DESERT SHIELD

Sermon delivered April 20, 1996

by Pastor Don Gettys, McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

Esther had a hard life. Her parents died leaving her a young orphan. But her older cousin Mordecai was a man after God's heart and he was impressed by God that he should ADOPT Esther as his own daughter. Esther grew up without her natural parents. Alone in the world except for the kindness of her older cousin. Someone said God gives us family relatives so we don't have to argue & fight with strangers! God gives relatives to us for our benefit. You are related to someone so that you can help them to find heaven.

Esther 2:7-- Esther means "STAR". Stars shine at night. The darker the night the brighter the stars. Esther lived in a wicked heathen land but her light was brilliant. Notice the timing of her birth and physical maturity. She became a young woman in 478 BC, at just the right time to be used in God's master plan. Only God knew of the impending extermination of His people. Esther was a key player in God's plan. God has a master plan for each of us also.

God makes provisions for impending disasters long before they happen. The Whale was waiting for Jonah. The Ram was waiting in the thicket-Genesis 22. The new jaw bone of an ass was at the right place at the right time-Judges 15. Esther was born on God's schedule. If we knew God better, much of the panic and trauma which overwhelm us in times of stress would be entirely absent. If you love and trust in Jesus Christ, why fret or worry at all?

Esther 2:2 the search was on for the most beautiful girl in the world! Xerxes had divorced Vashti. Mordecai had a wild idea. Why not enter pretty Esther in the competition? She was lovely in both form and features--2:7.

Like Daniel, Esther was taken from her home and made to live in the presence of foreigners. Notice that like Daniel, Esther was given special food--verse 9. She was favored in the Harem because she was special. Sweet, kind, courteous, unselfish, obedient, God-fearing.

Esther was like Moses. He was born in captivity; he was a beautiful child, he was instrumental in delivering his people.

ESTHER 2:8 Esther was taken to the harem parlors where she would be spruced up for one whole year. Apparently beauty can be enhanced. The preparation was fascinating. For six months she was treated with oil of myrrh followed by 6 more months of spices. She was then soaked in expensive perfume, (2:12). Taught Emily Post, etc.

After the year was over, it came time for her turn to go into the king. She could have the use of any jewelry or decorations she wanted to enhance her impression. Esther 2:15 indicates that she "asked for nothing". She is so unselfish and undemanding. This must have shocked everyone who heard about it. To dress for success you do not need to be a walking jewelry store.

Beautiful Esther went in before the king with, in the words of I Peter 3:4---The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. I Peter 3:5---For this is the way the Holy Women of the past (Esther) who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful." Beauty is more than smooth skin and a nice look. Beauty is gentleness. A kind spirit. True beauty is Jesus living inside the heart.

Esther 2:17--- The result of Esthers beauty was dramatic. She found favor with the king above all the women in the whole world. When she went in before the king his mouth fell open and he could not believe that such a beautiful courteous and nice person existed! That is the character God wants every Christian women to possess today. Such beauty is unfading. The older you get the more your true beauty should shine forth. Wrinkled skin might be fretted over, but an old wrinkled dried up heart is a heavy weight for any marriage to bear.

Esther wore the crown. Queen of the world. From an orphan to a queen! God will bless the faithfulness of His people. When you place God first you will be blessed. Esther was. Daniel was. Joseph was. All three were exiles in a heathen land. All three were exhaulted to high places.

THE WEIGHT OF THE CROWN---

There is no question that God directs some women to leave the home circle and assume a role of leadership in the world. Esther represents the working woman (You all work). These women shoulder heavy stewardship, because Christians in high places have high responsibilities. Esther demonstrated her capability. She was a leader empowered by God. She performed with distinction.

ESTHER 2:21 "PRIVATE EYE MORDECAI"

One day while Mordecai was sitting at the gate he overheard some talk about two who officials who were planning to assassinate the king. He told Esther about it. She immediately told the King of course, but Notice something else here: She gave the credit to Mordecai. Had she not done that, perhaps the course of history would have been altered. Haman's evil would have been unrestrained. Millions of Jews would have be slaughtered.

A King's life was always in jeopardy. Men in high places never know the dangers that lurk about them. I am sure that Daniel slept better in the den of lions than the king in his bed. Mordecai saved the life of the king. Yet he was unhonored. God's overruling providence was in control. God delayed the honor for a wider purpose. If in this life you are unrewarded, be assured that God has not forgotten you. God's delays often conceal a hidden agenda.

