Esther 10:1-3

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God.
Praise God for his love and mercy to us.  Praise God that he has not and does not treat us as we deserve. Praise God that, by his grace, we are new creatures in Christ Jesus and can live today for his glory. 
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge the sin of not comprehending the magnitude of God’s mercy, and the implications of his forgiveness for our lives day by day.  Ask God to help you to see how his mercy should impact your love for, and obedience to, him.

Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Esther chapter 10:1-3
Notes prepared by Rev. Johnny McCollum, Milford RPCI.

Esther 10:1-3. A Friend in High Places.
It's the end of our journey. We've had ups and downs and twists and turns. We've seen tears of despair and tears of joy. Life will never be the same again. Take Mordecai, for example. He began the story as a fairly anonymous character, became an unsung hero, spent much of the book in Haman's crosshairs, and finished as the second most prominent man in the Persian Empire. What a rollercoaster! It was quite a journey for the Jewish people as well. They endured a vicious smear campaign, lived under the shadow of a holocaust, and now finally, they had come out the other side. The most influential man in the palace used to plot their deaths; now, he seeks their welfare (v3). How brilliant! How amazing! It gets more amazing still. Remember: this book is not simply the story of the Jewish people; it is also a vivid reminder of God's work for believers today. We can see many parallels, can't we? Like the Jews, we once lived under a death sentence (Romans 2:12). Like the Jews, we were powerless to deliver ourselves (Romans 3:20). Yet, like the Jews, we have a friend in high places. Not Mordecai, but someone much, much better. Someone with power and influence, someone who delivers us, someone who seeks his people's welfare. Jesus Christ lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), gives us gracious gifts, and speaks peace to us (Ephesians 2:17). Isn't that amazing? Yet, if you think that is worth celebrating, consider how Jesus accomplished all this. In order to save the day, Mordecai and Esther had to avoid the wooden gallows at all costs. If they were put to death, it was game over. Jesus Christ did the opposite. With great determination, he set his face to the cross and willingly died in our place. In doing so, he dealt with our death sentence, conquered our enemies, and secured our salvation (Colossians 2:14-15). Now that's worth celebrating!
Esther Overview:
 - Living in Exile.
We've finished the story, but there are still lessons to be learned. Rather than reading one particular passage today, let's look back at what we've already seen. For the rest of this week, I'd like us to chew over this story of God's salvation for his people. There are three important themes I'd like us to consider over the next three days. We see these themes all throughout the book of Esther. Today's theme can be summed up in one word: exile. Esther begins in Susa, ends in Susa, and every verse in between is set in the city. Callous and ungodly, Ahasuerus is King at the start (1:1) and at the end (10:1). Have you considered how challenging it must have been to be a believer in a hostile land? Every day, God's people were breathing in noxious pagan values about wealth (1:6), parties (1:7), beauty (2:12), sex (2:14) and every other aspect of life. They were constantly reminded of the might of the King (1:1) and the importance of fitting in by obeying his rule (3:12). It seems apt that God's name is never once mentioned, because, in this ungodly society, it seemed like he didn't exist. It was hard to be faithful in Susa. Of course, it's the same for many believers today. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), and therefore we are exiles here on Earth (1 Peter 2:11). We are constantly and subtly assaulted by a world that rebels against Jesus Christ. We are bombarded with the world's values concerning money, gender, careers, family, religion, truth, life, and death. The pressure to become like those around us is enormous, and God can so often seem absent. Esther reminds us that, even in a world where he is not acknowledged, God is still God. It challenges us to fix our eyes on him and strive for godliness. It is possible to be faithful while living in exile because God will always be faithful to us.
- Mess.
The second of our three themes can also be summed up in one word - 'mess'. Esther is a messy book with messy characters who find themselves in a messy situation. This shouldn't surprise us because God isn't telling us a fairy tale; he's describing real life. Esther's story involves kidnap (2:8), sexual exploitation (2:14), and neglect (4:11). Meanwhile, her fellow Jews plumbed the very depths of despair (4:3). What a mess! Then there are the characters themselves. Esther and Mordecai were undoubtedly heroes, yet they are painted with fine brush strokes. We don't want to be uncharitable, but there are awkward questions that we could ask. Esther kept her Jewishness a secret (2:10), so much so that her true identity took her husband by surprise (7:4). How did she manage this? Would this have been possible without compromising on her faith? The book doesn't tell us for sure. Other awkward questions raise their heads through no fault of these characters. Why were they in Susa in the first place? Why not Jerusalem? Had their ancestors compromised on their principles? Had they valued the bright lights of the capital more than the fellowship of God's people? Were Esther and Mordecai caught up in this mess because of their forefathers' sin? Let's not lose sight of Esther and Mordecai's heroism, but let's not turn them into superheroes either. They were ordinary, possibly messy people, in a messy situation. We shouldn't be afraid to admit that because God is the true hero of this book. Is your life a messy one? Are there skeletons in your closet? Perhaps your family is fractured. Perhaps your past is painful. Perhaps your dreams are dead. Maybe you have wronged others, or maybe you have been horribly wronged. Esther teaches us: mess doesn't have to mean the end. This book reminds us that God works in messy places through messy people. God can glorify himself by cultivating fruit in your life. He worked through Esther. Pray that he would work through you.
- God's Deliverance.
 We have one final theme to consider, and what a theme it is! Esther, above all else, is a story of God's deliverance. Things seemed utterly hopeless. Haman's holocaust was official government policy, and the date was set in stone (3:13). The machinery of the empire would soon turn its force upon God's covenant people. Ahasuerus was too powerful to resist (1:1), Haman was too crafty to outfox. This was the Jews' darkest hour. Yet, rescue came. In fact, not just rescue; complete reversal (9:22). Midway through the book, no-one could see any way out for the Jews. By the end of the book, no-one could doubt that God was on their side. Every single one of us who follows Jesus has experienced God's deliverance. He has delivered us from condemnation, shattered sin's grip over us, and brought us from death to life. Satan, like Haman, has been undone by his own rebellion (7:10). Esther's story prepares us for the greatest story of all: Jesus Christ's victorious death on the cross and triumphant resurrection from the grave. Victory is ours! Of course, there are still challenges to be faced; we live in exile after all. God's people face opposition, temptation, sickness, bereavements, and job losses. Yet those trials will never have the final say. The same God who turned Esther's darkness into light will uphold his people as they pass through their darkest hour. The Spirit of Christ gives us resolve in the face of opposition, victory in the face of temptation, strength in the face of sickness, comfort in the face of bereavement, and patience in the face of unemployment. He upholds exhausted parents, frustrated workers, lonely children and discouraged elders. As with Esther, Christ's work can be subtle. It may not be spectacular, but it gets the job done. God's fingerprints were all over this Jewish rescue. Look carefully, and you'll see them on your deliverance as well. What a God we worship! What a salvation we enjoy!

Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 68B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.

Memory Verse.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word. 
Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places”

Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 8 – How does God carry out his decrees?
Answer – God carries out his decrees in the works of creation and providence.
This is taken from where you will find proof texts.

Thank God for whatever is on your heart.

Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC