20
Nov
14

Such A Time

Mordecai was very distressed.  He tore his clothes and put on sackcloth at the issuance of an edict calling for the annihilation of the Jews.  When Esther heard that her cousin was acting in this way, she became distressed and wanted to know what was going on.  Esther sent word for Mordecai and he told her what had happened.  The Jewish race was going to be wiped out in less than a year and he gave her a warning as well:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and 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 (NIV)​

Esther was a very brave woman.  The penalty for going before the king without being summoned was death.  She hadn’t been called to the king’s presence for over 30 days.  But she had decided that after 3 days of fasting by all the Jews in the province of Susa that she would go before the king to see what would happen.
I believe that God orchestrates situations and circumstances in our lives for His purposes.  Will we take the steps He is calling us to take in order to fulfill His plans?  You are an ambassador for Christ.  You are His representative here on earth.  God has a purpose and a plan for you.  Are you fulfilling it?  You have been placed on this planet for such a time as this.  Go out there and get to work fulfilling God’s plan for your life.  Surrender your life, heart and will to Jesus so He can accomplish His purposes through you.
​Esther 4 (NIV)
When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate.Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “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 the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and 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?”

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 attendants 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.”

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.​
19
Nov
14

God’s Plan Never Fails

When power goes to someone’s head, they are capable of such evil.  Haman, a servant of king Xerxes, was elevated to to the highest seat of honor in the kingdom.  The king ordered that people bow before him when he passed by.  Mordecai, the cousin of the queen, refused to do so.  We are not told why, but I imagine that it was because he was a devout Jew.  He would not bow down before anyone other than God Almighty.
Haman, in his sinful pride, not only wanted to destroy Mordecai, but his people as well.  So Haman convinces the king to issue an edict that called for the extermination of the Jews.  They cast a lot, known to the Babylonians at the pur.  They were using the pur to choose the date of the execution of the Jews.  The lot said that it would take place in the 12th month.  All of this was taking place in the first month of the year.  So the Jews had nearly an entire year to prepare for the seemingly inevitable.  It also gave God nearly 12 months to save them.
Haman goes to the king and offers a HUGE amount of money (millions of dollars in silver) to the king to carry out his wicked plan.  King Xerxes tells Haman to keep the money and put the plan into motion.  The edict was issued and the plot to destroy God’s people was set into motion.
The enemy of our souls will use anyone and any means to carry out his evil purposes.  Had the devil possessed Haman to get him to try and exterminate the Jews?  If Haman had been successful in carrying out his hideous plan, there would have been no Messiah, for the Messiah was prophesied to come from the Jews.  God, though, knows all things and He is the undefeated, all-powerful One.  His plan to save humanity would not fail because God never fails.

Esther 3 (NIV)

After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.

When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.

Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s 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 give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”

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.”

12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.

15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

18
Nov
14

The Smallest Details

The second chapter of Esther introduces us to two of the heroes of the book: Esther, for whom the book is named, and her cousin Mordecai.  King Xerxes, having banished the queen, was in search of a new queen.  Esther was apparently quite lovely and was chosen to go and be a part of the king’s harem to possibly become the next queen.  The young virgins were given the finest of beauty treatments to prepare them to meet king Xerxes and Esther rose to the top of the class.  Hegai, who was in charge of the harem, gave Esther the best place in the harem and the best of the beauty treatments.  When she went before the king, he chose her to be his next queen.  God was carefully weaving Esther’s story into history for a very important purpose.  This story, though, isn’t just about a beautiful Jewish girl.  This story is about a faithful and caring relative.
Mordecai loved his cousin and adopted her into his family when his aunt and uncle died.  He cared for her and was concerned for her when she was being prepped for her audience with the king.  I believe that the real hero of Esther is Mordecai.  He was a good man with a kind heart.  He had a big picture perspective as we will see later in the book.  In a bit of foreshadowing, we see at the end of chapter 2 that he uncovered an assassination plot against the king.  This small detail will come in quite handy a little later on in the story.  Mordecai, because of his faithfulness to his family, his people and his God, helps make salvation possible for all people.  We’ll see why in the next several chapters.  God is able to take the smallest details of our stories and weave them together to do amazing things for His Kingdom and His glory.  Don’t overlook even the tiniest detail of your life.  God may use it someday to do something awesome.

Esther 2 (NIV)

Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women 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. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Before a young woman’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 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.

15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet,Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.

Mordecai Uncovers a Conspiracy

19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

17
Nov
14

The Gift Of Time

The message from Griffith First Christian Church from November 16, 2014.

17
Nov
14

The God Behind The Scenes

Some people say that the Bible is a made up book like some kind of novel.  Some people say that it is no more than just a fairy tale with no grounding in reality.  That the teachings of Scripture are archaic and politically incorrect.  They may say that it contradicts itself and it just cannot be God’s Word.  The along comes a book like Esther.  In this book, we see that the stories of Scripture are not made up fairy tales.  This book contains historical facts and places the story of Esther right in the middle of history.  In spite of humanity’s efforts to disprove God and to discredit His Word, the book of Esther shows us that God is behind history, moving and working for our benefit.
The book of Esther begins with a banquet given by king Xerxes.  A six month banquet for all of his nobles.  He was showing off the vast fortune of his kingdom.  Then he made a mistake.  He wanted to show off his beautiful wife as though she were some kind of a possession.  This does not sit well with Queen Vashti and she refuses to come and present herself before him.  Some advice to all of the male readers: your wife is not your possession.  She is your partner.  Don’t treat her like a thing.  Treat her like a queen.
Chapter one is not about how to treat one’s wife.  It is setting the stage for an amazing story of how God works behind the scenes.  What we may view as coincidences are not coincidences at all.  God is moving and working in history to bring about His plans and purposes.  Though the book of Esther never mentions God, He is there.  We’ll eventually see how, through Esther’s bravery, God would save not only His people, the Jews, but the whole world.
Esther 1 (NIV)
 
This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.

For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa. The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones. Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.

Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.

10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

13 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times 14 and were closest to the king—Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven noblesof Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.

15 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”

16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

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.”

21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. 22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.
10
Nov
14

Home, Sweet Home

The final message in the “Going Home” series from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.

03
Nov
14

The Separation

The video of the message from Griffith First Christian Church on November 2, 2014.




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