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Positioned For Purpose | New Year Service 2020

New Year Sermon | Positioned For Purpose | Esther 4:14

Do you believe that whatever phase of life we are at, we are positioned for purpose?

Esther 4:14

My dear brethren, I greet you in the name of Jesus.

Well, in a few minutes we are going to say goodbye to this year and a great year is awaiting us so, let’s thank God for this year. Indeed through it all God has been faithful. Seasons have come and gone but God has been good to us. After all, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and He will lead us successfully in 2020.

Why do you think God has brought you to the end of this year while others could not make it? Why has God birthed you in a particular family and given you the education and then provided the job or business that you have?

God never does anything by accident, planning is never random, and His purpose for you and your life was set in place even before you were born. Friends, God created you for such a time as this, He has a plan for you so, if you are here right now, you are here for a purpose, a God-ordained purpose.

Positioned For Purpose

You have been brought by God to this moment in history and positioned where you are for God’s purpose and His glory.

Esther 4:14

who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

The name of God is not mentioned in this book but the ruler who is featured in this book is mentioned about 175 times. So if anyone reads this book they will know that God is the main character in the book and that He is in control over every event and every matter from the beginning to the end.

1. God Is In Control Over Everything

God certainly was in control over your life in 2019 and God will be in control over every detail of your life, your family, and our country in 2020. Even when we think God is not present, He indeed is.

Chuck Swindoll’s commentary on Esther says, “God seems absent from the moment, distant, preoccupied yet later we realize how present He was all along.”

God is beautifully orchestrating every one of our lives so let’s see how that unfolds out in this book.

Background

The story of Esther begins with a powerful king Xerxes (519 to 465 BC). Xerxes is the Greek name for the Hebrew form Ahasuerus, who reigned over the Persian empire which spread from India all the way to Ethiopia, and the capital was Susa.

He was the son of Darius the Great. He was the grandson of Cyrus the Great, the Persian ruler who decreed that the Jews could go back to their land after 70 years of captivity.

The Queen disobeys the King

Now, King Xerxes has called for a 6-month strategy meeting and the meeting ends with an extravagant celebration, then the king gave a banquet lasting 7 days where the food was plentiful and the wine was flowing freely. When the king and his men were all drunk the king decides to bring his beautiful queen Vasthi to parade her before all. Vasthi decides not to come. The king’s advisors advised the king to take action because this sort of response can start a women’s liberation in the kingdom. Due to her disobedience, Vashti lost her title.

Now the king needs a new queen so they had a beauty contest, Miss Persia beauty contest. The king’s people go and collect approximately 400 beautiful women out of approximately 25000 women from all over Persia and bring them to the king’s harem.

Two Main Characters

At that point, the biblical text introduces us to the two main people in the story, two Jewish cousins, Mordecai and Esther. Mordecai is roughly fifteen years older than his young cousin whos an orphan named Esther.

Her parents had died when she was very young and so Mordecai had raised her. Esther’s name in Hebrew is Hadassah means “myrtle,” a plant. Also, they live in the city of Shushan and are the descendants of the original Jewish captives from the Babylonian captivity. A century earlier, the parents of Esther and Mordecai were brought to Babylon.

Josephus, the historian says there were 400 virgins. At the conclusion of that year, the virgins were taken to the palace and presented to the king. The king would then make his choice and one of them would be given the title as ‘queen’.

This is like a Cinderella story where Esther stole the king’s heart. She becomes his queen. An obscure Jewish orphan who is exalted to the highest position and every woman in the entire world desired for that position. Well, this is no coincidence because there’s a power working here and God is in control over everything.

2. Victory Hinges On Small Events.

Big Doors Swing On Small Hinges.

Do not neglect your small beginnings, do not neglect the small things that you are doing because if you look back into your life you will find out that what seemed like small events have turned out to be the most significant of events in the larger scheme of things. Maybe you are doing an insignificant thing now but remember in that insignificant thing, great doors can open up.

When the opportunity came, Esther could use her influence to save the Jewish race from genocide, and that’s the story of how Esther, a woman in God saved the Jews from genocide.

