Esther is preparing to approach King Xerxes to inform him of the diabolical and deceptive plot that is designed to annihilate all the Jews in his kingdom. She knows that she risks death if she just barges into his presence without being invited so she follows a protocol that teaches us the proper way to approach a king. She began with a period of fasting that we mentioned last week.Then…..
Esther 5:1a “On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall.”
The first thing Esther did after she finished fasting was change her clothes. She “put on her royal robes.” Jesus said all our good works look like filthy rags to Him. We will never be acceptable to Jesus as long as we’re trusting in the good things we’re trying to do to satisfy Him. When we come to worship the Lord, we have to stop trusting in our own efforts and become dressed in what the Bible calls, “the garments of salvation.”
“For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10 )
What we call “good” is not acceptable; it’s not good enough to please an awesome, holy God. When we come into His presence, we remove the filthy rags of our own ideas about how to become acceptable to God and we have to put on the clothes He gives us. We have to be willing to accept His standard of goodness.
Esther 5:1b “The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance.”
The king lived in the luxury of the palace while the people lived in the poverty of the city. They lived in two separate and completely different worlds. You had to leave one world and enter another in order to get to the king.
First, you had to pass through the King’s gate. You couldn’t just walk through the gate; you had to get past the guard. If you weren’t wearing the right clothes, the guard wouldn’t unlock the gate.
Next, you had to enter the king’s courts. There was a large outer court where many people gathered, primarily out of curiosity; hoping to catch a glimpse of the king without the king catching a glimpse of them. These people never asked the king for anything and they never received anything from him either. They were either too frightened or just not interested in doing it.
It took a great deal of boldness and confidence to walk into the inner court where Esther was standing. There weren’t too many people who were willing to go this far. The king sat facing the entrance. If you came this far, there was a good chance the king would see you and if he saw you, you couldn’t predict or control what might happen to you.
Psalm 100 is the pathway to the King. It tells us to “enter His gates by giving thanks and come into His courts;” come into His inner and outer courts “with praise.” “Come into His presence singing joyful songs.”
The question for me is; after I get to church and sit down in my pew, how much further do I want to go?] Is just being there in the outer court good enough for me or am I hungry and thirsty for more? Do I want to learn and experience everything God has for me or is fellowship, a few songs, a sermon and a couple of prayers enough to get me through the week?
Esther 5:2a “When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her…”
If you came into the inner court because the king invited you, it meant he wanted to see you. He wanted to be with you.. But if you went into the inner court without being invited, like Esther did, it was because you needed something from him. It was risky and dangerous to approach the king without an invitation. You had to be pretty desperate to try it. There had to be absolutely no one else you could turn to; no one else who could provide what you needed.
When King Xerxes saw Esther standing in the court, “he was pleased with her.” She didn’t know it at the time, but King Xerxes was happy to see her.
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Anyone who wants to do it is invited to come to Jesus.
“And whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6: 37b)
We can come to Jesus knowing we will never be rejected. We’ll never be turned away. He’s always happy to see us. With all that assurance, why would anybody be content to just sit in church? We don’t have to wait until we need something from Him. We don’t have to wait until we’re desperate. We have an open invitation to come into His presence at any time because He enjoys being with us. If we enjoyed being with Him half as much as He enjoys being with us, we’d have absolutely no desire to ever leave.
Esther passed through the gate. She moved beyond the outer and inner courts and she’s standing in the presence of the king. That’s as far as she could go by herself. There was still a space; still a gap; a separation between her and the king.
We can come into His Gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; we can come into His presence with joyful songs; but there is still a gap; there’s still a barrier between us and Him; still something preventing us from fully knowing the joy of being in His presence.
It’s our sin. We still have to deal with our sin. The Lord wants to be with us and He wants to give us whatever we ask, but if we haven’t dealt with the sin in our lives, He can’t hear our prayer.
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18)
Let’s stop here for today and, Lord willing, continue with this next Tuesday. Thanks again for being in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.