Four Traits of a Powerful Ministry
I’m going to invite you to Esther chapter eight. If you’d like to turn to Esther chapter eight with me today, we’re going to be talking about some important parts as it relates to ministry and Esther, today specifically, four traits of a powerful ministry. I want you to know, you read this and you may think, “Well, I don’t have a ministry, let alone a powerful ministry.” But I think it’s important to recognize when we talk in terms of ministry, we mean either formal or informal, and because you’ve been created by the Lord, God created you for His glory. And His glory includes you serving Him for His glory. So all of us have a ministry, whether we recognize it or not formal or informal, God created you to glorify Him with your life, and that’s about serving. And serving, another word that is ministry.
So we’re going to look at Esther chapter eight, some four traits of a powerful ministry. But I just want to remind us as we dive into this where we’ve been together, if I just give us a couple of themed ideas of what the book of Esther has been about, I think we’ve learned this, that selfishness leads to sinfulness and suffering. I’ve alliterated that so well for you today. Selfishness leads to sinfulness, which leads to suffering. That’s kind of how we’ve seen this story start with, with the idea of the character king Xerxes or king Ahasuerus, that the king was very much self absorbed. And in his selfishness, it led to sinful activity where he bashed in his anger, and he continued to repeat this behavior. But through that, we find people suffering under his leadership.
And the same thing true with Haman. Haman was another character introduced to us, that through his selfishness, it introduced sinfulness and his anger against Mordecai and the Jews, and because of that, people were suffering.
But juxtapose against that, you see within this story of Esther, two characters of what not to do, and two characters by the grace of God who find the Lord and become an example for us of what we should do. And no one in this story is really perfect. The hero of the story is not Esther or Mordecai. The hero of the story is God, because we’ve even talked together that Esther and Mordecai, they show evidence of a lack of faithfulness in the Lord until they reach this place of critical mass. This place of, they realize if they didn’t move and they didn’t depend on God that their people were going to be destroyed. But when they put their faith in the Lord, what we find is selflessness brought for Esther this new identity in God. And through that, blessing for God’s people.
And the same thing’s true in our lives, that when we surrender our lives to the Lord, what we find is this new identity in God, this new place where we don’t live life for the approval of man, because there’s nothing in this world that this world can offer that’s better than what God has done for us and the identity that we receive in Him. I mean, after all God became flesh and God died on a cross for your sins. There is no greater value placed on your life than God giving His life for you. And now that new identity that we receive by faith in Jesus, gives us a new basis for how we live in this world. And as God works a miracle in us, by rescuing us through the cross, He then works through us to bless other people. We find freedom in Jesus, and in that freedom, we’re able to live for His glory.
And Esther becomes a foreshadowing of all that would be accomplished for us in the cross of Christ. And then through that identity then Esther begins to serve. And that’s where we pick up in Esther chapter eight. She is in the middle of now walking in this faithfulness to the Lord, and it’s taken her to a place of being bold, being brave and God delivering His people.
But Esther chapter 8:1, if you picked up notes this morning, the first point in your blank, if we want to have a powerful ministry, these four traits, number one is we need a faithful God. We need a faithful God. And this is important to not just quickly move past this point. This is I think a very simplistic point, but it’s not anything that we should just chalk it up to, every Christian should know this, and just move forward. When we talk about the faith faithfulness of God, this is something in our life that we should never underestimate, but we should always pause within our soul and recognize the significance of what this represents to us.
The faithfulness of God sets for us a precedent for how the Lord’s going to continue to move in the future. If you’re doing our Bible reading at Alpine Bible Church, you’re going through the Bible in a year. We’ve put that out in the past and talked about how to jump on board and do that. But we’re in the book of Deuteronomy now. And the book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ messages. He gives five messages to Israel as he’s about to die. It’s his five parting messages before the children of Israel then go into the promised land, because Moses was never allowed to go into the promise land.
But the theme that Moses hits over and over like a drum beat is; don’t forget, continue to remember, remember what God has done for us, teach it to the future generations, never lose sight of that. Because the past and the way God has performed in His faithfulness sets a precedent for His future and reminds Israel humbly of who they are before their God.
One of the things that we need in order to move forward is not just the faithfulness of God. I would add maybe just an extra word to this, and I would say, the unchanging faithfulness of God. The fact that God’s name nature is unchangeable, and that He’s given us promises and He’s been faithful in those promises, is so important to us. Because if you’re a God, if your picture of God is a God that’s evolving, a God that is changing, it’s also a God that’s communicating to you, in some way he’s inadequate. There is some need within God that he’s not fully arrived yet, and therefore he lacks in his own being. And if he lacks in his own being, how in the world can you be confident that he’ll deliver for you?
It’s important to see that the God in the Old and New Testament is a God who has communicated Himself as unchanging because His nature lacks in no capacity. In fact, when Jesus introduced himself to Moses, His title for himself in Exodus chapter three is the, I am. He is the great one, the exist one, the one that is not dependent upon anything to be who He is. He transcends time, space and matter. He is the uncaused cause. We typically define God this way at ABC. We say, “Everything created in this world must find the purpose of its existence outside of itself. God is the only being who finds the purpose of His existence within Himself, because He is dependent on nothing and no one. This is the unchanging, faithful God.”
In Malachi 3:6, He says, “I am unchanging, which is why you children of Israel are not consumed.” In Hebrews 13:8, Jesus says, “I am the same yesterday, today and forever.” It’s the consistency of God in His promises delivered to us faithfully that allows us to depend on Him, to do what He calls us to in this world. It is important to remember. To remember the hand of God as He has moved in this world, because it sets a precedent for the way God will act on my behalf. The same God of the Old Testament that we read about in Esther chapter eight, is the same God that we pursue today.
So the faithful hand of God, and you see this in Esther 8:1, it starts to tell us the story, “On that day, King Ahasuerus… ” or king Xerxes. Some translations give us the Hebrew name, some the Greek name. “But the king gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther.” Remember, Haman wanted to kill all the Jews, and Esther’s the one that confronted Haman before the king. And the king saw this as treason against the queen, which is treason against ultimately the king. And therefore he executes judgment against Haman. And Haman is killed or he’s publicly destroyed on the gallows that he had created to kill Mordecai upon. And he gave Haman’s house to Esther. Esther is given compensation because of her suffering.
Then it goes, “… to the Queen Esther, and Mordecai came before the king because Esther had disclosed what he was to her. Then the king took off His signet ring, which he had taken away from Haman, and he gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.” This becomes the first time now, Mordecai, who was the direct enemy of Haman, who was set to be killed in front of Haman’s house on these gallows, this now becomes the first time Mordecai actually comes before the king. And the reason Mordecai’s able to come before the king is because Esther has approached the king and she shared with the king that she’s Jewish, Mordecai is also Jewish and Mordecai is responsible for rescuing the king previous to this.
And then the king takes off his signet ring, which inevitably really makes Mordecai prime minister in Persia. And now Mordecai becomes one of the exclusive people who has direct access to the king whenever he desires it. To come before the king uninvited, we’ve talked about this together, the law was, it was immediate death unless the king raised his scepter for you. And the reason for this was it was to guard the King’s life. Like if the king didn’t invite you, any anyone that would approach him could immediately raise the guard’s alarm that your intentions were ill willed before the king. Why in the world would you come before the king otherwise? And so, unless the king raised the scepter if you entered his room without being requested in his presence, without raising the scepter you could be killed. But Mordecai in this moment is now given a special privilege among a few exclusive people that can have access to the king wherever he is.
