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The Gospel of Esther

Scripture: Esther 1:1-22
Date: 10/28/2006 
The theme of this study is the gospel of Esther. When you read this book, you can see the gospel and the great controversy outlined in this book. The book is prophetic. The courts of Xerxes is like the courts of heaven. The queen who disobeyed is like Eve.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Amen. Happy Sabbath. Welcome. I want to welcome any visitors we may have here today. I see a number, and we’re thankful that you’re here with us. Pray for a special anointing of the Spirit today. Pray that the Lord will be with me that I could be lost in this message because I think it’s really on sacred ground today. We’re going to try to basically cover an entire book in the Bible that at times in the past I’ve used three or four messages to cover. The theme for our study today is the Gospel of Esther. I’m not trying to say there is a hidden gospel somewhere, some apocryphal writings called the Gospel of Esther, but rather I believe that when you read the book of Esther you can find the entire gospel, in fact, the great controversy is outlined in this incredible book and you’ll want to be following along a little bit so if you could go ahead and find the book of Esther just following the book of Nehemiah in your Bibles and that would be before the book of Job. We’ll be looking at this together. Problem is, because I’m covering ten chapters quickly we’re basically going to fly over and I’d like to point out some of the beautiful mountains of landscape, give you an overview. Sometimes you could zoom back and get a different perspective, and I’d like to look at the book of Esther with you that way today.

The book of Esther transpires during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is an enigmatic book. For one reason, among the Dead Sea scrolls that were found there by Qumran down there by the Dead Sea they found portions of virtually every Old Testament book with one exception. There were no examples of the book of Esther and some have speculated part of the reason for that is the Dead Sea scrolls were written by the Essenes. They put a great deal of emphasis on the name of God. The name of God does not appear in the book of Esther. It’s so strange. You do not find the word Lord or God anywhere in those ten chapters. Not only that, while they do a lot of fasting and praying it does not even use the word prayer. It simply says fast. Some have speculated it’s because Esther was likely written by a scribe or someone who was acquainted with Mordecai and because the Persians had their own gods the book was written from a purely historical perspective so that the Persians could also read it without feeling like the Jews were trying to indoctrinate them about Jehovah and say, “Wow! The God of the Jews is obviously protecting them.” The Lord is seen so clearly in the book of Esther through the providence of God while God’s name is not used. That could be one reason that the Lord is allowed to basically stay in the background; while His name is not used, you certainly see His hand.

So if you’re in the book of Esther chapter one I’ll be reading verses here and there and for our young people I’ve got a challenge for you. Every time you hear me say the word Mordecai, write it down. When we get to the door after the service I want you to tell me how many times I’ve said Mordecai. That would be three there if you were listening. So that’ll get you started. It takes place during the reign of King Ahasuerus who is also known as Xerxes about 485 to 465 B.C. is the time period.

The book of Esther begins and ends with a feast and there are many feasts along the way in the book. Matter of fact the word feast appears approximately ten times in the book of Esther. You know I did a little study and I thought it was interesting. Feasts in the Bible often have to do with things that are changed. There is change of covenant, change of government, feasts often involve change. It was during a feast that Hagar was sent away and Isaac was weaned. It was during a feast that the Pharaoh hung the baker and saved the butler. Job’s children died during a feast. Egypt was humbled and Israel was freed after the Feast of Passover. Samson began to fight with the Philistines during the time of a wedding feast. All happened there with that riddle he gave them. David took his wife Abigail and Nabol was killed during a feast. Jeroboam had a feast and destroyed all the worshippers of Baal. It was at the feast of Belshazzar that Babylon changed kingdoms, went to the Mede-Persians. Of course it’s at a miracle feast that Jesus begins the gospel and Christ is executed during the time of a feast.

Feasts, the whole Bible transitions the landmarks, the milestones for these great transitions in the Bible are often feasts. So in keeping with that the book of Esther begins with a feast. In this feast it’s interesting, it says that King Ahasuerus in the third year of his reign, you should hold up three fingers, he has a feast lasting a hundred and eighty days. There are three hundred and sixty days in both the Jewish and the Persian year because they use the lunar calendar. So if you do the math that means the events of Esther, the book is launched following three and a half years of his reign a feast of a hundred and eighty days, you know what that is? That’s forty-two months, three and a half years, one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Does that time period sound familiar to you other places in prophecy? Someone showed that to me once, and I had a real “ah ha” experience. I think there’s great prophetic significance to the book of Esther. During this feast they’re drinking wine and the king puts these drinks in all different vessels. By the way, you and I are vessels, and the wine of the new covenant, that new wine is to be in our vessels. No two vessels were the same in the king’s feast. None of us are the same. No one was forced to drink the wine. You must choose. It was done freely. It was not by compulsion. The miracles of Jesus turning the water to wine was the beginning of His gospel ministry in the gospel of John. Isn’t that interesting? It’s in the context of that.

Then you see some other interesting numbers. It tells us that on the seventh day the king had another special feast. There are seven eunuchs and then he consults seven princes. Almost sounds like Revelation all those sevens in the beginning of the book of Esther. I think the book of Esther is a prophetic book. I’ll say more about that in a moment.

Well, finally after the seven days of the additional feast the king, while his heart is merry, he calls for his queen to come that everyone might appreciate her beauty. Now I am probably a lone voice with this event. Most of the lessons I remember when our Sabbath school quarterly and other scholars have gone through this they think what a terrible thing it was for the king to ask Queen Vashti to come and let everybody at this feast behold her beauty. I’m of the opinion that when you’re the king, and you ask the queen to come and she’s been chosen for her beauty that she should come. Now I guess I’m the only one that feels that way because everyone else was indignant, and they portrayed it like why the king was asking the queen to come to this drunken brawl and she just didn’t feel like it. Keep in mind we’re living in the age of liberated women. Pardon me, but you’ve got to transport yourself back to the time where the king’s word was law.

When he invites the king to come to a banquet that’s already been going on a hundred and eighty days plus seven and he simply wants her to come in to appreciate the beauty for her to refuse really insults his authority for one thing as king. It’s humiliating for him. I think it was a mistake. Well, she later agreed because she didn’t get to be queen anymore. Some might say that she thought, “Well, I just really don’t want to be in a room with a bunch of drunken men,” but she was at her own party and that’s probably why she didn’t go. It says she was having her own party so who knows exactly what was going on. You can find a lot of different commentators. But I think it’s interesting to consider that the book of Esther is something like the Bible in that it begins with the queen of this world, her name was Eve, disobeying a direct order and she lost her estate because she did disobey a direct order. Have you ever thought of it that way? That’s how the Bible starts. God gave a direct order to the queen of this world named Eve, and because of that she lost her estate.

Well, let’s move along here. So that’s dealing with Vashti’s refusal. Vashti was also obviously a beautiful woman. I believe a woman represents a church in this story. Vashti was the bride of the king, a type of the church and what is the beauty of the queen represent? Her righteousness. The king wanted everyone to see the glory of his bride. Our King, Jesus, God wants everybody to behold the glory, the shining of his bride. Jesus said to the church, “Let your light so shine before men” not for your glory, but they might see His glory. And the king said, “I want everyone to see your beauty for my sake,” and she wouldn’t come. She failed to let her glory shine and he couldn’t use her as queen anymore. So that created a little bit of a dilemma. They’d never, you don’t divorce the queen. They didn’t have that back then. He called his wise men and said, “What do we do with Queen Vashti?” These wisest men in the kingdom said, “Word is going to get out and it’s going to spread throughout your realm,” which was a world empire at this time, “that even the queen doesn’t listen to the king and that men will no longer have any respect or authority in their homes. If you don’t deal with this in a decisive way it’s going to cause a lot of trouble in the homes throughout the realm.” Yes, they were a patriarchal society.

All in the Bible were. So the king, he loved Vashti, but he said, “You know I’m going to listen to my counselors.” He deposed her from being queen. What happened? Well, she was probably kept in the harem, but she could no longer have the category of queen. There’s no record that he had any children with her, there’s no other mention of her as far as offspring. You know this is what happened to Michal. Michal the wife of David, his first wife, yeah, even before Abigail, she mocked him and he never had any children with her. It was important back then that these wives respected their husbands. Of course it’s not important today, is it? Used to be, you know in the old wedding vows when the wife said her vow it used to say, “and to obey”. They took that out a few years ago. I haven’t done a wedding in years where that’s included. Things have changed. Whether you agree with me or not, you have to agree it’s changed? Anyone agree with me? Men, anyone, can I have some help here? Have things changed? Thank you very much. So this is creating a little dilemma. He deposes Vashti but then, you know the problem with queens is the same as with women, you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. So he had a problem with Vashti, he deposes her, and then he starts to pine for her and miss her.

So about that time the counselors come together and they said, “Look, it’s time to have a royal beauty pageant. We will search throughout all one hundred and twenty-seven of your provinces around the world, and we will collect, we will screen. First we’ll get the best in every town and then we’ll take the best in that town and bring them.” They had a pageant and it wasn’t just Miss Sacramento and then it went on to Miss California and then it went on to Miss USA and to Miss Universe. And they weeded out just all of the good ones and they got not just some of the best ones, they came up with the most excellent ones. These were beautiful, young virgins. Do you find parables that Jesus uses where He talks about virgins in the New Testament speaking of the church? They assembled them. Now this is a true story and that’s how they did things. These Persian kings, you still hear about today, they had harems with hundreds of wives in some cases. Solomon did and he wasn’t even Persian.

So during this exploration for the most beautiful women in the kingdom, some have said, “Boy, have you seen that young girl that lives with her older cousin named Mordecai?” Did you write it down? I see some of the kids caught it. Now we meet Esther. She comes into the story here in chapter two, and it tells us that when Esther’s mother and father died that her cousin, he’s not her uncle, but she might have called him uncle, he’s technically her cousin, Mordecai raised her. He loved her. She was a beautiful girl, and you know she probably went through some hardship. She was from the people of Judah. Keep in mind at this time many of the Jews had gone back. A number of the Jews after having lived in Babylon for seventy years and now Persia they became comfortable and they did not go back when God told them to go back. They almost got annihilated for not doing that. So this is happening during the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah. Among those who stayed in Babylon and Persia were Mordecai and his young cousin or you might call her niece Esther. He had adopted her.

Now Mordecai in our story represents Jesus. I believe that. You see if you agree as we go on. Esther represents the church. There’ll be other characters we’ll introduce in a little bit. She is adopted. The Bible says that all of the saved are adopted. Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Esther is well trained, she’s educated, she not only is beautiful, she conducts herself with dignity and poise and grace. Through the hardship of growing up an orphan in a foreign land she probably is bilingual and she is an intelligent beautiful young lady, a virgin. The name Esther means star. Mordecai means little man or a humble man. Got that? Jesus is the most humble of the meekest man who ever lived. Her Jewish name is Hadassah which means myrtle tree. Now sometimes the word Hadassah means bride and part of that was because there was an ancient custom that brides on their wedding day would wear a wreath of myrtle and so sometimes the word was used interchangeably because it had a nice fragrance to it. So here you’ve got this star, this bride, that’s Esther. You look at Revelation chapter 12 at the church standing on the moon, clothed with the glory of the sun, twelve stars above her head and this is the bride of Christ, am I right? So Esther is a type of the bride of Christ. Beautiful. God wants us to have that beauty that comes from righteousness.

Well, eventually she is brought in and they go through this system of over a year purifications of oil and these girls they’re taken in to the special warehouse, part of the palace. By the way, when you read chapter one of Esther, and I hope you go home and read the whole book, it doesn’t take that long to read those ten chapters, you will see that the whole setting is in a palace (with the exception of some things that happened next door at Haman’s house), and the palace is the most beautiful, spectacular, it describes the tapestry and the marble. You and I can’t comprehend. Even Alexander the Great when he conquered the Persians moved into the palace of Darius because he said, “We could never build anything better.”

It was the most beautiful place on earth and it’s a type of where our God lives, our King lives. We’re really reading, when you study the book of Esther you’re reading behind the scenes this great controversy that started in the courts of heaven. So she’s taken in to this harem, but it’s where the virgins are and they are pampered like you can’t imagine. All of the wealth of the world is flowing through this palace and they’ve got the best oils and the best food and they’re getting the massages and they’re getting the baths and the bubbles and the whole thing. All the lotions and the sprays and the finest clothing, they’ve got a whole warehouse filled with clothing and before one of these virgins goes before the king, and the king, his task is after they’ve gone through their year of cleansing and training and how to live in the palace because there’s also training. You can’t come just because you’re pretty off the streets and be a queen. There’s some training about how to conduct yourself as a queen that goes on during the day in between the massages and the baths and the ointments and all of that stuff. Then after that year of training and preparations the virgins one by one they spend the night with the king.

By the way, at the time of this recording, I understand that during the month of October a new movie has been released. I haven’t seen it, but it’s about Esther and a Christian group put it together and it’s called A Night With the King. They’re making a big deal out of this as they have done with Narnia and they’ve done it with the movie about Jesus (I don’t remember the name of it anymore) the Passion. That’s not why I’m preaching this. I just think that it’s a great story. By the way, as I was preparing for this message sometimes I like to utilize various images. I looked on the Internet and you know it’s amazing quite a few people have made productions about Esther because it’s one of the most incredible stories in the Bible.

Once the woman has her night with the king then they move into the quarters of the harem. Whether he chooses her as queen or not they are now technically a concubine for him so there’s a marriage that takes place. And it tells us that when the king finally sees Esther he is just blown away by her beauty. There is nobody that matches her for beauty. There is not only an outward beauty, but the king notices an inward beauty. She’s not afraid in his presence because she lives in the sight of a greater King. She’s composed, she’s dignified, she’s got that look of intelligence, she’s dedicated, you’ll find that out later. Esther 2:16 “So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.” Now did you get that? And she spent one year preparing for that. That means after six years of his reign she gets a year like a Sabbath and then she moves in and she lives and reigns with the king. That’s like the whole gospel, isn’t it? Did you catch that? You realize it’s after six thousand years, a day with the Lord is like a thousand years, then we get a thousand years of rest, then He creates a new heaven and a new earth. So the timing, just the whole gospel is wrapped up in here.

And it says, “The king loved Esther…” He didn’t just say “Wow, she’s really pretty. I think I’ll marry her.” After he spent time with her, he no doubt talked with her, he fell in love with her. It was love at first sight. “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace…” What does the church want from our King? Did you get that? Love and grace. “…she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head…” Do we someday hope to wear crowns in the kingdom with our King? “…he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” And it says that he then made a feast called Esther’s Feast. Another feast in the book of the Bible.

Now Esther, verse ten of Esther 2, “had not revealed her people” or her family to the king, “for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it.” He thought, that may not be best for him to know that you are from the descendants of the Jews. There may be a better time for that. Just all he needs to know is that you live in the royal city. Now it tells us that we’re not exactly sure how Mordecai got to sit at the gate of the king. It may be something that he did even before. It may be because now of Esther’s position she talked to other administrators. She’s the queen, she said, “I’d like to ask if you could take my older cousin. He has raised me. Give him some position by the gate.” Nobody could come into the queen’s quarters or where the harem lived from the outside and she wanted to get where she could get messages to him and tell where things were going on. He was given some office, some job at the city gate.

It might have been a job of chronicling the provisions that come in and out of the city gate or introducing the guests or something, but there were a number of people who worked at the gate for the king and they had offices there. So she gets them a job at the gate and he’s content to be there at the gate of the king. While he’s there, don’t miss this, because of his position, because of his loyalty to his king, he hears that there is an assassination attempt. By the way, the book of Esther is believed to be accurate historically. Most of the scholars think that whoever wrote this book had too much inside information, it was not written by Jews later, they had too much inside information on the ways of the history of the Persians and the palace, too much inside information for it to be manufactured later after the fact. When Xerxes came into power his younger brother tried to also be king. There was some fighting over the throne. Mordecai hears about two eunuchs that are being engages in an assassination attempt. He gets word to Esther who gets word to the king there is a grand jury and they find out that it’s true and these two (I just remember one was named Bigthan) were executed. So that’s all recorded in the chronicles of the king, put that on the shelf and remember it. Mordecai saves the life of the king; sitting in the gate he stops this assassination attempt.

Then we jump to chapter three. Enter another character by the name of Haman. What’s his name? Haman, bad guy! The word Haman in the original is Snidely Whiplash. Not really. But he is an evil guy. He is the epitome of evil. He represents the devil or Satan in this gospel allegory of this history. It says in verse one of chapter three of Esther “After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman,” catch this “the son of Hammedatha the Agagite…” Any of you remember a king named Agag who was the king of the Amalekites? When King Saul, Saul the son of Kish, went to Amalek and he killed all of them except Agag, he spared Agag and because he spared Agag, Saul the son of Kish lost the kingdom. There was a great animosity between the Amalekites and the Agagites and Kishites from Benjamin. Now did you notice, I probably didn’t tell you, Mordecai is a descendant of Kish a Benjamite.

Both Mordecai and obviously because Esther is his cousin they are from the tribe of Benjamin and so now an Amalekite, an Agagite, they’re both the same, is made prime minister, he’s number two in the kingdom and because of that position remember how everyone would bow before Joseph as he was number two? As Haman marches in and out of the palace everyone bows, they reverence him; they either stand up or bow. You’ll notice they do both. Mordecai refuses. Partly probably because of religious grounds, but that wasn’t everything because it wasn’t uncommon to bow before a monarch as a term of respect. I mean, I go to Korea, I bow. That’s how they shake hands. Is that a sin? But he won’t bow to Haman. When word gets to Haman that Mordecai is not bowing and that he is Jewish and he sees it with his own eyes. He says, “The nerve of him! Who does he think he is? Doesn’t he know who I am?” It offends his pride. What was the devil’s first problem? Pride. He can’t shake it off. It really irritates him that one person won’t bow to him. What bothered the devil so much? You know what really bothered the devil is that he did not have authority over Jesus. Didn’t the devil want Jesus to bow to him? I read that in my Bible. It tells us in the book of Matthew, chapter 4, verse 9 Satan said to Jesus, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

It bothered Haman so much that Mordecai would not bow down to him, he said, “I’m not only going to get rid of him, I’m going to plot to get rid of his people.” Because sometimes the way to hurt somebody is not just by hurting them, but hurt their family, hurt the ones who are close to them. If you want to hurt some parents, you don’t just do it by hurting the parents, you hurt their children. There are some people who during times of war would not divulge secret information when tortured, but then when they brought their family in and said, “Okay, we’re going to torture your family in front of you,” they broke. So Haman says, “I know how to get to him. I’m not only going to go after his family, I’m going to go after his whole race, and I’m going to exterminate the Jewish people.” So at one of the times when he’s before the king, and probably at the end of the day when they’re having their happy hour, he softens the king up a little bit, tells him how wonderful he is, he says, “You know, King, I need to ask you a favor. You’ve got some people in your kingdom that don’t respect you, and they’re not obeying your laws and they’re not good for the empire. They’re demoralizing everybody else, and I’m personally willing to pay ten thousand talents of silver into a fund if we can eradicate these people.”

He didn’t say how many people there were. He didn’t say who they were. So the king, he’s dealing with business all day long, he says, “Look, Haman, I’ll pay for it. Don’t you worry about it. Take care of it. Here’s my ring. Sign the orders.” You’ve got to understand in the Persian Empire the laws of the Medes and the Persians. You ever heard that expression before? The laws of the Medes… because a law of the Medes and the Persians could not change. You made those laws carefully. He says, “Here’s my ring. Make the law.” So Haman goes out and he has a decree signed that on a certain date, it’s a date just before Passover. It usually falls in March depending upon where the moon is. It ended up being a date of a feast and rejoicing, Esther’s Feast, Purim. But on that same date it was going to be a date of disaster. It was going to be the date when all of the Jews would be annihilated throughout the Persian Empire.

Can you imagine if Esther wasn’t where she was, what would have happened to history? All through history you can see the devil trying to annihilate the people of God to prevent the Messiah from coming. During the time of Moses all the baby boys. During the time of Joash remember all of the royal seed was killed by Anthelia? Here again in Persia they’re trying to exterminate the royal seed. So he makes this decree. Esther 3:6 “Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus the people of Mordecai.” It’s the people of Jesus that the devil wants to destroy especially. He was so wroth. The Bible says Haman was wroth that Mordecai would not bow down. You read in Revelation 12:17 “…and the dragon was wroth with the woman” and he makes war. He wants to exterminate the church. Now there is a statement. There is a death decree that is made, and it tells us in Esther 3:13 “And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy,” here’s what the decree said, “to kill, and to annihilate…” This is genocide, isn’t it? It’s what Hitler wanted. “…all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day,” even Hitler took a while. “…on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions.” Not only do you kill them, but to motivate you to kill them, you get everything from them when you kill them. That usually makes people willing to kill their neighbor when you can have the neighbor’s house and everything in it. Greed. Doesn’t that sound a little bit like Revelation 13? “…as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” Why are the people of God to be killed? Because one of them would not bow down to Haman. It’s all about worship in the last days. All of the Jews were living under a death decree because of a decision that one of them had made. You know all of our world is living under a death decree because of a decision Adam made, and Eve, right?

From the book Prophets and Kings I’d like to read something to you. This is an interesting quote. This is the chapter on the days of Queen Esther. “The trying experiences that came to God’s people in the days of Esther were not peculiar to that age alone. The revelator, (John) looking down the ages to the close of time, has declared, ‘The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ Revelation 12:17.” She wrote this at about, this was the last book she published by the way, 1915 I think. “Some who today are living on the earth will see these words fulfilled. The same spirit that in ages past led men to persecute the true church, will in the future lead to the pursuance of a similar course toward those who maintain their loyalty to God. Even now preparations are being made for this last great conflict.” Prophets and Kings, page 605.

So what happened then is a harbinger of what is coming in the future. A decree is made that all of God’s people should be executed on a certain day because they will not worship the way they’re being told to worship. Is that going to happen again? Revelation tells us, Inspiration tells us so we can learn from the story of Esther. Well there is great mourning, a wail goes up from the Jewish, as these curriers go racing like pony express all over the Persian Empire and they’re nailing on the telephone poles these posters saying everyone is going to be destroyed on this date. There is great mourning and wailing and humiliation among the Jewish people. Mordecai finally gets the notice and he’s mourning a death decree. Esther 4:2 “…even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.” I’m sorry. I left out the part where Mordecai clothed himself in sackcloth, covered himself with dust and mourned and went through the city crying, but he cannot come into the king’s presence wearing sackcloth so he has to stop outside the gate where before he was in the gate and he’s wailing and he’s sitting on sackcloth and mourning.

