Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Random Thoughts On The End Times

There are so many events taking place in the world today that Christians should be aware of the seriousness of the hour.  I am cognizant of the fact that there have been many “prophecy experts” who have set times and dates for the coming of the LORD.  They have all been wrong.  The only thing that has happened is these “experts” have made thousands of dollars off their “prophecies.”  Many good Christians have been caught up in the thought the LORD is coming back in______, and you can put your own date down as to when Christ was coming back.  If you talk with many Christians today, they believe the LORD is coming back but sometime in the future.  He could come back in their lifetime, but probably not.

One of the sign of His soon return is the lack of faith and the “falling away” from the faith once delivered to the saints.   “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first…”

Jesus warned us that there would be those who believe the LORD would delay His coming:  “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you; he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The faithful servant is doing what he has been instructed to do. The LORD calls this servant blessed.  However, the wicked servant say the "Master is not coming now but in the future."  This servant begins to live and act in a ungodly and evil way.   The result is the Master comes when no one is ready.  Even though the LORD has given us the signs of His coming.  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.  In all the trials and tribulations in the past, they will not compare to what is coming.

It is the responsibility of the servant of the LORD to understand the times and seasons.  If we are doing what the LORD has called us to do, then we are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Paul explains why the faithful will not be caught unaware.

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.  For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

We have not been appointed to wrath.  However, we will suffer tribulation.  Jesus explains it this way, Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Increasing deception will mark the "end time." At a certain point, these deceptions will be augmented by signs and wonders—miracles!   Today we are seeing these signs, wonders, and miracles.  Through technology the blind have sight, the deaf can hear, the lame can walk, and even the dead can be brought back to life. In the last 50 years, man has learned to genetically engineer the flaws in human DNA.  Governments have created weapons that can rain fire from heaven, and destroy life with chemical weapons.  Man has become his own god, and Satan has moved the hearts of man towards more evil and wickedness.

If we are not careful, even the elect—if possible—could be deceived.  This phrase "if possible" has made some people wonder, "Can the elect be deceived?" Well, it is kind of a trick question. If they are deceived, then they are not the elect! This is because the elect do something that keeps them from being deceived! It is not as if God says, "Here's my favorite children. I am not going to let them be deceived." That is not how it works. They are the elect because they do not allow themselves to be deceived.  They are aware the signs, wonders, and miracles that are being performed by the technology advances of today are to be viewed with caution.  Rather than seeing this as man’s ability to do things without God, the faithful knows that God is in control of whatever is happening.

So it is not possible to deceive the elect. It is not because these people have a particular "safety net" around them so that they cannot be fooled. They cannot be deceived because they will not let themselves be deceived, which is why they are the elect. They are working hard to do what the LORD has called them to do so that they will not be deceived. And that is the group that we want to be part of.

In the book of Matthew, we read where the disciples asked the question, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?   And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.

As we look at what is taking place in the world right now, we should be concerned about not only our own spiritual condition but those around us.  The rumors of war are daily events.  Our own government feels it must threaten Russia and North Korea with war, and everyday we wonder when will this happen.  With the US military having withdrawn many of its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans are unaware that hundreds of US bases and hundreds of thousands of US troops still encircle the globe. Although few know it, the United States garrisons the planet unlike any country in history, and the evidence can be seen from Afghanistan to Ukraine, Japan to Germany, Singapore to Djibouti, South Korea to Poland.  The US government has over 300,000 troops stationed in over 150 countries.  Our government has brought war to nations and kingdom at the cost of millions of lives.

Famine may not be an American problem, but it is a world problem.  The world is facing one of the largest food crises in over 70 years, with an estimated 76 million people in need of emergency food assistance.   For more than 30 million people in Africa and Yemen severe hunger is a daily reality.  Every day too many men and women across the globe struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 815 million people – one in nine – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night. Even more – one in three – suffer from some form of malnutrition.  For some, the risk of starvation is even more significant. More than 20 million people in northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen are at immediate risk. South Sudan, famine occurred in early 2017 and risk of future famine is still high, and in Somalia and Yemen, there is also a high risk of famine in 2018. Without immediate support, 1.4 million of those at imminent risk of death are children.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that some of these areas have experienced famine. And the threat of famine persists, as needs remain high due to prolonged conflict and drought,

Researchers warn that 2018 could bring an increase in massive and devastating earthquakes.  About four years ago, the Earth’s rotation slowed slightly. Although the decrease was not enough to notice, the Earth’s slower rotation it is thought  it may spark an increase in severe earthquakes for 2018, researchers from University of Colorado Boulder predicted in the fall of 2017.

