And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
April 21-26, 2013
lessons nightly, Mon-Fri at 7:00 PM
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
“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. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
The Old Testament book of Esther is one of two books in the Bible two named after women – Ruth and Esther. Like the book of Ruth, Esther is an action-packed book, which reads like a novel, but which is completely non-fiction. The events contained in this book really happened. They occurred after the 70-year captivity of the Jews in Babylon; after about 50,000 Jews had returned to their native land, and while the Medo-Persian Empire was the super power of the world.
The book of Esther opens with king Ahasuerus hosting a “feast for all his officials and servants” at which time he showed off the riches of his kingdom; a feast lasting for 180 days (Esther 1:1-4). Following this feast, the king also hosted another feast lasting seven days for all the people present in Shushan the palace, at which time “royal wine in abundance” was served. On the seventh day, “when the heart of the king was merry with wine,” he commanded certain eunuchs to “bring Queen Vashti,” that he might “show her beauty to the people and the officials (Esther 1:10-11). She “refused to come at the king’s command” so she was dethroned (Esther 1:12-19). Ultimately a search was made for another person to serve as queen, and Esther, whose Jewish nationality at the time was not divulged, was providentially selected to serve as queen. Esther was an orphan, who had been brought up by Mordecai, her cousin (Esther 2:7, 15).
“After these things” the king promoted Haman, a first class jerk, above all the princes in his kingdom, and this promotion went to his head, especially when “all the king’s servant ...within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage” to him (Esther 3: 1-2). However, Mordecai, a faithful Jew, a cousin to Esther, refused to pay homage to Haman, resulting in his being “filled with wrath” and even determining to “destroy all the Jews … throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus” (Esther 3:5-6).
Clearly, those were critical times! Mordecai appealed to cousin Esther to use her womanly charm and queenly influence to persuade the king in behalf of the Jews, even though he knew (and she knew) that it could have meant her death! In appealing to Esther, Mordecai reasoned, saying, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Prayerfully and obediently, she responded, saying, “…and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). To “make a long story short,” she was successful, her nation was spared, Haman was “hanged…on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” and Mordecai was promoted to being “second to king Ahasureus” (Esther 7:10; 9:5; 10:3). To this very day the Jews celebrate the feast of Purim, which originated during Esther’s time, and which is held in honor of the nation being spared. And let us not forget that this was the nation from which would come the Messiah! Thank God for Esther!
What Kind of a “Time” Was It?
Remember that Mordecai asked Esther, “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)? Obviously, in view of what happened during that time period, and how the events were influenced by Esther, we know that she (providentially) had “come to the kingdom for such a time!” But what kind of time was it?
1. It was a time when the king and the nation’s leaders were exceedingly wicked – a time when a queen was deposed because of her modesty, a time when the king would execute any person who entered his chambers uninvited – unless he held out the golden scepter! Solomon said, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2).
2. It was a time of drinking and revelry – A time when the “royal wine” was served in “abundance” and all were allowed to “do according” to their “pleasure” (Esther 1:3-8).
3. It was a time of immodesty! – When the king demanded that Vashti display her beautiful body before the drunken and lustful eyes of all the people present in Shushan the palace.
4. It was a time when many did not respect the sanctity of marriage! The king got rid of Vashti through no fault of her own. It is true that the text does not specifically say she was his wife, but the advice he received and acted upon implies it (Esther 1:17-18).
5. It was a time when human life was devalued! Remember, the decree which the leaders signed called for the genocide of the Jews, all because one God-fearing Jew refused to bow before proud, egotistical Haman!
6. It was a time when the providence of God was at work! This reminds us of Genesis 22:14 when, after seeing the ram caught in the thicket and being able to offer it for a burnt offering instead of his son, Isaac, Abraham “called the name of the place, Jehovah-Jireh” meaning “the Lord will provide…” Indeed, God did provide the ram during Abraham’s time, and He provided deliverance to the whole nation during the time of Esther!
7. It was a time when one person could make a difference! Esther was that person. To have refused to thus act would have been criminal in nature. We should never under estimate the influence of one person. For example, in 1645 one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England. In 1941 one vote saved the selective service system, just three months before Pearl Harbor!
Amazingly, some 2500 years have passed since the time of Esther. Yet, a look at their times and a look at our times reveal a great deal of similarity. We live in a time when many of our nation’s leaders are wicked, a time of extreme immodesty, when multitudes do not respect the sanctity of marriage, and when human life is de-valued.
Regardless of when they appear in the history of man, the people of God have “come to the kingdom for such a time” as it relates to the generation and the society of which they are a part. Christians are to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-16). As long as time lasts, they have a formidable foe, a vicious “adversary” who walks “about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). There will be times and places when it will be dangerous to be a Christian (cf. John 16:2). Our own government is becoming more and more antagonistic to the religion of Christ. For that matter, Islam is both on the rise and on the attack. Our children and grandchildren will likely face times unimaginable by people born and reared in America in previous generations. We can sit back, be quiet, play it safe and possibly die of natural causes at the end of a “ripe old age.” Or we can be like Esther, take a stand, take whatever risk may be involved, and refuse to give in to the forces of evil, while preaching the gospel to the world. God is still in control! He still “rules in the kingdom of men” (Dan. 4:17).
In today’s world we need more Mordecais and more Esthers; saints who place their trust in God and do what is right because it is right. Such people can make a difference, because they are different! Who are we to think we should be exempt from making the sacrifices which sooner or later are inevitably demanded if we are to continue to enjoy both our political and spiritual freedoms? We have “come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” and each of us individually and all of us collectively can make a difference. Resolve to be an Esther or a Mordecai. By so doing, you can make a difference and be a blessing to your generation.
Winning and Losing
Joe R. Price
Professional golfer Tiger Woods is again ranked #1 in the world. He lost that ranking in 2010 amid the publicity of his marital infidelities and the breakup of his five-year marriage. His public image shattered, he has been rebuilding his reputation – and his swing – ever since.
Nike, one of Woods’ corporate sponsors, posted an online ad Monday celebrating his return to #1 status. It quotes Woods saying, “Winning takes care of everything” (http://on.fb.me/16WC0Bd). Winning may “take care of” a golf ranking, but it is not the wise way to live.
Winning does not “take care” of a broken marriage. His multiple adulteries gave his wife just cause to put him away (Matt. 19:9). Even when he was at the peak of winning, Woods destroyed his marriage through immoral behavior (Heb. 13:4).
Winning does not “take care” of a damaged reputation. Winning golf tournaments does not change the fact that Woods destroyed his good name by sinful choices and conduct (Prov. 22:1). Can a damaged reputation be regained? Yes, through repentance and righteous living (Lk. 22:32-34). If you have damaged your reputation by sin, regain a good one by godly living.
Winning does not “take care” of a lost soul. A person can “win” the whole world, but if he loses his soul, he has lost everything (Matt. 16:26). The most important thing in your life ought to be your salvation – not what you can win or how others “rank” you. Success, when it comes at the expense of your soul, is not success at all, but failure. Christ said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39).
Vince Lombardi is attributed with saying, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. He was wrong. Legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice got it right:
when the One Great Scorer comes
(from the poem “Alumnus Football”)
How are you playing your “Game”? (Micah 6:8)
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/29/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA