For Such A Time As This

Posted: November 29, 2016 by keystoneyouth in Esther Lessons
Tags: , , , , , ,

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Attention Funnel: Opposites Game

Introduction:

  • Two things that often seem to be opposite are God’s sovereignty and our action.
  • God’s sovereignty means that he is in control of everything that happens. He has directed history to the exact place that we are ate right now. Nothing has happened that he did not plan and purpose to happen.
  • Currently he is directing every detail according to his will, nothing happens that is outside of his control.
  • And he knows all that will happen in the future because he has planned for it to happen already and he has the power to make it happen.
  • Verses: Ephesians 1:11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 44:7; 64:8.
  • It’s easy to respond to this by saying, “Well then it doesn’t matter what I do. If God is entirely in control, if he has worked out history, is guiding the present, and already planned out the future… then why does it matter what I do?”
  • Like going to a restaurant where they give you a menu and there’s only one choice – “Do you want the roast beef or the roast beef?” You don’t have any choice. This is how we can often paint God’s sovereignty and our action… it’s one or the other, but they can’t go together.
  • But Esther Chapter 4 and 5 show us something different

Big Idea: Faith in God’s sovereignty leads to action.

  • Set the Stage for where we are.
    • Persia – Most powerful empire in the World.
    • Xerxes – The current King who is self-centered and over-indulgent.
    • Esther – Has risen to become queen through an immoral situation.
    • Mordecai – Esther’s cousin and adoptive father who is also in a position of power.
    • Haman – The second most powerful man in the Empire – Mordecai disrespects and refuses to show him honor and Haman responds by coming up with a plan to kill all the Jews in Persia.

 Passage: Esther 4-5:8

Main Points

  • Theology is more than just head knowledge.
  • You are where you are because God wants you there.
  • Faith translates to risky obedience.
  • Jesus took the ultimate step of risky obedience for us.

Theology is more than just head knowledge.

  • Esther and Mordecai would have most likely known quite a bit about God… they are after all Jews.
  • One of the most important callings for Jews was to pass the faith on to the next generation.
  • There are feasts spread throughout the calendar year that are meant to force the Jews to talk about God and what he has done.
  • Esther and Mordecai had at least been exposed and taught about God… whether they believed in him or not we don’t know.
  • With this knowledge we come to Esther chapter 4.
  • This is the place where we should most expect to see a mention of God.
  • Mordecai is confident that the Jews will be saved in some way… so confident that he tells Esther, “If you don’t act, we will be saved in some other way. You will be judged, but the Jews will still be saved somehow.” – This heavily implies God.
  • Mordecai also tells Esther that perhaps she has risen to become Queen for this exact situation. He is implying that there is a bigger purpose and reason for the events in her life then he or she can see. (But still no mention of God).
  • And then we are told that the Jews fast for 3 days (but still no mention of God or of prayer to God).
  • We should read this chapter and wonder, “Why isn’t’ God mentioned when it seems so clear that he should be mentioned?”
  • Imagined attending a wedding and you never heard the words Husband, Wife, or marriage mentioned the whole time.
    • We subconsciously expect to hear these things at a wedding because a wedding is centered on the marriage of a husband and wife!
    • And it would be surprising if these words were never mentioned. We would wonder WHY weren’t these words mentioned.
  • The same is true in Esther 4 of God. So why isn’t God mentioned??
  • I think it’s because even though Esther and Mordecai know about God, they don’t connect their knowledge of him to their lives.
  • The same thing is true often true with us.
  • We may know about God. We may even know enough about Him to impress other people with our knowledge of God and the Bible. But we can easily live lives that bear no connection to that knowledge.
    • NOTE: Knowledge is important! Theology is never less then head knowledge – The idea of “I don’t need theology, I just need Jesus” is false. It sounds super spiritual but it actually doesn’t make sense.
  • We find it hard to apply what we know and believe to our day-to-day lives.
  • “Sure God created the world. Sure he has done incredible things in the past. Sure he sent Jesus to save me from my sins and give me entrance to heaven. Sure Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”
  • BUT TODAY I’ve got to go to school, make it through AP Calc, run to work afterwards for a 4-hour shift, and ten come home and do homework before falling asleep to Jimmy Fallon.” What does God have to do with any of that?
  • God matters on Sundays and during my quiet time, but then life goes on as normal.
  • We effectively castrate theology. We know about God, but the knowledge we have of him has no potency for our day-to-day lives.
  • Skydiving – Learning all about Skydiving and then jumping in my car and driving home instead of riding in a plane and jumping out of it.

