Esther 3 | Stand Up, Stand Out
Esther 3 | Stand Up, Stand Out
May 12, 2024 |
Sunday Morning
Esther 3 | Stand Up, Stand Out
Colby Flowers |
Esther 3
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Good morning, church. It’s good to be with you this morning. We’re continuing in our series of Esther this morning. Esther, chapter three is where we’re going to be. And happy Mother’s Day to everyone in the building. I’m not here today without a mother. My mama came in and surprised me today. I wasn’t sure she was going to be here. So thanks, mama, for being here. And today is a bittersweet day. We acknowledge the bittersweetness of Mother’s Day that some of you are here today, and your mothers with you. And we know and acknowledge that some others aren’t in the room today. And so we know that there are some bittersweetness with today. But we celebrate mothers anyway, because without mothers we wouldn’t be here. And I’m so thankful that God uses godly mothers to raise their families and help contribute to the church and to build God’s kingdom through raising their families. And I’m so thankful for mothers today. But our passage in text actually isn’t about Mother’s Day at all. In fact, there is a lot of tension in our passage today in Esther chapter three. So go ahead and turn there. And as you’re turning there, if you know me at all, you know that I like baseball, played baseball, I coached baseball, and I’ve obviously watch baseball. And one of my favorite teams is the Miami Marlins, which may seem random because they’re not a popular team and I have no affiliation with Florida. But growing up in 1997, I watched the Marlins win their first World Series, and they were the underdogs. I was hooked ever since then, and so I often go to watch Marlins games. And on one occasion I went to Wrigley Field to watch them play the Chicago Cubs. And I know Nick, Nick rice is in the building, an elder at the church. He loves the Cubs. but today, or on this day, the Cubs didn’t pull out the win. But going to the game, of course, I had to get decked out in my Marlins gear. Right? And because they’re not a wildly popular team, I was, I was I thought I might be the only Marlins fan in the stadium when I went. So I had good seats, surrounded by just a sea of Cubs fans. But lo and behold, there was one Marlins fan sitting right in front of me in the row running from me. It’s like, all right, I got me some protection now in case things go down. So the game is going on. The Marlins get a big base hit and we score run. And at that point, it kind of is the deciding factor. And we ended up getting the win. And so in response to that, I stand up with a big, loud yes, with a huge fist pump. And so all the Cubs fans immediately turn and look, I get all of their disgust, but I notice the same, the Marlins fan right in front of me. He has the same reaction. He gets up with a loud yes. And so we turn and slowly both look at each other make eye contact. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this moment at a sporting event. We make eye contact in the world is looking at us and we’re looking at each other. It’s excitement and anticipation is building. Okay? He goes and raises his hand as a sign, an invitation for a high five. And everyone’s watching it. This moment and this high five would communicate to all the Cubs fans around us that so without hesitation or deliberation, I raise my hand and with a slight rearing back, I thrust my hand towards his. And it is a perfect connection on a high five. And the the the smack of that high five honestly, probably sounded just as loud as the crack of the bat off that base hit that we just got. And it was sounds all across the area and they were just looking at us. But I was so pumped, so excited. Despite the fact I was swarmed and surrounded by a sea of Cubs fans. But a brand that story this morning, because it’s going to apply to our text. Because I’ve got a question for you this morning. What are you willing to stand for in your life? What are you willing to stand for? Hello, Lord. So what are you willing to stand for in your life? Because we’re gonna see in the passage today, someone is standing for something that they believe in. And here’s the truth that we need to understand this morning. That if you stand up for biblical truth, you will stand out from the world. That is, if you are convicted by God’s Word and you want to stand up for your faith in this world, you are going to stand out from it. And there’s this tension that we’re going to see today in the book, because we see this character who’s central to the book, Mordecai, doing two things. He is both helping the king, as we saw in the last chapter, but he also now is not obeying the King. So Christians must wrestle with the tension of being a good neighbor and a holy exile. There’s this tension we should live with because we are called by God to be good neighbors, to love our neighbor as our self. And we are called to to live out our faith and to be good neighbors. But also we’re called to be different, to not look like the world, but to be in the world, to love those in the world and to not look like them. And so for Mordecai, we’re going to see that in the story today. And so just for a context, Esther, who was just picked to be king, she, is now in the palace. Will Mordecai, if you remember the last in the chapter to which you could probably see if you look down at your Bibles the last few verses, Mordecai uncovers this plot to kill the king, and so he sends word to Esther. Esther tells the king and the plot is taken away. So Mordecai actually was being a good neighbor. He helped the king survive, and so we’re kind of left on