ďBefore Trouble ComesĒ†††††††††††††† Esther ††††††††††††††††††
SI:† In our reading today the plot thickens.
Esther is living in the palace, enjoying her position as queen.
†† A position she achieved by compromising her morals and spiritual identity.
†† And it seems that she would have continued that way forever.
But the story takes a very dark turn.
†† Through a series of
events, the Jews in the
†† get the evil attention of a very powerful man named Haman.
And he decides to exterminate themóa genocide.
So suddenly, Esther, Mordecai, and all the Jews are faced
†† with a situation that seems absolutely hopeless.
And once again, even though Godís name is not mentionedó
†† this chapter forces us to see the big picture, that the Lord is at work.
†† And that even things that seem completely broken and hopeless are in his hands.
INTRO:† This past week was the General Assembly of our denomination.
It was held in
†† Bumped into a man who I had not seen in a year.
When I saw him a year ago he had told me some exciting news.
†† He had been called as pastor of a large, well-known church.
†† I remember thinkingóHe is a perfect fit for that church.†
That church is going to flourish under his ministry.
So when I bumped into him, I asked:† How are things going at
†† And he said, Andrew, I resigned two months ago.
I was stunned.† I never would have imagined it.†
†† I asked him what happened.
The first five months were great, the last five were terrible.
†† Things came apart and there was no fixing it.
†† He explained some of the dynamics of the situationóand they were huge.
†† No amount of trying harder would have fixed things.
In our lives there are lots of little, everyday troubles.
†† We plan and work and maneuver through those little troubles.
But then there is another category of troublesóthe big troubles.†
†† The times in your life when the wheels have come off, the plate has shattered.
†† When no amount of trying harder will fix things.
†† This morning I want us to think about the big troubles.
Thatís the sort of situation where Mordecai, Esther and the Jews found themselves.
†† It seemed they were being carried along by powerful forces beyond their control.
†† Haman and his wicked plans, backed up by the law of the empire.
Now, none of us will ever face genocide like they facedó
†† but still, there will be big troubles that seem just as unfixable, unstoppable.
†† How do you, as a Christian, face those things?
It seems like Christians deal with big troubles in one of two waysó
†† they either stand firm or they collapse.†
This man that I mentioned was standing firm.
†† I asked him how he and his wife were doing.
He said: †My wife is amazing.† Sheís not bitter.† Sheís trusting the Lord.
†† Both of us are already starting to see Godís hand in this.
†† He told me some of the things that were happening in his life.
There was pain in his voice, but he was holding on to truth.
But sometimes Christians just fall to pieces.
†† They are overwhelmed by bitterness or fear or guilt.
†† They are unable and sometimes unwilling to see that God is at work.
Now, either way, whether you stand firm or fall to pieces,
†† God is still on his throne,
†† Jesus is still Lord,
†† all His promises are true.†
But experientially, there is a huge difference.
And the key to standing firm and not falling to pieces is your theology.
†† Itís what you believe about God and the world.
†† Because your theology gives you a perspective on the big troubles.
†† That perspective keeps you from being overwhelmed.
I want us to look at this chapter in Esther, and see the big picture.
†† That means we arenít going to be looking at Mordecai as an example.
†† Iím not going to tell you, be like Mordecai.
Quite frankly, Mordecai, like Esther, is not a good example.
God is the hero of this story.†
†† He has given it to us so that we can see the big picture,
†† and believe it, and find help in it in times of trouble.
What is the big theological perspective?
You must see your big troubles in terms of
†† 1.† Satanís hostility.
†† 2.† Godís sovereignty.
†† 3.† Christís sympathy.
MP#1† You must see your big troubles in terms of Satanís hostility.
The big troubles you face do not happen in a vacuum.
†† They are part of a great conflict between Satan and God.
†† It is not an equal conflict, but it is a real conflict.
You have to understand this conflict and how it relates to your troubles.
Why did Haman want to kill all of the Jews?
†† It says that when he found out who Mordecaiís people were, he scorned the idea
†† of just killing Mordecai.† Decided to wipe out all Jews in whole empire.
On one level we could psychoanalyze Haman and say the reason he wanted to kill
†† all the Jews was his deep insecurity and his maniacal craving for respect.
Thatís true, but there is something even deeper.
Weíre told that Haman was an Agagite.†
If your Bible has notes, you follow those notes, will learn that Agag,
†† Hamanís ancestor, was one of the kings of the Amalekites.†
†† The Amalekites were ancient, bitter enemies of
They had tried to wipe out
†† This is in that part of the world where people remember things.
But itís even deeper than that.†
†† Back in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit.
†† And after God had pronounced a curse on them and on creation,
He turned to the Serpent, to Satan and he made a prophecy, Genesis 3:15
†† ďAnd I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
†† he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.Ē
God says to Satan.† You have ruined by good creation but you have not won.
†† Will be a male child born to the woman, you will bruise him, he will crush you.
†† First prophecy of Jesus Christ.†
All of the conflicts in the Bible are Satanís attempts keep this prophecy
coming true by destroying the people of
†† If he could destroy Abrahamís descendants, then there would be no Jesus.
Why did Pharaoh order all Hebrew baby boys to be killed?
†† He had is political reasons, but there was a deeper demonic plot.
†† Satan wanted to destroy Hebrew people so promised child would not be born.
Why did the Philistines, and the Amalekites, and the Syrians and all the others
Not just politicsóItís Geneis 3:15.
†† Itís the enmity between Satan and the seed of the woman.
Why did King Herod kill all the baby boys in
†† He was insanely jealous of any rivals. †But there was something deeper.
†† This was Satanís plot to murder the baby Jesus.†
Of course Satan didnít succeed.† Even the cross did not destroy Christ.
And what does Revelation 12 tell us?
†† All of history is the dragon trying to snuff out Jesus Christ.
†† And when that failed, it is war against the rest of Godís people.
He tried to keep Jesus from being born.
†† When that didnít work, tried to destroy Jesus himself.
†† Since that didnít work either, he tries to destroy Jesusí work in us.
How does this help you when you are facing the big troubles in life?
†† It gives you perspective.
You may think your trouble is just your marriage or your children or business
†† or whateveróbut itís much bigger than that.
†† You are a soldier in the cosmic war between Christ and Satan.
What are the stakes?† Whatís the devil trying to do to you in these troubles?
He canít destroy you.† He canít rob you of your salvation.
†† Heís trying to make you ineffective and unproductive.
Puritan Thomas Brooks put it this way in his book ďPecious remediesĒ 1652
†† ďThough he can never rob a believer of his crown, yet such is his malice and envy, that he will leave no stone unturned, no means unattempted, to rob them of their comfort and peace, to make their life a burden and a hell unto them, to cause them to spend their days in sorrow and mourning, in sighing and complaining, in doubting and questioning.Ē
Thatís what he wants to accomplish.†
Knowing that, knowing what is really at stake,
†† where the battle lines really are, is one important step in facing the big troubles.
Itís not really your money trouble, or health or family troublesó
†† itís a spiritual battle against an old and hostile enemy.
You have to look at your troubles in terms of Satanís hostilityóbut canít stop there.†
MP#2† Also have to see them in terms of Godís sovereignty.
The big troubles you face do not happen by chance.
†† They might catch you by surprise, but they donít catch God by surprise.
†† He is the master of your destiny, and your destiny is good.
When Haman decides to destroy the Jews, he goes to a fortune teller
†† to find out the best time to carry out his plans.
This fortune teller casts the pur, the lot, in Hamanís presence.
†† The pur was a kind of dice used for fortune telling.
†† So the lot is cast and the date is set for the Jewís destruction.
But what really happens on that date?† Are the Jews destroyed?
†† One of the advantages that we have in reading Esther is that we know the end.
†† We know that Haman will be humiliated and killed when he least expects it.
†† We know that this date for the Jewsí destruction will be a date of victory instead.
The thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar
†† will be such a great date for the Jews that they will make it into
†† an annual celebration of Godís salvation.
But Mordecai doesnít know how the story is going to end.
†† Heís living in the middle of it.
All he can see is this terrible thing that has happened,
date that has been set by the
†† It is absolutely impossible for him to see what God is going to do.
If you could go back in time and talk to Mordecai while in sackcloth and ashes.
†† You would say to him, Mordecai.† Your story is not over.
†† I know something you donít know.†
†† The Lord is writing a final chapter that will amaze you.
You will look back and see how things are actually better for Godís people
†† because this terrible thing has happened.
And isnít that the story of the cross?†
†† The death of Jesus was the end of the disciplesí dreams.
Remember disciples on road to Emmausó
†† We had hoped he was
the one who would deliver
†† They saw him die on the cross and saidóthatís itóthatís the end of the story.
†† They could not conceive of what would happen three days later.
You donít know how your story is going to end either.
†† You donít know how your childrenís story is going to end.
And it may be, that like Mordecai, you are looking at big, bad things,
†† that are happening to you right now and projecting those into the future
† †and saying to yourselfó
I donít know what is going to happen but I know itís going to be bad.
No, you donít.† The Lord is writing your story.
†† It may have some very hard chaptersó
†† Chapters of suffering, losses, and painful sanctification.
But the last chapter will always be a good one for Godís people.
When lived in
†† He had lots of big troubles.† He had lost his church, marriage,
†† and lots of other thingsóworked in a convenience store.†
He had a sermon, preached often to himself.† I heard several times.
Moses was in the backside of the wilderness for 40 years tending sheep
God used him to bring the children of
†† But it was in the wilderness Moses met the Lord in the burning bush.
Iím in the backside of the wilderness now.† This is where the Lord has me.
†† I know He has plans for my future, even though I donít know what they are.†
†† But thatís ok, because Iíve met the Lord here, hallelujah!
He didnít use the term Godís sovereignty but thatís what he believed.
†† He knew that the big troubles of his life, even the ones he had brought on himself,
†† were not outside of Godís hand, and that the Lord was at work.
That gave him hope and joy.
Do you feel like you are in the backside of the wilderness
†† when it comes to some big trouble in your life?
Look at the story of Estheróeven at this darkest pointó
†† God was at work, planning great things for his people.
