God can and will use you in a mighty way if you are faithful to Him.

 

On Memorial Day the flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

 

This weekend, we pause to remember countless American heroes who gave their lives in service to our country. From Bunker Hill to Baghdad, brave men and women have paid the ultimate price to secure freedom not only for their fellow Americans, but also for countless souls in distant lands where liberty was an otherwise unattainable dream. Memorial Day is a sobering reminder that freedom is not free; it comes with a price. If not for the sacrifice of America’s fallen heroes, forces of oppression could have extinguished freedom’s light long ago.  Our nation owes an eternal debt to its fallen heroes for the freedom they protected. On this important holiday we must remember those who took up a cause much greater than themselves, and ultimately perished so that freedom never would.  The heroine of our Bible reading today did not perish but she was willing to in order to save her countrymen.

 

 

Queen for a Day

Esther

 

Queen Esther – a young Jewish orphan girl who was taken against her will but ultimately chosen to be Queen.

God’s favor was on her in the midst of being in exile and being taken into the King’s harem.

Let’s start at the end – Esther became Queen and had power to make requests and make decisions.

 

What would you do if you were Queen for a day?

What government policies would you change?  What initiatives would you begin?

You may not be the Queen of a nation but you still have power to make a difference in the world around you.

God can and will use you in a mighty way if you are faithful to Him.

 

Esther was living in exile in the Persian city of Susa with her cousin Mordecai since her parents died.  The year was 480 BC, this is 36 years after the Second Temple was finished in Jerusalem and 58 years after Zerubbabel had gone back to Jerusalem at the command of Cyrus, King of Persia.

 

An interesting fact about the book of Esther is that God’s name is never mentioned.  Some people make a big deal about that fact. Truth is God’s name might not be mentioned but His fingerprints are everywhere in the book.  People are called to fast, people put on sackcloth and ashes, and Mordecai has faith that deliverance for the Jews will arise.  God is present even if He is not mentioned by name.

 

After King Xerxes returns from a 3 year failed battle with Greece his attendant suggests a beauty contest to find him a new wife.  So the king commissioned beautiful young virgins to be brought to his harem in Susa.

 

Esther 2:8  When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9  The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem. 10  Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11  Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

 

Mordecai was worried about his adopted daughter – like any parent worried about their kids – she had been taken from him and he was concerned about her welfare.  God was watching over her and she found favor in the eyes of the one in charge.  Sometimes we get confused about how God works – God could have prevented Esther from being taken but God was using the situation to save His people.  That is why it is important to trust God and pray that His will be done.  God works in and through the worst of circumstances.

 

Esther was being pampered and prepared to meet the King – 12 months of beauty treatments – six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics.

She also had 7 maids to help her and take care of her.

She could have refused to be taken and to be a part of the Kings harem and she would have been killed.  She took the abuse of being taken and to spend the night with the king.  She was moved from the harem to the concubines but soon the King called her by name and made her Queen.   I am not condoning the pagan culture of Persia or Israel that had similar practices.  That was not God’s design –

Matthew 19:4  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

 

King Xerxes did not have a Queen because he banished Queen Vashti when she refused to be paraded in front of all the king’s officials.

Esther 1:2  At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, …4  For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. … 10  …when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him …11  to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12  But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

 

That is a long party – 180 days, 6 months – that is a Persian party – he threw a party showing how wealthy he was – during this time they were also planning there invasion into Greece.  Persians believed that when they were intoxicated they were in closer touch with the spiritual world.

 

The Queen refused to be humiliated this way by being used as an object of beauty.

How depraved must a husband be to treat his wife like that?

Husband we are to love our wives and treat them consideration.

 

1 Peter 3:7  Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

 

Treat them like the precious, valuable tea cup that they are not as some old Tupperware cup.

 

Ephesians 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

 

How did Christ love the church?  He sacrificed His life for the church.  So we are to love our wives with the same kind of sacrifice.

