Today I want us to look at another Old Testament story to see what happens when we Recalculate Our Heart To Move In The Direction Of God’s Heart. If You Can Remember Only One Thing, This Is It:
God Is Looking For People Who Will Live Each Moment As If They Were Born Such A Time As This—Because You Are.Tweet
Today it’s the story of Esther. It’s around 470 BC in Persia. King Xerxes is throwing a wild party for the leading men of his nation. On a drunken whim, the king orders his wife, Queen Vashti, to come and parade herself before all his guests. She refuses, creating panic among the men: What if their wives heard about it and followed her example? Terrified at the prospect of such a thing, they convince the king to get rid of Queen Vashti. But the king gets lonely. Seeing his misery, the king’s advisors devise a plan. They will host a beauty pageant, gathering the most dazzling women from the kingdom, so the king can have “the pick of the litter”. Enter Esther!
Esther’s cousin Mordecai encourages her to enter the Beauty Pageant. But he wants her to hide something important—that she is a Jew—numbered among the people of God. If the promoters of this beauty pageant find out she’s a Jew, they won’t ever consider her. And he was right in that analysis. If she wants to win the king’s favor, it will come at the price of hiding who she really is. She’ll have to act just like everyone else. And we know she wins.
Something happens, though, to throw all of this into jeopardy. It happens because of Mordecai’s resolve to be God’s Person. There is a man in the kingdom named Haman, who is second in command to King Xerxes. That’s a lot of power, but it’s never enough for men like Haman.
He not only wants power; he wants others to flatter him, and inflate his already oversized ego. That’s Haman—powerful, insecure, and a threat. Whenever he passes by, everyone must bow down to him in an elaborate tribute. But there’s Mordecai—so insistent that Esther conceals her true identity—decides this business with Haman has gone on long enough. It was time to stand up and be counted. Mordecai refuses to bow down.
Haman is furious with his actions and he hatches a plot. He goes to King Xerxes and informs him of a people—God’s people—who are causing problems. He convinces the king that it’s in the king’s best interests to completely annihilate them by genocide. He even offers to finance the project! Without blinking an eye, the king gives a nod of approval. Posters are soon plastered all over the kingdom, saying: Kill all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on March 7 next year. When Mordecai hears the news, he does what any good Jew would do—he repents.
He puts on sackcloth and covers himself with ashes—the clothing and gestures of repentance, and goes through the city, weeping and crying. Why offer repentance? Hasn’t the wrong been done by Haman? Mordecai repents because he knows he has wronged God by trying to hide. To borrow the words of James 4:4, Mordecai realizes that “If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”
When Esther hears about her cousin’s behavior, she is concerned. She doesn’t care what’s going on; she just wants him to stop it. She sends him a message to stop it. But Mordecai refuses to turn away from his repentance. So she sends another message. Let’s pick up the story in Esther 4:13-17
13 Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who Knows If Perhaps You Were Made Queen For Just Such A Time As This?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” 17 So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.Esther 4:13-17 (NLT) (emphasis mine)
At the risk of racing through this amazing story, let me sum it up quickly. She gets her opportunity and invites both Haman and the king to 2 special banquets. Haman is delighted—proud and puffed up to know he is the only person chosen to attend the gathering alongside the king. His spirits are quickly cooled because he saw Mordecai again and again he refused to bow down before Haman. When he came home, he was complaining to his wife and family, “I’m the only one invited to the banquet the Queen has prepared for the King, and this, this heathen Mordecai dishonors me.” So, his wife suggests he erect a tall pointed pole and impale Mordecai on it. Well, Haman is happy again. Haman thinks life is good again.
But the King couldn’t sleep the night before the banquet, so he had some servants read to him from the archives of his life as King. I don’t know if he was wanting his ego stroked or if he thought the reading would be so boring he would fall asleep. But then he hears about how a Jew named Mordecai had saved his life by revealing an assassination plot.
Then he found out he had never properly recognized Mordecai for this, so he decides to honor him. What happens next is pure irony—God is the Master of Irony! The King sees Haman who is about to ask permission to kill Mordecai, and asks Haman how should someone really special be honored. Haman, thinking it’s himself the King wants to honor says, “Give him one of your royal robes, give him one of your horses to ride and have a parade to tell everyone how wonderful this man is (wink-wink).” The king says, “Great idea! Go get Mordecai ready for the parade, and you lead the parade telling everyone what a great man Mordecai is.”
This humiliates Haman, but that evening it gets worse. Esther then pleads for her people’s lives and reveals Haman’s evil plot and this angers the king. Xerxes storms out, Haman falls on Esther’s couch to ask for mercy just when the King comes back in. He gets the wrong idea, and has Haman impaled on the same pole he had built for Mordecai.
