Esther 8-10 - The Victory that Comes From Living for God

Steve Viars February 12, 2000 Esther 8:

- This morning I’d like to begin our time by asking you a question.
- How many of you enjoy a good victory?
- How many of you like it when you win one?, or when someone you were “rooting for” comes out on top?  [we all like that...]

- Can you think of a particular time where you enjoyed a victory that was especially memorable?
- many probably think of a sporting event....
- I was never a great athlete, but I enjoyed sports.
1) When I was in high school, our basketball team was down by 16 points at half time.
- that’s quite a few points at the high school level.
- of course we got the lecture about playing harder defense and taking better shots from our coach at half-time, and he was right.
- and then in the second half, we just started whittling away at the lead, and whittling away at the lead.
- and it was on those games that was fought hard the whole second half....
- and finally we tied it up in the last minute, and then in the final seconds one of our guys scored a basket and we won the game.
- and it was only a high school game, and there were more important things happening in the world....
- but for our team, that hard fought victory was especially sweet.
2) Later I went to college and played soccer.
- there was one team from Keystone College that used to beat up on us every time we played them.
- most of their players had been raised out east where soccer was much more popular at that time.
- and our Bible College team would go to play us and they would just cream us.
- but not my junior year.
- I don’t know what happened, but it was just one of those games where we could do no wrong.
- our goalie made some unbelievable saves....
- I can still see some of those plays in my mind....
- and we played our hearts out....
- and finally when the game was over between us and Keystone College, this time we had the victory.
- all of us could surely talk about victories that we’ve either watched or experienced, where they were just especially sweet.
- now let me ask you this...is there any relationship between victory...and living for God?
- and I’m not talking about things like sporting events, or other games....
- I’m talking about victory in life....overcoming a sinful temptation, or getting to a better place in your marriage, or learning to communicate in a more godly fashion.....
- is there any relationship between victory...and living for God?

- the Bible would tell us that there is.
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 - but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:4 - For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith.
- Friends, do you think  God wants us to know about the victory that available through living for Him?
- apparently, because of verses like the ones we just read....
- and also, because of the many narratives, or stories in the Bible which tell about great victories that God gave to His people.
- the Scriptures are filled with such examples.
- now, lets push it a little further....
-Does it make a difference in the way you live if you are looking at the events of your life through the lens of the potential victory that is yours in Christ?
- can that impact the way you view temptation?
- can that impact your willingness to solve problems?
- can it impact the way you think about trials?
- can it impact your zeal for ministry?
One last question --- friend, are you a victorious person?
- are you living in light of the victory that is available in Jesus Christ, and are you allowing that concept to impact the way you view life, and the way you live life?

- with that in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to the book of Esther chapter 8.
- if you’re new to studying the Bible, you’ll find this chapter on the bottom of page 367 of the Bible in the pew in front of you.
- we’ve been studying this book verse by verse and chapter by chapter for several weeks and today we’re planning to finish this series.
- now we normally have guests with us every Sunday, so I’d like to take a moment and quickly tell the story of the first 7 chapters so we can all benefit from what we’re going to look at today.
- Esther is the 17th book of God’s Word, and it is describing events that take place right at the end of OT history.
- Assyria has risen and fallen...Babylonia has risen and fallen...and now the dominant nation is Persia.
- Some of God’s people have been allowed to return to Jerusalem to begin its rebuilding, but the book of Esther tells about what is happening in the lives of some of the Israelites still living in Persia.