The faithful hand of God is what’s being demonstrated here. Israel is promised to bring about the Messiah. The execution of the Jewish people, the eradication of the Jews throughout the Persian empire. The Persian empire had conquered the known world at the time. It would virtually eliminate the possibility, the lineage of the Messiah to come. But God was faithful to His promises and God delivered. The precedent of the story of Esther is important for us to hold on to as a precedent of the same faithful hand of God in our own lives. You plus God is always the majority no matter what you face in this world. Actually, God plus anything, regardless of you, is always the majority, but you get to enjoy that journey with Him.
Four traits of a powerful ministry. One is the faithful hand of God.
Number two is a gospel need a gospel need. We don’t simply do good things to simply do good things in this world. But God calls us into this world as a light for Him because of a need. And we’ve seen in the story to this moment that Esther has confronted Haman and His ill will towards the Jews before the king, and Xerxes has brought justice against Haman and the Lord has moved in that way to allow justice to come against Haman. But that didn’t end the story and the destruction that was brought against the Jews. And you start to see that in verse three and four, is this gospel need still emerging to the surface here. That, “Then Esther spoke again to the king, fell at his feet and wept and pleaded for his compassion to avert the evil scheme of Haman, the Agagite, and his plot, which he had devised against the Jews. And the king extended the golden scepter to Esther. So Esther got up and stood before the king.”
The king was so fixated on just the attack against Queen Esther, that to this point, they haven’t even begun to address that there was still a law being written to exterminate the Jewish people. So it wasn’t enough to simply remove Haman and his hatred for the Jews. There was also a law written by Haman on behalf of the king to eradicate the Jewish people from the Persian empire. So to stop short of just simply taking out Haman would be selfish on Esther’s part, to just simply accept that deliverance. So Esther steps out once again, and she puts her life on the line to come before the king and request on behalf of the Jewish people.
This wasn’t easy here. She is potentially laying it all down again. There’s a little bit of debate here I should tell you, as whether or not the same risk that Esther took the first time she came before the king without being asked to appear before the king, if she’s taken that same risk again, because you see the king raising his scepter again. Had he not raised that scepter, the question is, what would’ve happened to Esther? And Esther could be risking her life. Some say, “Well, this is not as risky as before. She’s already been allowed in the king’s presence in this conversation, so she would’ve been accepted.” What the king is actually letting her do is he’s sort of dubbing her as if she’s to be like a picture of a knight, to be knighted. She’s allowed to now stand in front of the king and share what her request is. And others think, “Well, there’s still a little bit of risk if the king had not raised his scepter. But either way, Esther is putting herself out there and it’s not easy.
It’s not always easy to pursue the path after the Lord. It can cost you. So in order to do that, you have to determine the worth, and for Esther, it’s, this gospel need. Her people are at great risk. I mean, the coming of the promised, the Messiah, if the Jews are eradicated, that’s at risk. And seeing the need, she’s determined that her own life is, she just wants to put that out there for the sake of the Lord and her people that they can find freedom again and be able to thrive in what God has called them to.
When I think of a picture like this, I consider our own ministry here at Alpine Bible. Every once in a while I’ll get asked the question, “If you knew everything now when you started the church back then would you have, would you have started ABC?” “If you knew then what you know now, would you have done that?” And I like to pretend to be very spiritual about that question, but unfortunately it only takes me about half of a second to think of the answer. And the answer very clearly is no, no way. I know some of you might, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound very godly of you, that you would say.” “If you had known then what you know now, would you start the church? I say, “No, never. I would never do that.” But just hear me out on this, because I realize that sounds awful.
The reality is if you knew 20 years ago, everything that you would go through over the course of the next 20, 30, 40 years, nobody in this room is going to get up out of bed with the energy they need to tackle the day. The life lives that we lead, if you think back over the last decade, some of the things that you’ve endured, and you had to think about all of it in one moment, there is no way your soul could bear the weight of all of that. It’s like, if you knew everything you would have to do with your life at the beginning of your life, I mean just waking up out of bed and standing up would feel like a victory. And I think the same is true with any of us. I’m following after what the Lord Jesus says, “Sufficient is the worries of today.” Don’t carry yesterday on your shoulders and don’t worry about tomorrow. Be faithful to God with where you are.