Since the King cannot undo his decree to have the Jews killed, he gives another decree—they can defend themselves and their families. Mordecai is then promoted to Haman’s position. Let’s see if we can learn why The 21st Century Church needs a Change of Direction and Change of Heart, For Such A Time As This:
1. We Are Living In A Time Of Moral Confusion.
If I or any preacher were to say: “We are living in a time of immorality!”, there would be a loud echo of “AMEN!” And we could cite instance after instance of why this would be true. No doubt about it, immorality is in overabundance. But I’m not so convinced the real issue of our culture is the immorality—as much as it is the Moral Confusion which exists. The Crisis of our culture is the way it defines morality.
The word definition of morality is simple: “It Is The Principles That Mark The Distinction Between Right And Wrong Or Good And Bad Behavior.” Our culture defines morality in contextual ways, rather than by Truth. Here’s what I am trying to say. Our culture defines right and wrong based on context, on the setting. If it’s OK in one setting, then it’s not immoral.
And it’s frustrating for us who identify as followers of Jesus. Our culture needs to see a Morality, of what is good or bad, right or wrong, in us. I’m not talking about is it right or wrong to have a drink or divorce or the lottery or cut grass on Sunday—I’m talking about us living a full and joyful life by the standard God has given us.
You and I are born for such a time as this—To Show How Meaningful Life Is When We Live It By God’s Standard. This Chaos Is Alienating People—And We Can Be The Ones God Uses To End This Chaos.Tweet
2. We Are Living In A Season Of Instability!
Without a solid foundation to define morality—the end result is that instability of character within people’s lives. The Merriam-Webster Learner’ Dictionary defines Character this way:
“The Way Someone Thinks, Feels, And Behaves; A Set Of Qualities That Are Shared By Many People In A Group; A Set Of Qualities That Make A Place Or Thing Different From Other Places Or Things.Merriam-Webster Learner’ Dictionary
Focus on that last part: A Set Of Qualities That Make A Place Or Thing Different From Other Places Or Things. The instability of our culture is the direct result of the lack of being different from other places and things. Most people don’t follow Jesus say that it’s because they don’t like the church.
And when they ask what the church is, they identify us by things we are against. Character of heart and life isn’t measured by just what we are against—it is measured more by what we are for.Tweet
- We are FOR unconditional love.
- We are FOR people being treated with respect and dignity.
- We are FOR values that build people up.
- We are FOR kindness.
- We are FOR compassion—love in action.
- We are FOR Grace and Mercy expressed as Forgiveness And A Commitment To A Life Of Holiness!
- We are FOR eliminating human distinctions.
- HOPE For A Life That Is Meaningful, Fulfilling And Abundant!
This is why you are born for such a time as this. To bring all this and so much more, through the Kingdom of God—as seen in you. And this leads me to my last point:
3. We Are Living In A Time Of Despair.
The Lack Of A God-Centered Morality, The Absence Of Christ-Like Character Fuels The Despair That Is Consuming Our Culture In The U.S.Tweet
Watch the news, look at Washington D.C., look at what’s happening in the streets. It’s not the fault of the Democrats, nor the Republicans. It’s the despair that’s fueling all of it. No one sees or senses any hope for anything better. So they argue and fight and point the finger of blame. They become fearful and angry at each other.
All because of the absence of one thing: Hope! Democrats can’t create hope. Republicans can’t create hope. Socialists can’t create hope. Government can’t create hope. And the hate, anger and frustrations of the people can’t create hope. These only intensify the despair. Hope is missing. Why?
It’s the failure of so many in churches who have either forgotten, or never understood, That WE Have Been Born, WE Have Been REBORN For Such A Time As This. Despair is ripping apart the fabric of our nation and world.
We Need A Recalculating Moment To See That We Are Born And Reborn For Such A Time As This. To Bring Moral Clarity, Lasting Character And Living Hope.Tweet
A Day Comes When We’ve Got To Stand, Be Counted, And Fight To Proclaim What We’ve Been Entrusted With. Today Is That Day.
We should know we will never win a pagan culture by mimicking it and all it values. The strongest influence we can bring in these chaotic and desperate times is to simply be peculiar—to be, with neither pride nor apology, followers of Jesus.
Our call, God’s vision for this place, will reveal the character of Jesus—a character saturated with love, mercy, grace and compassion—a character that just doesn’t point out what’s wrong with others, but sees their hurts and their needs—a character that does more than see their needs, but does something to meet those needs.
Your Next Steps is to accept these 3 truths and live them out:
1. The People Of God Do Not Succeed In A Pagan World By Hiding Their True Identity.
2. You Can Win Admiration By Conforming To The Standards Of The Age, But It Will Take You Further Away From Having A Heart For God.
3. We Have An Enemy Who Is Out To Destroy Us, And No Amount Of Hiding Will Save Us.
Did you catch Mordecai’s last warning to Esther?
“Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, Help And Deliverance Will Arrive For The Jews From Someplace Else; but you and your family will be wiped out.”
God is at work bringing help and deliverance to this vast spiritual wasteland. The issue for you and for all of us, will it be through some other people, or will we rise For Such A Time As This?