THE DEATH DECREE---

The next event in the life of Esther is a full blown crisis. Because of Rich Hateful Haman, irrevocable letters were sent over the entire kingdom giving authority for any and all citizens to exterminate every Jew in the land. Haman would pay up to 375 tons of silver for this to be done. This is about 2/3 of the yearly budget for the whole Persian Empire!

CHRIST AND SATAN

MORDECAI AND HAMAN

Here we have a peek at the great Controversy between Christ and Satan. HAMAN-- The aim of Satan has ever been to be like the most High. His puppets emulate him. Mordecai represented Christ. He is humble and used of God to save his people from death.

ESTHER 3:13---- Similar to what happened in Germany during World War II. Had Adolph Hitler controlled the whole world He could have wiped out every living Jew from the face of the planet. A violent desert storm loomed just over the horizon. Desert storms are bad storms. But just watch how God used Esther as a Desert Shield for His people.

WHY WOULD GOD SHIELD THESE JEWS? Remember the Jews had been in captivity for generations in Babylon. Finally during the decree of the king they were allowed to return to Palestine. Only 10% took advantage of the freedom God had provided and returned home. 90% stayed in the pagan land. Stayed away from Jerusalem.

You would think that these lukewarm Jews would not deserve any special protection from God. They had their chance to leave. Now they were on their own! But not so. God shielded them. Why? Because even though we are not living right and we are lukewarm, God does not deal with us according to our folly but according to His great Love! Even in that far off heathen land, God took care of His wandering lost sheep. God is so good! God sent Esther to save them.

Esther was Jewish yet she was the queen. Now the monkey was on Esther's back. The climactic moment of her destiny had come. Soon all her people would be slaughtered. I am sure she spent long hours in agonizing prayer.

Esther was probably the only Jew in the Kingdom that had not put on Sackcloth and ashes. None of the Persians even knew that she was Jewish. To attempt to save her people she would have to risk her life twice. The first would be to announce that she was Jewish. This would put her on the death list. Second, to appear before Xerxes without an invitation often meant quick execution. One stroke of the sharp sword would have ended her beauty.

ESTHER 4:11---- SEQUESTERED ESTHER! Esther had about as much hope of success as a cat at a Pit Bull convention. Obviously the King had other things on his mind, because he had not asked for Esther in a whole month. 30 days without Esther. Had she ceased to be the apple of his eye?

And think of the danger of going in without an invitation. Kings did not have metal detectors in those days. Kings had to be careful. No one could enter without permission. Later, even with all his precautions Xerxes was murdered by one of his our courtiers. Yet Esther is bold enough to consider it. She did it because it was the right thing to do.

Doing right includes little things: Giving back extra change when the cashier makes a mistake. Letting the cable TV company know about the free service that has been coming. I was getting some fertilizer for our yard at the hardware store last week. I had mentally added up the total of what I expected the ticket to be...over 30 dollars. The lady said that will be a total of $9.75. I said: That is not high enough. I asked to see the list. She had only counted one bag of fertilizer. She praised me for speaking up.

Cousin Mordecai appealed to Esther:

ESTHER 4:13-14 -- "If you remain silent you and your family will all perish. And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?" This is the most quoted verse in the book of Esther.

Perhaps you or I have come to Tennessee for such a time as this. We are working at Taco Bell or on this particular job or teaching at the school, or whatever-- in God's providence. God has a strategic purpose for you where you are. Every day before going to your job, pray: Lord, Use me to fulfill some noble purpose today to fill someone's desperate need.

Esther had been raised by her Godly cousin. Now when she was grown she had to make a choice to continue to serve God or reject her upbringing. She chose to remain true! Had she turned her back on God at this time thousands of her own people would have suffered or even died.

Parents, it is still true even today, if you train up your children in the way they should go, and you continue to live that Godly life before them and love them and pray and fast for them, when they get older they will not turn away from it--Proverbs 22:6.

Esther 4:16-- After 3 days I will go in to the king which is illegal, and if I perish, I perish! Look at how our God is the opposite of Xerxes. We are invited to come before Him. Let us come boldly unto the throne of Grace and obtain life. For Esther to come was to risk death. Esther is the only woman in the Bible that is asked to risk her very life to save her people. Obviously Beauty is not enough. Esther had the character of Jesus that comes from communion with Him.