And I think this is what Esther is doing in this moment. She sees the need and she knows she’s got the faithful hand of God who’s given her this new identity in Him, and she’s just being faithful to the moment. They’ve addressed the imediacy of Mordecai’s life, as Haman desired to kill Mordecai, but now they’re moving on beyond that moment and they’re looking to the idea of the Jewish people in their lives being spared. If you think about what Esther has endured, I mean, Esther had plenty of reason to give up, to just think, “This battle is to too hard.” We know from the story she was adopted by Mordecai, so there was a struggle early on in her life. We’ve seen in the story that Mordecai seems to have just turned her over to the Persian empire, to a king who had a helm of well over a thousand women.
And then when she’s married to king Xerxes, Xerxes has a helm of a thousand women. And this guy’s got all kinds of problems. Every time you read a story about him, he is lit drunk within the context of the scripture. And he’s either way happy or completely angry. And at one point in the story, just recently we find out, it’s been over 30 days since Esther has even talked to the king. She’s got all kinds of struggles in her marriage. Her people, what they’re going through is devastating for her to even step out is to risk her own life by coming before this king. And she’s in her early twenties. Every reason the world to say, “Too much, too much.” But she looked to the faithful hand of God and she saw the need of her people. And she began to realize that to even be in the situation she was as the queen in Persia, that God’s hand had already been on her. That’s why we get the theme for Esther, “For such a time as this.” For such a time as this and her compassion for her people and relationship to her Lord, drove her to take this stand.
I want to think about Esther and all that she endured to follow after the Lord. I think the question maybe for me, and maybe for you is what’s your excuse? What holds you back? In verse five, she goes on and she said, “If it pleases the king and if I have found favor before him and the matter seems proper to the king and I’m pleasing in his sight, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces.”
She wanted to counteract the law that Haman had written. she bases her discussion with the king on two thoughts. One, “I have found favor. So if you’re going to hate them, you’re hating me. But you like me, so don’t hate them.” She’s telling the king, “Don’t hate the Jews because I’m a Jew and you like me and I fell in favor in your eyes. We’re not who Haman said we were.” And so she pleads with favor. And then she just simply says to him, “If it seems proper. Let’s just think about what you’re about to do. You’re about to annihilate and exterminate people just simply for money.” That was Haman’s promise, was, “I’ll give you a lot of money if you let me kill these people.” She’s working through with the king to understand her people aren’t what Haman said they were. And just to let their lives be preserved seems right.
Then verse six, “For how can I endure to see the calamity which will befall my people. And how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred,” verse six. She could not bear, the compassion within her heart, to see this come upon her people. And so she laid down her comforts for their benefits. She risked her life. She served her enemy Haman, if you remember the story, two meals with the king before she went toe to toe with Haman over what was about to happen to her people. And she comes before the king twice, a risk to her life. You read a story like that, and I know I’ve joked with us and said, “I realize in this room, we are no Queens of Persia.” But in this world, every soul matters and there is life and death, and the balance. The reason Jesus gave His life, wasn’t just to say, “Hey, here’s a good example, so you go out and be good.” It was to rescue life from impending death and destruction and wrath from the holiness of God. If there were another way, Jesus would not give His life.
So every day we wake up as a representation of the Lord in this world, we have the opportunity to wage spiritual warfare on behalf of others. What we do in this world as God’s people is crucial. It is important. In fact, I would say there is nothing more important than what we have in our relationship with God and how we live it out in this world. Who you understand God to be matters, because it will determine how you choose to live your life.
When I think about what the context of Esther story looks like for us today, if I try to relate it in a practical way, this young lady, her name is Katie Majors. Katie was a young girl, visited Africa when she was 18 years old. And when she got there, some of you may be familiar with her book, she wrote a book called Kisses from Katie. But when she got to Africa at 18 years old, she saw a tremendous need there, that by the time she was 23, she had already moved back to Africa and she became mother to 13 young ladies that had no mother. And she’s still in Africa today, just doing ministry for the sake of the Lord to the benefit of people, caring and loving them.
