For Such a Time as This
Part 4: How Can We Help?
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 10, 2012
*Three weeks ago, we began to look at this story that took place almost 500 years before Jesus was born. The Jews had begun to go home after 70 years of Babylonian captivity, but many of them remained in Persia. It was the greatest empire of its day, stretching all the way from Ethiopia to India.
*At the time, Persia was ruled by a carnal and often cruel king named Ahasuerus or Xerxes. The Book of Esther begins with a huge feast put on by the king. At the end of this 6-month drunken celebration, the king commanded that the queen be brought before that crowd. He wanted to put his queen, Vashti, on display in an ungodly and indecent way, but the queen refused. So in a drunken rage, King Xerxes agreed to a plan to take the crown away from Vashti and give it to another.
*In the Providence of God, and against incredible odds, Esther the orphan and secret Jew, was chosen to be the new queen. And like so many other Godly wives, she seems to have been a very good influence on the king.
*Esther’s selection as the new queen turned out to be a matter of life and death for the whole Jewish people. That’s because Haman, the new Prime Minister, was an arrogant man who hated the Jews and convinced the king to issue a nonreversible decree that all of the Jews would be killed.
*Esther 3:13 gave this report about the king’s decree: “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.”
*The Jews were in a desperate situation 2,500 years ago. But the message of this Scripture is just as fresh as today’s headlines. The message of this Scripture is timely today, because now our own nation is headed in the wrong direction.
-We are going through social and economic crises that seem to have no end.
-But mostly we are going through a spiritual crisis.
*Many have been turned away from God, -- led astray by ungodly politicians, college professors and an entertainment elite that has way too much influence.
*On top of this, there are Christians around the world suffering intense harassment and persecution.
-How can we help?
-How can I help?
1. First: Get impassioned.
*We need the same kind of concern we see in vs. 1-4:
1. When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry.
2. He went as far as the square in front of the king's gate, for no one might enter the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.
3. And in every province where the king's command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4. So Esther's maids and eunuchs came and told her, and the queen was deeply distressed. Then she sent garments to clothe Mordecai and take his sackcloth away from him, but he would not accept them.
*Mordecai was greatly concerned about his people. All of the Jews were horrified when they heard about the slaughter that was planned for them.
*Living in the isolation of the queen’s house, Esther didn’t know enough to be concerned about her people. But she heard about Mordecai’s great grief, and that moved her heart. Verse 4 tells us that “the queen was deeply distressed.”
*Esther was deeply concerned for her older cousin who had raised her as his own child. And that’s the way God wants us to be. God wants us to get concerned.
*God wants us to care about the hurting people round us:
-The people in our family.
-Our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even strangers.
*God wants us to care. In Romans 12:15, the Apostle Paul simply said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
*How can I help? -- Get impassioned.
2. And get informed
*Queen Esther needed more information, and she took steps to get it starting in vs. 5:
5. Then Esther called Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs whom he had appointed to attend her, and she gave him a command concerning Mordecai, to learn what and why this was.
6. So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square that was in front of the king's gate.
7. And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries to destroy the Jews.
8. He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people.
*Esther needed more information, but so did Mordecai. And he got it when Esther began to count the cost of Mordecai’s request.
*Look starting in vs. 9:
9. So Hathach returned and told Esther the words of Mordecai.
10. Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a command for Mordecai:
11. “All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.”
*Both of these Bible heroes needed more information. -- And so do we.
*Of course, our greatest source of information is the Bible itself, because the Bible IS the Word of God. This is why the Bible is the measuring stick by which we can and must evaluate all of the other information we receive.
*Without God’s Word, we are like a ship without a rudder, so we need God’s Word most of all. -- But if we are going to help, if we are going to make a difference in our world, we also have to know more about what’s going on.
*We need more information. And sadly, almost all network news is political propaganda these days. Fox News gives some balance, and there are many information sources on the internet.
-For example, the Baptist Press gives a Christian perspective.
-And the American Family Association is a good source for news.
-So is Newsmax.
*If we are ever going to help, we have to get informed.
3. And we have to get insight.
*In vs. 11, Esther was greatly concerned about going in to see King Xerxes uninvited, and naturally so, because she was facing the death penalty.
-But in the next verses, Mordecai had some insight that Esther needed to face.
*Look starting in vs. 12:
12. So they told Mordecai Esther's words.
13. Then Mordecai told them to answer Esther: "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews.
14. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. . .
*Queen Esther was just fooling herself, if she thought she was going to find safety in the king’s palace. Esther needed insight into the danger headed her way. And many times we need more insight too.
*Maybe that’s why there are a lot of different ways to say it:
-We need to wake up...
-Smell the coffee...
-Take the blinders off...
-And get our heads out of the sand, because denial is not just a river in Egypt.
*If we are ever going to help, we have to get insight.
4. But also get inspired.
*Esther could not rely on King Xerxes for protection. But we can always trust in the Lord our God. This was part of Mordecai’s message to Esther in vs. 14, where he told the queen: “If you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place.”
*Mordecai had complete confidence in God. He knew that the Lord had promised to give the Messiah through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
*It’s a promise first heard back in Genesis 12:1-3:
1. Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.
2. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
3. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (i.e. through the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).
*Mordecai knew that the Lord would never break His promise to His people. That’s why Mordecai had no doubt that God would make a way to deliver His people. He trusted in the Lord, and we should too, especially as we can now look back and see what Jesus did for us on the cross.
*We need the same kind of faith that Paul had when he challenged Timothy with these words:
8 .Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
9. who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
10. but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
11. to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (2 Timothy 1:8-12)
*We need the same kind of inspiration. The same God who paid the highest price for us on the cross will surely help us in every other situation.
*And if we are ever going to help, we have to get inspired.
5. But also get involved.
*In vs. 14-17 we find that in spite of the danger, Esther was willing to get involved. And God surely wants us to get involved in His service.
-How can we get there?
 First: Discover God’s purpose for your life.
*This was Mordecai’s challenge in the question he asked Esther at the end of vs. 14: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
*“Who knows -- God knows!
-God knew the reason why Esther became the queen.
-God also knows the reason why He has graciously allowed us to be Bible-believing, born-again Christians in Grayson Baptist Church here in the U.S.A. June 10th of 2012.
*God knows the reason. He knows His purpose for your being here right now.
-And God will reveal His purpose to you at just the right time, IF you will seek to discover His purpose.
 How can I get involved? -- Discover God’s purpose for your life.
-And do whatever you can to support those who are on the front lines in the battle.
*This was Queen Esther’s plea in vs. 15-17:
15. Then Esther told them to return this answer to Mordecai:
16. “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
17. Then Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him.
God wants us to do everything we can to support those serving on the front lines.
-Our Armed forces...
-Our fellow Christians being persecuted around the world...
*We also need to do everything we can to support each other, as we serve on the spiritual front lines in Caldwell Parish.
*Certainly God wants us to support those on the front lines with our prayers.
-But God reminds us here that there is also a time to fast.
-And that’s a tough one for most of us.
*It surely is for me. Like me, most Christians tend to neglect fasting.
-But let’s look at what Jesus had to say about fasting in Matthew 6:16-18:
16. “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
17. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18. so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
*Does fasting make a difference? -- Ask Esther.
-Prayer and fasting will make a difference, because Jesus said: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
 How can I get involved?
-Do whatever you can to support those who are on the front lines in the battle.
-And fully devote yourself to the cause of Jesus Christ.
*This is what Esther did in the last part of vs. 16, when she said: “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
*There is always a cost for commitment. And for Esther, it could have been the highest cost.
-But God deserves our full devotion.
-And God desires our full devotion.
*So in Luke 9:22-24, Jesus told His followers:
22. . . “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
23. Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
24. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
*We are going though some difficult days here in 2012. And it could get a whole lot worse before it gets better. How can we help?
1. Get impassioned. -- Ask God to help you care like He cares.
2. Get informed. -- Find out what’s going on, measured in the light of the Word of God.
3. Get insight. -- Don’t be content to stick your head in the sand.
4. Get inspired. -- In every situation, trust in the Lord with all your heart.
5. And get involved.
-By discovering God’s purpose for your life.
-By doing whatever you can to support those who are on the front lines in the battle.
-And by fully devoting yourself to the cause of Jesus Christ.
*This is what Esther did, and it changed our world forever.
*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.