Many over the centuries have strongly argued that the book of Esther should never have been included in the Canon of Scripture. The reason is because it’s a book that never refers to God once. However, in all truth, God’s sovereign fingerprints are all over it!
Esther chapter 5 and verse 2 is the verse we want to highlight here.
So if you are sitting comfortably, let me quickly tell you the story of Esther.
At the time King Ahasuerus was the King of Persia. One day he decides to throw a huge banquet celebration for his officials. So all the men partied in one side of the palace hosted by the king and all the women partied at the other side of the palace hosted by the king’s wife – Queen Vashti.
During the celebrations, the king had a bit too much to drink. He orders his servants to go and tell his wife to dress up so he could show her off to all the honoured guests. However, she declines the king’s request. She simply refuses to be made a show of – after all she was the queen! However, the king is embarrassed and humiliated by his wife’s disrespectful response.
After the banquet the king’s officials advise him to divorce his wife and make a national example of her lest all the other women in the land start disrespecting their men! The king takes their advice and does away with Vashti .
However he soon feels lonely and wants to get married again so he comes up with a plan. He sends out talent spotters all over his kingdom to gather all the good looking available women so he could choose another wife from among the posse of beauties.
At that time, there was a man by the name of Mordecai living in the kingdom. He was a Jew. He lived with his family and orphaned niece, a young lady called Esther. Her uncle, Mordecai brought her up as if she was his own. She grew up to be very beautiful. In fact, she ends up being scouted by one of the king’s talent scouts who whips her off to the palace so the king could take a gander! Now for some reason Mordecai has the presence of mind to tell Esther not tell the king or anyone else that she was a Jewess and that she was from a Jewish heritage. Esther lives in the palace almost a year before the king gets to see her.
Every evening Mordecai goes to the palace gates to enquire if all is well with Esther his beloved niece.
At about that time, the king appoints a new Prime Minister by the name of Haman, a man who allowed power and position to go to his head. He expected everybody to bow down to him and even worship him. Now Haman sees Mordecai at the gates of the palace every evening but Mordecai refuses to bow down and worship him.
Meanwhile back in the Palace…
Esther is eventually brought before the king and he is impressed with her natural beauty. It’s love at first sight and the king instantly chooses her to be his new wife.
In His wisdom God takes Esther out of what was virtual obscurity and placed her in the highest and most prominent position – she had become the king’s wife. It was now Queen Esther!
Meanwhile back at the gates of the palace…
One evening whilst Mordecai was at the palace gates he overhears two of the kings so-called trusted servants planning and plotting a coup to overthrow and kill the king. Mordecai alerts the authorities and the plot is foiled and the two guys are appropriately dealt with. Of course, the court officials reported what had happened in the palace’s record books specifically naming Mordecai as the king’s saviour.
Meanwhile – still at the gates…
With every day that passes Haman gets madder and madder because Mordecai refuses to bow down to him. In the end Haman and his henchmen decide to have Mordecai executed – in fact, they actually plan to wipe out the whole of the Jewish race that was left in Persia. They reckoned if Mordecai refused to bow down then surely none of the Jews would bow the knee. Haman lies, deceives, and virtually buys the king’s ear regarding the Jewish people telling him they were intent on rebelling against the king and causing him trouble. Haman gets the king to sign a decree – an unchangeable law – that ordered all the Jewish people in the land to be executed and dealt with once and for all! The king didn’t realise at this time that Esther, his wife, was a Jewess. Esther didn’t tell him just as she had been advised by Mordecai.
As you can imagine, Mordecai was absolutely distraught about this as were all the Jewish people who were left in the provinces of Persia.
Mordecai tells Esther she needs to ‘stand in the gap’ and tell her husband about Haman’s wicked plot. Esther advises her uncle that it isn’t as simple as that. You see if she approached the king without a royal invitation he could have her executed even though she was his wife.
Mordecai tells her if she remains silent at this crucial time, relief and deliverance would arise for the Jews from another place. He goes on to tell her she needs to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ because it was for this very reason God had placed her in the kingdom … ‘for [such] a time as this?’(Esther 4 v 14).
Esther knows deep down in her heart that she has got to do it. She asks Mordecai to call a three day fast while she prepares to go to see the king! Of course, ultimately she had nothing to lose because if Haman had his wicked way she would die eventually anyway. As a Jewess she herself was included in the evil genocide decree.
Meanwhile back at the gates…
Haman had hit boiling point with Mordecai who still refused to bow down to him. Haman’s patience had run out. Haman and his officials decided to build a huge set of gallows in his garden and hang Mordecai within the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, that night back at the palace as night falls…
The king goes to bed and for some reason this particular night he just can’t sleep. He suffers an acute attack of insomnia. So in his frustration he asks for the court record books. If anything will get him to drop off, it would be reading these! Now the book he was given just happened to be the very book that recorded the time when Mordecai alerted court officials about the coup that was planned by those two unscrupulous officials. And for the first time the king realised that Mordecai had literally saved his life.
The king decides to show his gratitude to Mordecai and decides to bless and honour him for what he had done and he wanted to do it straightaway – in fact, the very next day!
Meanwhile early that very next morning…
Haman goes to the palace to see the King to tell him about Mordecai’s fate. However, before Haman could say a word, the king says he wants to honour a special man in the kingdom. Haman, always full of himself, thinks it’s him.
