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If God Is For Us

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If God Is For Us

Esther 4:14 HCSB
If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”
These are the words of a Jewish man to a young Jewish girl that set the stage for Gods glorious delivery of His people.
Job 5:6 HCSB
For distress does not grow out of the soil, and trouble does not sprout from the ground.
The New American Commentary: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther I. King Xerxes’ Great Banquet (1:1–22)

The Book of Esther begins with a banquet given by King Xerxes. The events of the banquet led to the king’s disapproval of the queen. This event is vital in understanding the book as a whole. The anger Xerxes exhibits toward Vashti, and her subsequent departure, sets the stage for Esther to come forth and deliver her people.

Job 5:7 HCSB
But mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.
The
And so it seems, trouble is the common lot of humanity. We see it everyday in the news.
It reminds me of one actress who was having a very hard year. In one day she found out she was losing her television show and that her her husband was leaving her. She responded, “I know the Lord won’t send me more trouble than I have strength to bear, but I do wish He didn’t have quite such a good opinion of me.”
Can you relate? How do we respond to trouble?
There are those who deny that life has difficulties and that the answer is:
You cant have a negative confession.”
Others are aware of life’s problems, but say — There is no answer, no deliverance.
What do we do in times of trouble? Is there deliverance? Who should we look to?
Scripture has an answer!
Romans 8:28 HCSB
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
And Paul explains how this works.
Romans 8:29–30 HCSB
For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
Romans 8:
And then Paul masterfully draws out the answer beginning with this question:
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
And whats the answer?
Absolutely nothing and no one!
The book of Esther illustrates just this. But it does so in a very human way. What I mean by that is that the book of Esther is conspicuously absent of God by name, but you can see God’s providentially working as the events reveal someone greater than all of us.
This speaks to us today. It speaks to you wherever you’re at in life and whatever you’re going through. It may look like God is absent, but God is not absent. He is near, very near. And dear Christian, He is for you.
Through all the events and unlikely circumstances of life, God’s providence proceeds. Let’s see how God is For Us by investigating the Story of Esther. We want to do so by looking at first, the Plot, then the Characters, and then finally, Lessons we can learn from this amazing story.

I. The Plot

I’m assuming you have read the book recently or at least sometime before and that you know the basic story of Esther. So, we will not consider each and every event, but focus on the main storyline and the main events that push story along.
The book of Esther begins with a banquet given by King Ahasuerus, king of Persia. Ahasuerus is also known as Xerxes. Ahasuerus reigned from 486B.C. to 465 B.C. The events of the baquet led to the king’s disapproval of the queen, Queen Vashti, as she refused to come into his presence at his request. This event is vital in understanding the book as a whole. The anger the king exhibts toward Vashti, and her susequent departure, sets the stage for Esther to come forth and deliver her people.
I’m assuming you have read the book recently or at least sometime before and that you know the basic story of Esther.

Esther becomes Queen

As a good Mespotamian despot, the king exercises his right to divorce her and depose her as queen. So, he then looks for another queen, and by royal decree, the search for a qualified queen begins. And in chapter 2, Esther the woman after whom this book is among those picked as candidates and all are prepared for the king to choose one. We are told in chapter 2:17:
Esther 2:17 HCSB
The king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won more favor and approval from him than did any of the other young women. He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti.
Esther is then, chosen to be queen. But there’s a big secret. Esther is a Jew!
Esther is now the queen. But there’s a big secret. Esther is a Jew! Esther does not reveal her ethnic background or birthplace, as Mordecai directed her. Mordecai is Esther’s uncle and guardian, since her parents died.
An interesting event then takes place.

The Assissination Plot to kill the king

An interesting event then takes place. Mordecai, as he sits at the King’s Gate, overhears two eunuchs who guarded the king’s entrance, “became infuriated and tried to assissinate King Ahasuerus.” Mordecai reports the plot to Esther who tells the king. The report is investigated and verified, and both men were hanged. Chapter 2 ends with — “This event was recorded in the court records of daily events in the king’s presence.” Keep this in mind because it becomes important as the plot moves along.

