For Such a Time as This
Part 9: The Victory Completed
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 22, 2012
*Tonight we finish God’s great story of Esther, the orphan girl, who grew up to be chosen as queen of the Persian Empire. Esther was also the secret Jew who rose to the occasion and risked her life when the Jews were threatened with slaughter.
*We have seen how the victory began. Last week we covered chapter 10, when we talked about Mordecai’s promotion. Now in chapter 9, we will see how the victory was completed. We can also see some spiritual lessons for God’s people today.
1. First, notice how God’s enemies are routed.
*The Bible begins to tell us about their defeat in vs. 1-5:
1. Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king's command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.
2. The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people.
3. And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king's work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
4. For Mordecai was great in the king's palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.
5. Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.
*Verses 6-16 go on to give us more details about the great victory for God’s people. And three times, God’s Word stresses that they did not take their enemies’ plunder when they won the victory. Verse 16 sums the situation up by saying: “The remainder of the Jews in the king's provinces gathered together and protected their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of their enemies; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.
*The Jews won a great victory. But the bottom line is that the invisible Hand of God destroyed His enemies. God wins in the end! God gets the final victory! Eventually, all of God’s enemies will be routed.
*The Jews see some echoes of the Esther story in 20th Century events. For example, Esther 9:13 tells us that Haman’s ten sons were hanged. And in 1946, after the Nuremberg trials for war crime, ten of Hitler's top associates were put to death by hanging.
*Another echo of Purim was seen in the Soviet Union a few years later. In early 1953, Stalin was planning to deport most of the Jews in the Soviet Union to Siberia. But just before his plans were carried out, Stalin suffered a stroke and died a few days later. He suffered that stroke on the night of March 1, 1953, the night after the Purim holiday. (1)
*God gets the final victory! His enemies will all be utterly destroyed.
*We look around the world today, and we see all kinds of evil on the rise. If we are paying attention, it grieves our souls and wears us out. That’s not a sin. In 2 Peter 2:7, the Bible tells us that God “delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked.”
*So of course we should be grieved by the evil we see in the world. But at the same time, in Luke 21:28, Jesus said, “When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
*We should lift up our heads, because the victory is sure! God is going to win. We see God’s final victory over Satan in Rev 20:7-10:
7. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison
8. and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.
9. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
10. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
*We all love what the Apostle Paul said about the Lord’s victory in Phil 2:8-11. It’s on the front of our Grayson Baptist T-shirts:
8. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
9. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
*Every knee will bow to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
-God’s enemies will be utterly routed.
2. And God’s people will be given rest.
*We see God’s people at rest here in vs. 16-22:
16. The remainder of the Jews in the king's provinces gathered together and protected their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of their enemies; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.
17. This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. And on the fourteenth day of the month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
18. But the Jews who were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth day; and on the fifteenth day of the month they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
19. Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day of gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another.
20. And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far,
21. to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar,
22. as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.
*God gives rest. On a physical level, God gives a measure of rest to all people. And it’s a miserable thing when we can’t get a good night’s rest.
*If man was in charge, he probably wouldn’t have created the need for sleep. It’s not efficient, and it takes up so much of our lives. But God wisely wanted people to learn how weak we really are, and how much we need His rest.
*God gives rest. And He gives special rest to His own people. So we believers love to hear the Lord’s invitation to us in Matthew 11:28-30. There Jesus said:
28. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
*Of course, all rest in this world is temporary. But there is an everlasting rest coming for all who trust in Jesus. The Apostle Paul mentioned our eternal rest in his last letter to the Thessalonians. In 2 Thess 1: 2-8, Paul said:
2. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
4. so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,
5. which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
6. since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,
7. and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
8. in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
*God wants to give His people rest.
3. And He wants His people to remember.
*This is the message to us from vs. 23-32:
23. So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them,
24. because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them;
25. but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
26. So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur. Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them,
27. the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who should join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time,
28. that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.
29. Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim.
30. And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,
31. to confirm these days of Purim at their appointed time, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had prescribed for them, and as they had decreed for themselves and their descendants concerning matters of their fasting and lamenting.
32. So the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written
*God wanted His people to remember, -- and they still do. The next Purim Holiday begins at sunset on Saturday, Feb.23, 2013. The word "Purim" means "lots," and it refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.
*Purim is preceded by a minor fast called the Fast of Esther. It commemorates Esther's 3 days of fasting in preparation for her meeting with the king. Purim is a time of great celebration for the Jews, with the primary commandment to hear the reading of the book, Esther. The custom during this reading is to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle noisemakers whenever Haman’s name is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to "blot out the name of Haman." (1)
*God wants His people to remember. And we do. At Christmas, we joyfully remember the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Then at Easter we remember the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior.
*God wants us to remember. This is one of the main reasons why we will take the Lord’s Supper again next Sunday morning. As the Apostle Paul said 1 Cor 11:24-25:
24. And when He (i.e. Jesus) had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
25. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
*God wants us to remember. This was one of the most crucial things on Peter’s mind when he wrote his last letter to the church. Listen to these verses from 1 Peter 1:
2. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3. as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue . . .
5. . . for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6. to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
7. to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
8. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
11. for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12. For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.
13. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,
14. knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.
15. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.
*It is important for us to remember.
*Yesterday, I had the blessing of preaching the funeral for SSGT David Bradshaw. I have known David and his family for many years. David unexpectedly died at the age of 50 from a ruptured aortic aneurysm. At the time of his death David had served in the Army National Guard for 31 years. He had also served in law enforcement for over 20 years, currently in Winnfield.
*That was the first time I ever conducted a funeral for an active duty military member, and I was profoundly impressed by their efforts to remember this man’s service. There were at least 20 motorcycle-riding vets who served as a flag carrying honor guard. There were probably 100 to 150 soldiers at the funeral, including a one-star general plus 6 or 7 colonels and majors. There were also 30-40 Law enforcement officers there.
*The funeral procession was maybe a quarter to a half mile long on the way to the burial in Urania. They completely closed eastbound Interstate 20 at Thomas Road to allow the procession to pass.
*The Chaplain who assisted at the funeral pointed out to me that the honor guard carrying the body did not wear their name tags, so all of the emphasis would be on the deceased soldier.
*At the graveside, the General got down on his knee and presented the American flag to David’s 7-year-old son. When he did, that little boy hugged the flag. I watched as the General stood and saluted the little boy. And the boy saluted him back. When he did that, it literally took my breath away.
*Some things need to be remembered, like service, sacrifice, honor and duty.
-But we should especially remember the things of God.
-This is the last lesson for us from the Book of Esther.
*May God help us to remember who He is, and the victory we have through the cross of Jesus Christ.
-Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.