Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
We rejoice in Christ. He was crucified for us. He has risen for us.
Esther spoke up for God’s people – ‘spare my people’(Esther 7:3). She spoke out against the enemy of God’s people – ‘A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!’(Esther 7:6). The tables were turned on the enemy of the Lord’s people – ‘they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai’(Esther 7:10). He was replaced by the Lord’s servant – ‘the king took off the signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai’(Esther 8:2). Instead of the gallows, Mordecai received ‘royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a purple robe of fine linen’(Esther 8:15)! For God’s people, this was ‘a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honour’(Esther 8:16). Let’s look beyond Mordecai to Christ. Rejoice! He was crucified for us. He is now exalted to the highest place (Philippians 2:8-9).
Among God’s people, there was much ‘feasting and joy’. They gave thanks to the Lord – ‘their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration’(Esther 9:17-22). They gave thanks to God for Mordecai – ‘he sought the welfare of his people, he worked for the good of his people’. They rejoiced because of ‘the greatness and high honour of Mordecai, to which the king had raised him’(Esther 10:2-3). We have even more to celebrate. We gather at the Lord’s Table. We celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We rejoice in Jesus Christ our Saviour. He ‘gave His life as a ransom for many’. His body was broken for us. His blood was shed for us. ‘Redeemed with His precious blood’, we rejoice in Christ – ‘crucified’ and ‘risen’ for us (Mark 10:45; Mark 14:22-24; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Through Christ, we have received mercy. In Christ, we have the victory.
‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’(Psalm 122:2). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’(Psalm 122:4). We seek His mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’(Psalm 123:3). We seek His help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord…’(Psalm 124:8). As we receive mercy and help from the Lord, we worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord’(Psalm 124:6). In our worship, we ‘look to the Lord our God’, drawing encouragement from His Word: ‘The Lord is on our side’- In Him we have the victory (Psalm 123:2; Psalm 124:1-5). Rejoicing in God’s blessing, we pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’(Psalm 122:6).
Standing in Christ’s strength, we resist the devil. Defeated by Christ, the devil flees from us.
‘The people complained in the hearing of the Lord’(Numbers 11:1) – Remember: All our words are spoken ‘in the hearing of the Lord’! There was ‘a rabble among them’(Numbers 11:4): What problems there are when such people are mingling with God’s people! What are we to do when this happens? – Pray for God’s help (Numbers 11:10-15). God will not disappoint us – He gives people who will ‘take their stand with us’(Numbers 11:16), the Spirit who rests on God’s people (Numbers 11:25), the Word, ‘strong meat’ to sustain our spiritual strength (Numbers 11:31-32; Hebrews 5:12-14). The lure of the world, the pull of the flesh – ‘the rabble’ wanted to go back to ‘Egypt’(Numbers 11:4-6): This is the attack of the devil. Standing in Christ’s strength alone, we ‘resist the devil’. Defeated by Christ, Satan can do nothing but ‘flee from us’(Philippians 4:13; James 4:7; 1 John 3:8).
God is speaking to us. He speaks to us of Jesus Christ. He calls us to come to Christ.
God reveals Himself in creation and Scripture. He speaks through His created world. He speaks through His written Word. God is always speaking. He is never silent. Through His created world, God is speaking to us – every day, every night. He is showing us His glory (Psalm 19:1-2). He makes us aware of His presence. He whets our appetite for His written Word. The Scriptures lead us to Christ. Through faith in Him, we receive salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Christ is the high-point of God’s revelation. He is the living Word (John 1:1,14). The testimony of the Psalmist – ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul’(Psalm 19:7) – becomes real for us through faith in Christ – ‘I came to Jesus…My soul revived and now I live in Him’(Church Hymnary, 212). Make it real. Come to Christ. Come alive in Him!
God helps us to speak His Word. Let’s pray that sinners will be saved.
Don’t worry about ‘what will happen tomorrow’. It’s in the Lord’s hands (James 4:14-15). We must not lose sight of ‘the purpose of the Lord’. We must remember that ‘the Lord is full of compassion and mercy’(James 5:11). We look forward to ‘the Lord’s Coming’ as the great Day of our salvation (James 5:7-8). We must not, however, forget God’s words of warning: ‘The Judge is standing at the door’. God speaks to us concerning ‘the misery that is coming upon you’. What is He saying to us here? – He is warning us: Be careful how you live – Don’t trust in riches. ‘Don’t grumble against each other’(James 5:1-3,9). The warning and the promise belong together. Those who are facing judgment can be brought to the Saviour. May God help us to speak His Word – the warning as well as the promise – , always praying that sinners will be saved (James 5:16,19-20).
A call to prayer
‘Our God is able’(Daniel 3:17). Do we believe this? There is no doubt about God’s power. What about our faith? We come to Jesus, saying, ‘If you can’. Jesus turns things around: ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes’(Mark 9:22-23). This is not so much an appeal for positive thinking. It is a call to prayer (Mark 9:29). Less self-confidence and more confidence in God – This is what we need. God’s greatness is more important than our ‘greatness’(Mark 9:33-35). Are there things that you don’t understand? Don’t be afraid to ask (Mark 9:32). You may even learn from those who ‘don’t belong to our group’(Mark 9:38-40). They don’t belong to our group? So what? Do they belong to Christ? That’s what matters. ‘It is better’(Mark 9:43,45,47) to be Christ’s – than anything else! May our faith, though ‘tested by fire’, grow strong – to God’s glory (Mark 9:49-50; 1 Peter 1: 6-7).