Haman comes to power

Chapter 3 begins with another important event.
Esther 3:1 HCSB
After all this took place, King Ahasuerus honored Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite. He promoted him in rank and gave him a higher position than all the other officials.
The rise of Haman to power fits into the storyline of Esther because Haman is the great antagonist. He hates the Jews, and we’ll see why later. But it really comes to a head when Mordecai refused to bow to Haman. The king cannot be let off the hook since he is also to blame for the events that unfold because he gave Haman his signet ring of authority and the power of the entire kingdom. The king commanded the people to honor Haman. Mordecai’s refusal is what gets the Jewish people into this mess.
Who will save them?
Haman sends out a document. The Jews will be destroyed, killed, annihilated — young and old, women and children and their possessions plundered on the the 13th day of Adar, the 12th month. And as we find out later in chapter 8:
Esther 8:8 HCSB
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.”

Mordecai Morns, But Believes

Esther 4:1 HCSB
When Mordecai learned all that had occurred, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, went into the middle of the city, and cried loudly and bitterly.
Esther 4:1
We see him morn
When Mordecai hears about the decree he reacts by grieving. Mordecai morns. And he also has faith.
You say, “Well, I see he morns, but where does he believe? Where’s his faith in God?”
Now this is absolutely essential to seeing who is really at work here.
Look at Mordecai’s appeal to Esther to act.
Esther 4:13–14 HCSB
Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”
Esther 4:13
Notice the last statement “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this. When you think back through the events that brought Esther to where she is at this time, you can see, this is not of her doing and this is no concerted effort of any person. This is God!
Now keep this in mind, because we want to revisit this in a few moments.

Esther Approaches the King

Here is the faith of Esther as well, as she sends back her reply to Mordecai:

Esther 4:15–16 HCSB
Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.”
Esther 4:15
The king does not allow people into his presence unless he first summons them — Including the Queen! And don’t forget that Vashti was removed because she did not come when called. Here is Esther coming when she wasn’t called! Esther is entirely depending on God’s gracious intervention. And she asks everyone to fast, which would include prayer. This is incredible courage, but more so, it is complete trust in God to move.
And so, the story continues in chapter 5 as Esther approaches the king unannounced and the dramatic scene unfolds as everyone wonders whether the king will extend his scepter thereby allowing her to approach him. And I just love what happens. Read with me beginning in .
Esther 5:1–5 HCSB
On the third day, Esther dressed up in her royal clothing and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace facing it. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal courtroom, facing its entrance. As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she won his approval. The king extended the gold scepter in his hand toward Esther, and she approached and touched the tip of the scepter. “What is it, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be given to you.” “If it pleases the king,” Esther replied, “may the king and Haman come today to the banquet I have prepared for them.” The king commanded, “Hurry, and get Haman so we can do as Esther has requested.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared.
Esther 5:1-
Esther masterfully works the occassion. She asks that the king and Haman come to a banquet she has prepared for them. The king summons Haman and they go to Esther’s banquet. The king asks again what she is wanting. But look at the favor of God on her in the way the king offers his favor: “Whatever you want, even to half the kingom, will be given to you.
So, she asks for another banquet with the king and Haman the next day.

Hamans Demise

Esther 5:9 HCSB
That day Haman left full of joy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai at the King’s Gate, and Mordecai didn’t rise or tremble in fear at his presence, Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai.
Haman leaves the banquet thrilled that Esther had invited no one but him to join the king at the banquet and that he’s invited to another banquet the next day. But all his joy is crushed when he sees Mordecai at the king’s gate and Mordecai doesn’t rise or temble in fear at Haman’s presence. He is filled with rage. Convinced by his wife and friends, he builds 75 foot gallows on which he will ask the king to have Mordecai hung the next morning.

The King can’t sleep

But a funny thing happens on the way to the gallows. Look at 6:1
Esther 6:1 HCSB
That night sleep escaped the king, so he ordered the book recording daily events to be brought and read to the king.
Esther 6:1
Reading through the story, up to this point, the whole situation looks bad. Haman is honored by the king. He is able to get through this law that will execute all the Jews. Mordecai’s consistant dishonor of Haman fuels Haman’s anger, hatred, and pride.
Remeber when Mordecai foiled the assassination attempt on the king? And remember the deed was written down in the book recording daily events? Do you know that Mordecai was never rewarded? Wonder why?
And now the king can’t sleep? Wonder Why?
God is moving!
The story dramatically continues. “What has been done for Mordecai? Nothing! At just that time Haman enters the court of the palace. Who’s in the court? Haman is in the court. Tell him to come in.