- like any OT book, there are a lot of names mentioned here, but there are really only five key characters in the book.
- do you know who they are?  [take input]
1) King Ahasuerus - king of Persia - a very proud man, with a great amount of power and wealth, but it’s very apparent that he doesn’t know God, and so his life is organized around fulfilling his passions, and magnifying himself...
2) Then there’s his former wife whose name was?....[Vashti]
- that’s the way the book started, with the king haven this drunken feast with his buddies, and he commands Vashti to come out and be put on display in front of them, and she refuses....
- so the king banishes her from his presence
3) The third character is a godly 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 at the end of chapter 2 Esther becomes the new queen of Persia.
5) The fifth character is a sinister man named Haman
- and Haman hated the Jews so much that he offered the king a large sum of money if he would allow an extermination of all the Jews, and after casting the Pur [or the lot], it was determined that all the Jews would be annihilated on the 13th day of the month of Adar, which was about 11 months after the decree was issued.
- of course Mordecai, immediately put on sackcloth and ashes and wept for the people of God, and he also encouraged Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jews.
- at this time, the king didn’t know that Esther was Jewish, and she reminded Mordecai that you didn’t just waltz into the king’s throneroom unannounced and invited, and to do so was risking death.
- and Mordecai replied back, "And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"
- Esther’s response to that was, please gather the people and ask them to pray and fast for me for three days, because I’m going to speak to the king, and if I perish, I perish.
- and here’s the way she spoke to the king...- she invited the king and Haman to a banquet...and he king offered to grant her any request....
- her request was, would both of you please come back to another feast tomorrow, which they agreed to do.
- when Haman left, he was higher than a kite with all this special attention he’s receiving from the king and queen....
- but on the way out, he spots Mordecai, and his heart is filled with anger because of his hatred for the Jews....
- so he gathers his family around him, and he starts bragging on all his possessions and honors...but he says....but all this doesn’t satisfy me because I still have to see that Mordecai at the king’s gate.
- so his family says....why don’t you just build a gallows out here next to the house, and ask the king for the permission to kill Mordecai tomorrow morning, and then enjoy the rest of the day at the feast?
- and that’s exactly what he did.
- but that night, the king couldn’t sleep, so he asked his servants to read to him from a history book, which had recorded that Mordecai had foiled a plot by some men who were going to take the king’s life.
- and the king asked --- has this man ever been rewarded?...servants said, “no.”
- so the king said, who’s in the court?
- and his servants said, “Haman just came in”.
- and the king says --- call him in....
- so the king asks Haman --- what should you do for a man you really want to honor?
- Haman said --- get him a robe, put him on one of the king’s horses --- parade him around, this is what the king does for those he wants to honor.
- of course Haman thinks the king is going to do that for him [for Haman]
- imagine the shock when the king says --- great, go do that for Mordecai!
- Haman has no choice to obey, and then when he thinks things can’t possibly get any worse....the servants come to take him to the second feast by queen Esther, and its at this time the she reveals to the king that she is Jewish, and that her request is simply that the king would spare her life, and the lives of those from her country....
- you have to imagine what was going on in Haman’s mind....
- and then the king said --- who is he who would presume to this?
- and Esther said --- “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman”
- and the king was incensed, and ordered his servants to take Haman and hang him on the gallows prepared for Mordecai.
- now, with that in mind, I’d like us to think about the events at the conclusion of the book.
- before we read them, there’s one other verses I’d like us to think about.
Romans 15:4 - For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
- in other words, God recorded events like the ones we’re about to read to teach us important lessons for living today...and I want to ask you to be thinking about how God would have wanted these events to impact the people of that day, and how he wants them to impact us.
- so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

- let’s read chapters 8-10, and I’ll skip some of the verses for sake of time.
- Read Esther 8:1 [so Esther explained that Mordecai was her older cousin]
- Read Esther 8:2-3 [so even though Haman had been dealt with, there was still this upcoming slaughter
- Read Esther 8:4-8 [now, those verses contain a very important detail --- a decree which is written in the name of the king and with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.
- you’ve probably heard the phrase, “by the law of the Medes and Persians” --- in other words, it can’t be changed.
- well, the problem is that the former decree allowing the slaughter of the Jews had been written in the name of the king and by his signet ring.
- so what’s happening now is that his former decree wasn’t being nullified [because that couldn’t be done], but now he was telling the people that the Israelites had the right to defend themselves if they were attacked.
- Read Esther 8:9-9:5 [the next verses are filled with names and give a detailed account of the horrors of that battle, and also tell that it was extended a second day]
- Read Esther 9:20-10:3
- now, I’d like to ask you to think about these verses from the perspective of what they would have meant to the original hearers.
- how was this intended to impact the Jewish individuals living in Persia at the time, and the Jewish individuals back in Jerusalem starting to rebuild the city?
- would you agree with me that the key word for them would have been “victory”.
- when a person chooses to follow God and live for Him, they will enjoy victory at His hand.
- we don't always know how, we don't always know when, we don't always know to what degree...but its just like we later read in the NT,
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 - but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- no wonder Paul would say about the OT Scriptures, that these things were written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
- so we’re talking about the victory that comes from living for God.
- with the time we have left, I’d like to propose that we can find three ways God gives His children victory.


