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For Such A Time As This
Esther 4
 
Greetings followers of Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team and to all who are listening to or reading this message via Facebook and our Website!  What a blessing to have another opportunity to worship our glorious God!

Today we're going to continue our series on the Old Testament Book of Esther. Our scripture comes from Esther Chapter Four and you can be turning there in your Bibles.   

If you missed the previous three weeks' messages from Esther Chapters One, Two and Three, you can read or listen to them at Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team's website:  www.VoicesOfHope.faith. 

As a brief summary, in Esther Chapter One, King  Ahasuerus had hosted a celebration for all his  princes and nobles in the provinces of his kingdom.  Following that celebration, the King hosted a seven day celebration for the servants of his Palace in Shushan.

On the last day of this celebration the King sent for his Queen, Vashti, to show her beauty to those present.  Queen Vashti refused to come and this infuriated the King.  In those days, one did not refuse an order from the King.  This refusal was seen as not only an affront to the King, but to all men and could have repercussions from wives throughout the Kingdom.  If the Queen didn't have to obey the King, then other wives would no longer obey their husbands.

So the King, acting on the advice from his advisers, approved for them to issue a royal commandment throughout the Kingdom that Vashti no longer be the Queen and he would give her royal estate unto another that was better than she.  The commandment also stated that all husbands would receive proper respect from their wives.

In Chapter Two, we're introduced to Mordecai, from the tribe of Benjamin, and Esther, the daughter of Mordecai's uncle.  When Esther's parents died, Mordecai raised Esther as his own daughter. 

At the beginning of Chapter Two we see that some time has passed, the wrath of King Ahasuerus has subsided; he is remembering Vashti and what was decreed against her. It's time to select a new queen.

In those days, the kings of Persia usually married from the seven most important families in Persia.  But that wasn't God's choice for the new queen;  God wanted Esther, a Jew, to become queen. 

King Ahasuerus' personal servants suggested that the king should order people throughout his empire to find beautiful young virgins from which the king would select his new queen.  This idea pleased the king and he issued the order.  

The historian, Josephus, wrote that there were 400 ladies the king could choose from and Esther was one of these.  Mordecai instructed Esther not to reveal her nationality and family background.  Apparently it wouldn't have been favorable for her to do so during those times and circumstances.  

The ladies were brought to the palace in Shushan to live and given beauty treatments for 12 months. Then each in turn was brought before the king in the evening and the next morning was sent to another house for women.  They wouldn't see the King again unless he sent for her.  No one, not even the Queen, could approach the king without being summoned.  Esther was chosen as the new Queen and a celebration was held.  

At the close of Chapter Two, Mordecai learned of an attempt to assassinate the King.  Mordecai told  this to Queen Esther who then told the King and gave credit to Mordecai.  Upon investigation of this information, the King found this to be true and the would-be assassins were put to death.

Chapter Three begins with “after these events” and we're introduced to Haman, the Agagite, who had received a promotion from the King.  His promotion placed Haman as second only to the King.

In verse two, the King had issued a command that the officials and servants would bow down before Haman in reverence, as they did for the King.  But Mordecai refused to do so and the reason he gave for not doing so was that he was a Jew.

This filled Haman with rage.  He devised a wicked plan to do away with not only Mordecai, but all of the Jews throughout the kingdom.  He even convinced the King to issue a decree for this action.

Can we see Satan's hand in this?  If he could cause all the Jews to be destroyed, then there wouldn't be a Messiah and no possibility of salvation.  It looks like evil is winning.

Chapter Three ends with king Ahasuerus and Haman sitting down to drink; while the city Shushan was perplexed. 

Now reading from Esther Chapter Four:

1 When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;

2 And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.

3 And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

4 So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not.

5 Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was.

6 So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate.

7 And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them.

8 Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people.

9 And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.

10 Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;

11 All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

12 And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.

13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.

14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,

16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

Let's pray:

Father, 

Today we're learning about having faith and trusting You when called to do things for which we don't know the outcome.  Help us to remember that faith is trusting instead of doubting, praying instead of worrying and taking You at Your Word.

