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God Can Change That Which Seems Unchangeable!
Good Morning to the followers of Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team and to all who are listening to or reading this message via Facebook and our Website! Once again we can praise and worship God today!
We're continuing our series on the Old Testament Book of Esther. Our scripture comes from Esther Chapter Eight and you can be turning there in your Bibles.
If you missed the previous weeks' messages from Esther, you can read or listen to them at Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team's website: www.VoicesOfHope.faith. You can also find Pastor T's sermons and daily messages there.
As a brief summary, 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. 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.
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.
Instead of choosing a queen from the seven most important families in Persia as was usually done,
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.
With 400 ladies to choose from, Esther (acting on instructions from Mordecai not to reveal that she was a Jew) 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. 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.
Chapter Three ends with King Ahasuerus and Haman sitting down to drink; while the city Shushan was perplexed.
In Chapter Four, after learning of the King's decree, Mordecai 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.
Queen Esther learned of this and inquired the reason for Mordecai's behavior through her attendant, Hatach, Mordecai told Hatach 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.
Mordecai replied that Esther shouldn't think she would be spared because she was the Queen. If she kept quiet, deliverance and relief for the Jews would come from some other place, but she and her relatives would die. Then Mordecai said: “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Esther requested Mordecai and all the Jews fast and pray for the next three days, as she and her attendants would also do. Then Esther would approach the King. If she died, so be it.
In Chapter Five, Esther dressed in her royal finery and went to the inner court of the Palace to see the King; delighted to see her, the King held out the gold septre and allowed her to enter. He then asked for her request, saying he would grant it up to half of the Kingdom. Esther requested he and Haman attend a banquet she had prepared for them, which they did.
At the banquet, the King again asked Esther for her request; she asked that he and Haman attend a banquet that she would prepare for them the next day and then she would reveal her request.
Haman was so proud to have been the only man other than the King to attend the Queen's banquet. Upon leaving, he passed Mordecai who still didn't pay reverence to him. At home, Haman called his wife and friends and explained that his riches, his children, his promotions all meant nothing so long as Mordecai refused to bow down to him. His wife and friends suggested Haman have a gallows built and the next day request the King allow Haman to have Mordecai hanged. Then Haman could go enjoy the second banquet. Haman liked this idea and ordered the gallows built.
In Chapter Six, the King couldn't sleep so he sent for the book of records of the chronicles, and one of the items read to the King was when Mordecai saved the King from being assassinated by exposing the plan to the King through Queen Esther. Realizing Mordecai had never been rewarded, he asked who was in the court; Haman was there to ask the King for permission to hang Mordecai. The King asked Haman how the King could best honor a man. Thinking the King meant to honor Haman, he suggested dressing the man in the king's robes, placing the king's crown on his head with one of the king's nobles leading him through the streets on the king's horse declaring: “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor.” Unfortunately for Haman, the King was honoring Mordecai and Haman was the noble chosen to execute the plan. After finishing the task, Haman went home, told his wife and friends what had happened and they said since Mordecai was from the seed of the Jews, Haman would not prevail against him. Then the King's chamberlains arrived to take Haman to the banquet.
In Chapter Seven, the King and Haman are attending the second banquet Queen Esther prepared. Again, the King asked Queen Esther for her request and this time she answered. Queen Esther begged the King for the lives of herself and her people, explaining had they only been sold as bond slaves, she wouldn't bother the King but that they are facing death. When the King asked who dared to do such, the Queen answered with, “that vile and wicked Haman.” The King was angry and went to the palace garden. Haman, now realizing that the Queen was also a Jew, planned to beg her to ask the King to spare Haman's life, but fell on her as she reclined on a couch. At that moment, the King returned and seeing Haman atop of the Queen, said: “Will he force the queen also before me in the house?” The chamberlains covered Haman's face and the King ordered Haman hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. Then the King's wrath was satisfied.
Now reading from Esther Chapter Eight:
1 On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her.
2 And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
3 And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews.
4 Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king,
5 And said, If it please the king, and if I have favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces:
6 For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?
7 Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.
8 Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse.
9 Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.
10 And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:
11 Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,
12 Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.
13 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
14 So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.
15 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
16 The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour.
17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.
Clare Boothe Luce once said: “There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”
In the Book of Esther, we've certainly seen how Mordecai, Queen Esther and the Jews could have grown hopeless in their situations. But God took what looked to people like an unchangeable situation and changed it!
The enemy Haman had been removed. The King’s anger subsided. Queen Esther had been given the estate of Haman and she had appointed Mordecai over the estate. Queen Esther had also told the King of her relationship to Mordecai and the ring that the King had previously given to Haman, he now gave to Mordecai. Previously, the King wanted to reward Mordecai for having saved him from assassination. When he learned that Mordecai was Esther’s guardian, the King had no doubts of how to fulfill that debt of gratitude. He promoted Mordecai to second in command in place of Haman. That is the significance of the giving of his ring to Mordecai. It gave him authority to act in the king’s name.
On a personal level, everything that Haman had wanted was reversed.
He wanted Mordecai to be hanged on the gallows but Haman was impaled on it instead.
He craved for honor and glory for himself, but these were given to Mordecai eventually.
