural providence. "It came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus." This is was the Ahasuerus who rained over 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia. So, if you are wondering, well I wonder which Ahasuerus he means. That's the one, that guy. He was the ruler over the Empire. Ahasuerus or Xerxes, his Greek name will be the father of Artaxerxes, the guy who gives a command to Nehemiah to go back.
The border of the Empire on the East India, the border of the Empire on the West Ethiopia at that time, in those days when King Ahasuerus -- by the way, it means Mighty, his name means Mighty or Lion. So, this is the first Lion King. This is the Lion King, this is Ahasuerus, the Lion King, he said on the throne of his kingdom which was in Shushan, the citadel.
Then in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all of his officials and servants, the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, the princesses of the provinces, being before him, when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days. Yes, I would say 180 days in all. I would like and say, this guy knew how to party. This is six month party, a six month festival and here is why he is doing it, we know historically.
He is trying to sell these guys on a war plan. He is getting a hundred and twenty seven provinces, all the leaders, we don't know how many from each province. It could have been two thousand people in his banquet hall and for six months he is getting them together, he is wining them, he is dining them and he is trying to sell them on a war plan and here is why, over in the west at that time a new Empire is gaining strength, it is called Greece. Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander who thought he was really great and he was, starting to gain power and influence and will eventually take over the world. So, what we are seeing here already is providence. There is going to be a power shift in the world, a power shift from the East to the West. Right now the East, Persia, they are in-charge, pretty soon Alexander the Great will conquer the world and there will be a great power shift from East to West.
The Greeks will build roads, the Romans will expand them. By the New Testament time, the whole world will speak the most exact language ever produced, the Greek language, so that the New Testament will be given to us in Greek. It's all a perfect setup for the coming of the Messiah. I did a whole study on this in Galatians 4:4, "And when the fullness of the time had come or it was just the perfect time, God sent forth his Son, born of a virgin, born under the law." So, God is starting here to setup the players for not just what is eminent, but what is ultimate in the future.
In Verses Five and following, after the six month party, he throws party number two. This is a seven day feast thanking all of his palace officials for all of their help on the first party. I mean I am telling you this guy is just like Mr. Party animal, party-hardy dude all the way. Well we are done with that party; let's have a party for the people who threw the party, who is much smaller.
Verse Nine, Queen Vashti, that's his wife, also made a feast for the women in the Royal Palace, which belonged to King Ahasuerus. Now according to social custom, men and women did it separately, there were separate gatherings. A few years ago, I was in Thailand, I didn't know protocol, I didn't know protocol. It was at a leader's conference, we are in Northern Thailand, we are out on the field, I am used to pulling out a chair for a women to sit down, the women, you serve first and then the men set. Oh no, not there.
The men eat first and are served by the women and the younger folks and I am sitting around and I invite some of the young folks and some of the women to have a seat next to me and next to us and, boy, did I get in trouble for that. It's just a very different protocol. Well, that's how Persia was run, separate different events going on.
Verse 12, "But Vashti refused to come at the King's command, brought by his eunuchs. Therefore the king was furious and his anger burned with him." The men are having a feast, feast number two, the women are having a feast, the kings says, I want to show you my beautiful trophy wife. Way to you get a load of her. Calls for Queen Vashti. Now, we don't exactly know why she refuses to come.
Possibility number one, the King wanted her to perform some lewd, sensual act, she refused to do it. Or number two, she was pregnant at the time with little Xerxes, Artaxerxes and she didn't want to go, she refused to go. Queen Vashti refuses to come at the King's command. It says notice at the end of Verse12, "his anger burned within him". History tells us this guy had an anger problem. First of all he is the king, so he can get angry whenever he feels like, right. Who is going to say, don't do that. But, he really flew off the handle. There is a story in history that says he had 300 men of Persia build a bridge somewhere down by the Persian Gulf. A huge storm came in and destroyed the bridge that the 300 had built.
He flew into a rage, went out to the water, and started hitting, beating the water. I don't know why, but he is King, he can beat water whenever he wants. So, he is hitting the water. Then he goes and kills the 300 men who build him the bridge, because it wasn't good enough. Just crazy kind of out there and so when it says, he became angry it's like, Oh-o! King is mad, what do we do?