By the way, it is still true. Does it matter what you wear into the presence of the king? That’ll come up later when Esther goes in. She is also fasting and mourning, but when she goes in before the king she has to dress up. I don’t want to belabor this and I don’t want to make anybody self-conscious, but I just feel like the Lord wants me to share with you that if it was true back then that you didn’t come into the presence of the king of Persia unless you are properly attired we should remember that in God’s house. Now I always like to hasten to say some people are poor and they’ve only got one pair of clothes that they wear. But in America I’ve noticed, maybe it’s just me, that some people will put on a suit and tie all week long for their boss, but they come to church like they’re going to the beach. Say amen. I think when you come before the king you wear your best whatever your best is, if your best is all you’ve got that’s what you wear. He couldn’t come into the presence in his rags. What is he wearing? Sackcloth. You and I cannot come into the presence of our king in our rags. How many of you remember the parable that Jesus tells about the wedding feast and what does the king say? “How did you come in here without the wedding garment?” and he is thrown in outer darkness. We cannot come into the presence of our king without that robe of righteousness that the Lord has purchased for us. So he’s outside the gates.

Esther sends him clothes and he says, “No, not until the problem is resolved do I put on clothes.” She says, “What’s the problem?” He sends a copy of the decree to her. She was somewhat insulated in the palace. She didn’t know what was going on. So the decree is brought in and he sends a message to her. He says, “Now, Esther, please, I don’t know if you’re going to think this way…” I’m paraphrasing. “But just in case you’re thinking I’m in the palace and I’m safe, you’re not safe. Eventually it will be found out that you’re a Jew and you know that the king’s law cannot be changed even if you’re his wife. It’s the law of the Medes and the Persians. Even in the palace it’ll find you. Who knows…” and this is one of the great statements of the Bible. Esther chapter 4 verse 13 and 14, “Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place…” God always seems how to save the Jews, doesn’t He? God will save us another way, “but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed…” In other words, if you do not intercede for those who are doomed, not only will they suffer, but you are doomed. Who does Esther represent? The church. If we do not have a burden for those who are under the death penalty, not only will some suffer because of that, but we will suffer. The church to do our job we must intercede for the lost. We must work for the lost, we must pray for the lost. That’s why some people from our church are going to India tomorrow because we’ve got a burden for the lost. Amen? And if you don’t have that burden, then your soul is in danger. Don’t think to say, “Well, as long as I’m in the palace I’m safe… I go to church, I have nothing to worry about.”

Mordecai said, “Don’t think that. Don’t think you’ll escape. If you don’t put your life on the line, you’ve got to put your life on the line to intercede for your people.” We’ve got the king’s household out there that some are on the death row. Now there’s an interesting statement here. Esther says, “All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death…” If anyone came marching into the king’s presence before going through the metal detector they were executed on the spot. People were trying to assassinate the king. You did not come into his presence uninvited not even the queen. It was often true that, you know who killed most of the Roman emperors who were assassinated? Family. Do you know your history? Often people in the family that poisoned them or killed them, or their own body guard. And so the king was very careful who came in. Caligula was killed by his own body guard. If you can’t trust them, who do you trust? The king of Persia at least has a body guard at the door.

If anyone comes in unless “the king holds out the golden scepter.” If the king didn’t hold out his scepter the guards knew, just kill him. And she said I haven’t been able to come into the king for thirty days now. And she says, “Let’s spend three days fasting and then after those three days fasting, I’ll dress up and I’ll go in for the king.” Now do you notice there it says thirty days and three days and then half a day? do you get that? I haven’t come into the king for thirty days, let’s spend three days fasting, and by the way this is the most severe fast. She says, “Tell the people not to eat or drink.” That’s the kind of fast Paul fasted when he found out he’d been killing Christians. That’s the kind of fast they had in Nineveh no food or water. That’s a fast of a life and death severe fast. It’s not a health fast. That’s a fast, “Lord, help us! We’re dying” fast. Never even says pray, but they were praying. You can count on that, amen? That’s the whole purpose of their fast. Then after three days she would dress up and go in before the king you can calculate in half a day. It’s like the life of Christ, thirty-three and a half years and He dies on the cross. She puts her life on the line and that’s where she makes this great statement. She says, “I will go in before the king… and if I perish, I perish!” Jesus loved us so that we would not perish.

So let’s move on here with our story. She’s willing to intercede for the doomed, tells them to pray. Now it happens that after the third day of fasting she dresses up, she puts on her royal robe. What did I say? You can’t go in without the right clothes before the king. She goes in the king’s palace. Everyone hears the door click and open. The bodyguard snaps around. They grab their spears and swords. The king looks aghast that someone would open the door unannounced and as the doors come open there in all of her glory is Esther, and he smiles. Everyone looks at the king’s face. He smiles. I mean, he already knows what it’s like to be without a queen. He’s not going to lose this one. They’re hard to come by. He had to wait years before he replaced Vashti. She’s beautiful. How can you kill someone so ravishing, radiant? He holds out the golden scepter to her which is a symbol of grace. That scepter represents mercy.

You’ve seen many pictures of kings holding their golden scepters. Not only does he hold it out to her, it says in verse two of chapter five, “when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter” this is the love of God that gold “in his hand.” She “went near and touched the top…” Do you know why she touched it? He’s offering grace, she must accept it. She came and puts out her hand saying, “I have no weapon in my hand. I’m not here to assassinate. I am here because I need your presence. I have a burden, a request. I must see you. It’s an emergency, and I accept your grace for my petition.” You and I come into the presence. He offers grace, but we must touch the scepter, we must accept the grace. If she had not reached out for that scepter they would have assumed there was a weapon in her hand and she’s in trouble. You know it’s interesting, in some parts of the world when people shake hands, I’ve seen this in many cultures, when they shake hands with me, and they put one hand on this hand as they shake. Any of you seen that before? I can name many countries in Africa where they do this. I asked one of my translators one time why do they do that? He said, “It’s an ancient custom because when you go to meet you’re showing you have no weapon in your hand. You have both hands out.” So she reaches out and she touches the scepter accepting grace. Have you touched the golden scepter, friends? Have you accepted the grace that Jesus offers?

Well, he said, “What is your request?” Now I’m going to speed along here. A lot to go. And she says, my first request is that you come to a feast with Haman and I’ll have it prepared tonight and I’ll talk to you then. He says great, no problem and she excuses herself, probably continues to fast for the day, goes to the kitchen and she gets this feast ready. That night with great expectation Haman is there and the king is there and Esther is there. They’re the three primary characters, of course the rest of the attendants for this dinner, all these servants preparing for the feast. And at the feast and after they say their niceties the king says, “I can’t wait! I want to know what’s on your heart, Esther? Why did you risk your life to come to me? What’s so important?” And Haman is there on the edge of his seat too. He’s wondering what could this be? He hasn’t got a clue. He doesn’t know what her relationship is.

It’s like when Moses came before the Pharaoh. He says, “You don’t know what people it is you’re enslaving. You don’t know what their relationship is to the Lord.” He said, “I don’t know the Lord! Who is the Lord that I should let them go?” So he’s clueless. He thinks this is great. She’s got some great plan and I’m on the inner circle. His pride blinded him. She says, “My request is that you come to my dinner tomorrow.” So the first request is to come to a supper and you’re not telling us it’s so important you’re preparing this supper just to tell us about the other supper. Two feasts sort of like the New Testament and the Old Testament is where you get the message. You don’t really understand the first message until you get the second message. You can’t really understand the Old Testament until you get the New Testament. You see what I’m saying? It’s in these two testaments that were given and feasts where they ate. Didn’t Jesus in the New Testament have a feast? Wasn’t it in the context of the grape juice? There was a banquet of wine at Esther’s feast. Oh, the whole gospel is in here! I wish I had more time! I did do a three part series about ten years ago. You can go look that up. It’s still out there somewhere. Three part series on Esther. Yeah.

So anyway Haman goes out. He thinks, “Wow! Nobody is coming but the king and the queen and me! I’m on the inside. Isn’t this great? I’m living large. This is wonderful!” So Haman goes out of the palace and he’s got spring in his step. The problem is when he gets to the gate, who does he see? Mordecai is there and Mordecai is not only not standing up for him, he’s not bowing down for him, he’s dressed in rags and he still won’t humble himself. And he looks at him and he kind of says, “I’m going to give you one chance. I’m going to stand here a minute. Are you going to bow?” And he walks away so incensed. He storms to his house, he says, “I can’t take this anymore. I can’t wait for this year to go by to assassinate all of the Jews. I’ve got that taken care of. This guy has got to go now!” And they said, “Tell you what. Let’s consult our mediums.” They get involved in sorcery to find a date. Let’s pick this date.

By the way, they’ve used this sorcery to pick the date to execute the Jews. Now they’re saying, “Build a gallows” fifty cubits high. What’s that about seventy-five feet? Build it in your back yard so you can enjoy it and there hang Mordecai. You to the king, say, “I’ve got this one person that’s just really giving…” Look, if he let you make a decree to kill a whole nation, he’ll give you one by personal request. That’s what I’ll do. That’s what I’ll do. So early in the morning, that afternoon the big feast is going to happen, Haman wakes up early and he starts off to the palace to ask the king for permission to kill one scoundrel. But what he doesn’t know is the king has had problems sleeping that night. The king has royal insomnia. It’s interesting you can have all of the money in the world, you can buy the best bed in the world, but you can’t buy an hour of sleep, can you? Money will buy you a bed, but it won’t buy you rest. It’ll buy you food, but it won’t buy you an appetite. It’ll buy you medicine, but it won’t buy you health. The king can’t sleep. They’re playing the music and he’s just being irritated. He said, “Look.

I usually fall asleep when they’re reading the chronicles to me. Bring in a scribe and tell him to read some of the chronicles to me. That’ll put me to sleep.” So he’s lying there and he’s trying to sleep and the scribe is reading through the chronicles and he gets to the part in the history of what’s been happening in the court where he’s reading about this assassination attempt and that one of the people who sits in the gate named Mordecai had rescued the king by divulging this attempt. He said, “Wait! Wait! Wait! What did we do for this fellow? How did we reward him?” The scribe goes forward, he goes back, he says, “There’s no record that we’ve rewarded him in any way.” The king says, “Oh, that’s not very kingly of me. The fellow saves my life and I don’t even give him a medal.” While he’s thinking that there’s a knock, knock, knock at the door. The king hears it and he says, “Who is in the outer court? Oh, it’s Haman? Bring him in. Bring in my buddy.” Haman is coming in. What’s he there for? He’s getting ready to ask for the death of Mordecai. At the same time Haman has got a question for the king. He wants to ask for the death of Mordecai.

The king is wanting to know how shall I reward this person. So the king says, in Esther 6:6 “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Haman thought within his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” Listen to that. Me, me, me. By the way, the word Haman means magnificent and Lucifer used to be magnificent. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Listen to how he answers that. He says, “This is what shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor. Take the king’s robe that he wears, royal robes, the king’s robe, and take the king’s horse that he rides in victory and put the crescent on the king’s horse and get one of the most impressive people in the empire to lead him through the streets of the city arrayed like the king on the king’s horse and say, ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” You hear what Haman wanted. Haman wanted to be king.