I. God Gives His Children Victory Through Protection.


- one of the major lessons of the book of Esther is that God can and God will provide protection for those who trust in Him.
- there’s no safer path than the will of God.
- there’s no safer plan than the Word of God.
- there’s no safer place than the arms of God.
- now, how is that true?
- for one thing, when a person in NT times admits their sin, and places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, they now have a new source of protection.
[1. We have a new source of protection].
- one of the great metaphors used in God’s Word to describe our relationship with God is “under the shadow of His wings”.
- think about these verses:
- Psalm 17:8 - Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Thy wings,
- Psalm 36:7 - How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.
- Psalm 57:1 - Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in Thee; And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge, Until destruction passes by.
- Psalm 63:7 - For Thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.
- Psalm 91:1 - He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
- in the first half of this book, it looked like Esther and Mordecai and the other Israelites who had placed their faith in God were in a very dangerous position, a very exposed position, a very vulnerable position....
- but the truth of the matter is, they were in the safest place possible because they were trusting in God.
- on the other hand you have a man like Haman and all those who followed him, and it looked like they were the ones who were safe.
- they had the power, they had the wealth, they had the ear of the political leaders....
- it looked like they were the ones who were safe, but please mark this down---there is no such thing as safety apart from God and there is no such thing as true danger if you’re trusting Him.
- friend, can I ask you this morning, where are you finding your protection?
- some people find their safety in a relationship, or in their health, or in their material things, or in their position over people....
- yet verses like Psalm 33:17 say,  A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.
- we mentioned several passages that use the word “shadow” in a very beautiful way.
- Unfortunately, it is also used negatively.
- Isaiah 30:3 [speaking of Israel trying to find security in an alliance with Egypt] - Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame, And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.

- so in Jesus Christ, we can have a new source of protection....we can also have...
2.  We have a new assurance of protection.
- Paul said in Romans 8:35-39 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- that’s the same kind of assurance that we see Mordecai and Esther operating under...
- it wasn’t arrogance, it wasn’t pride --- but it was spiritual confidence that comes from trusting in God......[so....a new source or protection, a new assurance of protection....]
3.  We have a new perspective of protection.
- Matthew 10:28 - And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
- someone might hear what we’re talking about this morning and say, well, PV, are you suggesting that a person who trusts God will never be harmed in some way?
- of course not, but I am saying---your whole view of even what constitutes protection is different when you know God.
- for most people if you asked them, what is the worst thing that could happen to you today?, the answer would be....death.----that’s why its called the king of terrors.
- well, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ and what most people would say is the worst thing could happen happens, what’s the next step in that plan?.....heaven.
- that’s why Esther was able to say back in chapter 4 --- if I perish, I perish...because I know what happens after that.
- the overall point here is that God gave His children victory through providing protection.
- and who would have believed at the beginning of this book, that it would be king Ahasuerus who would be allowing the decree that protected the Jews?
- if God is for us....who can be against us?
- there are a couple of categories of persons that I’m especially concerned about at this point in the message.
1) Those who have not yet established a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- we can’t enjoy the kind of protection we’re studying this morning until something is done to remove the barrier between us and God.
- the barrier between us and this source of protection.
- of course that barrier is sin...[Isaiah said “sin has separated you from your God.”]
- and until that penalty from sin is removed, there’s no way to find security and peace because that guilt is always there
- but God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place so that we might have peace......”The chastening for our well being fell on Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
- friend, if you’ve never trusted Christ, we would invite you to do so today.
2) The second category of concern are those who know Christ, but on a day by day basis are trying to find their protection and security in other means....
- and the problem with that is that you can never be victorious in that way....
- for the person who is finding their protection in the stock market --- that’s fine, as long as the stock market is up....but since the market has fluctuated 1100 points in the first five weeks of this year....any Christian putting their trust their is walking around in a state other than victorious....
- or the person finding their security in a relationship ---- that’s fine, as long as the relationship is going well....
- but again, if the relationship goes sour, or something happens to the person....you’re going to be anything but victorious.
- I’d like to encourage each one of us to think about the protection given by God to Esther and Mordecai, and think about verses like And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge, and then ask----am I developing the kind of growing relationship with God and seeking my ultimate protection in Him, so that I am positioned to live in a victorious fashion?

