Text: Esther 4:14
Date: August 14, 2023
We continue today in our Great Stories sermon series by looking at the story of Esther, the adopted girl from Israel, who became the Queen of Persia, who God used to save his people from annihilation.
1 The King’s Banquet: The story of Esther takes place during the reign of King Ahasuerus who is know in history as Xerxes 1 who reigned over Persia from 486BC-465BC. This King decided to throw the largest and most lavish royal party that the world had ever seen that lasted 180 days. No expense was spared. Every pereson was to be treated as a King
2 Queen Vashti’s Refusal: Towards the very end of this year long party, the King called his Queen, the beautiful Queen Vashti before all the other men. He wanted to show her beauty. But Queen Vashti declined to come, refusing to be paraded around like a trinket. At this King became enraged. The king consults his wisest counselors and they feel that the Queen must be punished otherwise all the leading women in society will begin to think they could defy their husband’s orders. And they advise the King to remove Vashti’s position of Queen. And he did so, and commanded across his kingdom that all wives must honor their husbands.
3 Esther Chosen Queen: Thus began the search for a new queen. All across the kingdom the most beautiful virgin women were collected and brought to a harem where Xerxes would select one of them to be the new queen. Outside of Susa was a Jewish man named Mordecai who had been carted off from Jerusalem. He had adopted his much younger cousin Esther and was raising her as his own. When the young women were rounded up, Esther was selected and taken to the King’s harem, where she immediately stood out among the other women as a woman of extraordinary beauty. Every day over the course of a year another young woman was presented to the King for him to make his selection. Finally, it was Esther’s turn, and when the King saw Esther, he loved her more than all the other women, and crowned her his new queen.
4 Mordecai Discovers a Plot: Around this time, her uncle Mordecai discovered a plot among some of the men of the region to assassinate the King. Mordecai immediately told Esther, who in turn told the King, and the plot was foiled. The men were hanged. And Mordecai’s actions were recorded.
5 Haman Plots Against the Jews: Meanwhile, in the story we are introduced to a man named Haman, a very high ranking official in Xerxes court. So high ranking in fact that Xerxes had issued a decree that all bow before him when he passes. It so happened that he one day passed Mordecai on the street, and Mordecai being faithful to the God of Scripture, refused to bow. When Haman found out he was furious that someone would dare defy him. And Haman began to develop a plan to annihilate the Jews, Mordecai’s people. Haman began to scheme a Holocaust. Haman present his plan to the King, telling him of this strange peopel who have different than everyone else. And that it is to the King’s advantage to destroy them. Xerxes agreed to the plan.
Esther 3:13 ESV Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.
6 Esther Agrees to Help the Jews: The city of Susa was thrown into confusion because many Jews lived there. And Mordecai hears of the plan. In angst he cried to God. The people of God wept and fasted and prayed! Esther unaware of Haman’s plan sees Mordecai in agony, and sends her servant to discover what is wrong. Mordecai sends back to Esther a copy of Haman’s decree and writes that she must plead with the King. Esther tell Mordecai that that isn’t how it works, she can’t just go to the King unless the king summons her. Mordecai writes back to Esther
Esther 4:12–14 ESV And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 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. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
At this, Esther determines in heart to do what she can. She calls all the Jews of the of Susa to fast on her behalf.
7 Esther Prepares a Banquet: Esther then gets creative. She puts herself in the path so that he will see her. And this works. The king spots Esther and Esther invites both the King and Haman to a feast full of food and wine. That night at the feast, while they are joyful and drinking, Esther invites both the King and Haman again to come for another feast hte following night, to which they agree.
8 Haman Plans to Hang Mordecai: That night as Haman is walking away from the feast he walks by Mordecai once again, and becomes infuriated that Mordecai will not bow to him even with the death sentence over his head. He restrains himself from taking any action and instead goes home. As he is at home with his family, sharing of his day, his wife suggest that they construct a gallows, fifty feet high, in order to have Mordecai hanged on it.