Hamans Plan for Honor

“Haman, what would you do to a man the king wants to honor?” Well, of course, Haman thinks it’s him.
Esther 6:8–9 HCSB
Have them bring a royal garment that the king himself has worn and a horse the king himself has ridden, which has a royal diadem on its head. Put the garment and the horse under the charge of one of the king’s most noble officials. Have them clothe the man the king wants to honor, parade him on the horse through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor.’ ”
Esther 6:
This is great drama, isn’t it?

Honor Mordecai

Esther 6:10 HCSB
The king told Haman, “Hurry, and do just as you proposed. Take a garment and a horse for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the King’s Gate. Do not leave out anything you have suggested.”
Haman is absolutely humiliated, as he has to honor Mordecai. Afterwards, he runs home. His wife warns him, but perhaps things won’t turn out so badly.

Gods Plans Frustrate the Schemes of His enemy

You really need to read chapter 8. The second banquet is prepared and Haman has been summoned. Esther has it all planned out. She tells of the scheme to destroy her people. And asks that she and her people be spared.
The king is furious! “Who is this, and where is the one who would devise such a scheme?
Esther answered, The adversary and enemy is this evil Haman!
Haman stood terrified as the king becomes furious. The king tries to maintain his composure and goes out into the Palace Garden. Haman, in a galactically stupid move, remains with Esther and in an attempt to beg for her to spare him, falls on the couch where Esther reclined — at the very time the king returns!
This is great drama, isn’t it?
The king, of course, gets the wrong picture, “Would he actually violate the queen while I am in the palace?
This is as they say in sports a game changer. The whole plot suddenly switches in favor of Mordecai and Esther, and the Jews as well.
Well, Haman is hanged — on the very gallows he built to hang Mordecai.

Gods Not Finished

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.
Esther 8:1–3 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. The king removed his signet ring he had recovered from Haman and gave it to Mordecai, and Esther put him in charge of Haman’s estate. 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.
Esther 8:1-2
And the king instructed Mordecai to write in the kings name whatever pleases you concerning the Jews and seal it with the royal signet ring.
Mordecai masterfully devises a law that would allow the Jews to fight and defend themselves and annihilate every ethnic and provincial army hostile to them. This was to happen on a single day — the 13th day of the 12th month, the month Adar.
Esther 9:5
Esther 9:5–6 HCSB
The Jews put all their enemies to the sword, killing and destroying them. They did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the fortress of Susa the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men,
The single day comes and the Jews overpowered the enemy. They killed 500 men and the 10 sons of Haman in the fortress of Susa alone and 300 more in Susa. They killed 75,000 throughout the provinces.
The rest of chapter 9 describes the history of the Jewish feast of Purim — which means “Lots,” reminding the people that God will preserve them.

II. The Characters

Thats the Plot. Lets turn to the main characters of the book. There are 5 Main Characters:

1. Haman

Haman was the enemy of God’s people, filled with pride, hatred, and vanity. Why did he have such hatred for the Jews? He was an Agagite, that’s a descendent of Agag. If you remember when Saul was commanded to utterly wipe out the Amalekites, but he kept the cattle and sheep and the king — King Agag, whom Elijah cut into pieces. That probably stirred Haman’s hatred for the Jews. And he used the state and the power of his position for his own ends — evil ends.

2. Ahasuerus

The king of Persia was an interesting figure. He invaded Greece in 480 B.C. He reigned for 25 years before he was assassinated in 465 B.C., 9 years after the events of Esther. His son Artaxerxes I, whom we know from Ezra and Nehemiah, became king. Although part of God’s plan to deliver God’s people. He would not have done so on his own.

3. Mordecai

Mordecai was the deliverer of God’s people. He was a faithful low level official of the king. He took care of Esther as his own daughter. His very public mourning over Haman’s plot drew the attention of Esther’s maids. He rallied the Jews in Susa to fast and pray. He authored the edict to counter Haman’s plot. He’s a canny operator, forbiding Esther to reveal her Jewish identity. He was a man of great character and integrity. He would not bow or honor Haman.