According to the team’s research, which they presented at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Seattle in October 2017, there may be a trend between slower Earth rotations and more global earthquakes. Over the past 100 years, there was a 25 to 30 percent increase in the number of significant earthquakes associated with a slowdown in the Earth’s rotation.”

Last year there were 12,860 recorded quakes around the world.  Many earthquakes are undetected by the USGS; in fact, the organization estimates that around several million earthquakes occur around the globe annually. Annually, an average of one earthquake of a magnitude 8 or higher occurs, while approximately 15 earthquakes ranging from 7 to 7.9 occur. As many as 1.3 million earthquakes measuring 2 to 2.9 in intensity occur annually.

Can we be safe in saying the “beginning of sorrow” is already underway and has been for several years? 

Jesus went on to say, Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Christianity is the most offensive religion.  It is offensive because it is the only true religion and excludes any other means of salvation other than through Jesus Christ.  True Christianity exposes sin and requires repentance and forgiveness.  Christianity  teaches salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  This is offensive to all other religions, and they will do whatever they can to wipe out the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is offensive to those who do not believe there is a God and they will do whatever they can to destroy Christianity.  It is offensive to the Jews because its required them to accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah.  It is offensive to the Muslims because it teaches that Muhammed is a false prophet.  Is it any wonder that Christians are hated all over the world?

In the Twentieth Century, more Christians were killed than all the centuries previously. On average, a Christian is martyred every five minutes — killed because of their faith.  The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today than at any time in history, and governments are failing to stop it.  The study by Aid to the Church in Need said the treatment of Christians has worsened substantially in the past two years compared with the two years prior and has grown more violent than any other period in modern times.   “Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution,” the report said.

The report examined the plight of Christians in China, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Turkey over the period lasting from 2015 until 2017. The research showed that in that time, Christians suffered crimes against humanity, and some were hanged or crucified. The report found that Saudi Arabia was the only country where the situation for Christians did not get worse, and that was only because the situation couldn’t get any worse than it already was.

There were 45 million Christian martyrs in the 20th century, that does not count those killed for national, ethnic or political reasons who just happened to be Christian but were not killed because of their being Christian."

The tribulation Christians are going through around the world has never been witnessed in the history of mankind.  In some areas in the Middle East, if the killing does not stop soon, there will be no Christians left.

Even though the American Christian has not suffered what our brothers and sisters in other countries are going through does not mean we will escape the coming persecution that is beginning to happen here in America.

Do you think that maybe we are at least approaching the last days?  It is essential that we do what we can to warn those around us of events that are happening that they not be caught unaware like the five foolish virgins who lack the oil in their lamps.  It vital that we share the Gospel with those who have not come to the knowledge of salvation.  As the faithful servant, we are told to give those around us food at the proper time.  Do you think that now might be the right time to share what is happening to prepare Christians for the end times?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Book of Job- Christ Through the Bible

The Books of Poetry

As we begin the third division of the Old Testament most of the writings in these five books are in the form of poetry, not prose. In terms of purpose:
1.      Psalms is the hymnal (psalter) of ancient Israel;
2.      Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes are wisdom writings;
3.      and the Song of Solomon exemplifies beautiful love poetry.
More than anything else, these books speak to the human experience of life and the human yearning to understand the “mysteries” of life.