He wanted to confiscate the Jews’ property but had his own confiscated instead, given to Esther with Mordecai now overseeing his estate.
The King’s signet ring, which had been in Haman’s possession, was now handed over to Mordecai.
All the power that Haman had was now in the hands of Mordecai.
The reversal happened on a personal level for Haman; now it also needed to happen on a national level because the Jews could be exterminated on the 13th day of the 12th month.
The first edict of the King issued through Haman still stood, because an edit issued by the King and sealed with his ring could not be reversed.
In spite of Mordecai’s promotion, it was still left in the hands of Queen Esther to follow up her previous plea on behalf of her people. This made good sense. The king had made no promises to Mordecai, but he had made promises to his queen that what she wished for would be granted ‘up to half of his kingdom’.
Queen Esther once again appeared before the King without having been sent for. But, by God's hand, all that had happened up to this point had given the King a renewed admiration for the Jewish people.
The King again granted Esther favor and extended the gold scepter to her. Esther’s request was simple: a new decree had to be issued that would counter the first decree in order to save her people and her family. Since the first could not be repealed, the second would have to give her people the right to fight and defend themselves.
The King was glad to do that and ordered Mordecai to draft and issue it. The second edict was issued in the third month (Sivan), which mean the Jews throughout the empire would have nine months to prepare themselves for their defense.
Both edicts were written in the script of each province and language of each people and given out to all the 127 provinces across the empire; to all the nationalities as a warning to them, and to the Jews for their preparation to fight.
Verse 11 says: “The king's edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies.”
The edict sounded similar to the first one given by Haman but with important differences. Mordecai was not Haman; Mordecai wasn’t going after his personal enemies through this edict; it was God’s chosen people who were at stake in this – not just those in Persia but in the whole empire including those living in Canaan. They had to be protected at all costs, because the Messiah would come through them eventually.
The Jews would not behave like evil men. This wasn't going to be a reckless massacre like the one Haman envisioned. That would be the behavior of evil men, not the people of God. The Jews would fight only against those who attacked them, their enemies. They would fight in self-defense only. Previously, they would no doubt have done it anyway, but it would have been seen then as an attack on the king’s authority, for the decree would largely have been carried into effect by the Persian soldiery.
The king could hardly be seen as authorizing the Jews to fight against the Persian army, so implicit in the second decree is that the Persian army would be at the worst neutral. The Jews were no longer under threat of annihilation by the Persian authorities. The king’s hand was no longer raised against them; there would be no official action against the Jews. The authorities would now be aware that the king was favoring the Jews, and would act accordingly.
Any slaying would be in the hands of any who took advantage of the first decree in order to attack the Jews and seize their wealth and they would be in the minority. It would be one thing to do that when they knew that the king was on their side. It would be quite another to do it when it was clear that it was against the king’s present wishes.
The number of those who intended to take advantage of the first edict would be greatly reduced to those whose greed or whose hatred of the Jews was so great that any excuse for an attack on them would be taken advantage of.
The odds had turned in the Jews’ favor. The Jews now had the authority, and therefore the courage, to do what was right and lawful. They were not taking things into their own hands. They would fight with the authority given by the King. We certainly see the hand of God in this!
All the other nationalities were informed and warned; it was a deterrent and it worked! In verse 8:17 we read: “And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.”
The author of the Book of Esther wanted us to see that everything had been reversed.
When the first edict went out, the city of Shushan was thrown into confusion. The Jews went into a time of great mourning and weeping.
When the second edict went out, the city of Shushan held a joyous celebration, they shouted and rejoiced.
Even Mordecai’s change of dress was noted!
After the first edict, 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.
After the second edict, Mordecai left the king's presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen.
Not only was he holding the position and status of Haman, Mordecai received the honor and glory that Haman had craved. Mordecai got them without seeking them; he was exalted to the position by the grace of God. God gives grace and lifts up the humble.
This great reversal was accomplished by God for His people. They had been living with a sense of gloom and darkness under the shadow of the edict of an evil man. But now, the darkness had been replaced with light.
God did a great reversal for us too. Throughout the New Testament, the message of the good news is described as light. Jesus is the “Light of the world”, and so are we. The light of God dispels the gloom of darkness. We were heading towards death because of our sin and God stepped in to save us.
As sinners, we had a law that was written against us. Death to sinners. This law was unchangeable, not because of the customs of the kingdom but because of the character of the King. God is holy. That is definitely unchangeable. So because God’s character can’t change and neither could His condemnation of sinners, God did not set aside the law of sin and death. He did not ignore our sin, pretend that it’s not there, or set it aside as if we did not sin. Ezekial 18:20 says: “The soul who sins will die.”
God wrote a new law. He wrote it with the blood of His Son. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God sent His Son Jesus and introduced a new law that would enable us to overcome the first law and find freedom and deliverance.
Romans 8:1-4: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”
God did not nullify the first. It has to stand. But through Jesus, He introduced the new law of the Spirit of life that would free us from the law of sin and death. Instead of facing certain death and eternal separation from God, we are delivered and given the hope of eternal life with God.
There is always hope in God. No matter how bad our circumstances, we should look up to Him and trust Him to show us the way.
If you have never trusted Jesus 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.
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!