Apply:

  • What we learn about God is meant to fill more then just our heads.
  • It is meant to stir our hearts and move our hands.
  • Christians with head knowledge that never connects to the heart and the hands live as practical atheists… perhaps believing in God but never really experiencing him and his power.

Let’s look at this with God’s sovereignty:

  • The book of Esther strongly conveys God’s sovereignty.
  • God is the creator who rules over every kingdom and rules over all of history. This is why is able to guide and direct King Xerxes, Esther, Mordecai, Haman, and all the events of the story.
  • God works every single detail together, including every single detail in your life.
    • From where you were born to where you will die.
    • From who your friends are to whom your spouse will be if you marry.
    • From the school you attend to the career you will pursue.
    • From the classes that you take to the sports that you play.
    • And every other detail in between.
  • On the surface, these events rarely seem to have any direct connection to God.
    • I started dating my future wife because I was attracted to her.
    • I went to the school my parents chose, or the one I chose based of friends and opportunities.
    • I play hockey because I’m built like a rock and I like to fightJ
  • For Esther, she was chosen for the queen pageant because she was beautiful and young.
    • She became queen because she impressed the king.
  • But Mordecai’s question sends shockwaves through her understanding of her life…
    • “Esther what if it’s not just by chance, not just because you’re beautiful, not just because people seem to naturally like you, not just because you managed to impress the king? Esther, what if you are where you are for a bigger reason?”
    • What if you’re at PV not just because you grew up in that school district?
    • What if you’re in the musical not just because you like acting?
    • Sure those are reasons for why you are there, but what if there is a bigger reason? What if God has you there because that’s where he wants to shape you and use you?

You are where you are because God wants you there.

  • The theology of God’s sovereignty… should change how we go about our day-to-day lives.
  • Playing Candyland vs. Chess.
    • I hate Candyland! Why? Because it’s all just random chance. “You picked up a purple card… you get to move five spots to the next purple space.” You landed on gumdrop mountain, slide down the side and jump 10 extra spaces. You got lost in lollipop forest, lose 4 turns.” THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO STRATEGY!!
    • But Chess on the other hand is completely different. Every move in chess is an important move. Moves can set up moves and you can arrange pieces in different forms to set up for a specific attack. It involves a lot of strategy.
    • Some of us go through life as if it’s Candyland… there’s no thought involved as to why we may be where we are, it’s just I pulled a card and ended up here.
    • When in reality, our lives are more like chess. We each have a roll to play; God has moved and placed us where we are right now for a reason.
  • When we understand life through this lens of God’s sovereignty, it should change how we go about our days.

Apply:

  • A friend who is suffering, is no longer someone to be avoided, but rather someone who God has put you there to comfort.
  • A teacher who is frustrating is no longer a teacher to be complained about and just grind our teeth until we get through. It’s a teacher who we may be able to thank for all their hard work and for how they challenge us.
  • Not getting the part in the play that you wanted is no longer a reason to cause drama (pun intended) and throw a fit, rather it becomes an opportunity for to grow in joyfully celebrating with and encouraging others… even when they get what you want and you don’t.
  • God has you where you are for a reason… and when we start to fully believe that it can change how we go about our lives.

Faith translates to risky obedience.