Now, Ahasuerus had never faced this before. He had never faced feminism in the Persian Empire. He never had his wife or anybody say; no I am not going to do that. And he doesn't exactly know what to do. So, he calls in a few of the wise guys and one of them who is named here Memucan says, this is what you got to do, you got to put an end to this right now, you got to take her, kick her off the throne, get her out of the palace and put out an edict throughout all of the Empire that says, "Women don't do that to their husbands", we have to set order her. So, he does exactly that and the first women's liberation movement was stopped by the Persian Empire.
Now, there is a gap between Chapter 1 and 2. Notice how Chapter 2 begins after these things. Let me tell you what these things are, what is going on. There is a gap between Chapter 1 and 2, where king Ahasuerus aka Xerxes goes and fights a battle out West with the Greeks. It's one of the most famous battles in history, some of you have heard of it, The Battle of Thermopylae. He is defeated in this battle, even though he has a lot more men than the Greeks. Thermopylae is a little canyon area and only a few people can get through this little kind of an eyelet of a land at a time.
When the Greeks trained their soldiers they put stock in the individual and they had a saying, one Greek soldier is worth ten Persian soldiers. And so though they had a lot more men on the Persian side, the Greeks were better trained and though they had a smaller army, the Greeks defeated the Persians. It was humiliating. And so now Ahasuerus comes back home, he is back home, he didn't have his wife anymore, he can't reverse the edict, because it's a Persian edict, the law of the Medes and Persians is irrevocable. So, he is pouting around the palace, doesn't know what to do. So, after these things when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her.
Then the King's servant who attended him said, let beautiful young virgins beside for the king. So, now we have the first recorded beauty contest ever, and it takes place here. Now, there is a guy around the palace in those days named Mordecai, the uncle of Esther. Her Dad and Mom died, she is orphaned. Uncle Mordecai raised her. There is a beauty contest to get the most beautiful young woman. Verse 7, "And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, her name means myrtle, that is Esther, which means star by the way; it's possible that Babylonian Ishtar and Esther are similar. There is a gate in Babylon, I have a picture of ir, it's called Ishtar Gate and there is one of their Goddesses. So it could be that in taking over the Babylonian kingdom that these names got put together.
"Mordecai brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle's daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young women was lovely and beautiful." Interesting, both of those words together lovely, probably in her personality and beautiful in her physical appearance. "When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter."
We have a problem. Mordecai is going to let Hadassah aka Esther get into this beauty contest. The Mosaic Law, the Jewish Law of Mosses forbade pagan marriages. But, Mordecai, Esther all of these Jews are not really walking close with the Lord. There is no mention of God in the book; there is no mention of prayer in the book. It's just very pragmatic at that time. But, again God is behind the scenes.
Verse 12, "Each young woman's turn came to go into King Ahasuerus after", now get this, "after" -- you couldn't go see the king right away and just say, what do you think? Look at this, "after she had completed twelve months preparation according to the regulations for women. For thus were the days of their preparation a portion of six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women."
Okay, heads-up men. Don't complaint if your wife, spends a few hours at the salon or half-a-day at a spa. This was a year; this is twelve months at the spa. Six months was all about oil, spa day, six months of smelling good perfumes, then you can see the King, it's interesting.
It's interesting how much value the Persians put on outward beauty and it's interesting how much our culture puts on outward beauty and it's not just our culture, practically every culture in the world had some value on making the best out of what we have. Sometimes, there are legalistic Christians who say, women should never wear makeup and men and women should dress plain and whatever. I think you do the best with what you have got. J. Vernon McGee used to -- somebody asked J. Vernon McGee, I was reading this week he was a Pastor who speak here, but he was out in Los Angeles years ago and somebody came up to him and says, "Do you think women should wear make up?" It was a trick question. And he said, "It depends what woman it is." That's a good answer.
