Sermon from September 16th, 2018

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“The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful #17: Esther - God's Courageous Intercessor for Such a Time as This”

Esther 8:1-8, 11-13; Ephesians 6:10-20


By Pastor John Bent



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Sermon Text
Good morning! Welcome to worship! Today we finish our summer sermon series on the “Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful” with our last message on Esther. Our focus today is her role as God’s courageous intercessor for such a time as this. Let’s review the story again!

Last Sunday, Pastor Ralph told us about a big ugly by the name of Haman. When Mordecai refused to bow to him, Haman hatched a plot to destroy Mordecai and his people. It was right out of Satan’s playbook. Let’s review…

 Haman told King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the kings’ laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.  If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them. And I will put 10,000 talents of silver in the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”  Esther 3:8-9

Haman’s lie was a set-up and King Xerxes fell right into it just like King Darius had with Daniel 100 years earlier.  Like Satan, Haman mixes a little truth with a big lie. The customs of the Jews were different from the pagans in Persia. But it was a lie that the Jews weren’t good citizens who obeyed the laws of Persia.

Jesus was falsely accused of not obeying the laws of Rome, so was Paul. Satan specializes in falsely accusing God’s people and he still does it today. He prompts the writing of bad laws that can be used for great evil. Let me give you four examples.

In Daniel’s case, Satan prompted a law do be written that anyone asking anything of any god other than the king would be thrown in the lion’s den. It was a trick to destroy Daniel.

In NT time, the Roman’s wrote a law that anyone caught praying to anyone other than Caesar would be crucified for treason.  It was a trick to destroy Christians.

In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that black slaves were not citizens and therefore less than human and not protected by the general laws of the country. It wasn’t murder to kill a slave.

In 1973, children in the womb were declared not human and legal to destroy. Satan’s solutions to the problems of life always involve the killing of the innocent.  Praise the Lord that all but one of these wicked laws have been overturned. We need to keep praying!

Unknown to Xerxes, Haman’s trick law legalized the murder of Esther, his queen and Mordecai, his top advisor who had earlier saved the king’s life.  King Xerxes unknowingly gave the devil a blank check to murder God’s people.

When Mordecai heard the new law, he tore his clothes, put ashes on his head and wept.  All the Jews throughout the kingdom did the same.  It wasn’t long until Esther heard about Mordecai so she sent a servant to find out what was wrong.  Mordecai sent back the news that Haman had written the law for the annihilation of all the Jews. He asked Queen Esther to go to Xerxes and intercede for her people. Esther responded.

“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned will be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” Esther 4:11

Esther is saying, “Unless I have an invitation, it would be fatal for me to attempt this!”  Mordecai responds with the most famous verse in the story.

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14

Mordecai asks Esther to intercede for her people. That’s the same job Jesus does for us. It’s the same job the Lord has given us for the sake of the world.  To intercede means to pray. If we won’t the Lord will raise up someone who will, but when evil comes and it will and we’re not ready, we will be swept up with it.

As Christians, we have called to go to war with the devil against the evil in this world. Our primary weapon is prayer in Jesus name.  So Esther tells Mordecai. “Tell the people to fast for me.”  Prayer is understood. “Then I will go to the King uninvited and if I perish, I perish.”

Esther took a stand, she interceded against the evil of her day and we need to do the same. Not with weapons of war, but weapons of the Spirit. On the appointed morning, Esther went uninvited into the throne room, a capital offense unless the King motioned her forward with his golden scepter. And he did! This is warfare in the realm of the Spirit.

“What do you want?”  the king asked. “I would like you and Haman to come to a banquet I’ve prepared”.  Haman was so thrilled that he overstretched his hand. Satan does that. Haman built a gallows 75 high on which to hang his enemy Mordecai and then went to Esther’s dinner.

That evening, the king again asked Esther what she wanted and she invited the king and Haman back for a second banquet the next day.  But that night, the king couldn’t sleep, so he asked for the royal records to be brought in. When they were read, he remembered he’d never rewarded Mordecai for saving his life months before. So the next morning, he asked Haman “What should the king do for a man he wants to honor?”

Haman, arrogant as he was, thought, “Surely the king means me!”  So he told the king, “Give the man a royal robe, set him on the king’s favorite horse and parade him through the city saying, “This is how the king honors those he favors.”

Xerxes replied, “Excellent! Find Mordecai the Jew and do all that for him.”  Does God answer prayer? Yes – if we pray!  That evening when Haman got home from the second most terrible day of his life, his advisors told him “This doesn’t look good.” They were right.

At that moment the soldiers arrived to escort him to Esther’s banquet where the king again asked Esther about her request. She replied, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life and spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king” Esther 7:3-4

Xerxes is shocked. “Where is the man who would do such a thing!”  And Esther replied, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.” Esther 7:5-6

The king is so furious he storms out into the palace garden.  While he’s gone, Haman falls on top of the couch where Esther is reclining to beg mercy. He’s crawling all over her when the king comes back in. End of Haman – but there’s still a problem.

A law is in place to exterminate the Jews - a law even Xerxes himself can not change. So Xerxes asks Esther, “What should I do?”  Interesting! In the face of this incredible evil, a secular king asks his godly wife for advice.

Get this! If you are a child of God and the Holy Spirit lives within you, you have resource for dealing with sin, death, and the devil that the world doesn’t have.

When evil gets bad enough, the world will always come to God’s people for help. So Esther tells the king to enact a new law that will empower the Jews throughout the kingdom from India to Sudan to defend themselves if they are attacked. This action became a national holiday for the Jews that’s still celebrated today. It’s called Purim.

But back to the point! God choose little Esther to be his bright star in a dark and depraved place. He also called her to be a courageous intercessor for the salvation of his people. The apostle Paul learned that being a prayer warrior for the sake of others was the most thing God had called him to do.

You don’t have to be mighty in the eyes of the world. You do have to pray – hard, about everything and without ceasing.  If you’ve never seen the move “War Room” get it!  Instead of complaining about the wickedness of the world, we need to commit ourselves to pray. If we don’t who will? 

We, like Esther, are in a life and death battle with a great and powerful evil.  Like Esther, we’ve been called and empowered to intercede. Let’s read Eph 6 again.  “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”   Ephesians 6:10-20

You and I are called and empowered to be God’s intercessors for such a time as this!

Amen.


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