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 concluding our series on the Old Testament Book of Esther. Our scripture comes from Esther Chapters Nine and Ten 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.
At the beginning of Chapter Eight we see a great reversal for both Haman and the nation. The King gave Haman's estate to Queen Esther, who appointed Mordecai over the estate. After the Queen told the King that Mordecai was her guardian, the King rewards Mordecai by promoting him to the position Haman previously held, second only to the King.
The edict to destroy the Jews written by Haman still stood as by law an edict signed by King's ring could not be reversed. So Queen Esther petitioned the King for a new edict that would give the Jews the right to defend themselves; the King agreed and asked Mordecai to write the edict. The new edict was sent to all 127 provinces of the kingdom; the edict acted as a deterrent and also gave the Jews nine months to prepare to defend themselves. There was joy and celebration throughout the kingdom.
Now reading from Esther Chapters Nine and Ten:
1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;)
2 The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people.
3 And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
4 For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater.
5 Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.
6 And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men.
7 And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha,
8 And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha,
9 And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha,
10 The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.
11 On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king.
12 And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.
13 Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do tomorrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.
14 And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman's ten sons.
15 For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand.
16 But the other Jews that were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey,
17 On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
18 But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.
20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,
21 To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,
22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
23 And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them;
24 Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them;
25 But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
26 Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them,
27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year;
28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.
29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.
30 And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,
31 To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry.
32 And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.
10:1 And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.
2 And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
3 For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.
Please bow your heads and join with me as we pray:
On this Palm Sunday, I pray that we honor the life, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Just as You provided redemption to the Jews during Esther's days, You have provided redemption through Christ for us.
Throughout the Book of Esther, we've seen that You have plans and purposes for each of us as we live our lives. We've seen that our lives are directed by Your design and will; that nothing is by accident even if we are unable to figure out what You are up to. I pray that we will daily yield our lives to You and the plans You have for us.
In Jesus' name,
At the beginning of Chapter Nine, nine months have passed since the ending of Chapter Eight and the Jews are defending themselves against their remaining enemies. At first, the Jews had been dreading this day. But with the death of Haman, the installation of Mordecai in his place, and the new edict that gave them the right to defend themselves, they felt confident about the outcome.
The Jews had friends in high places; they knew it and so did everyone else. None of the officials in the kingdom were willing to do anything to harm the Jews. In fact, they did whatever they could to help them. There were two laws operating on this day – one opposing the Jews and one favoring the Jews. The officials could choose to follow either one and still be following the directives of the king. What tipped the balances in the favor of the Jews was that the officials were afraid of Mordecai. They were afraid of what the consequences might be if they were found favoring the wrong side.
The Jews went from being a hunted people to being the favored people because of Esther, Mordecai and the Hand of God. Those who had been mistreated and had been powerless to do anything about it now held all the power. The king, queen, Prime Minister and all the government officials were on their side.
Even with all that was going against the enemies of the Jews, there were some that were so hateful and destructive that they still attacked. When they did, they were defeated. A total of 800 men, 500 on the first day and 300 on the second day, in Shushan died, and 75,000 died in the rest of the kingdom.
The law gave the Jews the right to kill women and children and to take the plunder for themselves. But they chose not to exercise either right. Three times, we are told that the Jews refused to follow the custom and take for themselves the property of their enemies. This was true of the Jews in the capital city as well as in all 127 provinces of the kingdom. They exercised mercy and self-control and deliberately restrained themselves from going farther than they needed to go. Their consciences did not give them the same rights that the law did. Yes, they needed to protect themselves and gain the victory over their enemy. But it was not necessary for them to totally destroy their enemy. There was room for mercy.
Against this example of mercy, compassion and restraint, there is an example of justice. The King came to Esther and again asked her what else she would like him to do for her. Esther, who had bravely risked her life twice on behalf of her people, was willing to go the extra mile in order to insure their survival. She asked for two things: that the king allow the Jews to take a second day to finish the job that they had begun in the city of Shushan to get rid of the last of their enemies, and that the King hang the now dead sons of Haman on poles just as he had done to Haman.
These requests were not vengeful, they were justice. The enemies who would be killed on the second day were likely ones who had previously attacked the Jews but had escaped. Haman’s sons were already dead from their attack on the Jewish people earlier in the day, so hanging them on the poles wouldn’t hurt them any further.
This was justice for the family of the man who had plotted the Jews’ destruction and who had tried to carry it out even after his death. This action told everyone that what these men and their father stood for would not be allowed again. Both mercy and justice were exercised on this day, and at the end of the day, the enemies of the Jews had been defeated.
It was now time to celebrate! They turned into rejoicing and celebration the days when the Jews would have been exterminated. Mordecai prescribed a certain way for them to celebrate. They were to give gifts of food to one another making sure that they did not forget to include the poor in their gift giving.
The celebration was known as the Feast of Purim; it commemorates the way that Haman originally came up with this day as the one day on which his plan had its greatest chance of success. Haman cast “pur” or lots. But Haman’s luck ran out when it ran against the plan of the Almighty God.
By making Purim a perpetual feast, they would have at least a once-a-year reminder that there is hope. The adults and children that had gone through this time would eventually die off so there was the real possibility that all that had happened here would be forgotten. But by instituting this feast, those parents propelled hope into the future for generations to come. When they faced hard times, they could look back at what happened here and be reminded that evil will be punished, good will be rewarded, and God can take the most hopeless situation and rescue his people.
Of all the feasts celebrated by the Jews, this is the only one that was instituted by the people rather than by God. The Jews were right to celebrate the victory, but they failed to acknowledge that the victory was God’s not theirs.
In Chapter Ten, we see that Mordecai’s greatness was dependent on the king. He was the second man in the kingdom, standing at his side. He was also ‘great among the Jews’, not just by virtue of his official position, but because of the standing he had gained among them by what he had achieved and what he was achieving on their behalf. He found continual acceptance among the Jews as a whole, as he sought the good of his people and spoke peace and well-being to all his seed, the Jews. The book ends with the implicit assurance that God was watching over His people through the hands of Mordecai His servant. The Jews now had a secure and promising future.
As we conclude our study of the Book of Esther, I pray that you have gleaned many truths.
The entire book has really been about two kinds of people, the proud and the humble. It is about what happens to those who are arrogant, and what happens to those who are meek. The book of Esther could be summarized with two themes, that pride leads to destruction, and humility leads to honor.
Even though God is not mentioned anywhere in the story, we see His hand at work everywhere, destroying the proud, and raising up the humble.
Two verses bear this out. First, Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” This is a perfect verse for Haman.
The other verse is James 4:10, which says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” This verse is perfect for Esther and Mordecai.
From the Book of Esther we have seen the following.
1. Victory to victims.
The Jewish people were to be killed on that day; but instead, the Jewish people had permission to destroy their enemy. One of the greatest problems with Christians in this day and age is we are always the victim. Christians, we have victory through Jesus Christ. We have the upper hand over our enemy.
2. Assurance to the fearful.
The Jewish people had been living in fear. They had no idea what would happen to them or when it would happen. Life was very uncertain. Now, everything was the opposite. The very people that had caused them to be fearful were now afraid of them. We may find this hard to believe; but through the power of Jesus Christ, the enemy is afraid of us.
James 4:7-10 (NIV)
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Christians, make sure to remember this: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. Christians, we have no reason to be afraid.
3. Restoration to the ruined.
Haman had all but ruined the lives of all of the Jewish people. He had almost succeeded in what his ancestors the Amalekites had tried to do- annihilate the Jews. Instead, it was the Amalekites that were ended. God had restored His people. The enemy may convince us that our lives are ruined, that it’s over; but God can restore our lives.
4. Security to the insecure.
Esther asking for another day was to ensure that the enemy was completely defeated. The hanging of Haman’s 10 dead sons was to outwardly show the people that the enemy was finished. Christians, we are secure in our faith through the Holy Spirit. We have been sealed.
5. Praise to the persecuted.
The people went from being persecuted to celebrating. They were resting, celebrating, and giving one another gifts. There is a time for us to have fun.
In conclusion, remember that just when our lives seems to be at “rock bottom”, God can change them.
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.”
The new law that Jesus enacted through the cross makes victory possible for everyone. But some have been unwilling to take the steps that are necessary in order for that victory to be a reality in their life. They have never come to Him for salvation. They have never surrendered their will to His so that they can live in constant obedience to Him. Today could be their victory day. Today could be the day of their celebration.
If this is you, realize today that the work has already been done. All you have to do is to join the winning team. 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!
To listen to Rev. Sandy's Sunday, March 28, 2021, sermon, click here or read it below.
When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible, please click here and may you be blessed by singing along with "Rejoice, The Lord Is King!"