“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.“
We looked last week at the beginning of the end for the attack on the Jews in the 127 provinces in the kingdom of Persia, reaching from India to Ethiopia. Esther, with the encouragement of Mordecai and the power of the Lord, sent out a letter allowing the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies. And as we read this chapter, we find that Haman did not have a hard time finding people to try to carry out his original decree.
The Jews have had and continue to have enemies all over the world. Countries like Iran and other Muslim nations constantly call for the annihilation of Israel. In many of their schools, the nation of Israel is not included in their geographical maps. Many liberal leaders here in the West, including the current President of the US and our PM in Canada, are not fans of Israel. They support the enemies of Israel and open us here in the West to the wrath of God.
Today we will explore the actual day of the battle; we will jump ahead a few months as to what happened on that day – the day that Haman had appointed to eliminate the Jews.
- The Jews were ready, verses 1-2
They had been warned by Esther’s letters, and they were ready to defend themselves. This is all that Esther wanted was that her people would not be caught off guard and slaughtered. God blessed her efforts, and a great victory was accomplished. We will explore more of this later in the lesson, but here we want to simply look at what happens when we step out in faith. Esther trusted that God could help her people, and she simply put herself and her life on the line. I was at a conference once, and the speaker talked about how we all want to stand out, but to do so, we must first stand up. Esther stood up. God honored her standing up, and there is an eternal record of her actions and what God did as a result.
Today is April 8th, 2021, and as I sit here writing, there is a church in Alberta that has been barricaded by the health authorities to try and prevent them from assembling for their church service this coming Sunday as a response to the COVID mess. Their pastor had recently spent 35 days in jail for leading a worship service. He was unable to get bail and get out. If he had been a rapist or murderer, he would have been able to post bail; but for the crime of worshipping the Lord Jesus, they kept him in jail for 35 days. There will always be enemies of the Lord’s people. Some will say that he is disobeying the laws of man, and he was, but those laws violated the laws of God.
I do not know this pastor personally, but I am sure that this coming Sunday, whether in the parking lot or in a field, this local church will have a worship service with the 600+ persons that are normally present. Like Esther, it may be that the Lord has him here for a time like this. The news coverage on this and the political fallout is already happening to the leaders in Alberta. Somewhere along the line, people need to stand and be counted. Esther stood, and God used her bravery and obedience to change the world around her. If you take the time to read the book of Nehemiah, it would appear that the favor for the Jews lasted long after Esther was dead and gone. What a legacy she and Mordecai left!
What will be your legacy here for the generations that follow? Will it be one of cowardice and compliance, or will you be one who stands for the truth and sets a tone of obedience no matter the cost? This is what I wrestle with in this time; I suspect that many more pastors are in the same fight. We know that the need to assemble is essential to the life of a church. It is commanded in Hebrews 10:25 that as we see the last days approaching, we are to make an even greater effort to assemble. Yet the power around us, in the name of safety, wants us to disobey God. We can distance, we can wear masks if they like, but we must assemble; this is God’s command.
We know from current studies that about one-third of all practicing Christians, according to an article from Barna published in July 2020, have stopped attending church completely, even the online versions. There will always be reasons for people not to attend church, but when a government determines that the liquor store is more ‘essential’ than the local church, we need to stand up and show that is a lie.
God’s people have not had to fight for a long time; we have enjoyed relative peace and tranquility here in the West for decades. But the fight is coming; make no mistake. The fight on the homosexual agenda and the Rainbow agenda is real; the fight to thwart or limit speech, thus making parts of the Bible, if not most of it illegal, is real; and the threat to shut down the local church as a response to the pandemic is just as real. Many will say that others have been affected, and you are right. The economic costs are staggering, the human costs in areas like suicide, depression and many other mental issues are staggering, and the spiritual costs are staggering. The division in churches for those who only see the COVID and don’t see any other things is real.
We were blindsided by this mess and caught off guard. Just a couple of weeks, they said, then a few months, and now it has been a year, and they project even more time. But somewhere along the line, God’s people need to stand and stop being afraid. You and I will die when God wants us to die and not a moment sooner. But too many of us have stopped living; we might as well be dead.
- The leadership of Mordecai verses 3-5
We have spent a lot of time talking about Esther, and rightly so, God did name the book after her. But in the shadows and long before Esther was the queen, there was Mordecai. He loved the Lord and loved Esther and taught her the truth. He taught her how to be obedient, loyal and brave. He taught her the history of her people and the truth about who she was as a Jew.
We see that he was a man of integrity and one to not tolerate fools like Haman nor bow to him. He did his job faithfully, serving the king but never forgetting that he was a Jew. Well, the Lord was always noticing, and when the time came, God elevated Mordecai and destroyed Haman. God promoted Mordecai and killed Haman. God did it at the right time. We have a hard time waiting on the Lord. I do; Lord, help me. But Mordecai became the leader in the palace, and his influence empowered the Persians to stand for the Jews as well.
“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. For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent. 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.”
In everywhere that Persia had an embassy or an office, the leaders there banded with the Jews to defeat their enemies because of the influence of Mordecai. What influence do you have in your world? Do you inspire people to be more obedient to the Lord? I am always astonished that people will come and ask me to pray for them; even Muslim people will come and ask me to pray for them. The leaders feared Mordecai; maybe some were afraid of him, but the fear here is more of reverence, not fear like they had with Haman. He was a cruel man, but Mordecai was a godly leader and a good man. Now that he had the power, he was not going to change; what you saw was what you got. Nevertheless, because of his influence, the political leaders sided with the Jews and helped them to prevail.
What is your influence? What are you and I like when we are endued with power? Do we become mean and let the power go to our heads, or are we humbled by God’s grace and become better servants?
Mordecai got even better; he could now influence the people in the ways of Jehovah. In Proverbs 29:2, we are told that the people rejoice when the righteous are in charge. The king did not have to worry about Mordecai trying to subvert him or take his power or steal from him. Mordecai is a godly leader, and so should we be. We should be godly fathers and mentors, godly workers and the best servants, even when we are in charge.
I pray that we will stand up and stand out like Esther and Mordecai. May we fight and encourage others to stand when needed, and may we influence others to do what is right as we lead.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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