Esther 3-4 - For Such A Time As This

Steve Viars January 22, 2000 Esther 3:

- Please tell me if any of these statements sound familiar....
- either because someone has said them to you....
- or because you’ve said them to yourself....

1) God put you in this situation and forgot you.
2) You’re in a dead-end job.
3) You’re in a dead-end relationship.
4) You’re in a dead-end life.
5) God might care about big events and important people, but He’s not concerned about little things like the details of your life.
6) Life is absurd.
7) Life is meaningless.
8) There’s no point to any of this.
9) You’re just one person---what difference can that make?
10) You’re wasting your time.
11) There’s no future in this.
12) If God really loved you, He wouldn’t have let this happen.
13) If God was really in control, He wouldn’t have let this happen.
14) There’s no reward for living for God.
15) There’s no reward for serving God.

- I wonder how many people here today have had those kinds of statements made to them, or perhaps worse, have made similar statements to yourself about some aspect of your life....
1) Either, there’s no purpose to this now....there are no opportunities here in this current situation....it is a dead-end.....
2) Or, there’s no purpose to this for the future....I see no possible benefit in having to go through what I’m experiencing today....it couldn’t possibly help me in the future.

- would you agree with me this morning....many times God’s purposes don’t seem apparent.
- in a moment of weakness, you wonder if God knows, you wonder if God cares, you wonder if He can do anything about it?.....
- we’ve all been there.....

- now let me ask you two questions.....
- First, what happens if you don’t get out of that condition?
- nothing wrong with asking the questions, nothing wrong with being patently honest with God....
- but what happens if you stay in that funk?

1) You may spend a lot of time in discouragement or depression....If Christ wasn’t really raised from the dead, if He is not in control, Paul said that we of all men are most miserable.

2) You very well may become bitter....its hard to have joy if you believe God doesn’t love you or God doesn’t care.

- we could develop that a lot more...but there are some significant downsides to concluding that God either doesn’t know, or care, or have the power to do anything about it.
- here’s the second question....
- how do you explain the fact that sometimes God purposes don’t seem apparent?
- the statements we quoted a moment ago are sometimes said, or sometimes thought....because it feels like they’re true....they seem to accurately express the situation we’re in....
- how do you explain the fact that sometimes God purposes don’t seem apparent?
- how about this.....
1) Sometimes they don’t seem apparent because they haven’t come to fruition yet....
- God is preparing us for what’s about to happen....
- and He’s molding us for how He plans to use us next.....
- and every second spent doubting that is a second stolen from sitting the seat of preparation, learning and experiencing all God has for us so we’re ready for the next ministry assignment.
- so sometimes His purposes don't seem apparent because they haven’t come to fruition yet....

2) At other times, those purposes are there right now, but for a variety of reasons, we’re missing them.
- we don’t have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is wanting to do in the midst of that “meaningless-looking situation” right now.

- see, the truth is.....
- it is hypothetically possible that many of us here today, find ourselves in situations that we have concluded are meaningless....
- when the fact is.....
- God is either preparing us for something right around the corner....
- God is providing us with an opportunity for ministry, FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS, and so far we’ve missed it.

- with all of that in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Esther chapter 3.
- Esther is the 17th book of the Bible.
- if you don't have a copy of God’s Word, or if you’re new to studying the Bible....there is a copy in the pew in front of you...and Esther chapter 3 is on page 365 of that particular version.

- Last week we learned that we are right toward the end of OT history.
- this is the Persian period of world history, which occurred between 539 and 331 BC.
- so Assyria has already risen and fallen
- and Babylonia has risen and fallen
- now the dominant world power is Persia.....

- some of God’s people have returned to Jerusalem with a man named Zerubbabel and have begun to rebuild the city.
- you could read about that in the book of Ezra chapters 1-6.
- many of God’s people are still living in Persia, and the book of Esther is telling what is happening to some of God’s people in that place, beginning around 485 BC.

- now, we said last week that there are only five key characters in this book, and we’ve already met four of them.
- could you name them?
1) King Ahasuerus - king of Persia - which at this time was stretched out over 127 different provinces...from India to Ethiopia, chapter 1 tells us.
- we find him in this book having a six month feast where’s he’s showing off all his great wealth and power to different leaders that he rotates in and out.
2) Then there was his wife whose name was?....[Vashti]
- except she’s not his wife anymore, because in chapter 1, Ahasuerus is drunk with his buddies, and he commands his wife to do something before all these drunken men to show her off too, and she refuses.
- so she’s been banished from his presence and the overall picture is that you have two people who have great wealth and power but they have no relationship with the God of heaven....
- and so they have no principles for how to make a relationship work...
- and certainly no principles for how to put those principles into practice....

