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Continuing the Courage Series, Brendon McMinn brings us a sermon based on the incredible story of Esther. Covering the whole book of Esther, this sermon explores many lessons around God's providence and His continuous work in our lives even in times of exile.

Brendon McMinn


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This morning as we mentioned earlier we're looking at Esther and if you were here last week you would have remembered that kin so aptly uh preached on Ezekiel and I said a silent prayer when he got that book and not me I'd actually been sharing with him just a few weeks after they all got allocated and I said man I've been reading through Ezekiel in my daily readings and it's been a Barren better reading for me I really struggled through it each day it was a long long book to read but Hakeem did a great job so Esther actually comes after Ezekiel chronologically and we're looking about 150 years later okay so after Ezekiel if you remember from last week we heard how Nebuchadnezzar had exiled the Israelites and they were they were they were out into different areas well Esther when we look at Esther we can see that Esther is in not in her native country she's in Persia isn't she so when versus uh chapter 2 verses five to seven we we hear about Esther and the fact that she's an orphan and that she has been adopted by her cousin Mordecai and that they're Jews that are living in Exile in Susa which was the capital of Persia they're from The Tribe of Benjamin and we know that uh that she was very young and very beautiful and most scholars believe that she was in her mid to early teens when this story actually happened so she was a young woman of God when this happened her original name was not Esther her original name was Hadassah but as a Jew living in Persia she probably adopted a Persian name the Persian name of Esther in order to fit in a bit better and the name of the meaning of the name um ishta is star so remember that because we'll look at that later on so we also learned from those scriptures that um that she's probably about a fourth generation Exile living in in Persia so the Jews had been there for a while also in the story of Esther now I'm not sure I I I'm going to ask for a hands up here actually because I'm a little bit confused I don't know do you guys read the Bible readings the week before the sermon put your hands up if you do that I'm interested in that okay now put your hands up if you read the Bible readings the week after the sermon yeah it's confusing now I've never really worked out which way is the better way probably the week before but if you haven't read it so hopefully today gives you a little bit of an encouragement to get into it this week so also um in in the story of Esther we hear about King Xerxes or his other name was I'll try and say this as a herus and he was ruling in Persia at the time and uh he's pretty much known as the party King and if you've read or are going to be reading Esther you'll see that he threw a big party to show how great and how Mighty he was and I don't know about you but I don't think I could have lasted the length of this party because the party went for 180 days 180 days they had a party that's one world party and the whole reason he had the party was to show how great and how Mighty he was and how green and mighty the Persia that he ruled over was and then at the end of that party because 180 days wasn't enough he said I'll throw another party and this time the first party was for pretty much all the wealthy people but this last party ran for a week it was only a short just a quick Splurge you know only a week-long party and he said this open to everybody everybody in the city come in and we're going to have a big party just to show how great I am again look at me and uh so that's the sort of King that he was but he's also considered to be one of the most disreparable Persian kings and uh and a womanizer and obviously a partier and he's known to have emptied emptied the riches of Persia throughout his Reign just because he wasted so much money so king xerx is not really a great fellow but as we get look at Esther there's probably five things that I believe we can glean from it and the first thing is I've got to remember to push this because I tend to forget and so you might get a few in a hurry okay Dylan did say you have to break the first thing that we can look at when you see when we look at Esther is God's Providence what is God's Providence this is God not only creating but also sustaining his creation the idea that God is present and active even when we can't see him at work this is an important thing to remember when we look at the Book of Esther because you know the Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention God it's the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention God John Piper puts it this way it may or may not come up there John Piper in one of his books talking about God's Providence says God never simply sees without acting he is God he is not a passive participant in a world that exists without us sustaining it wherever God is looking God is acting if God perceives he performs if he inspects he effects when God sees he sees two he's his scene is always with a view to doing where he patrols he controls so there's a whole lot of all the same there wasn't it God is a god that is involved not a God that said everything emotion and step back but a god that is involved when we talk about God's Providence we talk about the fact that God's hand is at work every day all the time continually involved with what we're doing Understanding God's Providence is pivotal is pivotal to how we approach everyday life knowing that God is always working around us and in us and through us should change the way that we look at life in general shouldn't it should change it I prayfully hope it does for all of us when things don't go the way we expect how do we react do we seek to blame others do we seek to change what has happened in that situation or do we look at what we can achieve through this situation do we look at how we can bless those in this situation regardless sometimes we forget that God is at work and we get stuck in the right the things that are in our face we forget to look at the bigger picture we forget to realize that God is working even if we can't see it even if we can't feel it another aspect to be aware of especially through the story of Esther is that not everything that happens is God's plan or will due to the fact that this human nature in free will heyman's a perfect example Haman as you'll read in the story had desires to climb the ladder and Haman was very self-important and he seeked to gain higher places and Haman haman's desire was to climb the ladder and I have no doubt that if Haman didn't end his life didn't end the way it does in the story I have no doubt that in the end he would have tried to get rid of Xerxes and become the King of Persia Heyman was aiming for for Great Heights and expected everybody to Bow before him yet God used haman's actions and haman's thoughts to fulfill his plan in the end in the end God will win through so this is God's Providence him who created all is constantly working within his creation and his work to bring across his design and his purposes that is God's Providence he is at work okay the next one is let your character shine you know we know that Esther was young and she was orphaned and she was living in a Strange Land but she was also a Jew and if you've started the written if you read this story you'll know that that Mordecai her cousin said don't let it be known that you're a Jew now that didn't mean that she didn't live out her life as the Jewish people did just try to imagine how hard it must have been for her as a teenage girl in a Strange Land suddenly not choosing to be picked but she was picked to go into this pretty much beauty pageant and uh and she was then amongst a whole bunch of other young women and they spent a whole year being groomed in order to go before the king to be Cho for a new Queen to be chosen imagine how they must have felt how she must have felt in this situation she was taken away from the life she ate she knew living in the surrounds of the city and suddenly thrust into the into the the courts the king's courts and into our life that she wasn't used to just imagine how hard it must have been for her yet through all of that we read in the in in the story of Esther that she found favor in the eyes of all who were around her in fact as soon as she went into the into the uh I call it a beauty pageant but into this uh this this time with all the other girls where they were getting groomed and pruned she found favor with the uh the head guy head guy who was in charge of it so much so that he gave her a separate area and gave her her own Mage to look after her above most of the other girls so she found favor and it was just her living her character shine through in verse in chapter 2 verse 15 we read she found she won a favor for all who saw her today return that is living their character shine through no matter what happens in our lives we can choose to let situations bring us down or we can choose to be the people that God's made us be Easter she remained true to herself and she was herself she didn't try to be anything different she was just the woman of God that that God had designed her to be and in that process she was shining amongst a whole lot of other women now I imagine all the other woman in there in that uh that that beauty pageant um would have been beautiful woman as well but something more of Esther Shone through not just physical Beauty but inner beauty it's Shone through because she was living herself be herself she wasn't trying to change anything it goes on to meet King Xerxes and impresses him so much so that she becomes Queen it must have been an amazing situation wouldn't it going from someone working outside the outside the city just every day humble person to suddenly becoming Queen we hear stories of that where where people become a merry marry into royal families and it changes their lives this changed Easter's life but something we've got to remember is that although Xerxes made her Queen of Persia the rest of the concubines didn't go away the rest of the concubines were still there and as we read the story of Esther we realized that Esther although she was Queen She had she wasn't considered anywhere near on par with the King then in fact she was an ornamental Queen wasn't she she was some window dressing if you'd like for King Xerxes and as we read the story of Esther we see later on when Mordecai is is encouraging her to go before the king and she actually says I haven't seen the king the king for a month now the king hasn't called upon me to to go into his court for a month so even as the queen she lived totally separate to the king so we have to understand that situation because it even more makes what she does later in the story more amazing because although she was in the Royal Palace she was well aside from the king's everyday operations and things in in really I wonder how high he held her esteem in his theme so she had a very fragile position there you know throughout the Bible we often think of Bible greats and uh they appear to have superhuman Powers don't they we look at people in the New Testament like Paul and those guys and we just think wow they were amazing people they were so so strong in their faith and they they went and did things that that an average person can't do and even as we look at the Book of Esther we could say the same thing couldn't we we could say you know Easter was an amazingly strong woman and she stood up when when uh when the chips were against her and yet you know what in the end of the day Esther was a normal everyday person just like you and me but she had a little bit of a difference to those in the world around her and that she had faith in her God she had history with God she had a relationship with God and she knew that her God could do amazing things that needs to be the same with you and I in our daily walks we may be ordinary people but we can do amazing things if we trust in our God and we understand that our God can do all things this gives me hope and I and I hope it gives you hope too that that God can use us in amazing ways Beyond ways that we could ever think possible Justin aside well Esther was in the courts um preparing uh preparing in the beauty page and preparing it's important to remember that a cousin Mordecai who was outside because you've got the inner the inner City if you like where the king lived and then you've got the greatest City and uh he was outside there and every day it's important to remember every day he was supporting Esther he was going to the to the as far as he could into the the walls where the where the king's uh family lived in that and he was asking the servants how was Easter going is she okay he was supporting her he was supporting her and that's an it's an important little thing to remember because he was making sure that she was okay he was still there and he was supporting her in the background is this action to go before the king was an uncle called off thing because in those days you didn't just rock up and say hey I've got something I want to talk to you about King if you did that you would usually be cut down so it was an amazing thing to do to go it was out of the ordinary um but we need to find he does to do that and goes before the king it was the relationship that she'd been able to build and the in the time that she'd been here with the king and the respect that the king had for her that he accepted her and allowed her to come and talk to him so that that again is letting her character shine through she had built in I don't know how often the king saw about in the short time she built enough of a rapport with him that he said yeah come and talk to me no worries an average Joe blogs walking into their Court Polly would have been kicked out or struck down so Esther's character definitely enabled her to be where she was and I remember earlier I talked about her name the meaning of her name star in this story she's shining like a star her character is shining like a star throughout the whole story and it's very apt that she took on the name Esther isn't it I wonder if that was just a coincidence I don't think so is this life doesn't sound very easy when you think about it she lost appearance her family historically was kicked out of their home the city or a country and they're in another country and then suddenly she's picked her for this beauty pageant and she's made Queen she's got a hard hard life but you know what it all culminated in that moment when she went before the king and she brought forth talked about her Nation about the Juris nation and how they were going to get wiped out it all came to that point when her life had repeated for that very moment what about us do we acknowledge in our lives every day that what happens whether it be good or bad or indifferent that that's part of us being growing into the person that God wants us to be that all of our past experiences actually help us to be the person we are today and enable us to have the strength and maybe the weaknesses in our lives so that we can call on God and rely on God and trust God when we get in tough situations that's what happened here to Esther she had such a relationship with God that in the in the situation she was thrust into she was able to trust in him and to and to act on what was needed no courage is being able to trust in God courage isn't drawing on any strength courage is just trusting in God and as we read in scripture we don't even need much courage hey we only need the faith of a mustard seed the size of a mustard seed they're not very big probably not keeping up here sorry um yeah there we go the next one we're going to look at is why such hatred in this story we read about the side there's a Side Story going on we're hearing about Easter but remember the story of Mordecai the cousin and the fact that Haman who was the king sick and in charge and he was a very important guy demanded that everybody would bow before him when he walked around the city and we hear in the story that Haman that Mordecai refused to Bow before Haman and this got on this got on heyman's Goat just a little bit in fact Haman really really started to dislike Mordecai in a big way to the point that Haman starts to plot against Mordecai in the story and says I don't like this guy because he doesn't bow down before me I'm gonna make sure that he meets the nasty end and so he plots to to kill Mordecai and then he finds out that Mordecai is Jewish as well and uh and that makes it even worse if you remember earlier I said that Mordecai and Esther were descendants of The Tribe of Benjamin and and obviously Jews and if we look back in scripture um Haman is actually an aggregate in that sort of scene that of the amalekites lots of weird names here now if we go back in in this in in history the amalekites God instructed King Saul to kill all the amalekites I don't know if you remember their story he sent us all out and he said I want you to wipe out the the amalekites completely because they are they're so evil just wipe them out and if you remember the story Saul disobeyed he didn't follow God's orders to the T he did not wipe out the amalekites now here later well because of that Saul lost his rule because he didn't obey God completely God said you're not worthy to rule and and the story of Saul we know that he lost it but here further down in history and is the story we see that there's still a rift between the descendants of the amalekites and this and the Jewish people Heyman does not like Jews so Haman in the story decides we're going to get rid of not only one Jew but we're going to get rid of all of the Jews and uh we see in the story that he he plots with the King to wipe out the Jews and the king is such a wishy-washy guy he's very easily swayed and so he he signs a decree that says that all the Jews in Persia are going to be going to be wiped out isn't it genocide it is all of the Jews it's pretty serious all of the Jews are going to get wiped out so Haman has such a hatred because he was wanting to climb a ladder he's wanting to get higher up but all through this Mordecai stood for his faith he wouldn't bow down before Haman not because he didn't like Haman but because he promised not to bow before anybody but God so so Mordecai was just following his faith all through this Mordecai was remaining true to his faith what does it mean for you and me how do we remain true to our faith what do we do in everyday life what does it mean at home or at work or when we're interacting with our neighbors how is God prompting us to act in our daily lives to live out our faith in practical ways are we even asking him or are we too busy getting on with life more to the point if we are asking him are we willing to act when he prompts us the story of Esther is the story of a young woman that was willing to act when God called her to step up it's interesting through the story all through the story of Esther neither Mordecai or ISTA ever seemed to return the hatred that Haman had for them we don't hear of them wanting to get revenge or speaking bad or anything like that they they remain silent and they remain true to their to their um their their beliefs the next one we're going to look at is who me what can I do this is a good one isn't it we talked earlier about Bible greats and uh I'm sure that Esther or we know through the story that is that she said to Mordecai what can I do you want me to do what when Mordecai said you need to go before the king and you need to tell him that the Jewish nation is going to get wiped out and is this first response was me you want me to do that I don't know about you but often I've felt that way in life as well when God prompts us to do something our initial reaction is really you want me to do that and what's our next reaction are you sure can you tell me that again God just give it to me a bit plainer I'm not sure I heard you right what was that so often we can say I can't do that I can't do that I'm not strong enough I don't have the words I'm not talented enough to do that it's why I don't dance up here in this story we see that Esther although she said to Mordecai you want me to do what she was obedient and she did it if we have a look at a couple of scriptures Isaiah 41 9 and 10 says I took you from the ends of the Earth from its furthest Corners I called you I said you are my servant I have chosen you and have not rejected you so do not fear me for I Am with You do not be dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen you and help you I will uphold you with my righteous right hand great Old Testament scriptures do not fear that I am with you do not be dismayed because I am your God so when we're in life situations that totally throw us sideways we need to go back to these sort of scriptures we need to go back to our understanding of who God is and understand that he is a God that can achieve all things he is a God that goes before us and a God that walks beside us not separated from us but right beside us if we have another look at a New Testament scripture Ephesians 2 10 says for we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do God's workmanship sometimes they don't feel like I'm God's workmanship or maybe I feel like he had a bad day when he created me maybe I was a Friday baby I don't know but you know what God doesn't make mistakes God's workmanship is always perfect we may not see ourselves as being perfect but God does God designed us and put each of us together exactly the way he wants us to be we don't need to be anything else or anyone else do we because each of us