this cliffhanger. At the end of chapter two, we’re thinking, Is Mordecai going to be rewarded for this? Is he going to get something back for this? But then we jump into verse three and we see the exact opposite. It’s not Mordecai that gets blessed, it’s someone else. So look here in Esther chapter three, verse one, it says this. After these things King has a race promoted ham in the aggregate, the son of Ham, a daughter an advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. So it’s funny. Mordecai does this amazing thing for the king. He doesn’t get any notice, recognition or praise. Hammon who is this as we’re going to see this self-focused, self-obsessed man? He’s the one who’s promoted and lifted to the highest official in the land. Well, Hammond himself, he is called. This is called an aggregate is. We’re going to kind of unpack in just a minute, but Hammond’s promoted while Mordecai is not. So I mean, something simple to come out of this is that sometimes doing the right thing does not lead to immediate promotion or praise sometimes, but doing the right thing, being the good neighbor and doing what is right always doesn’t lead to immediate recognition and praise. That could be it. Your job with your family out. It just out and about. But here’s the thing. Mordecai was still being faithful to God. He wanted to be a good neighbor, but something interesting because there’s a lot of tension between this person, Mordecai, and this person named Hammond. Did you know that these two people descended from the same brothers? So if y’all remember in the Old Testament, Jacob and Esau, they were twin brothers. They were born of Isaac. And. And from them Jacob leads to Israel, and Esau leads to the Amalekites. And it was a little bit of a history lesson, but it should be up on the screen. I want to I want to show you all this. So Mordecai came from King Saul, and he came from Jacob. Hamon came from this guy named King Agag, which is why he’s an aggregate. I know this is a lot of history, but he came from Esau brothers, twin brothers who split off, and they were in complete conflict for the entire history of their people. So it’s interesting. Israel was supposed to put an end to the Amalekites and his people, but they don’t. And so now we have in this situation, Hammond himself is going to reverse it, and now he’s going to try to end the Jews. So there’s this huge amount of tension being built up. And he goes on in verse two here, and all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Hammond, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage, pay respect. So what’s interesting here is that it talks about this, this pageantry, what they would do in Persia, they would have this daily pageantry where the officials would come out and they walk out and they would get praise and and recognition. And this is what Hammond would do often. And so Hammond would come out along with these other officials and they would get praise, and people would bow down to them and give them homage. But what’s interesting is Mordecai doesn’t. Mordecai does not bow down. He does not bend the knee. He is the one who stands up and stands out because he, as we’re going to see in just a minute because he’s a Jew. Because this isn’t just your average. I’m going to give respect to my leader. This is I’m going to adore and to worship this person. And as long as you toed the line and bowed the knee, then you would be okay. But Mordecai is not doing that. So understand this morning that Christians should obey the governing authorities up to the point of contradicting their faith. You and I have a duty to be good neighbors. In fact, in Romans 13 I put a cross-reference up there for you that it says that we should obey the governing authorities over us because they will have sword to protect what is good, and we should obey the governing authorities like Mordecai does. He protects the king. He discovers this plot and helps him. But now we see Mordecai not obey the king. Do you see that? So there’s this tension. We should be as Christians. We should obey the governing authorities up to the point that it contradicts our faith. Because as Mordecai is going to say, it’s because I’m a Jew. Look at this in verse three. Then the king servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, why do you transgress the king’s command? So they’re coming up to him and asking, why aren’t you listening? Why aren’t you obeying the king? Bow down and worship this man. This is kind of similar in reminiscent to Daniel, right? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Bow down or you’re going to go in the furnace. This is a very similar situation in a similar culture, but it goes on in verse four. And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them. So Mordecai is hearing them day after day. They continue to challenge him, put pressure on him and ask him. He doesn’t listen. And so it says they told him, and in order to see whether Mordecai these words would stand for he had told them that he was a Jew. So a couple things to understand here. Sometimes the wisest thing is to be silent. Sometimes it’s the wisest thing to not say anything, because Mordecai doesn’t want to stir up a bunch of civil unrest. He is simply standing because of his convictions and faith. But notice, it’s day after day. They keep coming back to him. But here’s the thing time is often the biggest test of our commitment. Time often is the biggest test of our commitment for faith, our commitment to marriage, our commitment to relationships, our commitment to the gym. It’s time that test our faith. So over time, he is being tested day after day and he continues to remain silent. But