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At the king's gate Esther 6 12

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At the King’s Gate

or:

A sense of place

12 Afterwards Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.

                                                                        Esther 6 12

Mention the Book of Esther and there is one text that invariably comes to mind:

Mordecai’s advice to Esther:

Esther 4 14:

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

A sense of God’s timing.

But tonight I want you to consider not the heroine of the book – but the hero – the Jew Mordecai – and in particular his SENSE OF PLACE.

I want to suggest to you that in the same way that our role in the Lord’s work is significant as to timing – it may also be as regards OUR PLACE.

The book itself is of course most unusual – in that it does not mention God at all. This may very well be because it was written at a time when that would offend.

This absence of reference suggests to me that the book – far from being a mere explanation of the origin of a Jewish Festival – PURIM – the book has a specific message for our GODLESS age.

The book celebrates the way in which Mordecai and his beautiful ward Esther influence the King of Persia at a time when an ethnic cleansing of Jews was being plotted by Haman and others.

To summarise:

1:1–22 King Xerxes deposes his queen
2:1–18 Esther is chosen to be queen
2:19–23 Mordecai uncovers a conspiracy
3:1–15 Haman plots against the Jews
4:1–17 Esther agrees to intercede
5:1–8 Esther takes the lead
5:9–14 Haman plots against Mordecai
6:1–14 The king honours Mordecai
7:1–10 The king has Haman hanged
8:1–17 Haman’s edict is reversed
9:1–19 The Jews are seen to triumph
9:20–32 The origin of Purim
10:1–3 The success of Mordecai

 

 

The undoubted heroine of the book that bears her name is Esther but I want to present to you a lesson from the story of Mordecai – and the significance of his favourite place in the city of Susa – THE KING’S GATE.

I want to highlight some of the features of his story, and focus on one verse (6 v 12) and quite unashamedly spiritualise its message.

12 Afterwards Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.

I want to remind you that – when all is said and done – when some particular victory is won over evil, some distinguished act of courage celebrated – the commonplace returns.

Mordecai could be found most days at his chosen place – The King’s Gate – such influence as God allowed him to exercise was there in that place – and when he had been honoured by the king – he returned to that ordinary place.

The spiritual lesson is this:

ESTHER had indeed come for a specific TIME

MORDECAI was there at a God used PLACE.

We have to apply to our ORDINARY duties and our ORDINARY situations the lessons that God teaches us in privilege and redemption.

Remember Samuel – who, as morning breaks after a night in which God has spoken to him directly – has to open the doors of the tabernacle as was his duty.

Yet his commonplace was also the house of God!

I am concerned with our witness – as a church yes – but as people too.

What kind of people are we in the commonplaces of our lives?

Much of what happens in the story of how the Jews were delivered centres – from Mordecai’s perspective in a single location – THE KINGS GATE

THE KINGS GATE   was a familiar meeting place

                                business would be transacted there

                                conversations held, debates conducted

                                News shared

                                Bargains settled

                        and   Legal matters dealt with.

This was Mordecai’s “familiar ordinary place”

Mordecai was a man acquainted with the place of commerce and justice, politics and intrigue, news and public announcements.

I suspect if he had lived in our time he would have had a place in the city – at the centre of commercial or legal or influential  happenings.

But this man was a man of principle.   (For reasons of sensitivity the name of God is not mentioned in the book – but His power and influence is clear : that strikes me as a parable of our own times – where God is left out.)

Mordecai was STRATEGICALLY PLACED

a.  The place of opportunity and faithfulness

2

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, … two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows.a All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

An upright citizen – doing his duty.

That may not be the first description we would place on a believer in today’s world – but it is unmistakeably significant!

b.  The place of witness

4

 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, (to destroy the Jews) he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no-one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it.

Mordecai heard of the plot to kill the Jews.  He does not hide his deep concern for the issue of the day – but, running the risk of identification as a troublemaker, yet keeping within the law – he publicly declares the wrong.

Some would advise caution – even avoidance of the issues that trouble the nation – but Mordecai is not that kind of a man.  He identifies with the need and publicly draws attention to it.

Are we as outspoken?   Does it matter?  Of course it does!

c.  The place of no compromise

5

9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.

Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honoured him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”

Mordecai doesn’t feature by name in Hebrews 11 – but I think he deserves a place there.

His is a fearless faith that does not grovel at a passing dignitary. Does not compromise with those with influence and power.

Our place of work or responsibility is often the place where COMPROMISE is most likely.  We are asked not to bow down to some passing dignitary – but to CONFORM to the standards of this present evil world.

Mordecai’s sitting at the gate took on – for the evil Haman a special significance. He was a thorn in the side of the man.

A silent uncompromising witness.

The danger of compromise is all around us.

To give in is to follow the “wise counsel” of the present evil age.  It is sometimes seen as expedient. – But it is wrong.

Do we make such a witness?

d.  The place of recognition

 

The King  reads the annals of his people and decides to honour Mordecai. He sends for Haman:

6

6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?”

Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honour than me?” 7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honour, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honour, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!’ ”

10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”

This was how Mordecai was recognised in the royal records.  Suddenly the commonplace becomes the place of honour.

He is a man recognised for all the qualities that mark his life – and especially for his consistency.

And after Mordecai is honoured and fêted? What then?

HE RETURNS TO HIS ORDINARY PLACE                6 v 12

6

10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”

11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!”

12 Afterwards Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered, in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

After the    great procession

                the honour

                the celebration           Mordecai returned to his usual place

He did not allow such recognition to alter the duty and practise of a life committed to God and his fellow men.

And – had we been living in Susa then we would have known where to find him. In his usual place at the king’s gate.

His place is not one of PROMINENCE – even though he has been honoured – his place is the place where God has seen fit to put him.

He will honour God there.

Just now we are concerned with the pastoral leadership of this church – and that is right.

We need to do all we can to see that we find the man of God’s choosing.  He will have the particular duty of leading His people here.

WE OURSELVES already have a place.

It may be our home

                our workplace

                our chosen spot

This is where those who do not share our faith see us.

Do we honour God there?

Is there not always a danger that we forget that the OUTREACH of a Church is its people – each one uniquely placed by God to bear witness to His Son.

We should be anxious to follow the example of those who have gone before – even men like Mordecai who were minorities too at a time when most people had no time for God and even the mention of His name is not heard – except in swearing.

Whatever our place it can be for us any of these – in God’s hands:

a.     The place of opportunity and faithfulness

b.     The place of witness

c.      The place of no compromise

d.     The place of recognition

What matters is that we recognise that God has put us there – and we owe it to Him to honour Him in OUR PLACE.

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