is an individual because God created us that way these two references solidify Esther's position these two Bible references sort of show us where Esther and Mordecai were in their faith God had chosen her and prepared her for this very moment when she needed to go before the king and in chapter 4 Mordecai encourages Esther to approach the king and um she's a bit fearful but in in verse 14 it sums it all up more this is what Mordecai sees to Esther for if you remain silent at this time relief in Deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place but you in your father's family will perish and who knows but that you have come to your Royal position for such a time as this for such a time is this I don't know if you've ever had conversations at EFG or with other believers about Divine appointments have you ever thought about that term Divine appointments this was a Divine appointment for Esther but you know what appointments ever every day of Our Lives God calls us to step up every day now every time at all times during the day earlier my brother was talking about eating and and getting and giving thanks when we eat and it made me realize that that God made me as a grazer that I can't survive on three meals a day I need about nine and I reckon that that's because I need to give thanks nine times a day not three times a day it's about the fact that God just doesn't turn up here and here and here and here but he's turning up all the time and so every day in our daily lives we need to be looking for these Divine appointments and we need to be ready to act it's like Esther was so the neat thing is when we look at the story of Easter that what does she do when she's given this really really uh wacky thing her cousin says I think you need to go before the king and you need to save the whole Jewish Nation it's quite a scary thing what does she do she freaks out a bird a she says who me but the next thing she says is she says to him can you go out and can you get all the Jewish people in the city to fast and I will do the same and I'll get all my maids to do the same and we'll fast and we know that fasting is one of the things that we do as a way to be able to listen to to commune with God in a special way and to listen to God to get guidance from God so like is this throw in this curveball and so the first thing she says is I'm going to talk to God I'm going to seek guidance from God about this so they fasted how often do we in everyday life get thrown something that's out of the ordinary and we freak out about it and we try and fix it in our own strength I know I'm guilty of doing that we try and fix it in our own strength here Easter straight away says I need to go to God I need to go to God and I need support can you please go to God for me so she asks for God's guidance and leading and as we read that story we also know that before she went and bastard she said I will go before the king and it was before she fasted because she had confidence that God was going to give her Direction on how she was going to go before the king so Esther had two things she went straight to God and she had confidence that God was going to answer her and give it give her guidance and Direction so she she knew straight away I'm going to go before the king she wasn't working in her own strength she was working in God's strength and we look here at the uh the background we see that God is working through it because even in this story we see that she goes before the king and what did she ask for she doesn't just come straight out with it does she in the story she doesn't say this is what's happening she says would you please come and have dinner with me would you please I'm going to put on a meal would you please come and have dinner with me and then she also says then can you bring Haman as well and this is interesting isn't it bring Haman the guy that hates the Jews and it's not just one meal was it you would think you know in human things you'd say oh if I get an audience with the King I'm going to take advantage and I'm going to do what I can straight away no she has that one meal and she doesn't mention the issue at all she then invites him for a second meal this is all part of God's timing God prompted her to do that and why when we have a look in the story what happened between the first and the second meal Heyman he went even more hey why did you get that Heyman hey white no okay just seeing if you're awake he even went More Hayward and he got home and all of his friends and his family said yeah man that guy Mordecai he's not respecting you you need to do something really bad to him really bad because Heyman already wanted to kill him and so then they're going you need to make sure that he he's really put in his place to say what does Haman do that night he says go out and get this big pole and set up this pole and we're going to shove Heyman uh Mordecai on this pole it's pretty gross pretty gross but that was all part of the plan wasn't it because head is to ask that the first meal that wouldn't have happened haman's debauchery just got further and further down so that when the second by the time the second meal came Heyman was really wanting to do the worst he possibly good to Mordecai as well as Wipe Out the Jews and yet we know through the story that the second meal uh it's the puts the case forward and uh and the truth comes out and uh and Heyman ended not so nicely on his own Pole it wasn't wasn't a nice ending so if there was relying on God right through it when we look at that story and we and we we say man Esther was a really courageous woman and yes she was but the reason she was courageous was because of her faith her faith is what made her create courageous our faith is an action okay belief is one thing but faith is is belief in action if you're not acting out your faith then you aren't really having faith you understand what I'm saying I can have faith I can believe that this stage will hold me up if I sit on it but until I actually exercise faith and sit down on it it held me up I have faith in this stage because I actually acted on it here is the has faith in God and because of that faith in God she's able to be courageous because she knew her God was going to come through for who God would go before her and protect her it's an important thing that we need to take from today is that it's not about us it's about God so the last thing we're going to look at which maybe should have been the first I'm just catching up on these slides sorry way too many slides there oh is God's sovereignty I'm just going to jump ahead God's sovereignty when we look at the story of this do we see that God was ever present right through it and uh and he's working his hands are at work all the way through it and even though he's not mentioned is there's no question that God was working right through that story that God turned the situations around God took the evil desires of man both the king and Haman and used them to bring his purpose and his plan into place remember many many many years ago he'd promised the Jews that they would be his people and here he's fulfilling that promise he's saying I will look after you and he and he does he comes through you know we have a choice like like Easter and Mordecai mokai to be part of God's plan or we can choose to turn our backs on it Charles Swindoll puts it this way in one of his books in the midst of these circumstances that today have you baffled wondering what you're going to do or even how you were going to go on you can rest assured that God's power and Sovereign control are already at work God's power and Sovereign control are already at work the Book of Esther is a classic showing us that God is going to come through in the end I had this as the last thing but maybe it needed to be the first here are some scriptures that we can read that talk about it Colossians 1 16. says for in him all things were created things in heaven and on Earth visible and invisible whether Thrones or powers or rulers or authorities all things have been created through him and for him he is before all things and in him all things hold together and then if we go to Ephesians Ephesians 1 4-6 says for he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight in love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious Grace which he has freely given us in the one he loves these verses just reinforce the fact that God is Sovereign God has designed everything and God is before everything and God goes before everything in our lives our God is not just the god that did but rather a God that does and is still doing and we continue to do in the future for us the Book of Esther reinforces again that all we're asked to do is to put our faith in him and to seek guidance from him in every aspect of Our Lives to let him rule every aspect of Our Lives is there was merely a young girl that had a faith in her God so strong that God used her in a mighty way that could be all of us it could be all of us are we Esters and Mordecai's are we walking with them are we seeking his will in our lives daily are we asking him to guide us when we get tough times are we really going to him or are we trying to do it on our own are we living this world uh overcome our faith and and burden us or are we living our faith reign in this world are we overcoming this world these are the questions I want to leave you with this morning how are we going to react to the world the way the world treats us the world doesn't like us how are we going to react to that are we going to remain true to what God tells us to do and can we acknowledge that it's not in our own strength but rather his that we're able to cope with whatever might come before us if we are that changes the way that we react in any of these situations finally are we able to acknowledge that God is Sovereign and that his will be done in our lives not our own if we can do that then the rest of the rest is up to him isn't it it takes the burden off us so we need to understand that he is Sovereign his will will be done if the band wants to come up I'll find a song I asked them to play this final song because it's a song that reminds us of of who God is I'm just going to pray as they come up and uh as you sing this song I want it to be a prayer for all of us and and Proclaim it understand that God has a way let's close your eyes father thank you for your word thank you for your grace thank you for the gift of your son Jesus thank you Father that we are New Creations in him and that we have a path to you through Christ Lord we ask that you would reign in our lives that you would continue to work through and in US Lord to affect those around us may we be a blessing to those around us father rather than a curse may we seek to glorify you in everything we do and we say in this world and most of all Lord may it be more about you and less about us thank you Father for who you are in Jesus name we pray. Amen.