I am not going to touch that or even go any further with that, I am just giving you his answer. But, women don't feel bad if you make yourself look nice, but I am going to ask you for something. Okay, this isn't too unreasonable, equal time not for me or for the Church, but for God, whatever time you spend in getting ready in getting prepared to make yourself beautiful just maybe calculate that and give God at least equal time. That's how much time you are going to spend in prayer and in the word and in fellowship and seeking Him. That's not too much to ask. Peter said in, 1 Peter, Chapter 3, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward arranging of the hair and putting on gold and putting on fine apparel, but let it be of the hidden person of the heart." So give God at least equal time.
Verse 16, "So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his Royal Palace in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign." "The King loved Esther more than all the other women. She obtained grace and favor and a site more than of all of the virgins, so he set the Royal Crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti." Here is the setup, okay. Here is the supernatural providence. God is setting all of the places on the chessboard in just the right place.
Now, she is Jewish. The King doesn't know she is Jewish and won't know she is Jewish for quite a while. Mordecai, her uncle says, "Whatever you do, don't tell the King you are Jewish, we keep it a secret here." So, it's going to be at a very providential strategic time that she lets that out.
Now she must have used her position as the new queen to put Mordecai into a prominent position because suddenly it says, "Mordecai was at the gate of the palace", and that means he was in a position of authority, he was like an elder at the palace, a bigwig, Uncle Mordecai. Mordecai being at the palace gate overhears a plot by two guys to kill the King to overthrow the government. He hears about it, he puts an end to it, but he gets no reward for it yet, yet. And this is what I want to say about that, because it was a long time before anybody found out. He did something good and honorable, nobody saw it, nobody give him a reward yet.
When you decide to do something good and honorable and obedient to God, don't live for the accolades, don't live for the applause, don't say, nobody saw me. Good God saw you. And interestingly his deed is recorded in the Persian chronicles and the King will find out about it soon enough, it's written down. But the King, at this point, doesn't know anything about it.
So, Chapter 3 now through 5, here is the second part of the book, a satanic plot. This is where the story gets really good. Verse 1, Chapter 3, "After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman", bad dude, "the son of Hammedatha the Agagite", say that twenty times Agagite. "and advance him and said and sat his seat above all the princesses who were with him". "And all the king's servants who were within the king's gate bowed and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or not pay homage."
Question: Why would the scripture -- and now let me give attribution, why would the Holy Spirit think it's important the readers of this book find out that this guy was an Agagite? To show you how far disobedience can take you. Let me explain. The Agagite family was the royal family of a group called the Amalekites. Heard of the Amalekites, right, they were the group that when Moses and the children of Israel were going through the land and trying to get in, the Amalekites chased them down and killed the old people and the weak people and really it was an enemy of Israel for a longtime.
Amalek was the son of Esau from way back; they have always been against the Jewish people. King Agag was the King that so refused to dispose off when the Lord gave a command to Saul to go wipe out the Amalekites, he wouldn't do it. He brought the best of the spoil and brought King Agag back right and Samuel said, "Did you obey God?" "Oh, yes, praised God, I obeyed God." "Well then how come I hear sheep noises and you have got Agag here?" "Oh, well you know he is the King and I wanted to bring the best animals to sacrifice to the Lord." It was just smoking mirrors; it was a skin of a reasons stuffed with a lie, that's what an excuse is.
He didn't kill him; he didn't wipe out all of the Amalekites as God had said. Now, in hearing that command you might think what a mean God to order the extermination of this people group. Had Saul obeyed, we never would be reading this, there wouldn't be an Agagite. They would have been gone. They posed a perpetual threat even in another kingdom. This guy turns out to be a hater of all things Jewish and wants to exterminate them.
Verse 6, "He destained to lay hands on Mordecai alone", get this, "for they had told him of the people of Mordecai instead Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus", the people of Mordecai. Now he goes to the king and he says, "King I just want you to know, I am Haman, you love me, I am good guy you have promoted me. So there is a group of people, there are problem, we have the solve the Jewish problem, we have a group of people in the kingdom they are Jewish people and they are rebels, if you just give me the permission I will give you the whole lot of money to let me carry it out. Let's kill them all."