 

If Christian men treated their wives like that maybe the world would not accuse us of be misogynist.  Christ does not hate women and the Bible doesn’t teach hate.  Yes, the Bible says women need to submit – but how?

 

Ephesians 5:22  Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 

Christ doesn’t abuse or look down upon His church.  Submission does not make wives inferior or of less value.  Submission shows that each of us – men and women have authority over us.

 

Maybe men treat their wives without love out of fear of not gaining respect.  So they abuse and rule with an iron fist.  That is not what the Bible teaches but it is what Christians are accused of.  We are accused of acting like the King and nobles of Persia.

 

Esther 1:22  He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, proclaiming in each people’s tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household.

 

Vashti refused the command of a King – men you are not a king and even if you were you should not lord it over your wife.

 

Jesus talked about leadership – the world’s style vs His example.

Matthew 20:25  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– 28  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

The nobles had a legitimate fear but their answer was not the Godly solution.

Esther 1:17  For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18  This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

 

The solution is this:

Ephesians 5:33  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

 

Husbands loving serve your wives, wives respect your husbands.  Discuss how you can love or respect and then work on it so your marriage will be strengthened.

No one has to earn your love – just love   /     No one has to earn your respect – just respect

If I have to earn your respect then you have to earn my love.  That is not Biblical

Sometimes your wife makes it easier to love her but even when she is unlovable –

Love her anyway.

Sometimes your husband makes it easier to respect him but even when he is not respectable –

Respect him anyway

 

Back to the main focus of the Book of Esther – it is the story and the meaning behind the Jewish Feast of Purim.

The feast was not command by God like the Passover Feast or the Feast of Tabernacles but it was and is still an important feast to the Jews.  It is a feast to celebrate their deliverance from hate and annihilation.  There has always been racism and anti-Semitism.

Last December, the French Prime Minister said anti-Semitic acts and threats have more than doubled in the past 10 months and called for the authorities to ensure that “none of them goes unpunished.”

The French President during his New Year’s Eve speech said that the fight against racism and anti-Semitism will be his national cause for 2015.

Haman’s attitude is one in the long line of hatred toward the Jews.  We may think that Haman didn’t like the Jews just because Mordecai would not bow down to him (Esther 3:5, 6).  Haman was descendent of Agag, King of the Amalekites.  The Amalekites fought against Israel as they came out of Egypt (Exodus 17:8).  Saul was to destroy them but he didn’t.

1 Samuel 15:2  This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3  Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'”

 

Haman was in a powerful position to exact revenge.  Revenge is never the answer as Haman found out.  There needs to be an end to racism – we need to understand that we are all one race – every person on earth can trace their family line back to Noah and then back to Adam and Eve.

 

What we see in the world today is racism, based on skin color and nationality and religious racism, based on what you believe.

 

In the face of racism and persecution Esther and Mordecai stood strong and relied upon God for strength.

Esther did not want to die by going to before the King to save her people.  She was afraid, that is why she called for a fast and then she was willing.  We hear her courage.

 

Esther 4:15  Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16  “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

 

That has been the attitude of the thousands of soldiers who have given their lives in the defense of this great nation.  “I will go and if I perish, I perish.”

 

Esther did not perish and neither did the Jews – Haman’s plan was stopped – Satan’s plan to destroy the line of David and prevent the Messiah from coming was thwarted.   The Jews went from sackcloth and ashes to rejoicing and giving gifts of food.

 

What looked like sure death and destruction turned out to be a time of joy.

The disciples felt the same way and we often do also.

 

John 16:20  I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. …22  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. …33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

Be faithful like Esther and Mordecai – pray and fast – know that God will deliver.

Know God has delivered.

 

Jesus died on the cross to deliver us from sin – Satan wants to destroy us but we have been rescued by the blood of Jesus.

 

Will you put your trust in Him today?

Jesus gave His life so that you could live forever in freedom.

Will you submit your life to Him?  Will you repent of your sins and be baptized into Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins?

 

Come as we sing