When I look at her story, just being a young lady 18 years old, in her early twenties moving to Africa. They said, the second time she went back to Africa, she just stayed. That’s a lot like Queen Esther. I mean, this is about where she is in her age and the willingness to see through the need and opportunity to let the gospel shine in her life. No doubt when you make a step like that, what you tend to think about as an individual is how inadequate you are for the call. Anything that you do for the Lord, if you don’t feel inadequate, I can tell you’re not depending on the Lord the right way.
I wake up every day as a minister, and I say, “What in the world am I doing?” But there’s a health to that kind of question. It’s to recognize that in anything I do for God, it’s got to be in the strength of the Lord. And the same thing’s true. There’s nothing special about me, any different from you and your relationship with God, it’s just to recognize the greatness of who our God is and the need within this world, and say, “Enough is enough.” Someone has to do something. If it’s me that recognizes it, then why in the world is it not me?
And so, see the significance of the story where she in this moment is standing up on behalf of her people, because the desperation [La Niña 00:23:13]. I love this, how she’s crying out before the king. She’s not just emotionally charged and just using the emotions of the moment to manipulate this, her heart is bought into this. She was very methodical in how she approached the king through this process. The story goes on verse seven.
“So king Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew. Behold, I have given the house of Haman to Esther and they have hanged on the gallows because he has stretched out his hands against the Jews.” So king starts to say, “I want you to consider what I’ve done for you so far. I mean, it’s been a pretty good thing. You had this thing against Haman and I took out Haman. So you should be happy about that.” And then he comes with the bad news. He knows if you’re going to deliver a message, you always want to start with the good news. And then he comes with the bad news, verse eight. “Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and seal with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.”
So there’s some good news at first, but then there’s some bad news in this. He’s saying, “Write a law and seal it, because if you seal it, no one can break the law.” That sounds great. You got a problem with the law Haman wrote, write another law and seal it with the king seal because no one can break the king’s law. That’s good for Esther and Mordecai to be able to be given that privilege by the king to do that. But here’s the problem. Even the king can’t break the law that’s already been written. And the law that’s been written has been permission to all the Persian empire to exterminate the Jews.
And you see this even in the story of Daniel. If you remember, in the book of Daniel in chapter six when Daniel is taken to the lion’s den, Darius was tricked into throwing Daniel into the lion’s den by some people who had ill will towards Daniel under the Babylonian captivity. And so Daniel gets thrown into the lion’s den, and the king was torn because he couldn’t stop it because the king had written the law that inevitably led to Daniel being thrown in the lion’s den, but the king could not undo His law. So Daniel gets tossed into the lion’s den and he is there in chapter 6:8-12, or 8-15, I believe it is. He’s in the lion’s down a whole night. And the king comes in and checks on him. And after he’s spent time in the lion’s den, then he’s allowed to come out.
But under the Persian law and the Babylonian law, once a king sealed something with his signet ring, he couldn’t undo it. So Mordecai and Esther also have a challenge in front of them. How can you prevent this law that has been written.
Point number three, you need a willing servant. Esther and Mordecai have been given the opportunity to draft up another law to counter the law that’s been given. A good leader for the Lord doesn’t look at adversity and stop, but they see the adversity as another opportunity for God to demonstrate who He is in a new and fresh way. “God, this is the typical way we might handle this problem. But just because it’s a problem, doesn’t mean we stop from doing what you’ve called us to do. We’re just going to look for a new opportunity to do that.”
One of the things that I love about doing ministry here, it’s particularly in our church. In our Valley, there’s been a lack of mainstream Christian churches, and I’m always thankful when new churches come into our Valley and the opportunity it presents for the Valley. But one of the things that I love special about our story is when I consider churches that come in, a lot of times when churches start, they come with a lot of money and resources. And that’s not been our history. We’ve had people that have helped us from the outside along the way. And I don’t want be removed from that idea and act like we’ve been completely independent in everything that we’ve done, but we’ve labored and fought for everything we’ve had as a congregation in a way that’s different than a lot of churches that come here. We’ve built from the ground up as God’s people. It’s one of the things I love about our church, it’s hardworking, dedicated, love Jesus people.
We’ve had people even come to visit us that looks at what we’ve done together and what the Lord has worked through us to accomplish. And people have described it this way, they see us and they see the mountains. People that aren’t from here, they love to look at the mountains and they’ll say, “And the Lord has literally hummed out of a rock, a church to be in this Valley.” I love that. We didn’t use… I mean, every church, if you ask, them what they want, they want more money and a bigger building. “We just need more space for more ministry.” And we do, we would love that as well, but it doesn’t stop us from thinking, “But how can the Lord use us where we are? What can we do?”
Hey, I think about the early church and they didn’t have any resources. But they were just dedicated to Christ just this 12 rag tags, sold out disciples for the Lord. A lot of them not really that educated, and they were just faithful to Jesus. They trusted in a big God and they served Him. And God did some incredible things. And through that, God gets the glory. It’s the same with us that the Lord just has willing servants. The beautiful thing is that he can do… And I got to move quicker here. Verse nine. “So the king scribes were summoned at that time in the third month, that is, the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and it was written in accordance with everything that Mordecai commanded the Jews, the satraps, the governors, and the officials of all the provinces, which extended from India to Kush, 127 provinces, to every province, according to its script, and to every people according to the language, as well as to the Jews according to their script and their language.”
What he’s saying is they wrote this law and they made sure this law was communicated so well that it went into every province in, into every language. The mark of a good leader really its good communication. They didn’t leave anyone with the excuse of ignorance. No one could say, “Oh, I’m sorry I killed the Jewish person. I didn’t see the law.” They made sure everyone was delivered this law. And not only did they make sure everyone was delivered this law, this time, something different. When Haman translated it, he translated it into every language except for the Jews, except in Hebrew. But now in the story, you’re finding that they’re translating into Hebrew.
This is beautiful, because this is saying that they’re taking the time to write the law in the language of the people who are in the greatest desperation. They want to meet them where they are and communicate hope. They want to come to them. They do the lead work to reach them and love them as Jesus loves them. This beautiful example for God’s people to think of the freedom, the message that you carry. And don’t expect people to come to you, go to them. I think gone are the days where people give the benefit of the doubt to church. In America’s past, because you were church, there were certain things of trust assumed to you, but we’ve kind of gotten to the days in America, and we’re in one of the more religious places in America, where people have been and banned religiously and they don’t walk through the door saying, “Here’s all my trust. Take it.” In some way you’ve got to be willing to earn trust, to take the time to meet people where they are and love them as Jesus would love them. And I think it’s a beautiful model for us to think about how we engage people in this world.
And he goes on in verse 10. He says this, he says, “He wrote in the name of King Xerxes, and sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horses, riding on Royal relay horses, off offspring of racing mares.” He’s saying, “Not only do we see the importance of this message, but we want to make sure it was done the right way and got there efficiently and communicated the best we could do it.” He went with the best of the best to make sure that this job got done right. When you think about doing ministry, it’s like you serve the Lord. There is no one greater than the Lord you serve in this world. God doesn’t want us to give Him our scraps. In fact, by offering God just leftovers that we might have in the world, we’re communicating what we think about God.
And there’s nothing more beautiful in this world than the way that you nurture a soul, and to take time to do your best at it. I’m not saying it needs to be lavished with extravagant and you go into dead, all of that, but I’m just saying, when we take a step to do things for the Lord, we want to make sure we do it well because it’s honoring to God. Giving of our best and the way that we communicate and love and care. And it’s also communicating how we see the value of a another human being who’s made in the image of God. Which brings me to this, and this is probably one of the more important things I could say today.
If you don’t know what this car is, this is a McLaren. And if I’ve ever given you an excuse to buy a McLaren, let it be right now. This car, minimum, you need at least $200,000 to purchase this car. That’s the cheapest McLaren you can buy. But when I think about verse 10, when they’re delivering this letter, they’re delivering it on the most expensive animal they can to communicate, to the point that when this letter rolls into town, they tack this law up, everyone in town’s going to stop and look at this horse go by because it’s the most extravagant horse in all of the kingdom.
It would be like delivering this law in the McLaren. I know what it’s like to have a McLaren go past you, because somehow on I-15 I’m always the lucky guy that gets to see the other guy driving this car down the road. But what they drive down the road, I don’t know about you, but I have two thoughts when I see a McLaren go by me on I-15. Well, probably a few thoughts. One is, why are you driving this car on I-15? If one rock hit this car, I would be in tears if it were mine. This is my house on wheels, or at least my house in 2018 on wheels. I think I could buy three of these now.
But the McLaren goes by you, when I see it, my two prayers are, “Lord, don’t let the cops see me as I pull up my phone to record this. I don’t want to get a ticket. And Lord, as I record this, please don’t let me hit this because I would be bankrupt for the rest of my life if I crash into McLaren.” But when this car passes you you know this car is pass you. And one of my favorite things is to see how well I can keep up with my little Mitsubishi as this car goes by. It’s like, I’m a McLaren in heart, but not on the outside. But the point is, when things go by you, this extravagant, you notice it. The same thing when this law was written. When this law was given to Israel and through the Persian empire, it was done in such a way that they recognized it.
It was special in its care. Now, if you can justify your need to serve Jesus by buying a McLaren, more power to you. I’m not promoting, goodbye McLaren. But what I am promoting is this, see those moments of honoring Jesus as sacred moments, and treat them special, that when people interact with you, it’s as if they interacted with the love of Christ directly with them. That’s how important people are to the Lord. That’s why Jesus gave His life.
I’m going to move on. Verse 11, “In the letters the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, kill and eliminate the entire army of any people of any province, which was going to attack them, including children, women, and to plunder their spoils.”
I could say a lot about this. Let me just say a few things quickly as you think about being willing to serve the Lord. They’re allowed to write a law to defend themselves. They don’t write a law to say the extermination law can’t count anymore, but rather they’re allowed to write a law to say, “If anyone tries to exterminate, you can fight and defend yourself. You can protect yourself.” And you may hear that and be like, “How is just a little Jewish group in Persia going to stand against everyone in Persia?” And I’ll just remind you that this is seen as the King’s law. So knowing that the king has now written this law to try to live up to Haman’s law, that was written under the king’s authority, is now to go in against the king who desires this law. So even though it’s just the Jews defending themselves to stand up for the other law, rather than this new law is to stand against what the king’s heart is at the moment. So it could be seen as an attack against the king himself. So they write this law to protect themselves.
The other question we could ask is, “Why is there so much killing in the Old Testament?” You read this about the Jewish people, if you’re in the book of Deuteronomy, you probably see that now. Like Moses, the speech, they’re talking about going to the promised land and conquering. I’m not going to do this justice by telling you these answers very quickly, but let me just say this, “The Agagite, Haman, who wrote this law against the Jewish people, the Agagites have been a thorn in the side of Israel for a thousand years. For a thousand years, they have stood right next to Israel and they have been persecuting them, attacking them and killing them. It’s taken a thousand years for this justice to be executed against king Haman. That God has been more than patient to the people that have hated Israel and gone after them.
When you’re reading the Old Testament about the people that Israel comes against for the Lord, like Deuteronomy seven, it tells them to remove the people from the land, it tells them to kill men, women, and children. It tells them to kill them all. But then it goes on after that and it gives certain things on how to treat the foreigners and how to do business with people from that land. And I say all that to say, “Why in the world would God write a law on how to treat foreign people to your people and how to do business with foreign people or the people in the land if God expected them to kill them?” It’s like saying this, that the Old Testament speaks in hyperbole, meaning the Jazz played last night and they play on Monday. They play the Bucks on Monday. I hope they destroy the Bucks. I hope they kill and annihilate and destroy the Bucks. I don’t mean that literally, but I really really hope they do. I don’t mean that literally, I’m speaking in hyperbole, meaning I want them to have victory.