Three full days of fasting by Esther and the Jews living in Susa. I believe it included prayer as well. Finally The day came for her to come before the king. Talk about pressure. The fasting did not improve her appearance or physical strength either. Esther fasted while Haman feasted. What a contrast! As she went before the King, do you think she was nervous? I don't.

I believe that she was like Daniel's three friends as they faced the fiery furnace. The three most important words in the whole chapter of Daniel 3 are in verse 18.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said to Nebuchadnezzar: If we are thrown into the furnace our God is able to deliver us, BUT IF NOT, we will not serve your gods or worship your image. They had confidence. Esther went before Xerxes with godly courage and strength. God's will would be satisfactory with her. When you surrender yourself totally into God's hands, fear will not dominate you.

Esther has changed! Have you noticed it? Up till now she seems to be a pawn of male power. Now she is giving the orders. Esther is taking charge. Like a caterpillar in a cocoon she emerges from being a victim to become a victor. A person of strength and wisdom. Mordecai cared for Esther many years and now she saves him and all her people.

Esther is not a dumb blond, Proverbs 11:22--"Like a gold ring in a pigs snout is a beautiful woman without good sense." We marvel at her strength and astute wisdom and rhetorical ability. These are a gift of God. It is amazing how she handles this critical, delicate crisis. God was directing her.

ESTHER 5:1-4 Looking her best Esther went in. She stood quietly in the hallway until the king saw her. All the prayers worked because the king smiled and extended his golden scepter. He said I will give you up to HALF of the kingdom! WOW! It was an outlandish offer by a rash eccentric monarch. He was in an exceptionally good mood.

One lesson we should learn here is that what we fear the most may never befall us. "The clouds we so much dread, are big with mercy and can break with blessings on our head." God was and is in charge of the hearts of rulers. Proverbs 21:1- "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, He directs it like the course of a stream wherever He pleases." The King eagerly received Esther.

She invited Him to a Banquet luncheon date later that day. Would you invite Haman to the meal? Doesn't It almost seem more dangerous with Haman there? God must have directed in this decision.

Notice how she approached the king. If you go in for a job interview or an important meeting with someone, you can get some excellent pointers from Esther. She put on her royal robes. Dressing for success is nothing new! She had done her homework. She had become a person of quality. She had preplanned the use of tasty food and pleasant surroundings at the banquet.

At the meal the King repeated his offer to give her anything her heart desired. Esther asked the King and Haman to return for another banquet tomorrow. WHY TWO BANQUETS? Was Esther losing her nerve? NO. Proverbs 25:15 -- By Long forbearance a Ruler is persuaded. It also seems that in Esther, the one who holds the banquet holds the power.

If you picture that first banquet, you see the king in the middle, Haman on one side, Esther on the other. Three seated at the great table. Haman the murderer is like Judas at the Lord's supper table in the upper room. Both Judas and Haman would have a last happy meal just prior to their death. It must have been hard for Esther to sit there and eat with Haman without showing her feelings. Esther has a wisdom granted to her from Heaven above.

ESTHER 5:9-- Haman went out one happy man! Cloud #9! Haman had climbed the ladder of success. Think of it, little old me!-- Having lunch with royalty! Just three of us at a banquet! How good can it get? I am second only to the king and queen of Persia! Can you see how those who quickly climb to great heights often suffer with dizziness?

As Haman went out all bowed before him. All until he came to the gate. There sat the hated Mordecai. Hamans joy soured quickly. When he got home he went into a bragging session with his wife ZERESH. Boasting about everything. Boasting just before his fall.---Proverbs 16:18. His wife now suggests how he could rid his life of this one thorn in the flesh named Mordecai.

ESTHER 5:14-- HANG MORDECAI! If you destroy the ringleader of the Jewish resistance you will be happy. He will be the first of all the others. As you hang him his carcass will be just a sample of what is to follow for all Jews at the end of the year. Haman was delighted with the idea and immediately had the gallows constructed.

WHY build gallows 75 feet high????? 10-15 feet is enough to do the job. The proposed gallows would be at the tree tops so all Jews in Susa could see what the future held for them. If Mordecai would have been hung as planned he could have been the first human being as a type of Christ on the Cross. He would have been hung while Haman feasted at the banquet. Jesus was hung while the Jews feasted at the passover.



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