Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise God that he has given us 150 Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs to praise him. Songs that minister to our minds, our hearts, and our souls in every circumstance of life. "He put a new song in my mouth, a song to praise our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:3
Accept that our knowledge of, and appreciation for, those 150 Songs could be greater than what it is. Ask God to give us all a growing love for them, so that we would turn to them first in times of need and joy.
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Esther 3:1-15.
Notes prepared by Rev. Johnny McCollum, Milford RPCI.
Esther 3:1-6. Haman's Holocaust.
"As soon as I have power, I shall have gallows after gallows erected. The Jews will be hanged one after another, and will stay hanging until they stink... their destruction will be my first and most important job." I hardly need to tell you who bellowed those spite-filled words. If you were to ask 100 people to name the most wicked man in history, all 100 would say Adolf Hitler. He is considered the very embodiment of evil. Yet, in today's passage we meet a man who could rival Hitler for all-consuming hatred. A man who concocted his very own Holocaust more than two thousand years before. Today, we stare evil in the face. Haman the Agagite was an incredibly ambitious man who would trample over anyone who got in his way. He was used to getting what he wanted and livid when he was defied. Did you feel a shiver in your spine when Mordecai refused to bow before him (v2)? There's going to be trouble ahead! Perhaps if it was someone else, Haman could have brushed it off. But not this time. Haman, like Hitler, despised the Jews and would not rest until he had crushed them underfoot. It wasn't Mordecai he hated. It was Mordecai the Jew (v6). What lay behind this hatred? There's a massive clue in v1. Haman was an Agagite; a descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites. The Amalekites had ruthlessly attacked Israel in Exodus 17 and had brought God's judgment upon themselves. King Saul had been commanded to strike them down in 1 Samuel 15, but he failed to follow God's instructions. Hatred of the Jews was in Haman's blood. Haman's hatred teaches us a simple lesson: sometimes God's people will be despised simply because of who they are. So it was in Susa; so it is today. But don't panic just yet: our Saviour has told us it would be so (John 15:19). With his warning comes his promise: our sorrow will turn to joy (John 16:20).
Esther 3:7. The Die is Cast.
With brisk airport connections and unyielding ferry timetables, sometimes a holiday disaster is just around the corner. Take American couple Henry and Adelaide Frick for example. They were enjoying themselves in sunny Italy when disaster struck; poor Adelaide slipped and injured her ankle in a fall. The Fricks had their return journey booked, but that didn't matter: both ankle and itinerary had to be put on ice. Or, spare a thought for poor Barry and Izzy Sim. On arriving at the airport, they got the news that so many flyers dread: their flight was overbooked and their seats were gone. Not ideal when you have somewhere to be and have a screaming baby in tow. Holidays ruined? Perhaps, but that's not the full story. Had the Fricks made their Atlantic crossing, their journey home would have been rather eventful. The name of their ship? RMS Titanic. As for the Sims, their plane met with similar disaster as it was struck by a surface-to-air missile over Eastern Ukraine. Perhaps a missed flight isn't such a disaster after all. It goes to show: safety and disaster can rest on razor thin margins. So it was with God's people in the Persian Empire. The Hitler-esque Haman had settled on his very own Final Solution (v6); all that was needed now was a day and a date. Luckily Haman was a superstitious individual. Luckily, he didn't want a date; he wanted THE date. He wanted to be sure that fortune would smile on this extermination he had planned. That's why he cast lots until he found the perfect moment for a holocaust (v7), almost a year away. Eleven months gave Haman plenty of time to put arrangements in place. Luckily, it also gave time for the rescue plan to be crafted. Sorry, did I say luckily? God's people are never hostages to blind chance. "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." (Proverbs 16:33)
Esther 3:8-11. Satan Makes His Move.
Magnus Carlsen has the best eyesight in the world. He sees things that no-one else can see, not just in the present, but in the future as well. The world marvels at his powers of perception; too bad they're mostly limited to the chess board. Carlsen became a chess grandmaster at the age of 13 and has gone on to become one of the greatest players of all time. He has an incredible ability to "see" the board: to spot opportunities and threats before they ever arise: to predict his opponent's moves: to envisage exactly how the game will unfold. When pressed by a journalist, Carlsen once confirmed that he sometimes sees up to 20 moves ahead. Playing against the Norwegian prodigy must be a humbling experience. You might have a well thought-out plan, you might get your hopes up as you navigate your pieces around the board, until suddenly... CHECKMATE! While you were busy focusing on one or two pieces, Carlsen was surveying the whole board. You made your moves, but the grandmaster was quietly making his own. This would be a good opportunity to take a step back from the drama of Esther and observe the whole board. Haman is a monster, Ahasuerus too; but they're just pawns in a bigger fight. Susa is part of a cosmic chess board with Satan on one side and God himself on the other. In today's passage we see Satan making his move. It's a devastating manoeuvre as King Ahasuerus gives his assent to the annihilation of God's people. Checkmate? It certainly seems that way. But wait! Magnus Carlsen doesn't have the best eyesight in the world; God does. Think of all that has happened so far: 1) Ahasuerus has foolishly driven Vashti away. 2) Of all the beautiful women in the empire, a young Jew has taken pride of place. 3) Somewhere in the royal archives, Mordecai's name is written in a book. Today, Satan makes his move. God has already made three.
Esther 3:12-15. Don't Just Wait There, Wait for the Lord!
As I write this, the FIFA World Cup is in full swing. There have been plenty of absorbing, unforgettable matches. I've watched some of them with goose-bumped arms and a thumping heart. I've watched others with a mood of tranquil calm. What's made the difference? It's quite simple: I've watched some of the matches as they've happened; I've watched highlights of others the next day. Watching sport when you already know the score is a very relaxing experience. You have no anxieties, no worries, and no doubts about what comes next. For anyone with a heart condition, it's maybe the way to go! Of course, real life isn't like that. Real life is lived in real time. We don't know what's around the corner and we don't know what's coming next. What will the consultant say? Will I get the grades I need? Can the company stay afloat? When we read stories from the Bible, it's easy to forget that we're just watching the highlights. The characters themselves lived in real time. Take the story of Esther for example: the Jews had no idea what rescue God had in store. All they knew was that the holocaust was coming. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine having your death warrant arrive in the mail (v13). Imagine circling a date on your calendar: "This is the day I'm going to die." Imagine celebrating your child's birthday while being convinced that this will be her last. Everything seemed hopeless. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. All the Jews could do was wait for the knock on the door. Not to downplay their experience, but isn't that sometimes what we're called to as well? So, what can you do when you can't do much at all? Remember that God is still God (Psalm 46:10). Remember that we DO know the final score (John 16:33). Be strong and take courage (Psalm 27:14). Don't just wait there; wait for the Lord!
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 139A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses”
Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1 – What is the chief purpose for which man is made?
Answer – The chief purpose for which man is made is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc 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