For Such a Time as This
Part 8: The Victory Continues
Esther 8:1-17 & 10:1-3
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 15, 2012
*About 500 years before Christ, Esther the secret Jew was chosen to be queen of the Persian Empire. Esther was put there by the invisible Hand of God to help deliver His people from total extermination.
*This destruction was plotted by Prime Minister Haman, because of his arrogance and bloodthirsty hatred of the Jews. Haman had convinced King Xerxes to command the slaughter of the Jews, not knowing that he had signed the death warrant of his own queen.
*In chapter 4, the queen was persuaded to risk the death penalty by going before the king to plead for her people. And after 3 days of prayer and fasting, Esther approached King Xerxes in chapter 5. The king spared her life, and the new queen began to carry out a plan to save her people.
*Oddly enough, the plan involved inviting the king and his wicked prime minister to join the queen at two banquets. In chapter 6, God intervened after the first banquet by keeping the king awake that night. The restless king called for the royal records to be read to him. And King Xerxes realized that his life had been saved by Mordecai the Jew who foiled an assassination plot against the king.
*Mordecai was also Esther’s beloved older cousin who raised her as his own child when she was orphaned. Prime Minister Haman hated Mordecai with a passion, because Mordecai would not bow down before anyone but God.
*Haman even planned to hang Mordecai on a scaffold 75 feet tall. But when the sleepless king realized that Mordecai had never been rewarded for saving his life, King Xerxes commanded Haman to honor Mordecai in a very public way.
*That duty humiliated the evil Haman beyond measure. By the end of chapter 6, even Haman’s wife and friends could see that Haman was going to fall. And now it was time for the second banquet.
*That banquet did not end well for Haman.
-He was exposed for his murderous treachery.
-And executed on the same gallows he prepared for Mordecai.
*The source of the danger was dead. But the danger remained, because the king’s decree against the Jews was irreversible. With this background in mind, let’s begin tonight’s study by reading Esther 8:1-6.
*This life and death drama shows us how God often works in our lives behind the scenes.
-It also teaches us about our purpose in the world...
-About faith and the importance of family...
-About our need for Godly leaders, and more.
*As we explore this Chapter 8, there are more spiritual comparisons we can make. And we will see more eternal truth from Esther’s trouble.
1. In vs. 1-2, notice first Mordecai’s new reward.
1. On that day King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her.
2. So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman.
*Receiving King Xerxes’ ring was a great promotion for Mordecai, because this was the ring the king used to sign laws, edicts, and letters. John Gill pointed out that among the Persians, receiving the king’s ring was a sign of the strongest affection and friendship. (1)
*We see more of Mordecai’s reward in the first part of vs. 15, which says: “Now Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple.”
*Then in Esther 10:1-3, the Lord chose to end Esther’s story with another tribute to Mordecai:
1. And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea.
2. Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
3. For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.
*The Lord has promised to reward our righteousness. Sometimes, like Mordecai, we will receive the rewards in this world. But the truth is that many of the best people who ever lived were treated like dirt by the anti-God forces of the world.
*Many believers are treated just as harshly as Mordecai would have been, if Haman had gotten his wish.
-So we may not receive the rewards in this world.
-But we will certainly receive them in the next.
*God has promised to reward our righteousness. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that: “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a REWARDER of those who diligently seek Him.
*In the same chapter, God’s Word gives us the example of Moses, and says:
24. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,
25. choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
26. esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
-In other words: Moses looked to the reward that is promised by God.
*God has promised to reward our righteousness. In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus said:
10. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
*Then in Matt 10:41-42. Jesus said:
41. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
*I suppose that’s my favorite verse on heavenly rewards. And it’s part of what led Kent Crockett to say: “If heaven had a daily newspaper, the headlines would read quite differently than our earthly tabloids.
*The good deeds which don’t get credit on earth would make the front page in heaven’s newspaper. Take a peek at this edition:
‘HEAVEN’S HEADLINES -- Keeping You Informed about Significant Events on Earth:
-Kathy S. Changes 10,000th Diaper
-Rod K. Mows Neighbor’s Grass
-Tony P. Gets Saved, Starts Tithing
-Max M. Delivers Brownies to Enemy
-Gayle H. Takes Meal to Sick Person
-Unnamed Widow Puts Last Two Coins in Treasury Box’”
*Then Kent Crockett explained: “Did you know that it’s (often) the little things we do that please God? -- That means that anyone, including you, can make the headlines in heaven. . . God not only wants to save us from hell, but also wants to reward us in heaven. . .