then at some point he pipes up and says, listen, I’m not bowing down to this man because I am a Jew and I have convictions. Jews worship only one God, and I will not bow down to this man. And so what do they do? They go and tell him and Hammond, this guy. Bow and down. Are you going to do anything about it? Like is what is what he’s doing? Is that okay? You see, believers must deal with the tension of standing up for their convictions while also loving their neighbor as themselves. And that’s very difficult. Some of you have experienced this. You want to stand up for truth, but you’re being pressured into bowing the knee to the culture and to the society around you. I want to love my neighbor but also hold God’s word is true. Do you see the tension? I have to do both. And Mordecai is walking this fine line. I’m not going to bow down and worship this man, Hammond, but I’m going to stand for my convictions. And what God has said. And the crazy thing is, it’s going to get harder and harder. In fact, what’s really destroying the evangelical church from the inside out is this is this kind of this, this compassion that they want to have for people, but they sacrifice and get rid of God’s Word for the sake of appeasing the culture. And we face that same temptation every day. But are we willing to stand on God’s Word in our convictions and still love our neighbor, while also saying no to the culture? Look at verse five. And when Hammond saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Hammond was filled with fury. Hammond, by this point had noticed Mordecai. He walks through head held high, self self-obsessed, self-absorbed, getting all this praise, but then he finally turns over and looks and sees him not bowing down, and he’s filled with rage and fury. This next verse helps us how much fury he has. Look at verse six. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, meaning he didn’t just want to punish Mordecai, not just him alone. It says so as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, the Jews, Hammond sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai throughout the whole kingdom of a hazardous. This is the big. This is the big problem in this book. Hammond now has the desire, fury, and anger did not just punish Mordecai, but to get rid of all the people because here’s the reality Mordecai is just a stand in for the Jews. Mordecai is just someone he can aim his anger at because listen, he doesn’t just hate Mordecai, he hates what he believes. He doesn’t just hate and have fury towards Mordecai. He has hate and fury towards God. I need to be worshiped, Heyman would say. I need to be worshiped. I need to get the attention. And if you’re not going to do it for me, I’m not only going to punish you, Mordecai, I’m gonna punish your whole people and I’m going to punish everything and remove everything that you believe in. Do you see the picture? But this is the reality we live in today, is it not? The world will hate Christians because they ultimately hate Christ and what he stood for. Did Jesus not tell us this and teach us this, that we would be hated not just because they hate us, but because who we stand for, we stand for Christ and His Word. So if they hate Christians, it’s because they hate Christ. Look what it says in John 15 if the world hates you, know that it is hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world. But I chose you out of the world. Therefore the world hates you. So, you know, that’s a pretty good test if you are actually following and believing in Jesus. Does the world love you, or does the world hate you? For Mordecai. He was being hated by him and. And so all this to say, this is often what God does in His Word. See often in God’s plan, the rescue word. The one who’s doing the rescuing. He’s the one who gets targeted. We see this with the prophets. We see this in the Old Testament, but ultimately we see this when Jesus, the one who came to rescue us from our sin and from death, he is the one who is targeted. He is the one who is persecuted. And we would not be shocked as the church, if we, as the church, would be the ones to be persecuted. So my first encouragement for us this morning from our passage is that like a good neighbor, stand for the truth. Y’all like that. So if y’all didn’t catch the little jingle in your ear from your commercial, from your commercial, watching all the commercials aren’t even a thing anymore because of streaming. But like, a good neighbor stand for the truth. Because you know what? The most loving thing you can do for your neighbor is to tell them the truth. Imagine a doctor going up to a patient who is dealing with a horrible sickness, a life threatening sickness, and the doctors reading the report understands their situation goes up to him and says, you’re okay, good, clean bill of health. Have a good day. That would be malpractice. But we as Christians can commit spiritual malpractice by telling the world that you’re doing okay and I’m going to appease you, but I’m not going to tell you the truth. See, as Christians, we need to be a good neighbor by standing for the truth and love. And it’s a challenge. And it’s going to be a growing challenge as we continue on in our culture that’s growing further and further away from God. He goes on here in verse seven, in the first month, which is the month of Nissan, the 12th year of King Hazor, as they put they cast who are that is, they cast lots before him, and day after day, and they cast it month after month till the 12th month, which is the month of Adar. So notice the time on the first month to the 12th month, 11 straight months. Haman and his servants are plotting and scheming