September 2018  
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Bible Search
The Book of Esther #4
Who Am I?
Esther 4:1-17
It’s easy to underestimate the significance of one. We get to thinking what difference do I make?  They don’t need me. . .What can I as one individual contribute to the overwhelming needs of our world, our church, etc.?
Lucy asked Charlie Brown as they were walking along: “Why do you think we’re put here on earth, Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown gave a simplistic answer: “To make others happy.” Lucy stopped and reflected: “I don’t think I’m making anyone very happy. Of course nobody’s making me very happy either. Somebody’s not doing his job!”
At home she asked her brother Linus, who was busy sucking his thumb and holding his blanket, for his opinion: “Charlie Brown says that we’re put here on earth to make others happy.” The surprised Linus said, “Is that why we’re here? I guess I’d better start doing a better job. I’d hate to be shipped back!’
The exasperated Lucy went back to Charlie Brown to check if things have changed. She said: “I’m intrigued by this view you have on the purpose of life, Charlie Brown. You say we’re put here on earth to make others happy?” Charlie Brown affirmed, “That’s right.” Sensing something was wrong, Lucy finally putting the question that still bothered her: “What are others put here for?”
But the truth is, you are you—the only you in all the world. Nobody can do the things that God has called and gifted you to do.
Edward Everett Hale put it this way:
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything;
but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
History is full of accounts of single individuals who have made a difference.
•In 1654, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England;
•In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed;
•In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German;
•In 1839, one vote elected Marcus Morton governor of Massachusetts;
•In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the union;
•In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment.
•In 1875, one vote changed France form a monarchy to a republic;
•In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the united States presidency;
•In 1923, one vote gave Adolph Hitler control of the nazi party;
•In 1941, one vote saved the Selective Service System just 12 weeks before Pearl Harbor!
The story of one person is significant as well in biblical history.  The Bible tells us that by one man sin entered the world. 
One man named Noah, prepared an ark and saved his family.
One man named David went out to face the giant and won. 
On and on those lists go.  Tonight we have the privilege os studying one of those moments in biblical history where one person, a young lady named Esther made the difference.
As before, we’ll begin with the story.
Up to this point, Esther could not complain about her life so far. In the past, when her parents passed away, her older cousin Mordecai took care of her, supplied all she needed and kept her from trouble.
Presently, she is living in the lap of luxury as the First Lady and Queen of the land and had plenty of maids and servants at her disposal.
But for all the good she was enjoying, things have dramatically changed for her people the Jews.  Because of an ancient grudge between the Amalekites and the Jews, Haman has orchestrated a plot to have the Jews exterminated and only one person can perhaps do something about it and that is Esther who is herself a Jew.
So we pick up the story in the midst of a  
1. Disaster
verses 1-8
The news of the upcoming extermination of the Jews has devastating effects.  Suddenly, normal, everyday routines of life are abandoned and there was chaos, confusion and crying all around. Turmoil, terror and tears were everywhere. People are lying in the streets in sackcloth, and they are fasting, weeping and wailing.
We are given particular insight in verse 1 through the response of Mordecai where we are told he “cried out”.  The phrase used there comes from a Hebrew phrase meaning to “cry with a cry” and it’s the only place it is found in the Old Testament.   
Typically we read that people “cried with a voice,” specifically a loud voice.  We see that in 2 Sam 19:4, Nehemiah 9:4, Ezekiel 11:13.  But now we find an added element with Mordecai because his cry was not only loud but also “bitter”.
That’s the first time the word “bitter” is associated with crying in the Bible. At first, nobody knew why he was outside the king’s gates; no one but Esther. He was not looking for death but he was looking for support and solution.
We are also told that there is “great mourning” among the Jews.  The Hebrew word for “mourning” occurs 24 times in the Bible.
Twenty-two times it refers to “regular mourning.”  Only on two occasions are we told there was “great mourning” or heavy mourning”.  Here at the death of Jacob in Egypt. 
Obviously, we are looking in on a great time of distress suffering as the Jews ready themselves for their wholesale slaughter.
And even though Esther is safely away in the palace, she is not unaffected by what is going on in the streets. And even though it appears she does not yet know why Mordecai and the people are grieving, she share in that experience with great distress as well according to verse 4. 
This is the only time the word that is used to describe her feelings  has been translated as “distress.” Elsewhere the word used to describe her condition is translated as “shaking” or “twisting” or “trembling” and even “writhing”. 
But the most descriptive translation of the word is used to describe a woman in labor and giving birth.
At least ten times, the word is used in that way in the Old Testament.  And remember it is not just the pains of childbirth, but here distress was great or deep.  One commentator describes it as “convulsive grief, to be seized with painful grief.”
So Esther sent clothes to Mordecai to try and bring him out of his sorrow but he rejects them.  So she sends a servant of the king to Mordecai to find out what is going on and Mordecai tells him the whole story. 