Together the mysteries of life are found in the:
·         commentary,
·         praise,
·         questions,
·         despair,
·         anger,
·         joy,
·         thanksgiving,
·         insights,
·        and wisdom regarding God.
The Book of Job
 The Book of Job probes humanity’s struggle with the problems of evil and suffering. As we follow how the good and faithful Job is made to suffer, we join with Job and others in questioning God’s role in his suffering, asking in particular “Why?” At issue are God’s ways and humanity’s inability to understand those ways. While the question “Why?” remains primarily a mystery, what we learn is how sincerely God desires and is willing to be with us in our suffering and to actively care for us even as we question and express outrage at what we cannot understand. Often the question is asked, Why, did God allow this to happen?  Why are good people punished and the wicked and evil seem to prosper?  These are the questions of life that each of us have asked sometime in our lives.  My answer is I don’t know.  Whatever God’s plan for this event, that brought suffering and pain into the lives of people, I have not been privileged to know.  All I know is that God is in control and has an expressed reason for the events that come into our lives.
In the end, Job is rewarded by God for his faithfulness with twice what he has lost. In the end, we also will be rewarded by God, with life in the world to come that knows no pain or suffering, only joy.
God wanted to put in the heart of the Hebrew people the fact that a person's welfare did not always coincide with their spiritual state. He wanted people to understand that if things were going well in life for a person, then he was not always in God's favor.
The opposite would be true too. If things were going terrible, and this is what we see in Job, this should not necessarily be interpreted as God's rejection of that person. If the Jewish people did not have access to the truth that comes from the book of Job, then they would not be able to believe in Christ's work.
Often when someone does some evil act, our feeling is we want to see immediate judgment of God. We want instant judgment so that others will not do the same wrong. Otherwise, if judgment is delayed, people might think a little evil doesn't matter.
If evil is immediately judged, then sin would be held back. I am thankful that God has not allowed me to be executioner of his judgment.  If crime was judged immediately, then there would be less crime.  If people we given swift judgment, then they would think twice before they committed acts of evil.  If that were true, the earth would have long ago been destroyed. But in that case, neither would there be any redemption!
Fortunately for us, God worked out another plan. In fact, we see God holding back judgment from the very beginning. Death was passed on Adam and Eve, but it was back for several years. We need to go behind the scenes to understand why the world is not so simple to understand.
God does not immediately judge us, if He did, we would all be wiped out, and there would be no redemption.
The opposite is true too.
God does not immediately bless the righteous because He has greater plans that can best be implemented through pain and suffering.
The fact is that God will always judge sin and bless righteousness as Job's friends so persistently indicated. What they didn't know was that God delays this judgment and reward. From their perspective, suffering always indicated punishment for sin. So, they concluded that Job's pain was because of hidden sin. His restoration was dependent upon repenting and doing right (cf. Job 8:5-6). They were wrong.
The Book of Job so powerfully rips through these overly simplistic perspectives of the world. Life is not what it often seems. The truth of this book is that the Holy Spirit reveals to the that they should not be so quick to wrongly judge those who are suffering. In the end, man must conclude that we are poor judges on earth and must pass this honor on to God.

God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to suffer and die for sinful man. He did not want anyone to think that the one who died a cursed death was necessarily cursed because of his own sin.

The LORD conditioned the Israelite people to allow for exceptions. Yes, the wicked would be judged as wicked, and the righteous would be rewarded as righteous. But in the meantime, we sometimes see occurrences where what happens is a bit fuzzy.

Job was such a case. Christ’s was an exception too. And evidently, it seems to happen much more than we would care to acknowledge. Notice Jesus’ response to His disciples. We need to develop a fuller theology as Jesus encouraged His disciples below.
And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:2-3).
Job's sufferings prepared the way for the Messiah. Job in a general way prefigured Christ. He is the one who was the greatest in the land and yet became accursed. He lost everything. For Job, it was not his choice. In a sense, nor was it the choice of the Messiah. Yes, He did choose to do His Father's will, but He did not desire the pain and rejection associated with the cross. The scene at Gethsemane should leave a scar on our minds so that we never forget this.
The rich became poor. The righteous suffered. Everything seemed to be complicated at the cross. But the story could not have ended there. Because Jesus was a righteous man, death could not hold Him from rising from the dead. Reward and blessing had to come.
The last chapters of Job parallel the last chapters of the Gospels where light overcomes darkness. No one can reverse or hold back the mighty tides of justice embedded into this world by its Maker.

"There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility" (Ecclesiastes 8:14).
The righteous might suffer. He might need go through persecution. But there will always be a good ending. We need not tremble to see the righteous suffer nor the wicked triumph, for they are but temporary images for time.
The Book of Job first teaches us that justice is not always immediately carried out. Judgment doesn’t always come immediately upon the sinner, and neither does reward always accompany the righteous.

