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But God...The Joy Giver!

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Ingredients for pancakes
Individually, I wouldn’t eat a single one of them.
Put them all together, and maybe I would.
Even after they’re mixed together, I still wouldn’t eat them because I don’t care for raw dough.
But when they are mixed in the right proportions by the hands of a knowledgeable baker and then subject to heat they become something beautiful.
It is not by luck or chance or fate or accident that pancakes become pancakes. Someone has to know how to bring everything together. This is how we understand God’s providence.
When we affirm God's providence, we are acknowledging that He can take all the events of our lives--the good and the bad--and blend them together so they work together for His glory and our ultimate good.
God’s name never appears in the book of Esther. But you see God’s work throughout, and today we are near the end of the book. To use my pancake analogy, Esther 8:1-15 is about the time the pancakes are scooped up off the griddle. Prior to this event, you could describe the story as bleak, something akin to raw batter. The first seven chapters lack much, if any, good news for the people of God.
We are confronted in chapter 8 with three changes that cannot be explained apart from the grace and providence of God.

By God’s grace and providence, positions can change (v. 1-2)

Esther 8:1 (HCSB)
That same day King Ahasuerus awarded Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Mordecai entered the king’s presence because Esther had revealed her relationship to Mordecai.
It's been quite a day for Esther. Prior to this day Esther and her people were in big trouble. Many were in captivity, out of the will of God. They're under the tyranny of a dictator named Xerxes.
They've felt the fury of the king's #2 man, Haman, who issued an edict that would result in a Jewish holocaust in eleven months. Haman actually built a 75' gallows to kill one of the main characters of the book, the Jew Mordecai.
On this day--Esther threw a private party, and exposed Haman and his deadly plot to kill the Jews. The king ordered that Haman be executed on the very gallows he'd intended to use on Mordecai.
That same day the king gave Esther Haman's estate. Talk about a change! One day Haman is the enemy of Esther and the Jews. The next day Esther receives his estate. But Esther's not the only person whose position changed. Verses 1b - 2 indicate
B. It also did for Mordecai (1b-2).
This was to have been his final day. It turned out to be his day of opportunity. The text indicates two things happened to him.
1. He received the king's signet ring. This means he’s now the #2 man in the kingdom. To have the king's signet ring meant he had legal authority to act on the king's behalf. In a day Mordecai went from relative obscurity to the limelight.
Mordecai stayed true to his allegiance to the true King and used his new position as God’s instrument.
2. He was placed over Haman's estate. Haman had been a wealthy man. Persian law gave the state the power to confiscate the property of those who had been condemned as criminals, as Haman had been. So it was now Esther's estate, but the queen needed an estate manager. Who better suited than her cousin and adoptive father, Mordecai?
How do you explain the changes that happened that day for Esther and Mordecai? Should we call it coincidence? Luck? No. God's at work. In God's grace and providence, positions can change. Not only positions, but...

By God’s grace and providence, predicaments can change (3-14)

Esther's got it made, right? Her enemy is gone. She's in the good graces of the king. Her cousin just received a royal promotion. It's time to celebrate, right? Wrong.
Things may be looking better for Esther and Mordecai, but not so for their people. The edict calling for the elimination of the Jews is still in place.
How can you rejoice when people you care about are condemned to die?
In verses 3-14, we see three scenes in which God acts and changes the predicament of His people.
Esther 8:3–4 HCSB
Then Esther addressed the king again. She fell at his feet, wept, and begged him to revoke the evil of Haman the Agagite, and his plot he had devised against the Jews. The king extended the gold scepter toward Esther, so she got up and stood before the king.
What happened to Esther?
1. She was gripped by a need (3-4). Do you see her intensity? She pleaded. She fell at the king's feet. She wept. She even begged. Why? Because she's gripped by a need. It's a life and death matter. Sure, she may be secure, but others are not.
Others are in need, and she's determined to use her God-given abilities and position to do something about it.
2. She refused to rejoice while others were condemned to die (5-6). Listen to her plea in verses 5-6
Esther 8:5–6 HCSB
She said, “If it pleases the king, and I have found approval before him, if the matter seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his sight, let a royal edict be written. Let it revoke the documents the scheming Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how could I bear to see the disaster that would come on my people? How could I bear to see the destruction of my relatives?”
She's willing to take risks for others at personal expense. Allow me to say it again--
Esther refused to rejoice while others were condemned to die.
Does that convict you? There's a world out there full of people who will suffer an eternal death and we have been given the ability and authority to share the Gospel with them. How can we ignore them?
Esther used what she had--her position and her influence--to do something about the plight of helpless people around her. Did it make a difference? Scene #2...
B. We see the king's response (7-8).
Esther 8:7–8 HCSB
King Ahasuerus said to Esther the Queen and to Mordecai the Jew, “Look, I have given Haman’s estate to Esther, and he was hanged on the gallows because he attacked the Jews. You may write in the king’s name whatever pleases you concerning the Jews, and seal it with the royal signet ring. A document written in the king’s name and sealed with the royal signet ring cannot be revoked.”
1. He couldn't cancel the first decree. It was impossible to change the first edict, even for the king. His hands are tied.
When the king heard Esther say, "Please do something!", he knew he couldn't cancel the first decree. So...
2. Instead he authorized a second decree. The second decree, in effect, neutralized the first decree. The king said to Esther and Mordecai - "You make another decree and I'll approve it." This leads to Scene #3...
C. We see the kingdom-wide results (9-14).
In verses 9-10, we see that a new edict was drafted and a plan was implemented to share the new edict with the people.
The new law was drafted a little more than 8 months before the old law was supposed to go into effect. This time it was also sent to the Jews, which is a statement of inclusion and a sign of respect for the Jewish people. It also went to all government officials in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom - the same people who received the first one.
The new law is explained. Basically, the second edict gave the Jews the right to assemble, protect themselves from attack, and to destroy and plunder their enemies. The text of verses 11-12 are challenging. Why a Persian ruler would allow the Jews to seemingly kill his subjects at will is difficult to understand. We've seen in earlier passages that Xerxes is indifferent to the value of human life. But the text of verses 11-12 is grounded in their self-defense as a response to the first edict.
The new law is sent in verse 14.
Esther 8:14 HCSB
The couriers rode out in haste on their royal horses at the king’s urgent command. The law was also issued in the fortress of Susa.
There was no social media platform to disseminate information in this time. Without the use of the king’s horses and equipment, hope for delivery was slim. Under the first edict, the Jews couldn’t defend themselves but now, according to this new law, they could, and they had just over 8 months to prepare.
Talk about a predicament change! What a difference a day makes! No, what a difference God makes! He's not through either. In God's grace and providence, our position in life can change. So can our predicaments. The biggest change is yet to come.

By God’s grace and providence, people can change (v. 15-17)

Can God change people? Can He change attitudes and hearts? Can He turn things around in people's lives?
If He can't, you'll have a hard time explaining the three dramatic changes presented in verses 15-17.
A. Mordecai went from the gallows to the palace. Less than twenty-four hours before this, Mordecai was as good as dead. Now he's wearing royal blue and purple and a crown of gold. From death to life is a pretty significant turnaround!
B. The Jews went from hopelessness to hopefulness. Prior to this day, the Jews were hopelessly awaiting annihilation. But God’s intervention through Esther and Mordecai lead to the changed heart of a pagan king, and hope returned. Verse 16 says that for the Jews "it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor."
But the third reversal:
C. Non-Jews chose to become Jews.
Can you imagine what non-Jews must have thought when they heard about the promotion of Mordecai the Jew and the proclamation of this new law? "This is amazing! Your God really takes care of you. We want that kind of care!"
That's the way it was supposed to be for Old Testament Israel all along. They were to be a "light to the nations." God's intent in blessing the Jews was not to lead to a "holy-huddle" mentality.
Our relationship with God should cause the world around us to sense that relationship.
That's the kind of influence we should be having, too. People around us ought to be saying, "Wow! God is real in your life. I need and want what you have." Notice the repetition of the celebration - there’s joy everywhere! Unspeakable joy. There was a holiday!
In the grace and providence of God, positions can change; predicaments can change; and people can change. If that's true, what must we do?
Affirm that God is in control of everything.
When God rescues Mordecai from the gallows and makes him the #2 man in the empire, it's easy to say, "Look what God did!” But was God in control two months earlier when Haman tricked Xerxes into signing the first edict? And was God in control when Haman built a gallows for Mordecai? How about years earlier when Esther lost her parents?
And the answer is, yes, He is. Nothing surprises God. How are we to respond? By affirming His control. And by affirming our trust in Him--even when we don't understand.
How about in your life?
Affirm that God will take care of His people.
Know this. God will take care of His people. Haman set out to eliminate God’s people, not recognizing God’s promise to take care of His people.
When Jesus died on Calvary, Satan thought He had won. He thought wrong.
If you are in need, God provides.
Affirm our call to action for those who are lost.
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