II. God Gives His Children Victory Through Provision.


- Both Mordecai and Esther enjoyed much more material provision than they would have ever dreamed.
- Esther started as an orphan and now the wealth of Haman is being given to her.
- and we know that Haman was extremely wealthy because he had put up such a large amount to fund the annihilation of the Jews.
- and now that wealth belongs to Esther.
- she in turn gave it to Mordecai.

- God is meeting the needs of His children in ways they would have never expected.
- it reminds you of what Paul would later say to the Ephesians
Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

- and you know that I’m not suggesting some sort of a health and wealth gospel, but the Bible makes it clear that people who trust in God will have their material needs met.
- Psalm 37:25 - I have been young, and now I am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Or his descendants begging bread.

- another way you could summarize what we’re talking about this morning is that God is looking for people who will trust Him, and believe in Him, and live for Him....upon which He can show Himself strong.
- One of the ways He demonstrates to the nations that He is the Lord is by giving victory to those who will trust in Him.
- that’s why we find the statement at the end of chapter nine that many people became followers of Esther and Mordecai’s God because of the victory that was wrought in their faithful lives.

- the people around watched what happened and had to conclude....their God is alive....their God is powerful....their God can make a difference in someone’s life.
- the obvious question for each of us would be, could someone look at you, and see the victory you are having over sin, and the victory you are having in relationships, and the victory you are having in your personal life and have to conclude....their God is the real thing, he gives victory to those who trust in Him.

- a third idea that flows out of this text is....


III. God Gives His Children Victory Through Promotion.


- Mordecai wasn’t looking to be promoted....
- he wasn’t jockeying around for it, just like Esther hadn’t been when she was made queen....
- but God chose to bless His children in that way.
- Psalm 75:6-7 - For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
- and not surprisingly, Mordecai handled the promotion well, because the book ends with the statement that Mordecai “sought the good of his people and was one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation.”
- that’s why the Bible says in Proverbs 29:2 - When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.

- the point of all of this is that the book of Esther is a book of victory.
I. God Gives His Children Victory Through Protection.
II. God Gives His Children Victory Through Provision.
III. God Gives His Children Victory Through Promotion.

- you know, we’ve really seen the truth of these verses being fleshed out in many ways around our church.
- I believe the Biblical Counseling Training Conference that we hosted this week was a victory for the Word of God, and a victory for our church family.
- over and over the conference guests expressed appreciation for the people of this church, and the obvious spiritual growth that had been taking place in the lives of so many of you who joyfully served all through the week.
- I believe God was glorified by the way you allowed Him to victoriously work in and through you.
- our building was filled to capacity with pastors and missionaries and key lay people from literally all over the world...and so many talked about the impact God’s Word was having on their thinking and their personal lives and their ideas about ministry.
- I believe God is looking for places to show Himself strong...thank you for being willing to be used in this way.
- [could develop --- the people that stopped by this week and asked, what in the world is going on here?]

- we are seeing a significant number of students being registered for our school next fall.
- and I believe God can show Himself strong through home schools, and He can show Himself strong as young people live for Him at their public schools....but we are seeing a very significant amount of interest in our school for next year....
- it will only be our fourth year of operation and God is showing Himself strong.

- it is exciting to get this building under way....
- and I’m sure you’ll have people in your life ask you, what in the world are you people doing out there now/
- and you can simply say----God is really blessing us with many ministry opportunities so we’re trying to expand to be a greater blessing to our community and to pastors and churches around the world.

- and I’m sure, if we have time to do so today, that we could go around and hear stories about victories that God is giving you in your personal sphere of ministry.
- where God is showing Himself strong in and through your life.

- but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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