What did Lucifer want? To be God. He wanted the king’s place. Can you imagine the humiliation of Haman when the king says, “That sounds good to me. I just needed to do something. Tell you what, do everything you said to the letter. Go find Mordecai the Jew and put him on my horse and put my robe on him and I want you to be the one to lead him through the streets of the city and to proclaim ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” Now the word God does not appear in Esther, but can you see the providence of God? So he is you’ve heard of the word mortified? He is Mordecai-fied. He then has to dress him up, this guy he’s wanting to kill. Can you imagine the looks they exchanged? He, the Amalekite is leading the Jew through the city in a foreign country glorifying him. He’s got to say it, Thus shall it be done to the one who the king delights to honor! Thus shall it be done… And there’s probably trumpets and there’s a procession there and everybody is looking and they’re wondering what that’s all about. Well, Haman goes home in total shame. He covers his head. He can’t even let anybody see him.

He comes in before his wife, his wise men… This fellow is really wealthy. He offered millions of dollars to pay for the execution of the Jews. He’s got a lot of money. He’s got a lot of power. The devil has got resources too, doesn’t he? Do you know what his wise men tell him, and his wife? They say, “If you have begun to fall before Mordecai who is of the descendents of the Jews, you know that Jewish history they always seem to land on their feet. You’re going to surely fall.” That’s not very encouraging, is it? They’re saying it doesn’t look good. It looks like God is with them and He’s not with you. Right when he says that there’s a knock at his door, and messengers have come. They say, “You’re going to be late for Esther’s feast. You’d better get over here.” So he’s not even recovered from his mourning yet, and he’s brought into the feast of Esther and the king. So now the king is wanting to know what is going on.

In Esther chapter 7, turn with me there. I’m not going to read this out of my notes. I want to read it right out of the Bible to you because this is, I think, one of the high points in the book. “So the king and Haman went to dine with (the) Queen… And on the second day,” in other words she had been there with the scepter the second day. “…on the second day, at the banquet of wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther?’” You know what you see here? The queen is more reluctant to ask. The king is more eager to hear.

Our King keeps saying ask what you want. What do you want? He says, “I’ll give it to you, Esther, up to half my kingdom.” By the way, that’s what King Herod said when Salome danced before him. Kings used to boastfully say, “What do you want? Up to half my kingdom.” It was a figure of speech. Look at all my power. Ask big. That’s what our King is saying to us. He says to the church, “Up to now you’ve really asked nothing. Ask that your joy might be full!” We pray too small. He saying ask up to half My kingdom. I’ll do it for you. Don’t you think we ought to pray better? Pray bigger? Then the queen answered, she shocks him, verse three, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me…” What is the first thing that we ought to pray for from the king? Salvation, eternal life. “…let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.” We should pray for our salvation and the salvation of our people. “For we have been sold…” People have been sold into slavery. “…my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated.” She says, “Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue…” If this decree was to consign us to slavery, I would have accepted it, but it’s death, it’s annihilation even though the enemy would never be able to compensate for the loss.

Now the king is outraged. He’s thinking, Is she imagining things? Is she hallucinating? Who would dare to do this? “Who is he, and where is he,” the king jumps up, “who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?” Can you imagine the intensity? And Haman is probably going, “Yeah, who is he?” And Esther said, “The adversary…” By the way, do you know what that word is in Hebrew? Satan. The word Satan is adversary so if you have any doubts about who Haman represents, he is the devil. “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” Satan is the epitome of wickedness. Before the king and the queen. “So Haman was terrified before the king and queen.” And by the way the day is coming when Satan is going to tremble and his knee will bow before the Lord, won’t it? “Then the king arose in his wrath…” The Bible says, Lord, arise in Your anger and vindicate Your people. Many verses talk about this. “Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden…” he’s contemplating this. He’s saying, what is going on? He’s wanting to kill the one, Mordecai is a Jew who saved me from assassination and now my queen.

Is he wanting my throne? The king is evaluating all of these things. During this time Haman stood before the queen “pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was.” In his fear and terror he is pleading so vigorously for his life that he actually threw himself across Esther. That tells you about the relationship between the devil and the church. He wants to abuse the church. “…pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king.” The king returns, he sees him on the couch and he says, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” You could at least wait until I leave! You’re going to ravish my queen in my presence? “As the word left the king’s mouth,” even the servants thought boy, this is inappropriate, “they covered Haman’s face.” Now Harbonah, the servants know what’s going on. They represent the angels. “Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, ‘Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.’ Then the king said, ‘Hang him on it!’” The devil is getting hanged on the gallows he built for us. By the way, those gallows represent the cross. Originally built for Mordecai, the difference is that someone was substituted. It’s a type of… How did Absalom, that rebel die? Wasn’t it hanging between heaven and earth? So finally you see the final judgment. She says, “It’s Haman!” Haman is taken out and he is placed on the gallows and he is executed.

You know there are still some more things here in the story. Proverbs 26:27 “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.” When you try to affect vengeance on people, it will backfire on you. I heard about… I’ve got to preach a sermon someday on dumb criminals. I just thought about that here because I heard about one guy who went to rob a bank and as he went to pull the gun out in his pants it went off. Haman got hung on his own gallows. So “Mordecai went out from the presence of the king,” notice here, Esther 8:15, “in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.” Who is it that is ultimately glorified? Who gets the position that Haman thought he had? Mordecai becomes the number two man in the kingdom just like Daniel, just like Joseph. He’s exalted because of his faithfulness. And the people of “The Jews” they “had light and gladness, joy and honor.” Many people converted and became Jews when they saw what had happened. By the way, they could not change the law the king had made.