3) The third character is a Jewish man named.....Mordecai.....
4) And he is the older cousin of our fourth character named.....Esther.
- Esther was an orphan, and Mordecai brought her into his own home and raised her as his own daughter.....and what’s striking about these first couple of chapters is that the people with the power and prestige can’t get along....but the people living in a pagan culture as aliens and strangers have a relationship with one another that is warm and compassionate because they know God, and they have His Word.

- chapter 2 ended with Esther becoming the new queen of Persia in place of Vashti....and Mordecai actually saving the kings life, but receiving no acknowledgment or reward.
- so you look at these first two chapters and say....
- well, I can see the contrast in the relationship quality between those who know God and those who don’t....[regardless of who has the power and prestige and who’s living in an unjust situation]
- but you also might conclude....but what’s the purpose of it?
- Esther is now married to this wicked selfish Persian king....
- and Mordecai performed a great act of heroism and nothings none.....
- the whole situation is purposeless.....

- now we need to meet the fifth and final character....a man named Haman.
- READ Esther 3:1
- now see, there’s what I mean.....its meaningless....
- Mordecai’s the one who saved the kings life at the end of chapter 2, and some other guy is getting the promotion....
- maybe life is just absurd and meaningless?

- READ Esther 3:2
- now, the reason why Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman isn’t clear.
- some people believe it would have been a violation of the ten commandments to bow down to another human being.....
- the problem with that is that there are plenty of examples of godly people who bowed down to others out of respect....
- a more likely reason comes from verse one which tells us that Haman was an Agagite....
- you can read more about that in Exodus 17:8-15 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19.
- these people were ancient enemies of the Jews and God had declared war on them because of their lifestyles.
- in fact, when the book of Esther is read in many Jewish congregations during the feast of Purim, every time Haman’s name is read, the congregation stomp their feet and yell out “May his name be blotted out forever.”

- so its probable that Mordecai bowing down to Haman would have been viewed as him going against God in this matter.
- read Esther 3:3-4:14.

- now, with the time we have remaining, I’d like us to think about:
I. Haman’s Plot
II. Mordecai’s Direction
III. Esther’s Decision
- I’d like to present to you that in each stage of this story, we learn principles to help us see God’s purposes even in situations where they’re not readily apparent.


I.  [First] Haman’s Plot


- from a human perspective, you could not have picked a worse man to promote than Haman.
- If we thought Esther and Mordecai were in a bind in chapters 1-2, that looked like a Sunday school picnic compared to chapters 3-4.

- Warren Wiersbe points out in his commentary on this book that Haman was everything God hates.
- you say, what did he mean by that?
- well, you remember in Proverbs chapter 6, that there is a list of characteristics that God hates.....
- do you remember what they are?
1) a proud look     2) a lying tongue     3) hands that shed innocent blood
4) a heart that devises wicked plans     5) Feet that run rapidly to evil
6) A false witness who utters lies     7) He that sows discord among the brothers

- Haman was all of that, yet God allowed him to be promoted to a position of power and prestige.
- Proverbs 21:1 - The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turns it wherever He wishes.
- Romans 9:17 - For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

- God allowed this man to be put in a position of authority over Mordecai and Esther and the entire Jewish nation.
- yet he’s deciding the exact day this massacre will take place by casting lots, he’s lying to the king to justify the plan, he’s bribing the king through this offer of an incredible amount of money.
- and you’re tempted to say, if God cared about Esther and Mordecai, he would have never let this happen.
- what lessons can we learn from Haman’s plot?
- God often allows evil to occur to show the depth of depravity of the person who does not know Him.
- you look at the way this man is holding this ancient grudge
- you look at his designing this murderous plot....
- you look at him in verse 15, issuing the edict and then sitting down to eat.....
- and you can’t help but see the depth of depravity in the human heart....