†† He is also at work in your life.
If you believe that, you will have hope and reason to rejoice,
†† even though you cannot see how things will work out in the end.†
So you have to look at your troubles in terms of Godís sovereigntyó
†† but there is one more important part of the big picture.
MP#3† You must see your big troubles in terms of Christís sympathy.
We live in a fallen world.† Things are broken.† There is sorrow and grief.
†† The big troubles you face are reason to grieve.
Mordecai was far from a perfect believer, he did many things wrong.
†† Remember his advice to Estheróhide your faith and identity.
†† Compromise your morals if you have to.† Not his finest hour.†
Many Bible scholars have argued Mordecai was wrong in not bowing to Haman.
†† Believers are supposed to give proper honor and respect to civil authorities.††
†† Plenty of examples of godly people in Bible bowing to kings and giving honor.
The fact that Haman was a descendant of Agag should have taken second place
†† to the fact that King Xerxes had commanded that he be honored.
†† Youíll notice in chap 6 that Mordecai had no problem with people bowing to him.†
At best Mordecai chose to take a stand on a gray issue, and not black and white.†
It would be easy to criticize Mordecai for his response to the kings edict.
†† He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes,
†† and went out wailing loudly and bitterly.
Weíre tempted to sayóWhereís your faith, Mordecai.
†† Donít you know God is in control?† Get a grip.
†† All things work together for good, so cheer up.
But thatís wrong.†
Over and over in the Bible we see that the big troubles of life are reason to weep.
In the Bible we see godly people weeping over the death of loved ones,
†† and over wandering children, and lost health, lost wealth,
†† over crushed dreams and ruined plans.
There is a book of the Bible called Lamentationsó
†† written by the godly prophet Jeremiah in which he just grieves
the destruction of
There is a whole category of Psalms called lamentsó
†† in which the Psalmist cries out to God in his trouble.
Why are you doing this to me?† How long are you going to put me through this?†
†† Why am I suffering this illness?† This conflict with friends and family?
†† Why am I suffering financially?† Lord, have you forgotten me?†
Donít you know my tears are my food every night?
Sometimes Christians who preach Godís sovereignty a lotólike Presbyteriansó
†† get off balance.† Almost seems like itís a lack of faith if you grieve and weep
†† and say, ďWhy, God?† Why?Ē†
But itís not wrong.† In fact, Jesus himself, at his moment of greatest pain
†† cried out the words of Psalm 22, a lamentó
†† ďMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Ē
And it is Jesusí suffering that assures us that he can indeed sympathize
†† with all of the suffering that we go through in this life.
When you are going through the big troubles of life,
†† there is no greater source of comfort than the sympathy of Christ.
In one of Tim Kellerís sermons he makes a fascinating observation about Jesus.† When Jesus goes to home of Mary and Martha after Lazarus had diedó
Martha came out and said,
†† ďLord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.Ē
†† Jesus gave her a theological lesson.† You brother will rise again.
†† I know he will rise again on the last day.† I am the resurrection and life.
Mary comes out and says the very same thing.
†† ďLord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.Ē
†† And Jesus doesnít give her a theological lesson, he sees her weeping, he weeps.
Keller says, shows how Jesus knows us perfectly, knows what each of us need.
†† Martha needed teaching,
†† Mary needed sympathetic tears.
There is nothing wrong with weeping, and grieving.
†† Itís a proper response to the brokenness of this world.
Itís wrong for us to treat grief and sorrow of fellow Christians as failures of faith.
†† I was recently with someone, not in this church, talking about
†† woman who had lost a husbandóperson very bothered that she was
†† still grieving after a yearóthought she should be moving on with her life.
You donít find that thinking in the Bible.†
Yes, we need to realize we are soldiers in a battle, big things at stake.
†† Yes, we need to believe that God is sovereign, all things work for good.
But also need to know, that in this broken world, Jesus wept, cried out Why?
†† Right for you to weep, cry out Why?† and know that you have the sympathetic
†† ear of a Savior who loved you.
INTRO:† Iíve spoken to those of you who are in the middle of big troubles.
But if you arenít.† If you are in a time of peace in your life,
†† and everything is going well.† Now is the time to take these truths
†† and press them deep into your mind and heart.
Use times of peace to prepare for the hard times.
Remember how Paul puts it in Ephesians 6:
†† ďPut on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,
†† you will be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.Ē
When do you put on the armor of God?† Before the evil day comes.
†† If you get up one morning, and it is an evil day, big trouble crashes on you,
†† and you are not prepared, you will find it hard to stand.†
Finally, if you are not a Christian.
†† If you have never repented of your sins, professed your faith in Jesus,
†† and given your life to him, let me urge you to do so.
Because if you donít, the big troubles of your life will not work out for good.
†† They will work out for evil.† They will just be a taste of hell.
An eternity without Godís grace,
†† without the sympathy of Christ, and his wrath instead
†† is a terrible trouble that you do not want to face.
Jesus has suffered that trouble for you on the cross.
†† Turn to him in faith before it is too late,
†† and you can be assured that He will surely work all things for your good.