Do you know what they did instead? The king issued another law that when that time came when they were supposed to be assassinated they had an opportunity to find out who it was that had been taking advantage of them and they got to make a preemptive strike and defend themselves. When that day came there was great vindication in all of those who did… When the enemies of the Jews found out they were going to be annihilated they all turned their hands and said, “We’re so glad you’re here. We hated you anyway. We can’t wait to take your house.” So now the Jews knew who their enemies were. So when the tables turned at the last minute instead of them being annihilated, all of their enemies were annihilated like Haman, they were exalted and people said, “Wow! God is with the Jews.” And many people converted to Judaism because of the influence of this whole experience. Because of Esther’s intercession many were converted. Who does she represent? The church. Are we letting our lights shine?

You know what I think is wonderful? You read the last words in the book of Esther tell about Mordecai. Chapter 10 verse 3, It’s one of the shortest chapters in the Bible. “For Mordecai the Jew was next to the king…” Where is Christ right now? He’s at the right hand of the Father, the King of the Universe. “…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.” Isn’t our Jesus, the Prince of peace, isn’t He seeking the wealth of his people? Jesus’ position next to the Almighty is to intercede as your advocate. Don’t we have a good Friend in high places? And the Lord is saying to us what He said to Esther, what the king said, “Ask.

What is your request unto half My kingdom?” Why do we pray so little? But before we can hear that we need to be willing to do what Esther did and say, I’m going to put my life on the line for my people and what I believe. If I perish, I perish, but I’m willing to commit my life to going before the king that others might be saved. What will we find? Will the King hold out the scepter for us? Will He save His people? Can we find grace? This is such a wonderful story because it’s telling about the plan of salvation. In the last days the table will turn. When the devil and the world thinks that God’s people are doomed, when that day comes when that sentence is to be executed and all of God’s people are to be destroyed the tables are going to turn. God’s people are going to be delivered, they’re going to be vindicated, the enemy is destroyed. The book of Esther is the whole story of salvation. It’s a wonderful story. God won’t forget his people. The same way He interceded, He will take care of you. Amen, friends?

We’re going to sing a song about God’s protection for His people. “Children of the Heavenly Father” and it’s 101 in your hymnals. As we sing of course we’d like to have you stand.

Children of the heav’nly Father Safely in His bosom gather; Nestling bird nor star in Heaven Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish; In His holy courts they flourish; From all evil things He spares them; In His mighty arms He bears them.

Before we sing verse three, this is a short hymn and I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond, some of you maybe have been afraid to come into the king’s presence and put your life on the line and say, “Lord, I’m willing to live for You.” He that loses his life will save it; he that seeks to save his life will lose it. Are you willing to come before the King and to put on the robe that He has afforded and trust that He’ll offer you that scepter of golden grace? Some of you maybe haven’t accepted the salvation that Jesus offers. He loves you. The Bible says the king loved Esther. You are the apple of His eye and He’ll do whatever it might take to save you. It doesn’t mean God’s people don’t suffer persecution and trials. There’ll be times of fasting, sackcloth, ashes and prayer, but in the end it’ll be rejoicing, it’ll be a feast. Amen? Maybe there are some of you who have been weighed down wondering why you’re going through the hard times you’re going through. Hang on. The book of Esther if anything teaches us if you trust in the Lord it’ll be a good ending. Maybe you have some special prayer. Maybe there’s someone you need to intercede for. If you have any special need as we sing verses three through the end, come, we’ll have prayer together as we close.

Neither life nor death shall ever From the Lord His children sever; Unto them His grace He showeth, And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers: Your Protector never slumbers. At the will of your Defender Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

Though He giveth or He taketh, God His children ne’er forsaketh; His the loving purpose solely To preserve them pure and holy.

What a beautiful story of God’s love for His people is in the book of Esther. Amen? Beautiful story of God’s provision while there may be times of trial and sackcloth and mourning, ultimately it’s a time of peace and wealth and rejoicing when we get to live in the palace with the King. That’s good news, friends. If you want to enjoy that we must reach out by faith and touch that scepter and accept His grace that He’s offering us. Esther didn’t wear her own robe when she was in the palace. The robe was provided for her. Jesus is providing a robe of righteousness for you. He’s paid for it. He wants you to put it on. Is that your prayer? Is that your desire? We also have a work to do as his church. You are Esther. You, His temple. We are to let our light shine. We are to intercede before our King, and pleading with our heart and soul for those that are under a death sentence. Jesus is coming soon. There is going to be a day of judgment and there will only be two classes: the friends of the King and the enemies of God’s people. We can make friends with the King right now. Is that your desire? Let’s pray together.

Lord, our hearts are thrilled as we see Your divine providence in this story that’s played out every day in lives around the world. So often we’re distracted and we don’t know why events transpire the way they do but we can see the hand of providence working behind the scenes that You might save Your people. All things are working together for the good of those who are called according to Your purpose. Lord, I pray that You will bless each person who has responded today. Some are struggling, they’re going through trials in their lives and I pray that they can trust that in the end through Your providence You will save. Those maybe who have not accepted the robe of righteousness that You offer, help us to reach out and take that royal robe. Help us, Lord, to reach out and touch that golden scepter and accept the grace and favor that You offer knowing that You love us so much that You gave Your life for us. I pray that we can trust our lives to our heavenly Mordecai who sits now at Your right hand seeking the favor and the blessing of God’s people. Be with each person here, those who may be listening, and work in their lives for their salvation and may we work for the salvation of others we ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

God bless you, friends. If there are some who have come forward this morning and you would like to visit with a pastor or elder we’d be happy to see you or if you are interested in being part of the Central family or baptism please fill out one of the cards in your pew or get one at the back at the information desk. I’d like to also remind you this group that sang that wonderful music for our church service, A Few Good Men, will be in concert tonight at the Yugoslavian SDA Church on Dewey Drive in Fair Oaks at 6:00 PM. We hope that you’ll enjoy that good music.

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Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea

Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea
God's Promises




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