So look at Verse 9, "If it pleases the King let a decree be written that they be destroyed and I will pay 10,000 talons of silver into the hands of those who do the work to bring it into the king's treasuries." Now may be about now you are thinking I don't know if I buy this. I mean it sounds a little fishy that a guy could just to the king and say, "Hey, we have got several thousand people in this kingdom, can we just kill them all?" "Well, sure dude here is my signet ring, get it done." You would think, well, may be he will do a little bit of investigation first right before he makes that order, until you understand he had just lost the Battle of Thermopylae, he is down a lot of troops, down a lot of money, down a lot of resources, very despondent, he has just suffered defeat and now his finances are way down, if you eliminate a group of people that are taking some of the resources away from your people will survive maybe. It would make sense if he did that.
So he sends a letter out to a 127 different leaders in these provinces and says, "On a certain day of the month let's exterminate every single Jew in the entire Kingdom." And what makes this amazing is now you have antisemitism legalized, legalized. This is pretty easy to see a satanic plot, right. It's a satanic plot, because if his plot is carried out it will change the course of redemptive history. There is not going to be a bible, there is not going to be savior; there has to be a nation of Israel for those two things to come about, right. So think of this as a battle plan from Satan's own little weird head. If God's plan of salvation depended on the existence of a nation of a people group, if His plan of salvation depends on the existence of a group, if you eliminate that group, you will have afforded God's plan.
Now when you understand that a lot of the Bible makes sense, you understand the satanic battle plot in the scripture, you understand why Pharaoh says kill every Jew in this kingdom, every boy who is born kill him, it's a girl drown it. Why so harsh? It's a satanic plot, destroy the nation, destroy redemptive history, may a God liar. Now it's easy to understand why you have a folia. In II King's Chapter 8, it says "destroy all of the Royal Seed of David" or King Herrick, "Kill all the babies in Bethlehem." It's part of that satanic plot. So Mordecai hears the news and he reacts, he is reactive and proactive. He reacts emotionally, but he is proactive decisively. He tears his cloths, it's horrible, but he has a plan by God.
Verse 13, Mordecai told them to answer Esther, go tell this to the queen.
"Do not think in your heart that you will escape the in the King's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this." Now God has not mentioned but certainly implied in this verse.
Hmm, who knows, but this is in a set up and you happen to be here at just the right time for this purpose may be the whole reason God allowed you to be Queen is save the Jewish people.
So number one, Mordecai is saying the plan of God will not be forded. If you say no to getting involved Queen Esther to stop this vicious plot if you say not to it God's plan will be forded, deliverance will come from some where else, I don't know where else but that is the statement of faith; it's a statement of faith. And all I can imagine is maybe he was thinking, may be he -- I don't remember much scripture but I remember Genesis 12 God said if you touch my people you touch the apple of my eye and I may promises to them and I am going to stand up for them, may be he remember that. So this is a statement of faith you say no to what god want you to do or just going to the king, deliverance will come from some where else.
Number two, being queen, he would intimate here, is not accidental it's providential. Who knows but may be you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. "Esther, sweetheart, this could be your finest hour, you got to do something; you got to talk to the King," Well, she gives the response. Verse 16, to Mordecai her uncle.
"Go gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan. Fast for me" notice not pray but fast for me "neither eat nor drink for three days day or night. My maids and I will fast likewise so I will go to the king, which is against the law and if I perish, I perish." Do you hear what she is saying? Okay, I am going to go the king it's against the law, and the story tells you that is you walk in to a Persian king and he didn't hold out of his Golden sceptre they just cut your head off, you are just dead, you have to invited, she hadn't been invited for over a month. So she knows, this is a risky business, just to go into the King, but she says, "I will do it, and if perish, I perish."
Now it's really good reasoning, because she is thinking, okay, he is right I am Jewish, they are going to find out eventually; they are going to kill me because I am Jewish. So if I don't do anything, they will kill me because I am Jewish. If I go in and he didn't find favor and didn't lift up his sceptre, he will kill me. Either way I am going to die. It's do or die. I will die because I am Jewish I will die because he is not placed. Here it goes, if I perish, I perish. Now God is behind the scenes, moving the players, setting up the events providentially so that it's a predetermined outcome. That's providence. There are two words that are put together for the English word providence: Pro means before and then Video, which means to see. Providence is simply is a word that means to see something before it happens, providence.