And notice the
2.  Doubt
Verses 9-14
In a sense, Esther was a trophy wife and she knew it.  So she is doubtful about how much help she can be.  For thirty days, she has not been called in to the king.  She certainly can’t go in uninvited.  And even though she is sympathetic to the cause, she’s thinking primarily about #1.  And she’s sure not going to take orders from Mordecai. 
He might be out on the street in sackcloth and ashes, but at least he has a few months to live.  She on the other hand could be dead before nightfall. 
So she sends her response back to Mordecai with all her doubts. 
But notice in comparison to her doubts, his faith.
Verses 13-14
Mordecai did not say what he did to Esther to rebuke her, but to warn here. Esther’s safety and shelter in the palace was temporary. Enemies will dig into her background and find out about her sooner or later. A lot was at stake for her. Her family was at stake. Everyone associated with her was at risk. And if God chose to deliver the Jews in another way, which Mordecai believed he would do, she could still wind up a casualty. 
But it just might be that this was exactly God’s plan to save His people by having a little Jewish girl in the palace at just the right moment. 
Listen to her
3.  Decision
Verses 15-17
In that one moment of time, Esther comes of age.  We see her instructing people to pass messages to Mordecai.  She is accepting the responsibility that has been placed on her.  She is serving with a courage that comes from God.  She is looking danger in the eye and accepting the potential consequences of doing the right thing. 
And most importantly, we see a return to her spiritual roots as she asks the people to fast for her and she initiates a time of fasting herself. 
Esther could have ended up like Vashti did, who disappeared without word or dialogue. The new queen’s purpose in life was not to be queen; that was merely her status. Her purpose in life was to glorify God, be God’s servant, and make her life count. She could have been nothing more than a pretty face, whose purpose in life is to adorn places and palaces.
But God had more in store for her than that. 
So what are the lessons from chapter 4? 
  • Remember Who You Are
Esther had to be called back to her roots.  She was disconnected from the reality of life for the Jews.  That can happen to us as well.  We can get so involved in the church and life we live that we forget how much distress there is outside the walls of the church. 
We ought never forget from what God has saved us.  I’m afraid many of us think God didn’t have to forgive very much to get us saved and fit for heaven.  But all our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of God.  And just because we’ve been cleaned up and placed in the palace doesn’t give us a right to have nothing to do with what is going on our in the streets. 
It does us good to remember who we are. 
  • Remember How You Got There
And while we are reflecting, we need to remember how we got where we are.  Esther was in the palace by no other way than the direct involvement of God Himself.  Even though He is not mentioned specifically in the book, His fingerprints are everywhere. 
And the words of Mordecai provide great insight from the vantage point of being after the fact.  There is no doubt that she had come to the kingdom for such a time as this and God brought here there. 
And I’m just as sure about you and me and why we happen to be here at Trinity Baptist church at this particular time in history as well.  God always has purpose and plan and direction for the events of life.  There are no accidents or uh-ohs with God!. 
And the events of our life, from the moment of our conception to our last breath are in the hands of God.  And the steps of a righteous man are ordered by God.  He directs our path.  He provides our salvation.  He is our shield and deliverer.  Our life is in His hands!
Remember who you are, remember how you got where you are and thirdly,
  • Remember Why You are Here
If we are God’s and He is ordering our steps, then it just makes sense for us to be sensitive and aware of why He has us where He has us. 
Esther was about to find out that God had, in fact, brought here to the kingdom for this specific time and responsibility.  And God has work for us to do as well.  And it ought to be the desire of our heart to be doing exactly what God has for us to do. 
There is a Quaker historian, theologian and philosopher named Rufus Jones.  In his autobiography, he relates a childhood incident that was probably the turning point in his life that made him the great man he was.
One day his parents told him to stay home and weed the turnip patch while they were gone. He had just begun when some friends came along and persuaded him to go fishing with them, promising to help him weed the garden when they got back. But, as every fisherman knows, it’s practically impossible to keep track of the time when you are fishing – especially if the fish are biting.
When young Rufus finally returned home after dark, his mother was waiting for him. Silently, she led him to his room. He knew what he deserved, so he did not offer a word of excuse. “But then,” he writes, “a miracle happened instead. Mother put me in a chair, kneeled down, put her hands on me, and told God all about me. She interpreted her dream of what my life was to be. She portrayed the boy and the man of her hopes. She told God what she always expected of me, and then how I had disappointed her hope.
‘O God!’ she prayed. ‘Take this boy of mine and make him the boy and man he is divinely designed to be.’ Then she bent over and kissed me and went out and left me in the silence with God.”
Dear friend, remember why you’re here.  God did not bring us into this world to sequester us away in the church, live in luxury or think only of ourselves.  He wants us to testify about Him, care for others and make a difference.
Have you done your part, sacrificed for others and taken a stand?
I pray God will give us the courage, the convictions, the passion to get the job done. 
Let’s pray



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