We need to be gracious and understanding for we have difficulty accurately assessing a person’s circumstances. But on the other hand, we also see the glory of justice. Righteousness always does win out. Wickedness is always severely judged.
So how does the life of Job represent Jesus Christ?
·         In the book of Job, the most upright man on earth (Job 1:8) suffers the most of anyone on earth. We see this in the life of Christ and his death on the cross.
·         Trembling with pain, Job cried, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). That statement describes Jesus perfectly, who died naked on a cross.
·         Job was so disfigured by his sufferings that his friends didn’t recognize him (Job 2:12). Similarly, Jesus’ “visage was marred more than any man” at His execution (Isa 52:14).
·         Eliphaz taunted Job to call out to God for help (Job 5:1). And they said of Christ at His death, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him” (Matt 27:43).
·         Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm about Christ’s sufferings. Some of the things said by the Messiah in that psalm compares to Job’s speeches. For example, consider this comparison. “They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion” (Ps 22:13).  “They gape at me with their mouth, they strike me reproachfully on the cheek, they gather together against me (Job 16:10).
·         Job lamented, “Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy?” (13:24). This reminds us of Jesus cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Both Job and Jesus asked the why question.
·         In the hour when Job needed his friends most, they failed him. Same for Jesus. At His arrest, His friends forsook Him.
·         Job’s best friend, Eliphaz, became so frustrated at Job that he leveled concocted charges at his friend (Job 22:6-9). Similarly, Jesus was falsely accused by false witnesses at His trial before the high priest.
·          Job was raised up from his sufferings when He interceded for his friends. (Job 42:7-10). And Jesus was raised up as our great Intercessor, Heb. 7:25.
·         In the bitterness of his soul, Job cried, “He destroys the blameless and the wicked” (Job 9:22). And when you look at the three crosses on Golgotha’s hill, you’re looking at the death of both the blameless and the wicked.
·         God said this to Satan about Job: “You incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:30). Job did nothing wrong to deserve his suffering. Nor did Christ. He was a blameless sacrifice.
·         Both Job and Jesus suffered in the will of God (1 Pet 4:19).

In Job, we see the Suffering Savior.  We also learn that appearances are not always reality. When bad things happen to us, we cannot presume to know why. What God wants from us is faith in him, no matter what our circumstances may be. God rewards great faith, sometimes in this life, but always in the next.  What is important is that we remain faithful to God regardless of the circumstances of life.

America Is Being Judged

I will turn 70 years old in July.  I have had a pretty good life despite the times I have made poor financial choices.  I realized that the financial debt I was in held me in a life-style of bondage.  When I resolved to free myself from the slavery of debt, I found a freedom that allowed me to do more than I have ever been able to do in the past. 

As I watch our country go deeper into debt and families living from paycheck to paycheck, I see how the enemy of our soul has destroyed our spiritual life with the need for the material things of this world.  Many people, Christians included have turned to the distractions of this world, sports and entertainment to take their minds off the problems of trying to live a life that is beyond their means.  Those who have become so stressed with life they can no longer cope have turned to pharmaceutical drugs to deal with the pressures of work and family. 

The life-style that everyone is trying to live has destroyed the spiritual life of this nation. This nation is driven by the material life, rather than the spiritual.  Children have no sense of the spiritual.  Parents have raised a generation that does not know the real Jesus Christ.  The results of this nation turning its back on God has brought judgment upon the land. 

As I watched videos of the school walk outs, protesting guns, held across the country, I saw student displaying acts of violence towards those in authority, disrespecting property, and show contempt for our nations flag.  It is not the violence of guns that is the problem in this country; it is the violence of the heart.  The same motivation that drives someone to kill is the same motivation that is in the hearts of those who displayed acts of violence during their walk out.  This nation is reaping what it has sown, a generation that does not know God.    

Ezekiel 14:13-14 "Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,' declares the Lord GOD." 

Isn’t it true today, as we see natural disasters increasing everywhere? Not only in our land, but around the world? We were once the wealthiest country on Earth, but not anymore.  We are so in financial debt that both the government and the people cannot repay what it owes.  James tells us the misery we are facing now. 

James 5:1-6  Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted, and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.” 

I struggle with the indifference our churches have towards sin. I am troubled as I see our children led astray by an immoral media, godless teachers, and false religions. I struggle over how spiritually blind we as a people have become. America was once the Christian lighthouse of the world, but that’s all over.  As Christians around the world are dying for the testimony of Jesus Christ, how long will it be before American Christians are faced with the same fate?  Will there be the courage needed to remain a faithful witness or will we lack the faith to stand for Jesus Christ? 

 In 535 B.C., a Bible prophet saw the what was happening to his nation.  The same is happening to our country. 

Zechariah 11:16 "For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken, or sustain the one standing (godless leadership), but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs . . .” 

