Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise God that there is nothing in heaven or on the earth that is beyond his control. Praise God that he has given all authority in heaven and earth to Jesus. Praise God that while the Devil does roam the world seeking whom he may devour, he does so only with the permission of God. He cannot do anything without God granting it for His own purpose and glory. Matthew 28:18, 1 Peter 5:8 and Job 1:2
Confess the sin of failing to understand just the magnitude of Christ's authority and power, and the limitedness of the Devil's, albeit dangerous, power.
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Esther Chapter 5:1-14
Notes prepared by Rev. Johnny McCollum, Milford RPCI.
Esther 5:1-4. The Girl Who Played With Fire.
Pythius was a friend of Ahasuerus. He had shown him lavish hospitality and if there was a man who was in the king's good books, it was him. But Pythius had a problem, so he braced himself to approach to the king. Pythius was cryptic at first: he explained how his request would cost the king very little, but would mean the world to him. He pleaded with the king to grant his request; but he didn't tell him what that request would be. This was a huge mistake. Ahasuerus happily agreed. He was fond of Pythius and he owed him a debt of gratitude. "Of course, I'll give you what you want!" So Pythius made his request. He had five sons, each of whom was due to march as part of the king's army. Understandably, Pythius was worried - if disaster struck, his family would be annihilated. So, his perfectly reasonable request was simple: "let one, just one of my five sons stay at home. Don't make him march to war." You can read about it in history books: Ahasuerus was incensed! The problem was that he had already promised to do whatever Pythius asked. So, the king kept his word…with a twist. Pythius' son was sawn in two, with the army marching between the two pieces. He didn't go to war after all. That's one of many stories from outside the Bible that tell us something we already knew: Ahasuerus was not to be messed with! Even close friendship would not save you if you crossed this man. Pythius played with fire. Pythius got burned. Now Esther must play with fire. She adopts a high-risk strategy in this passage, following a similar path to Pythius years before. She asks for the king's help…but doesn't tell him what she actually wants. This has the potential to be catastrophic. Will Esther get burned? There's only one way this will work: if there's one greater than Ahasuerus behind the scenes. It all hinges on God. Can you see him at work?
Esther 5:5-8. Déjà-vu.
The Jews were staring down the barrel. They were living in a hostile land: despised by the powers that be, defenceless in the face of a cruel vendetta. The clock was ticking: if deliverance didn't come soon, God's covenant people would be wiped from the face of the earth. As time began to run, a hero stepped up. This hero would need every ounce of available courage. This hero would risk death at the hands of a merciless king by pleading for the future of the Jews. Failure wasn't an option. Failure meant certain destruction. I'm not talking about Esther by the way. History has an uncanny way of repeating itself, doesn't it? Almost 1000 years before Haman's holocaust, Moses was the Jews’ only hope. He stood in the royal court and demanded that Pharaoh put a stop to the slaughter of God's people. Yet, that's where the similarities end. Moses was armed with the big guns: hail, frogs, and a river of blood. He could count on miraculous manifestations of divine power to strike fear into Egyptian hearts. Esther was seemingly on her own. Does that explain her less confrontational, more careful approach? Does that explain why she invited the king to dinner rather than making an urgent plea? Perhaps. No doubt she would have loved to have had a few plagues at her disposal. But she didn't. Just because God worked one way in the past, it doesn't mean he can't work a different way in the present. What can we do when we don't have miracles to make our case? How do we survive in offices where profit trumps integrity? How do we interact with children who have grown up and left the faith behind? How do we navigate the minefields we face in the classroom or football pitch or at family gatherings? How can our churches make an impact on the unbelieving world around? Esther shows us the way: act wisely and trust God to work in people's hearts. Miracles or not, God is still God.
Esther 5:9-13. What's Pulling Haman's Strings?
Poor Haman. Strange thing to say about a homicidal monster, I know. He was a pitiable man, wasn't he? He was prone to flailing around like a fish out of water, flopping from one extreme to another. At the start of v9, he couldn't be happier. By the end, he was burning with anger. Why? It was all down to ego. Haman enjoyed power, but he enjoyed the trappings of power even more. He liked to be important; he loved to be seen as important. That's why he was so thrilled at the start of v9 - he, and he alone, was invited to dinner with the King and Queen! Haman's greatness was put on display for everyone to see. Until the bubble burst that is. Haman met the one man who didn't give him the deference he craved. Mordecai shattered Haman's carefully cultivated persona. Mordecai took the gloss away. Haman's self-image was what drove him. When his ego was massaged, he felt on top of the world; when it came under threat he burned with rage. This was Haman's idol. He may have been pulling Ahasuerus' strings, but this idol was pulling his. Haman was a slave to his own folly. With his idol under threat, poor, pitiable Haman had little choice but to massage his ego all over again. Little wonder he gathered his cronies to weary them with his boastful tales (v11)! Let Haman be a warning to us. Idols aren't just statues made of metal or stone; they're far more subtle than that. They're the things we hold most dear: our jobs, our families, our reputations, our talents, our hobbies, our plans for the future. Left unchecked, these idols will control us, destroy us, and leave us with nothing at all. It doesn't have to be like that. If we walk in God's ways, he will fix our eyes and our affections on something much more satisfying – himself. "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)
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 3 – What do the Scriptures principally teach?
Answer – The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
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