  • We aren’t specifically told why Esther risked her life and went before the king.
    • We don’t know if she was motivated by faith or by some other reason.
  • But we do know her actions were very risky: She was putting her life on the line.
  • We look back on it and think, “Of course Esther doesn’t die!”
  • But walking into the situation, there was no such guarantee for Esther.
  • The law in Persia stated that no one (apart from several trusted officials) could enter the King’s presence without an invitation.
  • There have been depictions of the Persian King excavated that show the King sitting on his thrown and close beside him is a soldier holding an ax.
  • For Esther the stakes were clear… either a scepter would be held out or an ax would swing.
  • And the odds seem to be stacked against Esther.
  • She hasn’t heard from the King in 30 days!
  • We freak out if someone we like doesn’t text us back in 30 minutes! “I said the wrong thing… It’s over… She hates me… I’m going to be single for the rest of my life.”
  • They’ve been married for 5 years… perhaps the king’s affections have cooled towards Esther. Maybe she is no longer as beautiful. Maybe she has done something or said something to anger him.
  • Now she has to break one of his laws… in order to try to convince him to take back a law that he happily signed into existence (the killing of the Jews)… REMEMBER, Xerxes is unstable, easily angered, and very self-centered.
  • I would have been terrified if I was Esther. I probably would have taken my chances with that whole, “Deliverance will arise from someone else” deal that Mordecai was talking about.
  • But Esther risks her life to save the people… she boldly and courageously declares, “If I perish, I perish.”

Apply:

  • We may never be called to risk our life like Esther did (Most of us probably won’t be put in that situation). But we will have many opportunities to act in risky obedience to God.
  • Faith in God’s sovereignty will translate to risky obedience.
  • Because that faith says, I don’t know what will come out of this, but I know that God is in control and I trust him.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Indiana Jones’ step of faith.
  • Faith in God’s sovereignty steps out and trusts that God will be with you and for you.
  • Most of the time this will be rather ordinary, but it will still be risky.
    • Do I tell my non-Christian friends about my belief in God and how it affects my life? It’s risky.
    • Do I reach out to someone who is new or tends to be an outcast to befriend. It’s risky. What if they refuse my efforts at friendship. Or what if other people start to talk about me in a certain way because I’m seen to be a friend of this person.
    • Do I confront a friend about something they said or did? It’s risky. What if things go bad with the friendship?
  • There will also be times you life where God nudges you, convicts you, or calls you to do something that seems to go against conventional wisdom. Will you trust God and his sovereignty and respond in action, or will you choose the comfort and security of inaction?
    • God calls you to go to a big university and not just for a degree, but also to be a light for Christ to the people you meet.
    • God calls you to give up a scholarship opportunity to spend a year in a gap-year missions program.
    • God leads you down a completely different career path then you were expecting in High School.
    • God calls you to leave everything that is familiar and go into foreign missions.
  • Faith in God’s sovereignty steps out and trusts that God will be with you and for you as you obey him.
  • We are confident that God will be with us every step of the way through our own risky obedience, because Jesus took the ultimate step of risky obedience.

Jesus took the ultimate step of risky obedience for us.

  • Jesus obeyed God to the point of death… and he trusted God to raise him from the dead.
  • Have you ever thought about this before? Jesus was acting by faith when he died on the cross, he was believing that even death could be swallowed up by God – that is a massive faith in God’s sovereignty – even life and death are submissive to God’s sovereignty.
  • Jesus stepped and trusted that God the Father would be there.
  • This is where we see that Esther was meant to point us forward to Jesus. Jesus is the true and better Esther.
  • When Esther took a step of risky obedience, she had to give up her own comfort for the sake of others.
  • When Jesus took his risky step of obedience, he gave up the greatest comfort (Heaven) for us.
  • Esther was the representative for the Jewish people who went before King Xerxes on their behalf.
  • Jesus is our representative who went before God on our behalf.
  • When Esther took her risky step of obedience, she was taking a chance with her life – either the scepter will be held out or the ax will fall.
  • When Jesus took his risky step of obedience he knew he was laying down his life. There was no scepter to be held out, only an ax to fall on his head.
  • Esther’s risky step of obedience accomplished temporary freedom and relief for the Jews.
  • Jesus’s risky step of obedience accomplished final freedom and eternal relief for us – We are made right with God, our sin is paid for, nothing can ever, ever change that.
  • We can take our steps of risky obedience, motivated by Jesus’ own act of obedience on our behalf, and confident that in his sovereignty God will always be with us and for us.
  • Cliff Jumping into water – you don’t want to be the first one, but after a friend has gone, you know it’s safe to do this.

So What??

  • Our knowledge of God should work out into practical application in our lives.
  • God wants to change you and use you where you are right now. You are not there by chance.
  • Because God is sovereign, we can confidently obey him even when the results are unknown and the action may be risky.
  • Jesus is our model and motivation for risky obedience.

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