I’m going to invite you to the book of Esther. That’s where we are together. The book of Esther, we’ve been going through this series together as a church. The way to find the book of Esther, if you turn in the middle of your Bible, it typically lands the book of Psalms. And if you go back two books, you’ll find the book of Esther. The book of Psalms, and then before that’s Job, and right before that is the book of Esther and that’s where we’re going to be together today. Esther chapter four. I’m going to remind you a little bit of where we’ve been in this book. If you start from the very beginning of Esther, you’ll see that the Jews are in captivity. They were brought into captivity by the Babylonians. Babylonians were eventually conquered by the Persians. And right now in the book of Esther, there is a king named Xerxes who’s reigning over Persia. And the Jewish people find themselves under his authority, or at least some of the Jews find themselves under authority. Some of the Jews have returned back to Israel. Some of them are still under the Persian empire. And that’s where King Xerxes is reigning.
King Xerxes, in chapter one, decides to throw a party. And when he throws his party, he ends up making his wife mad by some dumb decisions. When she gets frustrated by what he says, he retaliates and decide to at least divorce her, if not just kill her. It’s not really sure in the text, whether or not she was executed or if she was just divorced, but either way, he separated from Vashti. Xerxes separated from Vashti, and then he decides he’s lonely. He wants to find a new wife, and that attracts him to this young lady named Esther. Mordecai, who is the adopted father of Esther let’s Esther go at least without a fight, according to the text. Esther now becomes the queen of Persia and then Mordecai, a little bit later decides it would be a good idea to get into a battle with a man named Haman who is under authority or in some great authority under the king of Persia king Xerxes.
And as he’s battling with Haman, not physically, but a battle of pride, Haman retaliates to Mordecai and decides since Mordecai is being disrespectful to me, I’m going to be disrespectful back to Mordecai, but not just to Mordecai. I’m going to eliminate anyone that belongs to the tribe Mordecai is a part of, which is the Jewish people. And they write a law. He gets the king, Haman gets the king to write a law, to execute all of the Jewish people. And Mordecai, in this moment, he knows it’s his fault. And he sees that this position that he’s put the Jewish people in, it began because of his pride coming against Haman and frustrating Haman, which led Haman to then write a law against all of the Jewish people.
And that’s where we pick up in chapter four. We’re going to see in this story, Mordecai, knowing that he provoked this circumstance, we’re going to see how Mordecai and Esther now respond. And knowing that there is a law written against their people that is going to ultimately lead to their death. When I jump into this text, let me just begin by asking you a question. What did it take for you to come to know the Lord? How patient has the Lord been with you in your life? What kind of circumstances did it take for you to be here today in the position that you are before God? Or if you don’t know him, what would it take for you to put your faith in the Lord? What kind of evidence or circumstances do you need to be convinced that Jesus is the one that you need to believe in?
For the story of Mordecai and Esther in this chapter, that’s really the question that we’re going to be answering today. For one of them, they come to the Lord rather quickly, for the other one it’s a little bit longer story of some patience that leads them to the place of trusting in God. But that’s what we’re going to see unfolding in this chapter. I’ve made the case for the first three chapters, that I really don’t think Mordecai and Esther had a relationship with the Lord. But I think some circumstances brought them to a place by the end of the book, that you see Esther and Mordecai, they’re Godly people pursuing the Lord together. But it was some circumstances that led them to where they are today. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about in chapter four is a coming to Jesus moment. And we’re going to reflect on how the Lord not only uses this moment for them, but how God might do that in our own lives and bringing us to him.
And so for Mordecai, his moment was a bit urgent. And you see that’s how it starts. In the last verse of chapter three into chapter four, you can see this together with me. End of chapter three left off this way. The couriers went out, meaning the king was writing this law to lead to the death of the Jews. The couriers went out, speeded by the King’s orders while the decree was issued at the Citadel in Susa. And while the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was agitated.
So you see a little bit of the reaction of the people. You have Xerxes and you have Haman responsible for the law leading to the death of the Jews. And they act like no big deal. Let’s have a little party and have fun. They’re just stood in their own life, their own pleasure. We’ve seen that that is certainly king Xerxes’s perception of himself. He sees himself as god of this earth. He’s always ruling on his throne. He really cares about his glory and his glory alone, and he wants to live life for his pleasure. In fact, when Haman introduced the idea of this law against the Jewish people to kill them, the way that he did it was to say to them, these people are a thorn in your side. They take away from all the joy that you want if you allow them to persist, then your life’s not going to be as fun as it could, because it’s all about your glory. And by the way, you let me do this. Now I’m going to make you rich.
And so Xerxes is all about it. Sure, eliminate these people that’ll be a thorn in my side because my life is for my glory and my pleasure. And you see Haman, similar suit in this situation, frustrated by Mordecai and the tension that Mordecai created in his life. So he just decides to get rid of Mordecai because Haman wants to be all about himself. And not just Mordecai, all of Mordecai’s people. So the king and Haman are just sitting down and just living up life. And then the city of Susa is a bit agitated because they don’t know how to pivot in this circumstance. Right? Do we follow the king who’s obviously doing something he shouldn’t? Or do we side with the Jewish people, which could lead to our death and trying to align with the Jewish people? They really are in this place of tension.
But then in verse one of chapter four, you see Mordecai’s response and Mordecai approaches this moment exactly as he should. Up until this time, Mordecai was a little suspect in his behavior. But in the urgency of this moment, which is the first blank of your notes, Mordecai’s urgency, Mordecai responds in a way that he should. It says in chapter four verse one, when Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes and he put on sackcloth and ashes and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly.
It’s telling us, in chapter three, that Mordecai often found his position in the king’s gate. It was a place of authority, a place of power, a place of recognition. But in this particular moment, Mordecai is no longer going to the king’s gate, he’s going to the public square. He’s going out into the middle of all of the people. And he’s crying out to the Lord and it describes his posture. This place of mourning, this place of tearing his clothing in response and sackcloth and ashes. He’s at the end of his rope. He doesn’t know what else to do, but he is now in this posture of humility and brokenness.
And it describes him as mourning. And when you think about this idea of mourning with Mordecai, I find that his posture is very worshipful. Which I think is a very helpful posture when we mourn. When you study cultures throughout the world, different cultures have different ways of mourning when they go through adversity in life. Some cultures I think are better at it than others. I think America has probably not got the best cultural responses to mourning when difficulty happens. We tend to be a culture that stuffs our struggles. Typically because I think that our culture is not as prone to difficulty as other cultures. We kind of have a sanitized life in comparison to what other people face around the world. And so when adversity comes our way, we don’t often deal with it as well as I think other cultures have or do. But mourning is a posture that I think can be very worshipful and very helpful for you to experience in what you go through. It’s a natural way your body responds to adversity. It’s an important process, I think, of the human life. And it can be a very godly reaction to the circumstances that you face.
And Mordecai is leaning fully into that moment. God, I have hit a rock and a hard place, and I have no hope apart from you. And so he goes out into the public square in sackcloth and ashes, mourning before the Lord. I think for us, the idea of mourning, it becomes worshipful when we recognize the sacredness of life and what’s at stake in the adversity that we face. Meaning if you ever face or encounter someone that you’ve loved that’s died, the idea of mourning in that moment can be worshipful before the Lord, because we are recognizing that in the pain of loss, there is something beautiful about life. Something that we were designed for really to live, we were designed to live forever. When God made us as human beings, he made the soul to endure for all of eternity. When God originally created us in the garden of Eden, he made us for relationship to experience him all the days of our life. Death happens in the garden of Eden because of sin and sin separates us from God.
And when we mourn in that, we’re recognizing the curse of sin and we’re recognizing that our lives were made to last forever. And God has made each individual life beautiful in his image. Every human being is an image bearer of God. And so when there’s the opportunity for the loss of life, or we go through the experience of life being lost, there is a place in our mourning that we can be worshipful to the Lord, to recognizing the beauty of that life and the giver of life, and looking to him for ultimately hope in death. And I think this is where Mordecai is in this moment. And let me give you a reason why.