Significantly, through the entire process, Esther keeps her Jewish heritage a secret. Mordecai told her to do that because there was much anti-Semitism in the Persian Empire.

3. There Is A Time To Be Quiet And A Time To Speak

As we work for the Lord in the places God has placed us, we also need to be careful of what we speak. Sometimes we need not even speak but rather we can be just the salt and the light where God has placed us.

When the time comes you can speak.

Esther did not tell anyone of her nationality and family background as Mordecai had told her not to say so. She is residing in Persia, where the people do not believe in the God of Israel, also some are critical of Esther saying she should have told her identity.

I felt she should have done that but sometimes we have to understand that there is a time to hold back information. Esther was just being the salt in the situation. When she got an opportunity to speak up, she said all that needed to be said.

So, Esther was chosen to be the queen and not long after Esther is crowned, her cousin Mordecai is sitting at the entrance of the palace.

The Gate

The Gate is a place where issues of the community were dealt with and it is a place that we call “court” for justice, however, it is not a place of idling.

So, Mordecai positioned at the “gate” indicates he was a person of dignity and also part of the judges in the decision making. It is like the ‘elders’ in other places of the OT where they were responsible for judging cases, but Mordecai was not hanging around like an idler rather he was in a responsible position.

So while he was there he overhears two of the king’s doorkeepers planning to assassinate the king. He reported it immediately to Queen Esther and she informed the king in Mordecai’s name. Immediately, an inquiry was made and both were hung on the gallows. This incident was written in the book of Chronicles in the presence of the king.

Esther Chapter 3

Here, you are introduced to a man named Haman who is the second in command after the king and an Agagite, and he also hated Mordecai and the Jews. In order to understand this hatred, we need to go back almost a thousand years, to the Exodus from Egypt.

Well, the Israelites come out of Egypt but then they’re attacked by the Amalekites, Ex. 17. The Amalekites are descendants of Esau. God curses the Amalekites, Deuteronomy 25 says, “One day they’re going to be extinct.”

Haman, a descendant of the Amalekites

Four centuries later, King Saul conquers the Amalekites in 1 Samuel. Saul captures their king Agag. Saul was supposed to kill Agag but he didn’t do it. And he incurred the Lord’s displeasure. The prophet Samuel went and hacked Agag to pieces, 1 Samuel 15. Now, almost hundreds of years had passed since the hacking of Agag to death. Haman knew his family history and he knew that it was a Jewish man who had hacked his royal ancestor to pieces.

To make it worse, Mordecai is a descendant of Kish, Esther 2:5 and Kish is from the tribe of Benjamin then again Benjamin is the line of Saul. They knew their history. There was deep-seated animosity between the descendants of Saul and the descendants of Agag.

Hostility

The hostility erupts in chapter 3. “All the king’s servants who were within the king’s gates bowed and paid homage to Haman. However, Mordecai wouldn’t bow or pay homage. The Jews were given special privileges as they would bow down only to God, So Mordecai was not doing anything against the law. However, Haman was filled with wrath. In revenge, he sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, the people of Mordecai.

So what does Haman do? He gets permission from the king. Telling that ‘certain people’ (2:8) are a threat to the kingdom. Then goes on saying that the kingdom can be rich if they are killed and their assets come to the king. So, the king hands over his signet ring over to Haman and he dispatches a royal decree throughout the Persian empire to kill the Jews on a particular date.

Esther 4:3

In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Mordecai heard about this decree, he tore his clothes and he dressed in rags then he put ashes on his head and mourned openly.

Was this just a simple payback by Haman? No, it’s much bigger than that, Satan’s involved in this, as Satan is against what God likes. Satan is involved in efforts to obliterate the Jewish people. Thus to bring to a halt God’s purpose of redemption on their behalf and is after the believers today.

In the meantime, Esther was in the comfort of her palace unaware of all these developments.

4. Be Connected

Stay Connected With The Events Around Us

We definitely need to step out of our Christian bubble and pay attention to the world and the people around us.

Now, Mordecai could not meet Esther as there was high security and also neither was Esther trying to contact Mordecai or her people.