*Jesus would not have informed us about heavenly rewards if He didn’t want us to know about them. He could have kept the truth about eternal rewards a big secret, which would be revealed to all on the Day of Judgment. Instead, He specifically told us that some things we do now will be rewarded in the next life.
*Why did God give us so much information about rewards? -- He wants us to know that another world exists beyond this life and that when we serve Him, our labor is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).” (2)
*This is a good lesson from Mordecai’s new reward.
2. But also notice Esther’s new request.
*We see her new request in vs. 3-6:
3. Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil plot of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews.
4. And the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king,
5. and said, "If it pleases the king, and if I have found favor in his sight and the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king's provinces.
6. For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?''
 Notice that Esther cared for other people.
*Matthew Henry stressed how virtuous it was for Esther to care so deeply for her people. -- And Henry said: “Esther, though safe herself, fell down and begged for the deliverance of her people. We read of no tears when she begged for her own life, but . . . she wept for her people.” (3)
 Esther cared for other people, and she kept calling on the king.
*This time she was closer to the king. And she had a growing trust in the king. How much more can we trust our King! -- So in Romans 8:28-32, the Apostle Paul said:
28. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
*This is a good lesson for us from Esther’s new request.
3. But also notice the king’s new ruling.
*We see it in vs. 7-10:
7. Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, "Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews.
8. You yourselves write a decree for the Jews, as you please, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's signet ring; for a letter which is written in the king's name and sealed with the king's signet ring no one can revoke.''
9. So the king's scribes were called at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and it was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews, the satraps, the governors, and the princes of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all, to every province in its own script, to every people in their own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language.
10. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed it with the king's signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horseback, riding on royal horses bred from swift steeds.
*Back in vs. 5, Esther had asked the king to revoke the first decree. But since that was not possible under Persian law, King Xerxes suggested a new irrevocable decree that would allow the Jews to defend themselves.
*Haman was the cause of all this trouble. But it never would have happened without the king’s foolish consent. Now Xerxes was doing the best he could to make things right. But this reminds us that at the best, earthly judges are fallible. -- And in much of the world, they are as wicked as can be.
*Some of the worst things that have ever happened in our country flowed out of ungodly rulings by our own Supreme Court. Thank God, we have an infallible Judge in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
*As Paul faced martyrdom for the Lord, here is what he testified in 2 Timothy 4:7-8:
7. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
*Jesus Christ is “the righteous Judge!” -- His rulings are always righteous.
-This is a good lesson for us from the king’s new ruling.
4. But also notice the Jews’ resistance.
*We see the resistance begin in vs. 11-14:
11. By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions,
12. on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. (This was the same day as the original decree to slaughter the Jews in Esther 3:13.)
13. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province and published to all people, so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
14. Then the couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king's command. And the decree was issued in Shushan the citadel.
*Lord willing, next week in our last study, we will see the victory completed. But for tonight the lesson is that we are still in the battle. As we used to sing years ago in Children’s Church, “We’re in the Lord’s Army.”
*A little before Paul testified to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight,” he steeled the young preacher with these words: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
*As long as we are in this world, there is a spiritual battle to be won.
-This is a good lesson for us from the Jews’ resistance.
5. But also notice the Jews’ rejoicing.
*We can see their joy in vs. 15-17:
15. Now Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
16. The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor.
17. And in every province and city, wherever the king's command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.
*They had great joy, because God had provided them the way to be saved. How much more joy can we have in the Lord who provided the way for us to be saved forever! No wonder that in Philippians 4:4, Paul tells Christians to: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
*Thank God for the cross of Jesus Christ!
-Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
1. John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible - Esther 8:2
2. Adapted from “Rewards in Heaven” (Excerpt from “Making Today Count for Eternity” by Kent Crockett, Multnomah Publishers, 2001, pages 65-78) kentcrockett.combiblestudiesheavens_headlines.htm
3. Matthew Henry on Esther 8:3-14