Because the spiritual hoofs have been torn off our people by self-serving church leaders who have forsaken God, we no longer know how to walk the Christian walk. It wasn’t always that way. There was a time when Christians in this country put serving the LORD first.  Their priorities were spiritual rather than material. There was a loyalty to the church and its mission. Today, we worry about how to protect our assets when the dollar goes belly up or the stock market crashes, as both will happen soon. 

Before the LORD brought judgment on Jerusalem the prophet Ezekiel received a message from the LORD: 

Ezekiel 9:4 “The LORD said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city. . . and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.’ And to the others (angels) he said in mine hearing, ‘Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.’ Then they began at the ancient men (the church leaders) which were before the house” (of the Lord, - the Church). 

Do you believe a sovereign God, Creator of the Universe, is going to act differently now, just because you go to your spiritually dying church on Sunday, know the four spiritual laws, and have said the sinners prayer?  As He did in Israel so long ago, the Lord is once again putting His mark on His remnant. If you have that mark, you know it, because you recognize the lateness of the hour. How late?  

Isaiah 26:20-27:1 (NAS) “Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while until indignation runs its course. For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain. In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, with His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; and He will kill the dragon (Satan) who lives in the sea.” 

It’s not going to be easy for us from here on out everyday we are closer to a time when the wheat and tares will be separated.  For those who believe that they do not need to watch and pray and be ready because they will be “raptured” out of the troubles coming on use remember what the prophet Amos said: 

Amos 5:18-20 “Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD (comes during a time of spiritual) darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the LORD (come during a time of spiritual) darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?”

We are living in that day, are you ready

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Esther- Christ Trough the Bible: MORDECAI- The Advocate

Text: For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Est 4:14)   “I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” (Est 4:16b)

The theme of the book:  Courage. Faith. Betrayal. Politics. Plots of genocide. The book of Esther is a drama about how two Jews risked everything to save their people.

In the book of Esther, we read about four main characters:

·         Queen Esther, the heroine. When Esther becomes queen, she keeps her Jewish heritage a secret When she learns of a plot to kill all the Jews in the Persian provinces; she courageously uses her position to intercede on behalf of her people-the Protector.

·         Mordecai, Esther’s cousin. Mordecai is a devout Jew characterized by conviction. He is loyal, reliable, and persistent. He saves the king from an assassination plot early in the story—foreshadowing his work to save the Jewish people. Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman, which starts the central conflict of Esther: Haman vs. Mordecai. Mordecai is a father figure to Esther (an orphan), advising and informing her throughout the story-the Advocate.

·         Haman, enemy of the Jews. Mordecai refuses to bow to him. Haman intensifies the conflict by getting the king to sign an edict against all Jews in the empire and planning to hang Mordecai. Esther intercepts his plans, however, and the king kills Haman instead. Haman is called an “Agagite,” possibly referring to King Agag the Amalekite (1 Sa 15:8)—the Amalekites had opposed Israel for hundreds of years (Dt 25:17–19). The Enemy

·         King Ahasuerus. The king deposes Queen Vashti when she publicly disobeys him at his banquet. He then brings on Esther as his new queen. Ahasuerus is a very reactive character in the story: he deposes Vashti, he goes along with Haman’s plot, he makes grand promises to Esther, he allows Esther and Mordecai to write their own counter-laws and enact their own feasts. Ironically, the king of 127 provinces is the weakest of the main characters.

Facts About the Book of Esther

·         Not one time does the name of God appear in the Book of Esther.

·         The foresight of God is abundant throughout the book.

·         The chronological span for the Book of Esther is about 10 years.

·         Esther is addressed to the multitudes of Jews who did not return to Judea

·         The providence of God is abundant throughout the book.

·         He ensures that Mordecai’s deeds are recorded in the palace records.

·         He guides Esther’s admission to the King’s court.

·         He guides the timing of Esther’s two feasts.

·         He is involved in the King’s insomnia.

·         He sees that Haman’s gallows will be used in an unexpected way.

·         He gives Esther great favor in the sight of the king.       

The Book of Esther fits between the 6th and 7th chapters of Ezra, utilizing 10 of the 58 years during that gap, and somewhere in the 81year period between the return led by Ezra and the one led by Zerubbabel.  The Jewish Feast of Purim was begun to remember the deliverance of the Jews from the destruction planned by Haman.

