Esther - God delivers His people

Background

When Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah led the Jews to their homeland, many more were reluctant to leave Persia. The story of Esther takes place in this Persian background.

Esther is the story of a Jewish orphan girl raised by her uncle, Mordecai who became queen of Persia. Haman the prime minister plotted against Mordecai and the Jews because Modecai would not pay homage to him. Esther revealed to the king Haman's plot to destroy the Jews. Haman was hanged and Mordecai promoted.

Quiz

In this book, it was Esther and Mordecai who delivered God's people from danger. Can you name other people in the Bible who have also delivered God's people?

Answer:

1. Joseph

(Genesis 45:6-7 NIV) For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. {7} But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

2. Moses

(Exodus 14:13 NIV) Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.

3. Samson

(Judges 13:5 NIV) because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines."


Theme

(Est 4:14 NIV) For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"


God is a God who delivers His people

Quiz - What differentiates the book of Esther from all other books in the Bible?

Answer : The word God is not mentioned even once in the whole book.

Are we contradicting ourselves here? First we say that the book of Esther is about God delivering His people. Then we say that the book of Esther does not even contain the word God.

While the book does not contain the word God, the presence of God is felt throughout the whole book. Many events appear like coincidences but actually show that God is in the background protecting them from danger.

Even before there were any signs of danger, God placed people in their positions so that they could help when real danger comes. Esther, a poor Jewish girl from nowhere, was made queen because of a rash act by Queen Vashti when she refused to see the king and was dispelled. Modecai was also favored by the king after he "happened to" overhear a plot to overthrow the king. Coincidentally, this act to save the king was not brought to the king's attention until he "happened to" have a sleepless night.

The whole book is filled with examples of God working in the background to ensure that His people do not fall into danger. God is a God who delivers!


(Psalms 3:8 NIV) From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. Selah

(Psalms 32:7 NIV) You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

(Joel 2:32 NIV) And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.


Evaluation : God is a God who delivers. Have we forgotten that? Think about some crisis situations we had recently. What was our first reaction? Did we call upon the Lord for help like the Psalmist or do we try other means with our own strength and call upon the Lord only as a last resort.

Whoever harms God's people will be harmed

Haman was a fierce enemy of the Jews, and he devised a plot to exterminate them. In particular, he had a gallows erected on which he hoped to hang Mordecai because Mordecai would not bow to him. Through the intervention of Esther, however, his scheme was unmasked; and he was hanged on the gallows he had designed for Mordecai the Jew.

(Esther 8:7 NIV) King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, "Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows.

God sometimes resorts to irony to bring justice to His people. He causes those who devises evil plans for His people to fall into their own traps. Haman was hanged in the same gallows he had intended for Modecai.

The Psalmist made it a point to pray that his enemies will be overcome by their own evil devices.

(Psalms 35:7-8 NIV) Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, {8} may ruin overtake them by surprise-- may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.

Evaluation : Do we have someone who is always against us? Instead of scheming to take revenge ourselves, how about committing the whole thing to God and ask him to deal with that individual as He pleases?

God delivers those who fear Him

(Psalms 33:17-18 NIV) A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. {18} But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,


God delivered Modecai from his death. And the earlier chapters tell us that Modecai is a man who indeed honors God.

(Esther 3:1-4 NIV) After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. {2} All the royal officials at the king's gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. {3} Then the royal officials at the king's gate asked Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the king's command?" {4} Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply.

Question : Can you think of another person who refused to bow down to any other than God and was sent to his death but God delivered him.

Answer : Daniel refused to obey the king's command not to bow down to God but instead to him. He was thrown into a den of lions but God delivered him. His story is told in Daniel 6.

God's relationship with the Jews tell us that when the Jews deliberately sinned against Him, God punished them by not delivering them when they were afflicted by their enemies.

(Judges 2:18-23 NIV) Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. {19} But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. {20} Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, "Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, {21} I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. {22} I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did." {23} The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

Evaluation : Did we experience any hardship or difficulty but failed to receive the Lord's deliverance? Could it be due to some sins we had committed?



We need to trust God to deliver

(Esther 4:14 NIV) For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Modecai was so confident in God that he tells Esther that even if she is unwilling, God can and would deliver them by some other means. God will not deliver us if we do not trust that He can and will deliver.

(Psalms 78:21-22 NIV) When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, {22} for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance.


The Bible tells us that a person who doubts should not expect to receive anything from God.

(James 1:6-7 NIV) But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. {7} That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

Evaluation : Are we guilty of asking God for deliverance but never believing in our hearts that God will ever deliver. Were we even surprised when God really helped us?


We need to pray for deliverance

(Esther 4:16 NIV) "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

Esther was well aware that even though she may have a plan to deliver God's people, the plans would come to naught unless they pray and commit it to the Lord.

Even Paul acknowledged that his deliverance was the result of much prayer by his Christian brethren.

(Philippians 1:19 NIV) for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.


Evaluation : Have we forgotten to seek God through pray and fasting to deliver us?


WE MUST AVAIL OF OURSELVES TO DELIVER GOD'S PEOPLE


Failing to deliver God's people would bring about judgment on ourselves

(Esther 4:14 NIV) For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Modecai issued a strong word of warning to Esther to prevent her from contemplating not helping to deliver God's people. It brings to mind what God says about the sins of omission. If we know that we are required to deliver God's people, and we fail to do it, it would constitute a sin.


(James 4:17 NIV) Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.


Evaluation : Are we guilty of not helping to deliver someone when it was within our power to do so?


Delivering God's people brings about tremendous rewards

The end of the book of Esther tells us that Modecai was exalted into greater heights. God exalted him because of his effort and zeal to save God's people.

(Esther 10 NIV) King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. {2} And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? {3} Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

Therefore, we should not lose our opportunity to deliver God's people. If we do, God can still use someone else, but we would miss all the rewards.

(Esther 4:14 NIV) For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"



WHAT MUST WE DO TO DELIVER GOD'S PEOPLE


We need to ask ourselves what gifts God has given us

(Esther 4:14 NIV) For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"


Modecai knew very well that God had not put Esther in a position of authority for nothing. He expects her to use it to deliver God's people. Likewise God has blessed each one of us with different gifts, some with wealth, others with wisdom in God's word, still others with time. God does not want us to waste them pursuing our own interests. Have we used our gifts to aid in deliverance of God's people?


We may need to take risks in order to deliver God's people

Esther took a great risk when she went to see the king uninvited to ask him to come to her house for dinner.

(Esther 4:11 NIV) "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."

(Esther 4:16 NIV) "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

We often need to take great risks to deliver God's people. An example that comes to mind would be Christians smuggling Bibles into countries hostile to the gospel.


Evaluation : Are we afraid to help someone out of his difficulties because we are afraid of certain risks?


We need to have the compassion to deliver God's people

(Esther 3:13 NIV) Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews--young and old, women and little children--on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.

(Esther 4:1 NIV) When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.


(Esther 8:6 NIV) For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?"

Esther and Modecai could risk so much to save God's people because they truly had compassion on them.


Application : If we find that we lack the compassion to help others, why not ask God to give us the compassion.


Evaluation : In the book of Esther, God delivered His people from extinction. God's people may not be in such a danger today. Can you think of some of the ways we can deliver God's people from?

Suggestions

Sin

Persecution

Problems

Evaluation : Do you have a friend today who needs deliverance? How can you help?