9 The King Honors Mordecai: That night the King just so happened to be restless, unable to sleep, and he has the book of memorable deeds brought to him. He stumbles accross a page that spoke of Mordecai’s heroism in foiling the king’s assassination. The king realizes he has never honored the man that saved him. The next morning, Haman is approaching the King to get permission to hang Mordecai, but before he can get a word out the king asks Haman, “What should we do for a man the King wants to honor?” Haman, thinking the King desires to honor him, says that, “He should be given a royal horse and a royal crown and robes and riches. He should be paraded through the city square as one whom the King honors. The king says, “That’s a great idea. I want you to go do that for Mordecai.” You can imagine the internal anger boiling in Mordecai’s chest. The man he wanted to kill, he now has to celebrate publicly. Haman, does what the king commands. He goes home frustrated and angry and his wife recognizing what is happening says,
Esther 6:13 ESV And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”
10 Esther Reveals Haman’s Plot: Haman’s men show up to escort him the feast with Esther. Perhaps Haman can just drink his anger away. At the feast the King, delighting in Esther overwhelmingly, asks Esther what he can do for her. Esther, plucking all the courage she could, reveals to the King that her people, the Jews, are going to be killed, and she asks if he will spare them. The King is furious to discover that his Queen’s people are planned to be killed. He asks who is responsible for such actions. Esther points across the table to Haman. “This enemy is responsible.”
11 Haman is Hanged: The King begins to fume and goes on a walk in the palace. Meanwhile inside, Haman gets up from the table and falls down at Esther’s feet where she is sitting on a couch begging for his life. When the King comes back in from the garden, it looks to him as if Haman is assaulting the Queen. Infuriated, he has Haman bound, and one of the nearby servants lets the king know that a gallows has just been constructed in the town square. The King has Haman hanged on the very gallows Haman intended to have Mordecai killed.
12 Esther Saves the Jews: And so Queen Esther saved the Jews that day. She had the King write another decree abandoning the original plan to destroy the jews. And Mordecai went out in his royal robes among the people. That day, many across the kingdom of Xerxes declared themselves believers in the God of the Bible, because they had seen the miraculous provision God has given.
13 The Jews Destroy their Enemies: On the day the original holocaust was to take place, many wicked men across the kingdom still attempted to destroy the Jews, but in every town the Jews successfully defended themselves. They struck all their enemies down, even killing the ten sons of Haman.
14 The Feast of Purim Inaugurated: And God’s people threw a feast that day to celebrate the Lord’s deliverance of them from Haman’s plan, a feast that is still celebrated today by the Jews, in commemmoration of Esther and how God delivered them from great evil, known the Feast of Purim. Meaning & Application Let us now turn and ask ourselves what lessons and applications we can take from this remarkable story in Scripture. I would like to propose two lessons. First I want to show you how this Esther story points us to Jesus & what he has accomplished for us on the cross. Second, I want to consider the faith of Esther, and how she provides a worthy example for us, of living our faith in the midst of hostility.
I CHRIST IS THE GREATER ESTHER WHO HAS SAVED HIS PEOPLE FROM CERTAIN DEATH
We have seen this theme developed throughout the whole summer. And it is not different with our story of Esther. Just as Christ was the greater David. Just as Christ was the greater Ruth and the greater Boaz and the greater Joseph. So is Christ the greater Esther, who has saved his people from certain death.
A Haman Planned to Destroy God’s People: In the story of Esther, Haman was a great enemy of God’s poeple. He was proud, and the reason he hated God’s people was because Mordecai refused to bow in worship to anyone but God himself. Haman points us towards the true enemy of the people of God, the Devil. Scripture informs us that, like Haman, pride was the Devil’s downfall. He wanted to be worshiped. He wanted to be God.
Ezekiel 28:17 “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground...”
The Devil, that ancient serpt, has prowled around ever since doing all he can to obstruct worship of God. He has been behind every great persecution of Christians. Behind every martyr that dies, the Devil lurks behind. Behind every plot to take a church down, or remove a pastor, the Devil lurks, scheming, like Haman.