Here is the problem Esther faced, She was disconnected and did not know what was going on, she was secluded in the palace also secluded in the luxury of the palace and she was being waited on hand and foot and she had all the beauty treatments and everything that comfort can bring to a person, She did not know the plight of her people right outside the doors of the palace.

Finally, Esther’s attends tell her that Mordecai is in sackcloths. She sends him some good clothes, but that is not what he wanted. Certainly, Mordecai is thinking, “Esther, this is not about new clothes, our existence is in a crisis.” Esther needed a wakeup call. So he sends her the decree signed by the king, authored by Haman to execute all the Jews.

Disconnected

Esther is a lot like many Christians today, we are so removed from what is happening around us and most Christians are living in a bubble and this is a bubble of their own prosperity, their work, their family and do not know what is happening around us, in fact, some Christians only associate with fellow Christians.

They go to Christian café, Christian gym, Christian workplace, well am not saying this is bad, but they do not know what is happening outside. This is how they live in a Christian bubble. Disconnected from what is going on around. disconnected from how people are suffering. How people need to hear the gospel. What is happening in the political realm. And likewise, Esther was disconnected and she needed a wakeup up call.

So, Mordecai asked Esther to go to the king and plead for the lives of the people. In Persia, anybody who ventured to go into the presence of the king without being invited could be killed on the spot so Esther would not only be breaking royal protocol, but she would be risking her life. well, the king hadn’t even seen her in thirty days and she was afraid of potentially violating her irrational husband who had demoted Vashti for one act of non-compliance and above that Esther could even lose her life.

Well, Mordecai comes back and calls for courage.

Esther 4:13-14

 13“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Mordecai is saying positively you have to act, take the risk. If you don’t, even you and your family will perish. He is warning her, don’t think you are safe in the palace, you and your family also in danger. So act, don’t fear or be selfish.  And then he says these famous words, “Yet who knows whether you’ve come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

5. You Are Purposed For Such A Time As This

Mordecai affirms divine sovereignty and he affirms his confidence in the revelation of God that he would preserve his people but he also understands that Esther can perish and he can perish and many other Jews can perish if she doesn’t act.

Esther gets into action and asks to gather all the Jews in Susa to fast and pray for 3 days.

Esther 3:15-16

 15Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will as fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Esther was a real believer in character.

Character is not made in crisis, it is only exhibited.

Christians are a lot like teabags. You don’t know what they are made of until you put them in hot water.

When people go through difficulties, you find out how their commitment to the Lord actually is, and we see Esther was a woman of character.

The fasting prayer by Esther was for justice to prevail in the land. Every nation has just laws. Even we have our own constitution. We are called to ask God’s intervention for our rights and privileges.

God moves when we fast. God moves when we stand up for him.

After 3 days, Esther goes to the king and he extends the scepter and him, “Queen Esther. What is your request? It shall be given to you up to half the kingdom.” She asks Ahasuerus to put on a banquet for Haman and for her later that day. During the banquet, The king said to Esther, “What’s your petition? Up to half the kingdom, it shall be done.”

She said, “Let’s meet tomorrow and have another banquet.” Now Haman loved this, a private banquet with the king and the queen, as no higher honor could be given to any human than eating with the king. So, that night, Haman slept soundly as he prepared the gallows to execute Mordecai the next day.

That night, the king is back in the palace but he did not get sleep. So he got the royal records to read about Mordecai as to how he saved the king’s life. Then in the morning Haman arrives back at the royal court and goes to get permission to hang Mordecai. But before he can say anything, Ahasuerus asks him a question.

Esther 6:6

When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

Haman thinks it’s him and so he says, “Give him a royal robe; let him ride on the king’s horses with a royal crest on his head proclaiming. ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor.’ In a shocking twist of expectations, the King says, “Hurry then, and take the robe and the horse that you’ve suggested and done so for Mordecai.” Haman has no choice so he leads the parade for Mordecai through the city and honors Mordecai.

After this Haman goes home looking for comfort from his family and friends but he doesn’t find it.

Esther 6:13

His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!”