So, in your own personal life picture it this way. God has, I can't say a film strip, I can't even say a VCR or video of your life, but he has the DVD of your life, and he has got the Macintosh program, all set up, and he can cut and splice, so here is your life and God goes, "I don't want that; I am going to cut that piece out and add this little piece right here. I am going to set it up as I want it to happen, because I see everything in advance."
So Chapter 5 Esther goes to the King and ask for favor, and the king said to her, "What do you wish Queen Esther; what is your request?" Get this. "It shall be given to you the half of the kingdom." She might be attempted to say, "I will take half of the kingdom." So Esther answered, "If it pleases the king let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him." What do you want, let us have a party. Now he is into parties as we can see. He is like, dude good idea.
But she didn't tell him the whole thing. Let's just have a party and I will tell you the rest later. So Haman feels very special, gets invited, but hates seeing Mordecai. He is just obsessed that Mordecai guy won't bow down to me. Verse 9, "So Haman went out that day joyful with the glad heart", he is going to the party, "but Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai." So he goes home talk to his wife, I can't stand the Mordecai guy, but I get invited to do a party. I am so happy because I got a party; I am going to be with the King, I am special, but I hate that Mordecai guy. So she gives really warped advice, built a huge gallows, 75 feet tall, so you can hang Mordecai and then go to dinner.
Verse 14, "His wife Zarish and all of the friends to him, "Let the gallows be made 50 cubic high" that is 75 feet "and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it, and then go merely with the king to the banquet." And the thing pleased Haman. So he had a gallows made."
Probably on a public building already may be like on a city wall with a gallows on top of it so that the total height was 75 feet, interesting. The word for gallows could be translated a stake for impaling a person on, not just hang those, but impaling a person on or crucify. This is interesting, crucifiction was invented not by the Roman, but by the Persians. It is thought that this was some kind of stake to either impale of crucify Mordecai the Jew.
So Chapter 6 through 10, we have the third and final swath of this. We have a sovereign protection. Chapter 6:1. Gallows is made, he is going to come into the king and ask for permission to hang Mordecai. Get this, this is providence, Chapter 6 Verse 1, "That night the king could not sleep providentially." So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles, and they were read before the king. That's how you cure insomnia; you read legal briefs right, you read board minutes, Chronicles of the Kingdom. "And it was found written that Mordecai had told Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs doorkeepers, who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus."
So he is reading this and he discovered, wait a minute, this Mordecai dude is a hero, an unsung hero, nobody had rewarded him. So he said and thinking, what can I do to reward Mordecai, and he is thinking, I will ask somebody who is in the palace, and so he says, who is in the palace. It happened to be Haman just walks right in the palace, as he is thinking that.
Now he is going into the palace thinking I am going to get permission to kill Mordecai; I am going to hang him, not knowing what the king has discovered.
So Verse 6, "Haman came in and the king asked him, "What shall be done for the man to whom the king delights to honor?" And Haman thought in his heart, "Whom of the king delight to honor then me?" He is totally unaware that the king is referring to Mordecai, his enemy. So he says, "Let a royal robe be brought, which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head."
"Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes that he may array the man whom the king decides to honor, and then preyed them on horseback throughout the city square and proclaim before him, "Thus it shall be done to the man to whom the king delights to honor." Let him be king for a day. That's what you do, let him be king for a day.
"King said to Haman, "Hurry, and take the robe and horse as you have suggested and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sets within the King's gate leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken." How did he feel at that moment? His heart just went.
Now it's time for the feast. Esther has a feast. King comes in Ahasuerus, Haman comes in, he is the honor guest. She hadn't told the king what she wants yet.
Chapter 7 Verse 2, the king says, "Okay, what do you want, ask anything up to half of my kingdom." Now the king didn't know she was Jewish, Haman did not know she was Jewish, she is about right to drop that bomb. Chapter 7 Verse 4, "For we have been sold my people and I to be destroyed to be killed and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and females slaves, I would have held my tongue although the enemy could never compensate for the King's loss."