The Story

 Mordecai, the cousin of Queen Esther of the Persian Empire (485-465 BC). Mordecai had raised Esther as his own daughter. In a way, Mordecai is the star of the story, although he is not talked about a lot. The first thing we see Mordecai doing is informing the King's officials of a plot against the King’s life. Mordecai heard of the plot as he sat in the gates of the Persian capital city of Susa, where he had been brought as a captive from Israel. The conspirators were hanged, and the incident was recorded in the King’s chronicles. Mordecai did not pursue the matter, seeking any recognition or honor for himself.

As Mordecai sat in the gate, he put himself in danger of losing his life. One of the King’s rulers frequently passed the gate, and people were commanded to bow down to him. Mordecai refused to bow down to this ruler, Haman, because as a Jew Mordecai could only worship the Lord, the God of Israel.

When I read about Mordecai, I think of him as the first Quaker. One of the earliest noted and most controversial marks of early Quakers was their refusal to show respect to others by removing the hat or bowing. The Quaker practice of not removing the hat, not even in church, stemmed from their belief that all are equal. This quickly became one of the most immediately recognizable characteristics of a Quaker and resulted in considerable persecution being directed against them.

Mordecai’s refusal to bow infuriated Haman, and he devised a way to get rid not only of Mordecai but of all of the Jews. Haman had the King order the destruction of all the Jews, although the King did not know that Haman was talking about the Jews, and he did not know that his Queen was a Jew.

When Mordecai heard of the plot, he went to Queen Esther and persuaded her to ask the King to save the people. Esther asked all the people to fast and pray for her. Meanwhile, Haman was planning the death of Mordecai and ordered that gallows be constructed for him.

Look how this relate to Jesus Christ our LORD. That day outside the Garden of Eden when God pronounced the promise of a Redeemer, Satan plotted to kill Jesus.  When he saw Him as an infant in the manger, he thought if he could kill Him and get Him in the chains of death, what an excellent idea, or so he thought! So he stirred up the spirit of Herod to kill Him, but Herod failed. And many times, Satan attempted to put the personal existence of Christ in danger so that he might get Christ to die. He seemed unable to realize that when Christ died, he would bruise the devil’s head. Once, you remember, when Christ was in the synagogue, the devil stirred up the people, and made them angry; and he thought, “Oh! This is going to be the time if I could just kill this man; then there would be an end of Him, and I would reign supreme forever.” So, he got the people to take Him to the edge of the cliff, and Satan in his pride thought that surely now He would be thrown down headfirst. But Christ escaped, and Satan failed. He tried to starve Him; he tried to drown Him; He was in the desert without food, and He was on the sea in a storm, but there was no starving or drowning Him, and Satan no doubt craved for His blood and longed that He would die. At last, the day arrived; our LORD was taken to the court of hell that at last Christ would die. They rung their bells with hellish happiness and joy. Jesus would die now; “Judas has taken the thirty pieces of silver. Let those Scribes and Pharisees get Him; they will no more let Him go than the spider will let go of a poor unfortunate fly. He is as good as dead.”

Are you aware that if Haman carried out his plot, he would have stopped the birth of Christ and Satan would win?

If God gave His precise timetable to the people of Israel, through the Prophet Daniel, in 553 BC, you be assured that Satan was determined to prevent Jesus from appearing on this time schedule. God foretold that Messiah would come directly from King David. [Isaiah 9:2-7; Jeremiah 33:15-17, 20-22; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-27; Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:11; Zechariah 12:6-10]. Therefore, you could expect that Satan would try to attack the David’s lineage in the intervening 483 years. Satan did just exactly that, with his greatest attack coming during the reign of Queen Esther.

Esther is one of the key figures in the entire Bible. When she became Queen of the Gentile King of Persia, her nation, Israel, lay on the garbage heap of history. God had brought Babylon into Israel, beginning in 606 BC, to physically punish her for her national sins that had extended over 800 years. The Jews were in a hostile land, ruled over by a people of great cruelty.  Satan prepared his plan of annihilation of the Jews through the Secretary of State to the King, Haman. This plan of extermination started with all the Jews in Persia, and would then expand outward to include every Jew in the entire world. If ever Satan had a golden opportunity to destroy the Messianic line, this was the time. If Satan could cut off the Davidic lineage, he could prevent Messiah from appearing in fulfillment of God's prophecies.