Some people look at this passage and they say, well, you know, when Mordecai is responding, he’s responding really in a cultural way. This is a Middle Eastern practice here that someone would tear their clothes and repent in sackcloth and ashes and be extravagant in their mourning. This is common to the middle Eastern, especially in the time period that he’s in. But when you get to chapter four verse three, you see this again, repeated among not just Mordecai, but all the people. In each and every province where the command and decree of the king, there was a great mourning among the Jews with fasting and weeping and wailing and many lay on sackcloth and ashes. Again, it could be argued here, well, the Jewish people are just doing what that culture does when they go through difficult things. This is not just exclusive to Jewish people. This is just, that’s how they responded in this general area. This is a typical customary way, when adversity comes in the midst of mourning, how they would respond.
But I would just add this. I think the uniqueness of the Jewish people in this circumstance is also expressed in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah, and I’ve quoted those verses down here for you. Ezra and Nehemiah record a couple of times in their book, this is the same exact time period as the book of Esther. And it shows in this time period that in Ezra, the book of Ezra in the book of Nehemiah people are mourning, weeping, wailing, fasting. And it acknowledges in the midst of that, that it’s also before the Lord. I mean, it’s not just a cultural thing that the distinction of the Jewish people in this moment is to turn to the Lord in their struggles. And so when I think about Mordecai in this instance, he’s not just simply doing because of culture. He’s doing this as a mournful, worshipful way of coming to his God. Mordecai, he understands his place of desperation. It’s awakened his eyes to his need for the Lord. And he’s turning to God because of it. What did it take for you to come to the Lord?
A place of desperation is not a bad reason to come to Christ. It’s not a bad reason to come to the Lord at all. In fact, I would say it’s one of the best ways to come to Jesus. It may, in fact, be the only way of coming to Jesus and recognizing just how needful your life is for him to enter into it. And when Jesus even conducted his public ministry, I think that’s what Jesus taught us about his own life. If I were to show you just a few passages in the book of Matthew, when Jesus publicly started his ministry and he declared his first message, it’s the sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five, it tells us he goes up on a hill and he sits down and he begins to teach the crowds. Look now, when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain and after he sat down, his disciples came to him and he opened his mouth and began to teach them saying, Bless are the poor and spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus took the religious view of the world and he turned it upside down on itself. I mean, if you asked before Jesus had to share this message, who are the blessed people in the world? They would say to you, well, it’s the wealthy because God has shined on them. It’s the religious, because they live the rules better than anyone else. And that’s not what Jesus said at all. Blessed are the poor in spirit. It’s the people who recognize how needy their lives would be for the Lord. The urgency of that moment and coming to Christ. And Jesus even said to the religious leaders in Matthew chapter nine verse 11, and when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, they saw what Jesus was doing. And they said to Jesus’s disciples, why is your teacher eating with the tax collectors and the sinners? And in verse 12. But when Jesus heard this, he said, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, But those who are sick.
Like Mordecai, Some of us realize that we’re bankrupt and we need the Lord. And sometimes we don’t recognize that until there’s nothing left but him. And the urgency of the moment is what provoked Mordecai’s heart to finally come to a place in this book, we’re seeing the type of behavior that acknowledges someone turning to the Lord and trusting in him. What led you to trust in Christ? Or what would it take for you to trust in Christ?
I know our human tendency and a religious nature is to think, well, I’m a place of desperation and I really need God in my life, but before I can do that, I need to get myself right. And that’s not God’s posture towards us at all. God doesn’t say to us before I can embrace you, I need to be impressed with you. Rather than think I need to impress God, really the posture of scripture is no, you need to just simply be impressed with him. Now, what are you ever going to do to impress the creator of all things? That God designed you to recognize that your soul was made for a purpose and that purpose isn’t found unless it’s resting in him, because he’s the creator of you. Until your life surrenders to that, there is no ultimate way forward in who you are and in fulfilling that divine destiny that God has created within you, until you come to that place of recognizing how desperate your soul is with without him.
And so Mordecai turns to the Lord. Guys coming to Jesus, it’s simple. It’s simple for us because it was difficult for him. He paid it all so that we could find the freedom of taking our heart and its posture and fully surrendering ourselves back to him as he has fully surrendered his life for us.
But seeing the urgency of Mordecai, I think it’s also important for us to see that for some of us, it’s not always that easy. It should be simple because Jesus paved the way for us to make it simple. Though it cost him everything, we so take a little bit more time than that. And that’s what we see in the story as it unfolds then with Esther. Esther comes at it more from a perspective of a journey. And that’s the next blank in your notes is Esther’s journey here. In verse four it starts, her pursuit of God in her life. Her faith journey here. Look at verse four. It says, then Esther’s maidens and her eunuchs came and told her and the queen writhed in great anguish. Esther here, this next blank in your notes is starting to see the need. It’s the need. Esther’s maidens came and told her what was taking place. She writhed in great anguish and she sent garments to cloth Mordecai, that he might remove his sackcloth from him, but he did not accept them.
This idea of deep anguish is this place of Esther’s soul being in pain. That she hears what her uncle is doing out in the city square in front of everyone, and hearing that he is out there in such pain, her soul and love for her uncle who raised her, excuse me, her cousin who raised her. She comes this place of anguish, wanting to connect to that. Because she loves him. She cares for him and wanting to hear more about what brought him into that city square, she sends clothes to him. The reason she would do that is because Mordecai in the position that he’s in, the way that he’s got sackcloth and ashes, tore his clothes, he’s not allowed to come and into the royal courts and present himself to the queen and that state. And so she must send proper attire for him to wear, and she wants to invite him in and to hear what’s on his heart and why he’s struggling. But Mordecai, rather than embrace it, he sets in this dust and ashes and he just repents in this moment.
And then in verse five, we find something interesting here. It says then Esther summoned Hathach from the king’s eunuchs, whom the king had appointed to attend her and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. Interesting, Esther hears that that Mordecai is in suffering, but Esther doesn’t even know exactly what’s happened. She’s so removed from the circumstance that all she knows is that her uncle’s in pain and she’s, in her own soul, she’s writhing in pain with him. But she has no idea what the details were that brought her to this moment. So this gives a little bit of idea that, as Esther has become queen to King Xerxes, how separated she’s been from the common life of the people. That she knows that there is pain. And she wants to know more. And in verse seven, Mordecai told Hathach all that had happened to him and the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict, which had been issued in Susa for this destruction that he might show Esther of form her. And to order her to go into the king, to implore his favor and to plead with him for her people.
Mordecai, in this moment just brings us to the place of saying, look, Esther, here is the need. Here’s the need. Reality is for all of us, we will never trust in Christ until we see the need, right? Our hearts will never bend to the Lord until we recognize just how needful we are of him. And so Mordecai just presents this moment to Esther. And he says this, one in verse seven says, Esther, look how much Haman has offered for our lives. It was tons and tons of silver he offered to pay the king just to be able to kill us. The money that Mordecai wants Esther to realize, it’s extravagant. No one’s going to turn down this temptation. And then he goes on in verse eight and he says, now look at the law. Look at the law that’s been written. It’s not just written in the Persian language. It’s written in every language in the empire.
You think to the extent that Haman wants to go, there is no one on planet earth that doesn’t know this law. Have you ever been to that place in life where you realize that, you just feel like everyone in the world is against you? You’re looking for that pause button on the remote to say like, hold on a second. Does everyone realize what I’m going through? I need the world to stop for just a minute. But yet it continues on. That’s where Mordecai finds himself. He’s in a place of such desperation. He wished he could just stop everything in this moment because it feels like everyone is against him. This law is in every language. There is not a person hasn’t talked about it.
And so he tells Esther what he thinks she should do. Esther, you need to go before the king and you need to tell him you’re a Jew. Remember this is what Haman told Esther not to do in chapter one. I think it was in verse 10 to verse 20. He said when she was brought into the King’s courts, tell no one that you’re Jewish. Tell no one about your lineage. Just keep it a secret. And now he’s saying Esther, now’s the time him to go public. And we want you to go public in embracing the Lord in your faith and then tell everyone that you’re Jewish. We want you to grab a hold of what your lineage is and profess it and belong to it and go stand before the king. There is a need here. Do you understand how desperate everyone’s soul is?
But for Esther, it’s not that easy. Point number two under Esther, Esther needs to weigh the cost. There is a risk to what Mordecai is sharing with her of what he thinks she needs to do. And in verse 10, it really wants us to hone in on this, and I’ll show you how in verse 10. When Esther speaks to Hathach in this passage, in verse 11, you’ll notice the quotations. The quotations of what Esther says here. Up until this point, it’s simply been a paraphrase of back and forth between Esther and Mordecai. But now in this story, it begins to become a direct quote. As if to say to us, look, we’ve shared the story up unto this point. But when we get to this point, we want you to really pay attention to the steps that are about to take place. And so Esther responds, spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king, to the inner court, who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter, so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these 30 days.”
Esther’s saying, look just as you think everyone knows the law that the Jewish people are to be killed, everyone knows another law. All the king’s servants are aware of this. And that law is if you come to the king without being invited to the king, the king will kill you. The only people that live, if you come before the king, especially uninvited, are the ones the king extends his scepter to. So what you’re asking me to do could lead to my death. And even more than that, I know in these last several days, these last 30 days, I haven’t even been in the king’s favor because the king hasn’t invited me into his presence. I’m but a distant memory to him right now.
For Esther, there is a lot of risk. I mean, she could say to the Jewish people in this moment, look, I know this law’s been written for you guys, and that’s a tough break for you, but do you know who I am? I’m the queen protected in the castle. I’ve got everything I need in life for the rest of my life. What advantage is it for me to go before the king when it could kill me on your behalf? Esther’s in a place of luxury and she’s got to consider what’s at stake here. And whether or not her soul wants to lean into this. Because her people are asking her to lay down her own life for their benefit. And in order for her to really want to do this, it’s going to take some faith.
When you think about Esther, it’s not that she doesn’t believe in a God, but up until this point, she’s never really put her faith in him. And her people are bringing her to a place to really consider if the risk is worth her faith in the Lord and publicly declaring it to others. When you think about trusting in the Lord, Esther finds Mordecai, and then responds to her, just wants to encourage her as she toys with this opportunity of recognizing the need and positioning that against the cost, to consider just the opportunity of what lies before her. And in verse 13, that’s the next blank in your notes, this opportunity. Verse 13, it goes on to say this, then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this.”
Mordecai’s saying just think of the opportunity, the position that you have yourself. Just because you recognize the Jewish people are going to be killed doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be touched. I mean, even in the dialogue of going back and forth between Hathach, it’s come to Hathach’s attention, at least, that Esther would be a Jew. And if someone just has a vendetta against Esther, someone covets her position as queen, all they have to do is mention that and Esther’s life is gone.
And not only that, Mordecai recognizes in verse 14, that it’s been God’s position with the Jewish people to preserve their lives, to make sure that as he promised that through the Jews, all the nations would be blessed, that through their lineage would come a Messiah to bless all people. And so God is not going to let all of his people be eradicated. God will preserve his people. But if you don’t stand up, God won’t preserve your family. But rather, Esther, think about this, in the second half of verse 14, the second half of verse 14 is one of those passages that’s most memorable in this book. It’s one of those passages most quoted in this book, at least the second half of it, where Mordecai recognizes and who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this.
Saying, Esther, just consider this moment. God has you where you are for a reason. Isn’t it interesting to think out of the thousand ladies that were invited into the harem of Xerxes, that you were the one chosen? It’s like God’s divine hand was on you for a reason greater than you. That God took you through the circumstance to ultimately know he knew how things were going to work out. And he ultimately wanted you to find yourself in a position that he would work through you to leverage this, not only for your benefit, but to the benefit of all your people. Esther, when you consider, not just that you believe in a god, but you actually put your faith in that God, what it would look like in this moment and how it might bless others.
I’ve heard it said a calm sea does not make a good sailor. It’s the roughness of the waters. But if you really want to experience what the ocean is like, you’ve got to be willing to let go of the shore. Because I think Esther, she’s in that place of saying my heritage is Jewish and my people believe in a God. And yeah, I believe in a God, but becoming this place of not just saying that, but to a place of saying and he’s mine. My faith is tangible and my faith is real. And the reason you know that is because I’m willing to pay the cost. I’m willing to put my life at risk. And I would say the same for us. There’s a difference between saying you believe in a God and really saying that your faith is in the Lord. And the way that we recognize if our faith is in the Lord is we can look back through our life and see, has there ever been a laying down of ourself? Has there ever been a risk that we have paid in order to say I have followed after Christ?
Let me make this personal for a minute. I know that I’m not talking to a room of people that are the Queens of Persia, right? Unless you want to identify that way today. I’m the queen of Persia. But I know we’re trying to relate to a text and the queen of Persia, talking to us, this might be a little bit hard, but like Esther, your life is at risk without the divine hand of God. All of our lives are at risk without the divine hand of God.
I know it’s popular in our culture to say, look, everyone is a child of God, But I want you to know, Biblically, that’s not true. That’s not true. Everyone is an image bearer of God. That is true. Everyone divinely made in the image of God. That God has crafted you intimately, personally put a soul within you that you can connect to Creator God. That’s true. Everyone is an image bearer of God. But not everyone is a child of God. John chapter one verse 12 tells us for as many as received into those became the children of God. That’s why I say, for all of us like Esther, all of us, our lives are at risk without the divine hand of God.
I know, in saying things like that, we don’t like to talk that way. That doesn’t feel very nice to say I’m not a child of God or not everyone is a child of God. I think God’s heart for you is that you would be a child of the Lord. I think that that is true. But I want you to consider this passage for just a minute. In Galatians chapter two, verse 21, Paul says it like this in Galatians two, I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law then Christ died needlessly. Christ died needlessly. And this passage brings us to a place to say this. Why would Jesus risk his life if there were just any way that you could come to God? You know, as long as you’re just a good person, as long as you just, kind of believe with good intentions in your life, if you’re okay, everyone can be a child of God. Why would Jesus risk his life? If that were a possibility?
And that’s what Paul’s pointing out in Galatians 2:21. If your righteousness before God could be achieved by religious living, then why would Jesus do what he did? Paul’s wanting us to recognize that Jesus came and sacrificed to himself because our souls were at risk. If there were any other way, Christ would not have done what he did. And so the significance of Jesus should be highlighted in our life because he becomes the great rescuer to deliver us from the suffering of sin and the separation that puts us between us and our God. That’s why James chapter two, the book of James, James says this, you believe in that God is one. You do well. I mean, that’s great. But think about this. Even the demons believe. Even the demons aren’t dumb enough to say God’s not real. Even the demons say, you know, I believe in a God.
What about Jesus? What about the God? We’re not just saying, I believe in a God. We’re talking about putting your faith and leaning fully into what Christ has done for you. After all, there is a risk for our souls and our need and that desperation to turn in. We will not embrace Christ unless we see the need. But when we see that need, we also have to weigh the idea of a cost, that in order to turn to Jesus, we might have to let go of something in order to embrace him. But embracing him, there is an incredible opportunity. And it doesn’t just stop with me. Like with Esther, if all she thought it was about herself, she would just stay in the luxury of the kingdom of which she lived in. But there is an opportunity, not just in her life to know her creator God, but through her, it would bless all the people around her.
Same is true for you. And for me. There is this place of coming to Jesus that it’s more than just me and embracing Jesus, but it becomes a place of opportunity to see others come to Christ. And in verse 15 to 17, then you see the decision. That’s the last blank, your notes. The decision that Esther makes look at this verse, verse 15. Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, go assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, nights or day. Excuse me. And my maidens also will fast in the same way and thus, I will go into the king, which is not according to the law. And if I perish, I perish.
Esther and her decision. Esther in her decision, what she desires, and this is deep community. I am going to carry this out. I’m going to put my life in the Lord and put my life at risk. And I’m going to go before the king, but here’s what I want to do. When I take the step, I want to know that there is a community that’s with me and praying for me, and that loves me and seeking God for me, because this is not an easy decision. Guys, when I think about her position and I just think about the condition of the church today, can I just say, it’s not getting any easier to be a Christian. It’s not getting any popular to be a Christian. I know people in our body that, in order to become a Christian, by putting their faith in Christ, their family and their friends completely ostracized them. They need family and friends because of it.
And this just elevates the beauty of the church. When you see Esther in this moment, this desperation saying, I need community around me, we’re in that same place here in our own community. That there are people, by coming to Jesus, lose all of their relationships today, in the area in which we live and how important it is to be a family, in this family, to encourage one another in our pursuit of Christ together. To just value what it means to gather as his community on Sunday morning and just look each other in the eye and just spur one another on to pursue Christ and pray for each other and encourage each other and make deep friendships that will help us move forward in Jesus. Because sometimes those days aren’t easy. And that’s where Esther is. I’m about to separate myself from the family that I’m in here in this kingdom. And I need to know my faith family is with me.
And then she comes to this passage and she says, look, fasting for three days, showing the desperation in this moment, night and day. Usually faster, typically one day, but she’s saying let’s do this for three days, because what I’m about to do, she acknowledges, is against the law. It’s against the law. So she says the end verse 16, this is against the law. And there comes a time for God’s people where look, we want to obey authority, we to respect authority, but sometimes the authority above us write laws that are contrary to what God says about us. And at the end of the day, we want to have the spine to stand. And the encouragement to do that, as found in one another, as we pursue Christ together. And then Esther gives this statement. This is an other famous verse. If I perish, I perish,
Esther decides to lay it all down for the Lord. You know, Jesus says the same thing to us in Matthew chapter 10 verse 38. He says, if you’re not willing to take up your cross and follow me, you’re not worthy of me. I mean, just as Jesus gave everything for us, that’s what he calls us to in him. And that’s why that relationship’s called a covenant or a marriage, that we enter into this intimacy with the Lord, where just as he gave everything for us, we want to give everything for him. And then in verse 17, so Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.
And I love this. If you remember in the beginning of the book, it’s Mordecai telling Esther what to do. Don’t tell anyone you’re a Jew. Esther, go to the king, don’t tell anyone a Jew. Mordecai is giving the rules. And I would say they’re not godly orders that he gives her. But now in this moment, Esther turns around, having put her faith in the Lord, and the way that she responds back to Mordecai is now she’s the leader. And her advice is completely given over to the Lord.
Guys, I think the best decision for any culture is Jesus. The best decision for any culture is Jesus. Here in Esther’s story, she’s turning her people back to the Lord. In our story, the best thing that we have to offer in any culture is Jesus. And the reason I say that is because there is nowhere else that we can turn that better appreciates the sacredness of human life than Christ. There is nowhere else in any culture that you can turn, that’s going to give a greater hope than Jesus. There’s nowhere else beyond Christ that we can turn that gives us a hope that endures for all of eternity. And the greatest gift that we have to offer any culture, to find an identity, a worth, a value, a meaning, a purpose is your identity in Jesus as it’s declared to others.
And this is where Esther finds herself. That not only is her salvation in Christ alone, not only is her faith completely pressing into him, but she now sees this as an opportunity to encourage her people in their faith. It’s a beautiful thing when God’s people turn to the Lord. May God raise up in dedicated and sacrificial servants of Christ. One of my favorites in history is a man by the name of Hudson Taylor. He’s a sharp looking fellow. Isn’t he? Hudson Taylor exists at a time where the idea of living on mission for the Lord was not as encouraged as other time periods in Christianity. Hudson Taylor ended up leading a mission to China. It was called China Inland Mission. And through his life, he went through extreme adversity. His wife died of cholera on the mission field in China. But his persistence in wanting to proclaim Christ through the world, and especially in China, by the end of his life, he ended up seeing 800 missionaries go to China, over 18,000 people convert to Christ in China while he served his mission. And he suffered immensely in this.
One of the things that happened in his ministry, there was the box car rebellion in China, where they saw 78 missionaries killed at one time going to serve the Lord. But this is what he said about his life. He lived a humble life. I remember early on when I became a Christian, I read a quote by Hudson Taylor that said, if I had 10,000 lives, then 10,000 lives I wanted to give for China. And I remember reading that as a young man. And I thought to myself, Lord, I wish that you would lead my heart to a place where I felt like that.
And that’s part of the reason, that quote in my mind, why I came to Utah. God, I want to see a family. I want to see a family that when we lean fully into you, the beautiful things that you can do. That God we trust in you as our savior. And we follow you as our Lord. God, just show us the greatness of your hand. And Hudson Taylor, he was often quoted. He said this regularly in his life. He said, I want to be an example of what great things God can do through very small people. He never saw himself as anything incredible, but he just simply recognized maybe the Lord has me where he has me for such a time as this. And maybe I would say that to you this morning. God has you here for a reason, don’t underestimate the greatness of what God can do in your life with your willingness to surrender to him.