"So Ahasuerus answered and said to Queen Esther, "Who is he and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?"
"And Esther said, "The advisory and enemy is this wicked Haman." So Haman was terrified before the king and the Queen." Remember this king kills 300 dudes who didn't build the bridge right. Now he hears this going, oh, this is the like the worst day of my life.
In terms of chess, we call this checkmate. Whatever say it and try to do go, check there is Haman, God goes, oh really Mordecai Esther checkmate. It's over, it really is. God had just said it in. So king hears this, it's too much to handle, he goes to the garden to process what he just heard, he comes back in the palace and that time Haman who is like begging for his life has leaned over and is fallen over on the couch toward or the bed toward Queen Esther. The King sees this, and like this guy is trying to make a pass of my wife.
So they arrested him. Verse 10, "So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai and the king's wrath subsided." So this Haman guy was a pain in the neck and he got one, right, a lot of hang ups.
Okay so we still have major problem, we still have a major problem to solve in 9 minutes, 8 minutes. And chapter 8, 9 and 10 show this sovereign protection of God. Here is the problem. The King has already sent out an order an edict to 127 different provinces in his kingdom, kill all the Jews on a certain day, it's an irrevocable edict. How do you revoke that? Chapter 8 is the first time in record where this king goes out and supersedes that command with another command stating that it was done in ignorance, because of Haman. So in Chapter 8 he gives a ring, I just took up my ring as a prop, I don't know why, but he took of his signet ring and he gave his ring to Mordecai.
Now the ring of a king wasn't a wedding ring, it was a signet ring, and wherever that ring was push into wax, it was an official statement that you do whatever this thing says, because the king had sealed it with his own seal, the signet ring. He had already given his ring once to Haman who made the first edict, and then now he is giving it to Mordecai. This guy was pretty free with handling his ring out to people, right, sort of like the Lord Of the Rings. And Haman is like, he is like I am sniggle, he is like the bad guy. It's all about the power of the ring. So Mordecai now has -- he is the good guy he has the ring and Haman is going precious. He is not out at here. Sorry, my mind needs little work tonight. Okay so what he does in Chapter 8 forgive me.
Chapter 8, he sends out his fastest steeds, his fastest horses, and another edict to cancel out the first one. Chapter 8 Verse 17, "And in every province in city where ever the king's command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness a feast and a holiday then many of the people of the land became Jews, they proselytize into the Jewish religion, because the fear of the Jews fell upon them." Please understand the importance of that statement. We are talking about Persia. Iran, on that day a whole bunch of Iranians became Jews. That's monumental; that's a piece of Middle Eastern history you rarely here. It happened, but in Chapter 9 there is still a problem back at head quarters Shushan, the Palace. There are 500 conspirators, because of Haman that want to carry out the plot of killing the Jews, plus there are the family members of Haman.
So Mordecai has given all of the goods all of the house, all of the palace of Haman and they take and they kill his ten sons they are hanged on the same gallows that he had made for Mordecai. In chapter 9 Verse 20, "And Mordecai wrote, and now here is a letter to the Jews everywhere in the kingdom." "To establish among them" Verse 21, "To establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them from mourning to a holiday that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor." Verse 26, "So they called these days, Purim." Purim is the pleural. Now you understand now you have heard of feast to Purim. So next time I ask that those hands won't go up. Here it is; you read it.
So they call these days Purim. after the Pur, the name Pur, which is -- it's an Arcadian word, it's a Ancient Persian for the lot that was cast. "Therefore because all of the words of this letter what they had seem concerning this matter and what it happened to them." Chapter 10 Verse 3, notice it's a very short chapter. "For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all of his countrymen." To this day Purim is still celebrated.