But wait that is not the end of the story. One night, as this was going on, the King was unable to sleep. He called for his chronicles. He found the plot against his life and asked if the man who had saved his life had been rewarded. He was told no. It so happened that Haman was in the court at this time, and the King inquired of him how he could honor someone he wished to honor. Haman, thinking the King wanted to honor him—his arrogance knew no bounds—described to the King the highest honor he could imagine. He was to be placed on one of the King’s horses, with a crown on his head. One of the King’s nobles was to walk the honored person on the horse through the city proclaiming, “thus it shall be done to the person whom the King wishes to honor” (Esther 6:9). Imagine Haman’s horror when the King told him to then honor Mordecai in that way.

Can you imagine the feel Satan had when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, and the people honored Him as the King?

Meanwhile, the Queen had devised a plan whereby she might save her people and trap Haman. When the King discovered Haman’s treachery, he ordered that he be hanged on the gallows Haman had constructed for Mordecai. What happened to Mordecai? We are told at one point that he had become great in the King’s house. Later, we learn that he was second only to the King, and “great among the Jews, and in favor with the multitude of his kinsmen, one who sought the good of his people and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation" (Esther 10:3).
The day our LORD was caught up into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father, he became the greatest King of Kings and LORD or Lords.  He became the desire of all nations, the Savior of all mankind.  He is our heavenly advocate.  As John write “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  Why is this?  Because as John writes, My, little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 

Look at the message Mordecai gave to Esther: 

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” 

Today, God is saving people through the gospel of Jesus Christ. You and I can choose to be part of it, or we can choose to stand back. We can align our interests with God's, or we can go our own way and die. 

There is a parallel between Mordecai's words and our own situation. God is transforming lives all over the world: but he's mostly doing it a long way from here. Christians in America have chosen the path of silence. We have become so identified with our culture that we have not spoken out; we have not dared to join in God's transforming work. Churches in America are by and large perishing.  We are no longer fishers of men but swappers of aquariums.  We have been in the world so long we have become part of the world.  

Esther, too, had become thoroughly part of the Persian culture. Esther was her Persian name: she didn't use her Jewish name any more. She spent a year in the king's harem learning Persian beauty treatments before becoming his queen. She lived isolated from her people. But when it came to the crunch, Mordecai reminded her that she belonged to God's chosen people, and she acted accordingly.

Unless we do the same, then, in fulfilment of Mordecai's words, we will just die out. God will continue to save people, but he will do it in other places, without us. 

How can you and I be part of God's saving work?  Well, Mordecai's question rings in our ears: And who knows but that you have come to this royal position for such a time as this? 

God has placed each one of us is in a unique position of influence. He has put each of us in a specific work context; in a family; with one particular group of friends; with a unique set of neighbors. Among people, he wants to bring to saving knowledge of Jesus. It's a terrifically encouraging thought, isn't it, that God could have a purpose for you in his saving plans, where you are, what you are doing now. He's worked behind the scenes for years to put you in just the right place at just the right time. 

Is God today asking you to be part of his work? Is he challenging you to do something bold, something dangerous to your reputation, or your finances or your security or your relationships? 

You have a choice, just as Esther did. You can remain silent; you can put your own interests ahead of God's and go your own way. It won't hinder God's plans: he will continue to transform the lives of people. But it won't do you any good. Your faith will dim; your love will grow cold; your relationship with him will perish, if not die entirely. 

Or you can do something! And who knows but that you have come to this royal position for such a time as this? You don't need to be highly religious or an expert in the Bible; Esther certainly wasn't. You just need the eye of faith to spot where God is at work, and the guts to be part of it. 

Are you, like Esther, God's person, in God's place, at God's time for God's people?

On hearing Mordecai's reply, Esther gathered the people to fast, and presumably to pray. And then she acted. And, as a result, she was privileged to be right at the center of God's astonishing work as he moved to save his people.

God is at work, transforming his people. Will you be part of it? It's an extraordinary invitation from an extraordinary God. He doesn't need us, but he invites us to work with him. 

1.      Settle it in your mind that the Lord has called you to the work and then advance without question or fear.

2.      Put your mind to the task and never stop.

3.      Do the work with all your, might and soul.

4.      Do not stand asking how: do it as you can.

5.      Do not stand asking when: do it directly!

6.      Do not say, "But I am weak": The Lord is strong!

7.      Do not say, "But I must devise methods."  Follow the Holy Spirit

8.      Do not concoct schemes or try to perfect your methods: throw yourself into the work with all your might.

9.      When you run out of weapons, pick up the rock and stones from the road of life and throw them.

When you have nothing else to hurl at the enemy, nothing will be more effectual than the hurling of your whole being into the conflict. 

Are you ready to do what God is calling you to do?