Haman advises the king that they should dress the man up in royal robes, a crown should be placed on his head, and then he should be paraded around the streets of the city where people could applaud him and pay him the homage he was due. But can you imagine Haman’s face when the king said it was Mordecai he wanted to honour! So Haman was forced to honour, escort and parade the very man he had planned to execute. He was forced to parade him around the city the very same morning he had planned to execute him. God’s fingerprints were all over this – that was for sure!
Esther decides the time has come to go into the king’s presence and speak to him about Haman’s evil scheme (Esther 5 v 1).
So here’s the picture:
The king is sitting upon the royal throne, probably conducting affairs of state and somewhere from behind a pillar in the courtyard, steps out beautiful Queen Esther. She’s frightened, would the king welcome and accept her, or, would he see her as an inappropriate, uncalled for intrusion?
Now if this were a scene from a Hollywood film or a Broadway play, all eyes at this point would not have been upon the king or Queen Esther for that matter, but upon the golden sceptre which the king would have in his hand. If the king extends it towards her, it means life. If he withholds the sceptre it would mean a sure death. Esther was helpless, her fate was now completely in the hands of the king.
The tension must have been palpable. Eventually the king slowly raises and extends the sceptre towards her; he welcomes her, showing her his mercy and grace.
The sceptre extended to Esther not only shows that her uninvited intrusion was pardoned, but also that her visit was welcome. She had obtained the king’s favour. His mind and heart were inclined towards her and he was pleased with her. Holding out the golden sceptre would have been the king’s invitation for her to draw near and come closer.
It must have been wonderful, but then note what she does, and this is often missed … she steps forward and touches the top of the sceptre and in doing so she accepts his grace!
Esther 5:2 (NKJV) ‘So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, [that] she found favour in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that [was] in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the sceptre.’
The king asks his wife what she wants. He knew she wouldn’t have risked her life without it being a serious matter. She looked anxious and the king could clearly see it, so, in an effort to reassure her he offers her up to half of the kingdom. (Esther 5 verses 3 and 4).
Esther doesn’t feel the time is quite right so she doesn’t reveal her heart there and then, but requests that she might host a banquet with the king and the Prime Minister, Haman, as chief guests. The king agrees and the banquet was arranged. Can you imagine Haman – his head would have been so big he would hardly have been able to get through the door! However, he is still intent on seeing the back of Mordecai and the Jewish people.
So meanwhile the following night…
When the Banquet was in full flow, with Haman milking every second of it, the king asks Esther what it was that was concerning her. For some reason she still didn’t feel the time was right to tell him and asks for an extension of the banquet – again with Haman as the chief guest.
So the following night, whilst the party continued, the king asks his wife again what was troubling her. She explains about her Jewish heritage and that there was one in the king’s court that had planned to execute her and execute her family and annihilate all the Jewish people left in Persia.
The king is outraged and demands to know who it is. ‘The wicked Haman’ she says. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife! What happens next only the sovereign Lord could have arranged! The king is so mad he goes outside into his gardens to cool down. He is furious!
Meanwhile back in the banqueting hall…
Haman realises his time is up. He pleads with the Queen and he literally appeals for his life.
Now get the picture. Esther is sitting on the couch whilst the evil Haman pleads for his life. Haman walks towards Esther and literally trips up and lands on top of the queen. But just as this moment guess who walks back in the room – enter the king!!
He sees Haman on top of his wife and thinks ‘not only is he plotting to kill my wife but now he’s physically making a move on her. He is trying to sexually assault her.’ Now I know you think I’m exaggerating but read it for yourself in Esther Chapter 7 verses 5-10.
Now to cut a long story short, the king has Haman hanged on the very gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai. The king then appoints Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, to the position of Prime Minster. He becomes second in power only to the king himself. Here again, we see God taking someone out of absolute obscurity and placing them in a most prominent position of influence.
And that, City Biz reader is basically the story of Esther.
Meanwhile… where do you and I fit in to all this in 2015?
Well, just like Esther, we are welcomed into the presence of King Jesus. He extends the royal sceptre towards us. He delights in calling us to come near to Him.
Like Esther we are loved and pardoned. We are favoured in the sight of the King of Heaven. We are given the invitation to come closer and draw near to our king with all confidence (Hebrews 4 verses 14-16).
Of course, it’s one thing to be offered the sceptre; it’s another thing to respond just like Esther did by touching the top of the king’s sceptre. In other words it’s another thing to completely accept His grace and to walk in the favour He extends toward us, to submit to Him, to come to Him and to lay before Him our cares, requests and needs.
Meanwhile … where do we as a church at New Springs fit in to all this?
Well, the Lord extends His royal sceptre towards us as a church congregation as well. He calls us and empowers us to bring about a genuine transformation to the part of the world to which He has called us. And just as Esther and Mordecai played their part in Persia centuries ago, God calls us to play our part in seeing Charnwood saved and delivered.
But here’s the truth. It’s not just going to happen. Together we are going to have to touch the top of His sceptre. Just like Esther of old, we are going to have to touch the top of His sceptre and accept the king’s beckoning and His great commission to go!
We are going to have to step up to the plate when it comes to seeking His face together in prayer; when it comes to preaching the gospel and getting involved in community and social action; when it comes to the giving of our time, our money, our talents and gifts. We are going to have to run the race, remain faithful, be obedient and be unswerving in our determination. We are going to have to be intentional and tenacious in playing our part! We really are going to have to go for it!
Listen – there is no question whatsoever God does not make any mistakes. He has surely put all of us here for such a time as this! So let’s make sure we go for it!!