Mother's Day: Esther's Resolve
Good morning and welcome!
And of course Happy Mother’s Day!
This morning I’d like for you to start turning in your Bibles to the Book of Esther and start looking for chapter 9.
In just a moment I will be reading , in what may seem to be a bit odd for a Mother’s Day message.
Odd because it is not a Scripture we typically look at on Mother’s day and maybe even more odd because we have no record of Esther having children.
However, the reality is that even though we have no record that Esther had any biological children, the Scripture is clear that she was responsible for many children.
And these children were the children of Israel.
And as we go through the Scripture we’ll see just a bit about these children and how Esther cared for them.
And I will tell you up front that this morning’s message is not as much about giving advice on how to be a “good mother,” but rather I want it to be an encouragement to all the women with us today.
Whether you have biological children or not, that does not define who you are as a mother or a woman for that matter.
And I say that because what I found as I was studying for this message was a lot of advice to women and really not a lot of encouragement.
It all seems to be centered on things like....
What it means to be a good mother.
The Signs of a Good mother.
How to be a good mother.
And on, and on, and on....
And what I also found was that a lot of this stuff has been written by middle aged white men who have no idea what it means to be a mother or a woman in our modern society.
And I will readily admit, I don’t consider myself middle aged yet but there is no way that I can personally relate to how things are for women in our society.
Things are better than they used to be, but they are no where near where they need to be.
One of the most popular passages on Mother’s day comes from Proverbs, which is all about a righteous and Godly mother and how we should honor her.
Which is nice, but we don’t listen to it.
Sure, every so often, but not every single day.
But this morning we are going to look at a time when Israel’s entire existence was saved by the courage, resolve, and work of a woman.
So, if you have found in your Bibles, I’d invite you stand with me if you are able.
Starting in verse 1 . . .
1 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No-one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.
Now, I read to you toward the end of this ordeal that the Israelites were facing and how the Israelites had overcome their enemies.
And if you will notice the passage mentions King Xerxes, who was the King of Persia.
And it is important to note this because this was a time in Israel’s history when they were under control of the Persian Empire.
The Persians had come in and defeated the Medes and had also carried Israel off into bondage with them.
So, Israel at this point was not a sovereign nation that was standing on it’s own.
It was fully under the control of a another government, ruled by a King that was not a believer in God.
And if we go all the way back to the first chapter of Esther we learn that the King had a wife, Queen Vashti, who had undermined and disrespected the King and all the nobles.
And this being a very strict Patriarchal society that placed no value on women, the penalty for this was pretty harsh.
19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”
And just to give perspective of how little value they placed on women . . .
21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memucan proposed. 22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, proclaiming in each people’s tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household.
And the word ruler here does not mean “head” as we take it, but it means just the way it sounds. Ruler, or “master” with the wife or concubine in their days as sub-servant, slave state.
So, now we have this dynamic at play and we also have an issue that comes up.
The King needs a new queen to take Vashti’s place.
So, they form a search committee . . .
3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful girls into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. 4 Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.
And to make a long story short, they happen upon Esther, who is brought into the “Queen’s Training Program” that consisted of . . .
12 Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given to her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
And we know that the King chose Esther, this Jewish slave girl, whom he didn’t know was either at that time, as his next queen.
And this was a big secret, because if Esther had revealed who she really was, they could have killed her, or at the very least had her banished.
But here is the deal, Esther was exactly where God wanted her to be.
Because a plot was afoot to wipe the Jews out.
And what happened was that one of Xerxes’ nobles, named Haman had been elevated to a place of honor and he was demanding that everybody bow down to him.
However, Esther’s uncle Mordecai refused to do it because Jews bowed to no one but God.
And Haman was so angry, it wasn’t enough for him to just kill Mordecai, but rather he was determined to wipe out all of the Jews.
And he goes to the King . . .
8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”
And the King could care less either way . . .
10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
So, now the people’s fate is sealed. They are marked for destruction.