how they’re going to take out all of the Jews. So they start casting lots. It was basically the equivalent of rolling a dice or flipping a coin. It was a game of chance, and it helped people make decisions in back in the day. So they were casting lots to figure out when they were going to persecute and ultimately destroy the Jews. And so all of this may seem weird, but honestly, the Old Testament teaches us that these things may be left up to chance. But here’s the reality God is still in control. Look at Proverbs 1633. It says the lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord. And I want to think this morning that sometimes we look at life as if it’s all up to chance. I got a bad I’ve had a bad go of it here lately and it’s just all out of control, all out of whack. Everything’s left up to chance. No one’s in control. Life is crazy. There’s no rhyme or reason for anything. But the reality is, according to God’s word, God’s in control. So listen, this morning, life may seem to be left up to chance. But you can trust God is working behind the scenes. You can trust that God is working behind the scenes in your life for your good and his glory. If you’re going to trust in him. This Tuesday, we have a a drama performance of production happening at church. I’m really excited about it. We’ve got students involved in it here. We’ve got children involved in it. Aaron and Sarah Davis have really been helping and leading and putting this thing together, and I’ve been walking through some of the, walking through the chapel and even in this room where they’ve been rehearsing and preparing, getting costumes ready, going over lines, all the various things that go into a production and whether it’s small or big production, it takes a lot of work. And to see them go through all of this, you don’t really notice it on the stage during the performance, do you? You see all the things that are happening in the theatrical performance, but all the work that went into it is a crazy amount of hours and sacrifice. But I bring that up because we may see or live from a surface level, but underneath God is working in so many ways that we can’t even fathom. And right now in the story, it’s the same. It may look like the Jews are going to be destroyed. Mordecai is going to be getting they’re going to get rid of him, and Esther is going to be going to be killed as well. But here’s the reality. God’s setting this all up for a great and incredible testimony of his power. And God wants to do that in your life. Look at verse eight. Then Heyman said to King of Hazardous, there is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples and all the provinces of your kingdom. There are laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the King’s laws so that it is not the king’s profit to tolerate them. So Hammond builds an argument. Listen, King, there’s this specific group of people that have a specific set of laws and they’re not obeying you. So you know what we should do? We need to get rid of them. They’re intolerant. Ever heard that word? They’re not inclusive enough. They’re not accepting of every mean meaning. They don’t just let anybody do whatever they want like we do. We need to get rid of them. You can’t tolerate them, King. It’s not to your profit. So we need to get rid of them. Do you see this? Listen. Pagan cultures of this kind, like Roman culture, Greek culture and even Persia, Babylon, all these cultures, they’re pagan now, these cultures, historically, what they would do is, is they would promote what we would call inclusivity and acceptance to everyone. As long as you bow down and toe the line of the culture, we’ll accept all religions, all beliefs, and we’ll bring it in and we’ll let you do your thing. As long as you bow down to us and you toe the line of our culture, you see it. This is today. Because in the modern context, for us today, in the modern context, inclusivity, relativism, another word syncretic ism, they’re all the legs of the altar of Wokeism that we’re dealing with today. I’m not. And not only you want to get I’m not getting political at all. I’m trying to get biblical with you to look at what is happening in our culture and in our world is a moral issue. So relativism is or sorry, inclusivity is just saying we got to accept everybody and everyone, no matter what they believe. Relativism is. Well, truth is truth. Your truth. You can believe I’ve got my own truth. And even if we disagree, that’s okay. Syncretism is saying all these various religions can all be together in one, and they’re all the same. They lead to the same path, the same road. And you and I are challenged each and every day to bow the knee and toe the line of this cultural pagan religion. But here’s the good news for us this morning, friends, is that God places his chosen people in the middle of a godless culture because light is brightest in the darkness. You see, the darker the culture gets, the brighter the church gets. The more our culture heads away from God, the closer the church should be. Getting to God. And we’ll see who is truly following Jesus and who is not. But it’s a challenge and for us to stay the faith. Look at verse nine if it pleases the King, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 pounds of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the King’s business. That they may put it into the king’s treasuries. So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to him in the aggregate the son of humbled Arthur, the enemy of the Jews, and so the king said to him, and the money is given to you, the people also to do with them, as it seems good. He goes on. Then the king scribe were summoned on the 