I think God is saying the same thing to the Jewish people, which is why they also have laws in how they deal with foreign people in the land to honor them, care for them, love them, but God is warning them not to embrace their teaching. The reason God is executing judgment, if you’re reading Deuteronomy seven, he tells Israel, “I’m sending you into the land not because you’re good, it’s because the people are so bad.” That’s what he says. And in Leviticus 18, it talks about how they have been sacrificing children to Molech and other sins. In Deuteronomy chapter 12, I believe as well, it talks about sacrificing in various ways that are completely dishonoring and ruins life or even takes life. So it is the judgment of God, but God’s judgment had been delayed for hundreds of years before it was executed.
I’m not saying that it’s perfect, but I’m not saying God also… It is perfect in God’s will, but I’m not saying… It’s messy in this story. It’s certainly messy. That’s what I mean to say, it’s messy in the way that it’s done. And I think this is last resort for the Lord, but it’s for the preservation of life. God is wanting to honor life, not degrade life. And so Israel stands to protect themselves here in verse 13.
And then he gives reason for, he says, “A copy of this edict to be issued as law in each and every province was published to all the peoples, so that Jews would be ready for this day to avenge themselves on their enemies.”
He wants to give Israel just the ability to stand for themselves. It’s the same thing for us, we’re not here to be God to people. There’s one and He is already good enough at it. And I’m not here to be your Holy Spirit to convict you. There’s one, He’s already good at it. But I do want to point people to Jesus and then give them the opportunity to stand on their own, to walk with the Lord and grow in him. But a willing servant is what he needs.
And the last is this, there is a great reward. There’s a great reward. In verse 15-17, “Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the kings in a royal robe of violet and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. For the Jews there was light, joy, jubilation, and honor. In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree arrived, there was joy and jubilation for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews because the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.”
It was no longer not popular to be a Jew, it was now popular to become a Jew, and that’s what you see in this story. But Mordecai for us becomes a picture of redemption of a greater reward in the Lord. Remember who he was before this, he was a man being judged for death. The sentence of death was on him. In the gracious hand of God, he’s been redeemed and he’s been elevated. He becomes a picture of the gospel that God does the same for us, that we are under the wrath of God because of our sin. And there’s no good you can do in this world to take that wrath off. You can choose to be perfect from this moment forward, but in your life, there is sin. And unless that sin is forgiven by God, there is judgment.
But thanks be to God that He would give His life for you. That He would come and pay for your sin, that you could put your faith in Him and find yourself in completely new redeemed, forgiven creature, adopted into God’s kingdom and referred to as a child of God. If you, by faith would trust in Christ, it becomes this beautiful picture of redemption and not only a redemption in the life of my Mordecai as God works in His life, God works through His life to become a blessing to other people. To the point, at the end of Esther 3:15, if you remember when this first law was written by Haman, it said, Haman and Xerxes once the law is written, Haman and Xerxes get together and have another drinking party. But the city of Susa is agitated because they don’t know what to do. They can understand that the leadership before them is leading them down the right path, and they don’t know what to follow and how to obey. They’re in all this confusion. But a person of God steps into this moment, and they honor the Lord and they show the value of another human being. And through that, there’s jubilation through the Persian empire, because someone has directed them to truth. Someone was willing to show them something greater in this world that transcends this world, goes into eternity.
Mordecai becomes that example, being a willing servant, looking towards a greater reward. When we think about a powerful ministry, it’s those four components, a faithful God, a gospel need, a willing servant, focus on the greater reward. And when God’s people grab ahold of that, it becomes dangerous what they can do in the Valley for Him.