4. Esther

Obviously, she was very beautiful and God used her beauty, not for the pleasure of men, but to deliver His people. She was an orphan that God brought to the pinnacle of power. She was loyal to the king by passing on information of the assassination plot. She was loyal to and care for Mordecai. She was loyal to her people and risking her own life to save them. She was courageous and faithful to God.
I said there was 5 Main Characters to the Story of Esther. Who else is a main character.

5. God

Although not mentioned, God is the real deliverer of His people. There are all kinds of questions that may arise about the characters in Esther, and although we may feel some uncertainty of their uprightness, it helps to know God is the real deliverer. He is gracious, sovereign and providing throughout the story. He holds center stage, even though He is never named. God is able to accomplish His purposes, despite His hiddenness. Even though He’s never named in the book of Esther, Esther is really just a long narrative illustration of . This accounts for the many passive verbs throughout the book implying God’s action. Who brought Esther to the kingdom for such a time as this? God did. Unlike the events of the book of Exodus, like the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, Divine interventions we call miraculous, Esther is an account of Divine interventions called providential. He worked in the normal actions of people just like Joseph and Ruth. It’s just a lot of so-called “Happenings” and “Circumstances.”
Think about the so-called happenings:
Esther Just Happened to be Jewish and beautiful.
Mordecai Just Happened to overhear the plot to kill the king.
The King Just Happened to not be able to sleep and ask for the reading of the daily reports.
Haman Just Happened to see Mordecai not bow.
And the lots Haman cast Just Happened to fall on a date almost a year later.
Haman Just Happened to fall on the couch just as the King came back in.
Haman Just Happened to come into the court just as the King was wondering how to honor Mordecai.
The point is not that Esther and Mordecai and the Jews got Lucky. But this book was written to show that God Himself acts to achieve the total defeat of His enemies and safety of His people.
So, what can we learn from this little book?

III. The Lessons

1. God always defeats His enemies.

We see the headlines and we read about torture and persecution of Christians in China, Nigeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan. And we wonder, Will God deliver them? Will it not work like in the book of Esther? The book of Esther doesn’t promise escape from physical death or martyrdom. But it does teach God will do what is absolutely best. And He will vindicate His people.

2. God will certainly deliver His children.

Consider how the safe the church is. No, not from earthly violence, but from final ruin before God. He is the One and only One we should fear. Christ is the Final deliverer. He overcame death and the grave to conquer the power of sin.
Isaiah 54:17 HCSB
No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants, and their righteousness is from Me.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

3. Gods Sovereignty is the Sweetest Doctrine.

We have seen consistently throughout the Old Testament God’s Sovereignty on display as God used all the circumstances of His people for His own glory. Isn’t that utterly amazing? So great is God’s Sovereignty that He brings blessing to His people from the unlikeliest sources. Consider how God used one of the great sins of His people — the marrying of pagan worshipers, not because He was opposed to interethnic relationships, but because of His opposition to idolatry. Yet, He used Ruth, a Moabitess to preserve His people through the lineage of David as Ruth becomes a great grandmother to the Lord Jesus Christ. In Esther He used Esther to marry a pagan King to save His people and preserve them.
What does this mean for you?

1. You can be comforted in trials knowing God does not abandon His people.

John Flavel said, “He who observes providence will never be long without a providence to observe.” In other words, if you look for what God is doing in your life, you will be amazed at how much you begin to see. Suddenly the “What ifs” and the “coincidences” give you a very different perspective. Instead of things happening, you see what is really going on — God caring for you.

2. You can be courageous in obedience.

Mordecai and Esther appear stubborn or reckless, but instead they are actively courageous, trusting God as they obey Him.

3. You can be confident with joyful hope in your waiting on God.

If God will most certainly deliver His people, then we can be confident with joyful hope in our waiting. God brought you to your present station. Charles Spurgeon said, “Every child of God is where God has placed him for some purpose.” You are in the place, the time, and situation, whether the season is one of trouble or peace, you can be content and joyfully confident in your hope in God. God will save and deliver you.
As the Hebrews writer encouraged us:
Hebrews
Hebrews 10:23 HCSB
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
History has a meaning because God writes the history. Your life has meaning because God is the author of your story. He will finish your story. Remember this Christian, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Let’s pray.
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