6. The Enemies Of God Will Surely Come To Ruin

Esther asks the king to spare the life of her and her people then tells the king about the plot of Haman. Now the king was burning in anger, he storms out into the palace garden. Then he remembered the entire plot of Haman and how he had misrepresented the Jewish people as a potential threat to the empire. So the king literally signed the decree into law that involved the murder of his own queen.

Well, Haman’s still at the dinner table. He falls at Esther’s feet. He begged for his life. The king, returning from the garden:

Esther 7:8

Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. The king had him executed in the same pole Haman had set up for Mordecai.

The Enemies Of God Will Surely Come To Ruin

The king issued another decree to override the previous. When Mordecai and Esther stood up in their position, God protected his people.

The Result Of Esther and Mordecai’s Intervention

1. Jews Got The Upper Hand

Esther 9:1

on this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.

2. Everyone was Afraid Of The Jews

Esther 9:2

The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them.

3. Everyone Helped The Jews

Esther 9:3

And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and the king’s administrators helped the Jews because the fear of Mordecai had seized them.

4. Mordecai Was Powerful

Esther 9:4

Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

5. Instead Of Tears, There Was Feasting And Joy

Esther 9:18

The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth, they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

6. God Promoted Mordecai

Esther 10:1-3

 1King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

Conclusion

Where is God in the book of Esther? His providence is at work in filtering down 25000 women to just one, a Jewish woman. His providence is demonstrated in Mordecai, being in a place where he could hear a plot and warn the king. God’s providence is seen in the king reading the royal record about Mordecai being unrewarded.

The invisible hand of God is evident everywhere. God literally thunders through the book of Esther. Not Haman, not Satan using Haman, could destroy the people of God.

And the message for you is this. The Lord is still on the throne. God is ordering every detail of your life. And if you belong to Him and are in the covenant of His love, he will take care of you.

If You Remain Silent God Will Raise Someone Else.

Here is what you need to do, that is Seize the moment, look for the opportunities in 2020. Do not be disconnected from what is happening in the world. Do not be disconnected from the People of God because God placed you where you are for such a time as this. These are challenging times to live in and you are the person to stand in the gap because God has been prepping you for this moment.

God can take impossible situations and turn them around for his glory.

Illustration

A certain man lost his way on an island. He painstakingly made a small hut from the wood and for weeks he lived in that little hut on the beach, he would scan the horizon looking for a ship to approach but none came.

On a particularly warm day, he returned back to the hut after scavenging the island for food, only to find it in flames.

The man didn’t put out the fire in the hut before leaving for the hunt and it devoured the entire hut. He was in complete dismay and hopeless, at that point.

The next morning he woke up and heard a voice. It was certainly the voice of a man. The captain of the ship said,

“We saw your smoke signal and we came to rescue you.”

God can even work through calamity to bring his glory in your life.

We learn from Hamen: You will reap what you sow. 

Galatians 6:8

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Everyday morning you have this choice wither you sow in your flesh or sow in your spirit 2020.

Illustration

Someone said, “I have two dogs and they are always fighting.” His friend asked him, “Which dog wins.” He said, “I decide which dog wins.” “How do you decide that.” He said, “Whichever one I feed the most wins.”

You have this fight going on in your nature and you are going to decide which is going to win.  It depends on who you feed more. This year sow into the spirit. Think about the way you live your life. Use your opportunities for God.

Sow a thought, reap an act

Sow an act, reap a habit

Sow a habit, reap a character

Sow a character, reap a destiny

You are here because you want to sow in the spirit.

Esther was willing to lay her life for her people. She stood in the gap.

Question

God wants you to be that person with purpose, are you willing to be one? You need to ask yourself this question. I am where I am. I cannot change what is happening to me but what I can do to bring glory to God? How can I take the position that I am in, good or bad, easy or hard and use it to bring glory to God? How can I use my position in a productive way? It is time to do what God has called you to do.

How to position for purpose?

1. Maturity

2. Ministry

3. Mission

Grow in Spiritual Maturity. Grow in Ministry. Grow in Missions.

Positioned for Purpose