13th day of the first month an edict, and according to all that Hammond commanded, it was written to the king’s satraps and to the governors over all the provinces, and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province and its own script, and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King of Nazareth, and sealed with the king’s signet ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children. In one day. The 13th day at the 12th month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province, by proclamation, to all the peoples to be ready for that day. And last verse. For a main passage it says the couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa, the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink. But the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. So here’s the plot, here’s the edict, here’s the decree, stamped with the king’s approval, sent out to every province, every people, every leader, every language, so that every person throughout the entire kingdom would know that on this day, on the 13th of this month, and it’s actually 11 months span on this day, we are going to annihilate all the Jews. This state led persecution against the Jewish people has been going on for years, and it’s repeated over and over and over again. And this is just one instance. But it’s funny because the story this chapter ends with Hamann and the King sitting back, throwing back a couple beers and then letting the city just being complete. Chaos and confusion over this news. And you see this clear word. Picture the royalty. They make decisions and they don’t care. The common people, they have no idea why in the world this is going on. I want to say this this morning though, when God’s people stand up, the world will go to any link to force them down by fear, deception and persecution. I don’t need to explain that anymore any more than that church. We need to stand firm on God’s Word. Amen. So here’s my second point for you this morning. We need to embrace being a peculiar people. It’s the KJV translation here peculiar people. We have to embrace being a peculiar people, a people, different people set apart. And I’m going to kind of bring this to an end here in first Peter two, as we draw close. But Imma give you some a little, little advice here. Look at this. First Peter two nine but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. That phrase right there are people for his own possession. The KJV translated a peculiar people, people who are different, people who are holy, who are set apart, who are chosen by God. They are treasured possession of God. And here’s why that you may proclaim the excellencies of him, of God who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. God chose you. God set you apart so that you would make known how great God is, so that you would be a light in the darkness, that you would be both a good neighbor and a holy exile. To love those around you, but stand for truth at the same time. Verse ten. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. The church is now the people of God. We are called by God to stand up for him, and to stand on His Word, and to make known how good and marvelous he is. So let me give you three pieces of advice. Ready? We’re going to run through these real quick. Number one, abstain from sin. You want to be holy in a dark world. You want to be light in a dark world. Abstain from the sin that’s in the culture. Look at this and write. The verse comes right after, first Peter 210, the number 11. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul. I shared a quote with our students this past Wednesday. We’re not on a cruise ship. We’re on a warship. We’re on a battleship. The Christian life is not cruising towards the end of our life. The Christian life is on a battleship. We’re battling against the enemies of God, and we’re going to head on into eternity with God, carrying as many people as we can with us. We’re called to fight sin. So one way we can fight in the dark world, abstain from it. Number two, live honorably in the world, says in the next verse. First Peter 212, keep your conduct among the Gentiles, honorable Gentiles or nonbelievers, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God in the day of visitation, so that your conduct, being honorable among the world, can actually help people see God. Amen. How you live can be a gospel to people. Opening new doors for the gospel. Third, last but not least, submit to authority. Yikes. This is 13 and 14. Be subject to the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the Emperor as supreme or as governors on the local level, as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. Because even the world doesn’t want to be governed by the world. But what if Christians, for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of the good of our neighbor, and for the sake of keeping the peace that we obeyed those in authority over us up to the point of contradicting our faith, we can be a living gospel for those people. So here’s my challenge for us this morning. Are you comfortable living in detention of being both a good neighbor and a holy exile? Because you can do both. It’s possible to just be a good neighbor, but don’t actually live and stand out from your with your faith. It’s possible that you can just be standing out in your faith and just opposing everything, but not really be a good neighbor. I’m talking about finding that tension right in between where you love your neighbor, but you also stand for truth. And so the call and the challenge for us is clear in the culture. So I would encourage you live and embrace this tension. Let’s pray.