B Esther Risked Her Life: Esther risked her life in order to intercede for her people. She knew that calling an audience with the king could certainly lead to death, but she went through with it, in an effort to save her people from Haman’s wicked scheme. She interceded for her people. Jesus Christ went further than Esther. He not only risked his own life in order to save his people, but he gave his life in order to save his people from the Devil’s schemes. Jesus’ death on the cross was an intentional sacrifice whereby one man was killed on behalf of the entire group.
C Esther continued to Intercede: In the story of Esther, Esther continued to intercede. She kept asking, and Xerxes kept giving. Likewise, Romans 8:34 says,
Romans 8:34 ESV Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Christ lives now making constant intercession for you. Protecting you, guiding you, granting you faith, being a shield unto. Without his intercession not one of us would be able to call ourselves a Christian at the end of this day.
D Haman Was Hanged on His Own Gallows: Third, in the story of Esther, Haman was hanged on the very gallows he built to kill Mordecai. We saw this theme play out in our story of David and Goliath, where Goliath was killed his own sword. Jesus, used the very thing that Satan intended to use for evil, in order to defeat Satan and once for all. At the cross, Satan believed he had won. Remember Luke 22:3 says
Luke 22:3 ESV Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.
This was Satan’s plan. He was going to kill the Son of Man and end his kingdom. But in fact it is through the cross that God’s people ended up being saved and being freed from Satan once and for all. Jesus used the cross to destroy Satan’s power.
Hebrews 2:14 ESV Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Through death, he defeated the one who had the power of death, and he set his people free.
E Esther Was Adopted: Lastly, Esther was adopted by Mordecai. This whole story is the story of a girl who had a good adopted father who was watchig out for her, and caring for her. The Scriptures that when you place your faith in Jesus you are adopted into his family.
Romans 8:15 ESV For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
If you are a Christian, your adoption ought to be a central thread that runs your life. This is a defining factor of you. God, the Father, loves you as a good tender Father. Not because of anything you’ve done, not because of any merit you’ve earned, but simply because he is a gracious Father, who has chosen you.
F Conclusion: This whole book of Esther in all of its details point us towards Christ and his great work saving his people.
II ESTHER DEMONSTRATES A FAITH THAT COURAGEOUSLY USES HER ASSIGNMENT TO PUSH BACK AGAINST THE LORD’S ENEMIES
Let us now turn and consider the faith of both Esther and Mordecai, and what we can learn from this. Esther 4:14: There is one sentence in this whole book that is a thread that holds the entire book together. And that is Esther 4:14.
Esther 4:14 ESV 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. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther demonstrates a faith that courageously uses her assignment to push back against the Lord’s enemies.
A For Such a Time As This: The central verse here is Mordecai’s statement, “Who knows if you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Why was Esther adopted by Mordecai? Why was she selected of all the women to go to Xerxes harem? Of all the women in the harem, why was she chosen to be Queen? The answer was that God had placed her—this adopted girl who lost her parents—in that position, to be the person to turn history in a certain direction. Esther’s responsibility in that moment was not to sit passively by as evil swarmed around her, but to take courage in God, and act with cunning and with courage.
B. Providence: Mordecai was lamenting and fasting,Esther was fearful, and yet they had a sense of their role in all of this. They never lost sense of God’s providence. One commentator writes. “In Esther we are introduced to the mightiest king in the world at the height of his glory… Yet in the book of Esther, he is only the second power. His word has authority, but there is another Word that dictates human affairs, speaks through the mouths of counselors, gives favor to Jewish maidens, robs kings of sleep, and inspires terror in the enemies of God’s people. In the book of Esther, there is a Power that is hidden from human eye that manipulates events in ways that even the world’s greatest monarch cannot resist.” One of our great challeges as Christians is to press the doctrine of God’s providence so deep into our souls that can face any challenge, any hardship, any trial with the confidence of Mordecai. I don’t know how, but God’s promises will stand in the end. It is certain. I trust him. Have you worked God’s loving providence into your heart to this degree? Are you confident in God, and his promises? Do you see all of life unfolding under his guiding hand? If you do, it will develop a confidence in you, a stability, a sense of your life being built on a rock that is undeniable.
C With Cunning: With cunning. She did not just run into the throne room and blast Xerxes for signing an order to kill the Jews. She played it smart. She threw a feast, and invited the right people to it. She did this over multiple days. She schemed without sinning. She used the little resources she had, to do something, to stand for something.
D The Devil’s Current Work: You and I live in Chicago, in America. All things considered, we have things pretty good. And yet, it is no secret that the Devil is at work dilligently in our schools, in our libraries, in our politics, in our media, and ultimately in the culture at large. He is systematically creating a culture in this city, and in this nation, that is hostile to God and His Word. There are very real battles to fight. Before those battles are fought between politicians in Springfield and Washington DC, they are fought in the little moments of life.
E We Have Settled: And my heart is burdened, that most Christians are sleeping on the job. We have forgotten that you and are here for such a time as this. We have forgotten that we are called to be salt and light. We have forgotten that we are not here to pass the time, we are here to labor towards Christ’s kingdom, to win souls who will otherwise spend an eternity in hell, and to push back against the devil’s scheme with our own. We have settled for a version of Christianity, that looks nothing like the Scriptures, nothing like Christ, nothing like the Apostles. We have settled for a comfy cozy Christianity devoid of risk, devoid of holiness, devoid of striving.
F Over the Last Few Weeks: Over the last few weeks, Sara and I have just had moments where we sit back and say, “Who is this Church?” There have been some real needs and challenges happening in the community, and this Church is serving each other like nothing I’ve ever seen. Many of you are stepping into the moments, with Christ like humility and love, for such a time as this. And you’re making a difference.
G My Heart is Burdened: But my heart is burdened, that most Christians are sleeping on the job. We have forgotten that you and are here for such a time as this. We have forgotten that we are called to be salt and light. We have forgotten that we are not here to pass the time, we are here to labor towards Christ’s kingdom, to win souls who will otherwise spend an eternity in hell, and to push back against the devil’s scheme with our own. We have settled for a version of Christianity, that looks nothing like the Scriptures, nothing like Christ, nothing like the Apostles. We have settled for a comfy cozy Christianity devoid of risk, devoid of holiness, devoid of striving.
• Christian, today there are 153 million children worldwide who are orphans. There are 443,000 children in America in Foster Care in need of a home. Who knows if God has not placed you here for such a time as this.
• Christian, today there are over 600,000 abortions every year in America. Those children need somebody to speak for them, to defend them, to love them. Who knows if God has not placed you here for such a time as this.
• Christian, today there are still an estimated 7,400 unreached people groups. That means nations and tribes that have little to no access to the gospel. Those groups constitute over 3 billion people on our planet. Who knows if God has not placed you here for such a time as this.
• Christian, over 20,000 refugees and immigrants have been dropped off in Chicago, and have been living on the curb in front of our police stations. Now each one of us can have our political opinion of what ought to be done. But that does not change the fact that they are here, and they are in need. Who knows if God has not placed you here for such a time as this.
• In 2022, the number of people who died by suicide hit a record high. 49,000 people. Depression and loneliness are staggeringly high. These are your office mates, your neighbors. They need Christ. They need a Christian to show them Christ. Who knows if God has not placed you here for such a time as this.
I know, in this Church, there are many living this out faithfully. I see you. Your boldness and humble service. Over the last few weeks… Your hatred of wickedness and love of God’s people. I see you. I also know, there are many sleepy Christians who need to be woken up if we are to be serious about this thing called Christianity. If God can use a sweet little adopted Israeli girl who lost her parents and was raised by an exile to save His people, what might God do through you in such a time as this?