Isaiah 41:10 says:  “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Help us to remember that when You call us to a task, You are with us.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

In his sermon, “God Provides Even When We Can't See It,” Brian G. Hedges shares the following story.

“In his book 'Brain Rules,' John Medina tells the intriguing story of Dr. Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist, and one of his patients, an elderly woman who 'suffered a massive stroke in the back region of her brain that left her with a most unusual deficit: She lost her ability to pay attention to anything that was to her left.' Medina explains the effect this had on her perceptive abilities:

She could put lipstick only on the right half of her face. She ate only from the right half of her plate. This caused her to complain to the hospital nursing staff that her portions were too small! Only when the plate was turned and the food entered her right visual field could she pay any attention to it and have her fill. 

Sometimes I think we’re like this in our spiritual perception. While it’s easy for us to recognize the hand of God on the right, we fail to see Him working on the left. We’re grateful for the clarity of His guidance and the comfort of His blessings, but find it difficult to discern His hidden hand during times of discouragement, disappointment, suffering, and trial.”

At the beginning of Chapter Four, we see that when Mordecai learned about the King's decree, he tore his clothes, put on clothes made of sack cloth, put on ashes, went to the city to the entrance of the king's gate and cried bitterly.  Throughout the provinces of the kingdom there was mourning, weeping and fasting.

Esther's maids and chamberlains saw this and told Esther, who was distressed.  Esther sent new clothes to Mordecai but he refused to put them on.  Esther then sent for Hathach, who had been appointed as her attendant, to find out why Mordecai was acting like that.

Mordecai told Hathach all that the King had decreed, which called for the destruction of the Jews; Mordecai sent a copy of the decree to Esther requesting that she plead with the King for her people.

Esther responded that according to law, anyone who went into the king’s inner court without his summons was doomed to die unless the king held out his gold scepter; the king had not called for her to come to him in more than a month.

Reading Mordecai's reply to Esther in verses 13-17 from the New Living Translation: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed.   If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
 
Don’t you just love the way our Lord works through those who are considered insignificant in the eyes of the world?  He puts them in positions where they can be useful as His instruments, in order to accomplish His plan and purpose for His people.

God has often used unlikely leaders to deliver His people from the evil which society finds itself in from time to time. Who would have thought that a shepherd boy with a sling and a few stones would defeat Israel’s enemy, Goliath, and become the king through whom the Savior would come?  Who would have thought that a carpenter’s son from an obscure village would one day become the Savior of the world?  

Here, God placed a previously unknown, orphaned, Jewish virgin in the position of Queen to the King who had issued this decree.  Would she or wouldn't she do the right thing?

If we should find ourselves as the target of an unjust law or scheme, how would we respond? Would we lament it or ignore it, act gently or violently, set our sights on positive or negative outcomes or would we turn to the Lord for His guidance?

Taking a stand doesn't always set well with others in our lives. When it's costly to do the right thing, what do we do? Each of us would have to make up our own minds and hopefully would pray, “What would my Lord have me to do?”

Esther made her decision and sent this reply to Mordecai:  “Go and gather together all the Jews of Shushan and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”

What a commitment and what courage!  Esther surrendered her will to do God’s Will!

Do we see a foreshadowing of Jesus?  After He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, there was no doubt in His mind about His mission. “Not my will but Thine be done.”

At the end of Chapter Four we see that Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. 

What has God got scheduled for each of us?  
Proverbs 3:5-6 says:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

If there is a need in your life, Jesus is the answer. If you have never trusted Him in salvation, He stands ready to forgive, save, and restore.  There’s no better time than now to repent, turn to God and respond to His grace.

The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10 & 13:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

It's that simple and you can sincerely pray this prayer, or one of your own.

Father God, I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins and on the third day You, God, raised Him from the dead. I believe that with my heart, and I confess with my mouth that from now on you're my Lord. Please forgive me and wash me now of my sins, come into my heart and fill me with your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

If you’ve known God but walked away from His call on your life to do your own thing, then it’s time to stop in your tracks and repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. Tomorrow may be too late.

May you be blessed in Jesus' Name.

Amen!