And their absolute only hope is Esther.
However, it’s not that easy for her either.
Remember, she is a woman in this society.
She is also a Jew, who has been keeping it secret.
And the only way she can help is if she goes to the king, which even though she is the Queen isn’t as simple as just walking in and having a talk with him.
She has to ask permission and then be granted permission.
And once she starts telling him who she really is, there’s a real chance that she could be lined up with the rest of the Jews.
So, Esther has to make a decision.
Is she going to keep quiet and save her own skin and watch the destruction of her own people.
Or is she going to step out into where God is calling her, risking herself for the sake of others, which I will tell you is really what mother’s do.
Regardless of whether they are looking out for their kids or somebody else’s, that maternal instinct kicks in and most women have a tendency to put other’s needs before their own.
Which all of us could take a lesson from.
So, we know Esther makes her choice . . .
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
And, she goes and the King grants her an audience.
But Esther is smart enough to not only approach the King to save her own people, but also to deal with the main one causing problems.
So, she has the King invite Haman to a banquet for the next day and when Haman hears that he is all giddy until he sees his sworn enemy Mordecai, which makes him mad.
So, he has some gallows built so he can personally hang Mordecai as a symbol of his own power and to mark the beginning of the destruction of the Jews, so he thinks but . . .
1 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
Which goes to show us all that regardless of how difficult a task is, if we are called to it, God is working on the other end.
God had brought the Mordecai and what he did for the King earlier to the Kings attention and while Haman was out preparing to kill Mordecai, the King had in mind to honor him.
And if we read on, the King even orders Haman to take Mordecai and parade him through the city as a tribute and honor.
However, the kicker comes the next day at the banquet.
1 So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, 2 and as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favour with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. 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.” 5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” 6 Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.” Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realising that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.
And his begging didn’t work, because when the King came back he saw Haman and thought he was trying to take advantage of the Queen.
And the end result was that they took Haman and hung him from the gallows he had built himself to hang Mordecai from.
And as we go on through Esther we see Esther again asking the king to withdraw the command to wipe out the Jews, which he does.
And the end result was what we read in the very beginning.
And I know we have went through pretty much the entire Book of Esther in about 20 minutes, but the point is two fold.
First, for the women-regardless of what others and what society tells you-you can accomplish anything that God gives you to accomplish.
Second, you have a voice. And even if there are those in society who do not listen. God hears your voice.
And I will tell you all, if it were not for the voice and prayers of women over the years, there would be many a church that would not be here today.
There would be many people who are Christians today, alive and dead, that would not be if it were not for the women in their lives.
Third, to everyone else if you are of the mindset or habit that women are beneath you in some way or that you are more important than them to God, you need to change your attitude.
God uses who God uses, when God uses them and it doesn’t matter to God if they are man, woman, old, young.
God uses who God uses to accomplish God’s will.
And I will also say this, we often ask ourselves on Mother’s Day, “what can I do to honor my mother.”
I can tell you what you can do that would honor them the most.
You can give in to God and let them see one of their prayers be answered.
Because if you have a Godly woman in your life, I can guarantee you she is praying for you.
She is praying for your soul and for you to live for God.
The question is, are you willing to do that?
Are you willing to give in to God today?
To give up that old lifestyle and let God rule your life.
Because that’s all she wants.
Maybe you are here this morning and you are a woman young or old that you know God has called you to do something, but you have resisted.
You’ve resisted because you were afraid of what others would say or what others would think.
Or maybe you grew up thinking that it would be “inappropriate.”
I’m going to challenge you this morning to step out and submit to God and start doing what God has called you to do.
After all, Esther here went from a slave girl to the Queen, and even as Queen she took a chance that could have cost her, her life.
But because she knew she was in God’s will, she went anyway and the result was the salvation of her people.
How many people could be saved if you stepped out and stepped into God’s calling?
The altars are open this morning for everyone, will you step out today?