I first went to Israel when I was young and living on a cabots, and I went around the month is somewhere between late February and March to this year Purim is celebrated March 21st. That's the celebration this month 2008 for Purim. It's still celebrated. When I walked into the dining hall on my cabots in Israel, and I saw this kind of girlish figure of a man hanging there. I said, who is that? They said, that's Haman. Kids beat him like Pinyadas, and they poke, they calls name out to him and have a big celebration. They have a candy and sweets, they gave a portion to poor. It's a huge celebration today in Israel a lot of fun.
Now I had planned and tried Tracy and couple of others on staff try to get the little pastries that they have on Purim to get him here for tonight, but we couldn't get a main in time. So in a few weeks to celebrate Purim, we will have special treats that are available; we will have them here on the Wednesday night. So tell out your friends, we get lot more people on Wednesday night to come.
By the little pastries are called Haman's ears, Haman Tashan, and the Haman Tash or the Haman ears, it's a beautiful little triangular pastries with fruit and nuts and the resins etcetera, and that we will have some for you in a few weeks. Anyway here is the feast of Purim. and that's how its celebrated and why.
God delivered the Jews from an attempted annihilation like with Pharaoh years earlier and set them high and honored them. He was providential. They may not be praying to Him, they may not be concerned with Him, but God will give His word keep His covenant today that honor His people and work in such a way that…
The drama, look at it this way, the drama of Esther is over but the blessings continue. The blessing of, we have the bible, the blessing of we have a savior. I tell you what, the fitting closing is to the Book of Esther allow me to read to you just a couple of verses out of Romans Chapter 9. He talks about the Israelites.
Listen to these two verses, "Who are Israelites. To whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, the promises. Whose are the fathers and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came who is over all God blessed forever. Amen." God was preserving His people so as to provide the lineage so that the books could be written from this book and the Messiah could come to save the world. That is how Christ is seen in the Book at Esther.
So picture the book like -- again that chess game, and the two invisible players are God and savior and they are moving real kings and queens and nobles on the chessboard. And so Satan sets up Haman and says, check, and God puts in Mordecai and Esther and says, checkmate, and the story of redemption goes on.
Let's pray together. Heavenly Father thank you for survey over this very unique and dramatic gripping tale of an unknown Jewish girl, and how You used her physical beauty to attract the attention of a very powerful dictator. And now all of these things were set up providentially so that Your will would be enacted, Your will in their lives, Your will for your people, Your will for the salvation history of the entire world, all hinging upon the events that take place here in the Book of Esther. No wonder it is to be a prominent record that Your people know and understand.
Lord I just would simply pray in closing, if any one is come here tonight weary and broken and beaten up by the world, maybe they have tasted religion in the past, they have tasted church going in the past, they have tasted spirituality in the past, but there is still an emptiness and there is not a relationship with God. They haven't surrendered themselves as Your servant, and they haven't asked You to forgive all of their sins and become their Lord and savior. Esther shows how important it was for You to preserve Your people, so that Your Messiah, Your Son could be born. That's Your active love, that's You behind the scenes of history moving different players.
Lord, I pray that this tale would touch certain hearts and those who don't know You yet would give their hearts to Christ. Our heads are bowed and we are praying. You are thinking about your future and you are thinking about your life and maybe you admit, I haven't really surrendered my life yet to Christ. I have come, I am interested, I am curious, but now I want to do something about it. I want to give the Lord my life. If that's you, I want you to raise your hand up right now, just keep it up for a moment. I bless you and you toward the back right up front, toward the back in the middle. Lord I pray for those around the auditorium that have raised their hand and I pray that You do a deep and abiding and internal work in their lives in Jesus name. Amen.
Would you all stand? Nick and the band, they we are going to do one final song, and I am going to ask you just to hold on and not bolt out of the door. This is the best part. Those of you who raised your hands tonight, you give him the pink slip, you give him the control of your life. You are saying, I am going to follow you, I am going to repent as the Bible calls it, turn from my path and turn from my sin and give you my life.
So I am going to ask you to say a prayer out loud after me, say this prayer from your heart, okay, mean it from your heart. Let's pray together.
Lord I give You my life. I know I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I turn from my sin, from my past, and I turn to You. I give You my life. Be my Savior and my Lord. Help me to follow You in Jesus name. Amen.