For Such a Time as This
Part 3: Great Help for Hard Times
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 3, 2012
*There are dark days in the life of every nation. Some of us here tonight remember Pearl Harbor. Living in Florida in the sixth grade, I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when we were on the brink of nuclear war with Russia. And I remember that Friday in the seventh grade, when President Kennedy was assassinated. Of course, we remember 9-11, and all of us have dark days that touch family and friends.
*Dark days are the setting for the Scripture tonight. And this story can help us get ready for the hard times we may have to face. What should we do?
1. First: Focus on your family.
*One of the best ways to prepare for hard times is to focus on your family right now. The relationship between Mordecai and Esther reminds us of this great need.
*Here in Esther 2:19, Mordecai sat in the king’s gate. That means he was promoted to a place of leadership and respect as one of the king’s officers. There was probably no way Mordecai could have received that promotion without Esther’s help. But there was no way Esther would have been queen without Mordecai’s help.
*This was a family that cared for each other. Remember that Esther’s older cousin Mordecai raised her as his own daughter. Esther 2:7 told us that: “Mordecai had brought up . . . Esther, his uncle's daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”
*Then vs. 20 tells us the same thing that we saw back up in vs. 10: “Now Esther had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her, for Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai as when she was brought up by him.”
*Mordecai cared for Esther, and she cared deeply for him. So in vs. 20 when he advised her to keep quiet about being a Jew, Esther respected Mordecai’s wisdom. She obeyed his command, just like she did when she was a little girl.
*Mordecai and Esther had the kind of relationship that God wants to see in all of our families: A relationship grounded on rock-solid love and trust.
*How can we get ready for hard times? -- Focus on your family right now.
2. And boldly decide to make a difference.
*In vs. 21-23, Mordecai is the example for the kind of courage we need.
21. In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king's gate, two of the king's eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.
22. So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai's name.
23. And when an inquiry was made into the matter, it was confirmed, and both were hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.
*In these verses there was treachery and rebellion against King Xerxes. And Mordecai had a choice to make.
-Would he keep silent? -- Or would he take a stand to do the right thing?
-Mordecai boldly decided to make a difference.
-And that’s what God wants us to do.
*We have to care enough to make a difference;
-Care enough to take a risk;
-Care enough to get involved as the Lord leads, in our church, our community, in our society, our nation.
*God wants us to DO something.
-Take action, even when it means taking a risk to do the right thing.
*How can we get ready for hard times? -- Boldly decide to make a difference.
3. And pray for a Godly government.
*Esther 3:1-2 reminds us that we need to pray for a Godly government:
1. After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him.
2. And all the king's servants who were within the king's gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.
*The same king Xerxes who was wise enough to choose Esther as Queen, was foolish enough to promote the evil Haman as the second highest ruler in the land. And Xerxes did promote Haman.
*This foolish decision reminds us that we can never fully rely on government.
-There is great evil in the world.
-And it seems to gravitate to the halls of government.
*I deeply believe that overall, we have the best government in the history of the world. That’s because it was founded for the most part by men who knew the Lord, and sought to follow His ways.
*Things have changed so much for the worse over the last 50 years. Time after time we have seen Godly precepts rejected by ungodly leaders in our country. And it has gotten to the point that our own Louisiana College has had to sue the federal government to preserve their religious liberty. (1)
*We need humble leaders who will let the Lord lead them.
*Winston Churchill was of course British, but one of the great leaders of World War II. I like this little story that shows Churchill’s humility. One time he was once asked, “Doesn't it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?”
*Churchill replied, “It's quite flattering. But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech, I was being hanged, -- the crowd would be twice as big. (2)
*That kind of humility is a good thing for a leader to have. How are we going to get leaders like that? -- One of the most important things we can do is pray.
-We need to pray for all of our leaders.
-And especially we need to pray that the Lord would give us Godly leaders.
*As Paul said in 1 Tim 2:1-4:
1. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2. for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4. who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
*How can we get ready for hard times? -- Pray for a Godly government.
4. And be prepared for persecution.
*This is a huge lesson from God’s Word here in Esther 3. Almost without warning, things took a terrible turn. Let’s read about it starting in Esther 3:3.
3. Then the king's servants who were within the king's gate said to Mordecai, "Why do you transgress the king's command?"
4. Now it happened, when they spoke to him daily and he would not listen to them, that they told it to Haman, to see whether Mordecai's words would stand; for Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew.
5. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath.
6. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus -- the people of Mordecai.
*As believers we must be prepared for opposition and even persecution. We should not be surprised by hatred from the world. This is not a live-and-let-live world, and it never has been. So we must count the cost of taking a stand.
*As hard as it is to believe in the land of the free and the home of the brave, just like Mordecai, we could see hatred and retribution, persecution and murder.
 Why did Haman hate the Jews? -- The first reason why is because of Satan.
*Satan has always hated the Jews, because God has always loved the Jews.
-So Satan was doing all he could to hurt the Jews, somehow desperately trying to force God to break the promises He made to His people.
*Satan has always hated the Jews. It was true when the Nazis overran Europe, and it is true in the world today, especially in Islamic countries. If you want to see who is on Satan’s side, one good way is to find out who hates the Jews.
*But of course, Satan also hates Christians, because spiritually and eternally, we are the people of God. That’s why Christians around the world are being persecuted every day. Today in Nigeria, the Islamist group “Boko Haram” bombed another Christian church. (3)
*Fourteen Christians were slaughtered in that blast. There are certainly thousands and possibly millions of people in this world who would do the same thing to us tonight, if they could. They hate us, because they hate Jesus. The Lord told us that on the night before He went to the cross.
*And those hate-filled people may not know it, but they are surely following Satan. Haman hated the Jews because of Satan.
 But he also hated them because of his own sin.
*In vs. 5, we see Haman’s sin of pride: “When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath.”
*Another sin in Haman’s life was false religion. There they are in vs. 7, playing the lottery: “In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, the lot), before Haman to determine the day and the month, until it fell on the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”
*This lottery was much more sinister than lotteries today, because those hard-hearted men were seeking demonic guidance on the best time to slaughter the Jews. Haman surely worshipped false gods.
*But in this story, we also see the sin of greed. Listen to God’s Word starting in vs. 8:
8. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people's, and they do not keep the king's laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain.
9. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king's treasuries."
10. So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.
11. And the king said to Haman, "The money and the people are given to you, to do with them as seems good to you."
*Ten thousand talents of silver: That was probably just part of the money Haman planned on stealing from the Jews. Ten thousand talents is about 375 tons of silver. That is 12 million ounces of silver. And at today’s price of $28.63 per ounce, that’s about $343,560,000.
*Greed alone was enough reason for Haman to want to kill the Jews. But there was a lot of hate piled on top of that greed. So Haman’s evil plan starts to come together in vs. 12:
12. Then the king's scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and a decree was written according to all that Haman commanded—to the king's satraps, to the governors who were over each province, to the officials of all people, to every province according to its script, and to every people in their language. In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written, and sealed with the king's signet ring.
13. And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions.
14. A copy of the document was to be issued as law in every province, being published for all people, that they should be ready for that day.
15. The couriers went out, hastened by the king's command; and the decree was proclaimed in Shushan the citadel. So the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was perplexed.
*If Haman had his way, persecution was coming on the Jews all the way from India to Ethiopia. And if the devil had his way, persecution would surely be coming on us.
-How can we get ready for hard times? -- We must be prepared for persecution.
5. But always have complete confidence in the Lord.
*We need the kind of faith that Mordecai demonstrated back up in vs. 2: “And all the king's servants who were within the king's gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.”
*Mordecai trusted in God enough to take a bold, public stand for the Lord.
-He absolutely refused to bow down before anybody but God.
*What courage Mordecai had! Where did he get it? -- Mordecai had that courage, because he was totally convinced that the Lord IS God.
*There is no doubt that Mordecai knew the stories of old.
-How God created the world.
-How He protected Noah through the flood.
-How He made the great promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
-How He parted the Red Sea and rescued the Children of Israel from Egypt.
*Mordecai knew and believed the stories of Moses, Joshua, Gideon.
-Mordecai knew about David & Goliath and much more.
-Mordecai knew the truth about God. And as well as anybody could before the cross, Mordecai knew the Lord as His Savior.
*He had complete confidence in God. And how much easier it should be for us today, because we have the cross! And we have the full record of God’s Word.
*We know the Good News that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead.
-We know that Jesus loved us enough to die for us.
-And He is teaching us that we can trust Him completely, in every situation.
*Corrie ten Boom reminds us of this in one of her stories from World War II. Most of us know that Corrie and her family were sent to German death camps for hiding Jews from the Nazis. But Corrie also told of an earlier time in the war.
*The Germans were invading Holland. And one night Corrie tossed restlessly in her bed as the Nazi planes roared overhead. They shattered the darkness with their fiery bombs.
*Corrie heard her sister Betsie downstairs in the kitchen. So she went down for a cup of tea with her. Corrie and Betsie talked until the sound of the planes had died away. Bombs had exploded nearby, but now all was quiet.
*Groping through the darkness to her room, Corrie reached out her hand to pat her pillow before lying down. Suddenly she felt something sharp cut her hand. It was a jagged piece of metal ten inches long, a piece of shrapnel from one of the bombs.
*Corrie said: “Betsy, if I had not heard you in the kitchen.” But Betsie cut her short: “Don’t say it, Corrie! -- There are no ifs in God’s world. The center of his will is our safety.” (4)
*That is the kind of faith that sustained those sisters, even in the horrors of the Ravensbrook death camp. That is the kind of faith that sustained Corrie, even when her sister, Betsie, died at that camp. And this is the kind of faith that will sustain us in the hardest times of life.
*God truly has a lot for us to learn as we go through the Book of Esther. And tonight He shows us how to get ready for the hard times that may come.
-Focus on your family right now.
-Boldly decide to make a difference in our world.
-Pray for a Godly government.
-Be prepared for persecution.
-And always have complete confidence in the Lord.
2. Norman McGowan, “My Years with Winston Churchill” - Souvenir Press, London - (Source: Sermonillustrations.com - Topic: Humility)
4. SermonCentral sermon “A Love that Keeps” by David Phaneuf - Exodus 2:1-10