- and friends, that can either make us proud and self-righteous...or it can remind us of where we might be were it not for the grace of God.
- maybe God has allowed that evil person into your life as a living lesson of where you might be if He hadn’t saved you.
- Can you imagine how selfish we’d be?
- Can you imagine how ruthless?
- Can you imagine vindictive?
- friends, we’ve all got a little Haman in us?
- our stand before God isn’t based on us cleaning up our act on the outside through human effort.
- its only because of His grace, its only because of His mercy, its only because of the shed blood which forgives of our sin, and his imputed righteousness which allows the privilege of access to a holy God.
- friend, if you’re in a situation where an evil person is involved...has their presence made you proud, or has it made you humble?
- has it made you angry, or has it made you thankful?
- have you concluded, “God has forgotten me”, or, “If it wasn’t for God’s intervention, I’d be like that or worse.”

- another lesson from Haman’s plot is that often God allows evil as a backdrop for the righteous acts of His redeemed children.
- any artist will tell you that you need a backdrop....you need a point of contrast or comparison.
- if you want a diamond to shine, you display it against a setting that is dark.
- when I was in seminary, one of our professors was named John Davis.
- David was a Hebrew scholar, and taught a lot of Old Testament classes, and also led a number of archeological digs in the middle east.
- when they would come back from a trip, they would display their finds by placing them on a velvet backdrop that was black, or maroon...and it always provided a beautiful contrast.
- Davis was also an avid fisherman, in fact he wrote a weekly column in the local paper on fishing.
- well, whenever he wanted to tell his readers about a new fishing lure....he would display it exactly the same way.
- it always struck me as odd that I could see archeological treasures on rich velvet during the week, and fishing lures on rich velvet on the weekends.
- but friends, if you know Jesus Christ as Lord and savior, God wants to showcase His glory, and His power, and His truth.....through your life.
- and many times he places you in a setting where there’s a deep contrast...a dark contrast.
- and if we were think more clearly, we would appreciate the opportunity to stand out that that dark contrast provides.
- but unfortunately, too often we lash out at the very backdrop God has provided for a contrast.
- now, let’s move from Haman’s Plot to:


II. Mordecai’s Direction


- these words in verses 13-14 of chapter 4 are classic. [if time, reread]

- there are two major ideas here:
1) There’s no question that God will accomplish His purposes, the question is, will you allow yourself to be used.
- He’s going to get the job done...and He’d like to use you....but if you will not yield yourself to Him, someone else will have the joy and blessing of seizing that opportunity for ministry and service.

- A.W. Tozer likened this truth to a great ship going from Europe to New York City.
- the passengers have the freedom to move about the ship, and do all sorts of things, and say all sorts of things.....but the bottom line is.....the ship is going to reach its destination.
- God has a plan for this world...and that plan is going to be accomplished......the question is----do we want to be part of that plan?....
- will we make ourselves available for His use?

- now a good question to ask at this point is --- well, How did Mordecai know that God would not allow Haman’s plot to entirely destroy all those of Jewish descent?
- What’s the answer to that question?
- because Mordecai believed the Word of God.
- we mentioned this last week that the nation of Israel began with a three-fold promise made to whom in Genesis 12?  [Abraham]
- until all the promises to the Jewish nation have been fulfilled, their nation will never be exterminated.
- and isn’t it amazing how many times in both biblical and secular history, someone tried to do exactly what Haman was trying to do?
- and please don’t forget by the way, the spiritual element of all of this....Satan our adversary has a part in this....
- but Mordecai could stand confidently in this passage because he believed in the promises of God.....even though His circumstances seemed to indicate otherwise.

- friend, you and I will never have the fortitude necessary to see God’s purposes in difficult times unless we’ve dealt with the mater of walking by faith [in His Word] regardless of what our circumstances might seem to indicate.
- like Job said after he lost his health, wealth, and his family.....”Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
- its like the prophet Habakkuk - 3:17 - Though the fig tree should not blossom, And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail, And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

2) Now, what’s the second part of Mordecai’s direction?
- Don’t forget, God may have put you in this situation, for just such a time as this.

- see, friends, that takes us back to the two categories we mentioned at the very beginning of the message.
- you and I are either living in Esther chapter 2, or we’re living in Esther chapter 3.
- either God is using the circumstances of our life to prepare us for a ministry opportunity down the line just like he used the events of chapter 2 to prepare Mordecai and Esther]....
- or He has placed us in situations right now, where those circumstances though they seem difficult, are divinely designed ministry opportunities [like chapter 3 --- for just such a time as this].
- my guess is, for many of us, we are currently experiencing a mixture of both....if we’ll look for them.
- I’m asking, are you living in Esther chapter 2, or in Esther chapter 3, and can you see God’s purposes in each category?

1) For example, what is God doing in your life right now that fits under the “preparing for ministry” category?
- Maybe God is allowing those marriage troubles because He wants you to learn biblical answers, get to a better place, and then be prepared to help someone else who will need you down the line.
- Maybe that’s why He’s given you those imperfect kids....
- maybe He’s given you some peer pressure right now to stiffen your backbone for stands you’ll have to take down the line.

- Question is --- are you kicking against those situations, squandering those situations....or are you letting God prepare you?
- if God can prepare a woman like Esther to be the deliverer of His people.....by allowing her to be orphaned, and then allowing her to be forced into service in the king’s Harem....if He can use that as a preparing ground, He can use anything.

- and some of us are so busy trying to get out of class....[we’re down at the principal’s office complaining about the teacher, complaining about the classroom, complaining about the conditions, we’re trying to get a transfer slip out of the situation.....we need to get back to class and get busy learning all God wants us to learn so we’ll be ready when the time comes.

- You may be here this morning and the truth is, you need to work harder at getting ready.
- there are opportunities to be getting prepared for future ministry opportunities and you’re not doing so.

2) Some of us are also living in Esther chapter 3 like situations.
- for such a time as this.....
- its not a matter of being prepared for a ministry opportunity.....that opportunity is here...
- friend, are you looking for it., and are you making the most of it?

- God may have put you in that office, with all of these people, and all of those problems, and all the injustices....for such a time as this.
- God may have put you in that school, and in that class, with that teacher and those students, for such a time as this.
- he may have given you that disease, and that doctor, and those nurses, for such a time as this.
- Mordecai was exactly right when he challenged Esther with that thought----friend, what ministry opportunity is God giving you, for such a time as this....and are you seizing it----are you making the most of it?

- let’s conclude by thinking about:


III. Esther’s Decision


- Esther had to decide, was she going to make the hard choice and stand up and take the challenge....or was she going to miss the opportunity to serve God in an unusual way?
- thank the Lord for this young woman who said, “please ask the people to be praying for me, because I’m going to do it, and if I perish, I perish.”
- there are worse things than dying, and one of them is, failing to do what God want me to do.

- friend, will you stand with Esther on that issue?
1) I wonder about the person who is here who has not yet trusted Christ?
- its not an easy thing to admit your sin
- its not an easy thing to say that Jesus Christ deserves to be your Lord....
- its not an easy thing to become a follower of Christ....
- but I know this, if you have not yet trusted Christ....God wants you to do that today.
- perhaps God has allowed to live as long as He has, and to be around the believers He’s placed around you, and even to hear this message this morning....for such a time as this.....
- its time to make a decision to trust Christ....will you do so?

2) What if you’re in the preparation mode?
- and so far you’ve been kicking against the process....
- you’re not letting it refine you and prepare you like you should....
- will you confess that to God today?
- will you place a high value on being trained and prepared for future ministry opportunities?

- [could develop --- Lay Counseling Training Class]
- [could also talk about ABF’s --- classes coming up on overview of the Bible, hermeneutics]

3) What about those who have a ministry opportunity staring them in the face?
- and maybe there is some risk involved....
- maybe there is some fear....
- maybe God’s is stretching you more than ever before....
- friend, would you stand with this godly young woman?
- pray for me, cuz I’m doing it, and if I perish, I perish.....
- if they laugh at me, they laugh at me....
- if they fire me, they fire me....
- if they disown me, they disown me....
- Maybe I have attained royalty for such I time as this
- Maybe I was placed in this neighborhood for such a time as this....
- Maybe I was placed in this family....
- office, church,


- Can I conclude by saying that this passage also has corporate applications?
- I am convinced that our church has some unique ministry opportunities before us, and the question is, are we going to seize them?

1) new subdivisions -- evangelism/discipleship
2) more people than we’ve ever had before
3) more resources than we’ve ever had before
4) more finances
5) counseling ministry that is exploding [talk about waiting list]
6) scores of new folks to be befriended
7) school that is much further along than we would have ever dreamed

- develop --- illus of Purdue and Ind. Colts
- didn’t seem to recognize the significance of the game

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video