ESTHER #10

09/21/21

Esther 4:3    “In every provence…there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.”

There’s a world of hurt and pain outside the gate and God’s heart is breaking as a result of it. We talked about that gate in Esther #9.

There is a form of truth that exists inside the gate. The truth inside the gate consists mostly of reason and intellect, with a smattering of superstition and selfish imagination.   The problem with the truth on the inside of the gate is that it’s not the whole truth.  It’s just enough truth to frighten us; just enough truth to get us hooked; just enough to keep us in captivity.  It’s not the kind of truth that can give you life or set you free.  It’s a truth that keeps you walking on a path of destruction.

Esther 4:4a  “When Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes to him to put on instead of his sackcloth,”

Esther hears about Mordecai tearing his clothes and walking around in sackcloth; covered in ashes. Mordecai needs new clothes.  We have clothes.  We have royal clothes, the world’s best and most expensive clothes.  Let’s send some to Mordecai.  So new clothes are delivered to the gate and passed through the gate. 

How can I make God happy without letting Him get too close; without actually letting Him get past the gate?  I’ll start going to church.  That should make Him happy.  I’ll even give Him some money.  I’ll help out.  I’ll become active in the church.   

Esther 4:4b    “ but he would not accept them.”

 Mordecai refused the clothes.  You go back inside the gate and tell Esther that’s not what I want.  That’s not what I’m asking for.  That’s not going to make me happy.   

Esther 4:5    “The Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.”  

If we want to know the truth; when we’re searching for truth; for the truth that can give us life and set us free, we have to go to the gate. There is no such thing as a long distance, impersonal relationship with God.  Prayer is not emailing, texting or tweeting.  Prayer comes from having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and it requires going to the gate and meeting with Him in Person through His Holy Spirit. 

Esther wants to know the truth about what’s troubling Mordecai so she sends Hathath to meet with him personally at the gate.  

Esther 4: 6-9     “So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasurer for the destruction of the Jews He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told her this to urge her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.”  

I see a striking similarity between this scene involving Hathath, Mordecai, and Esther and the church in the world today. Disturbing events are taking place in the world right now and people are searching for answers. The world is in desperate need of hope. When they turn to the church for these answers, they don’t need to hear motivational speeches, THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM GOD. They need to hear sound, expository Biblical preaching coming from the pulpit. Preachers need to be exposing Satan’s demonic schemes by preaching the truth from God’s Word.

So, in this passage, Hathath (the preacher)

returns with a message from Mordecai; – (The Holy Spirit)

to Esther, (the Church.) 

The title of Mordecai’s message is “The Day Is Coming Soon.”  

The text is Esther 3:13. 

Mordecai is urging Esther to go the King Xerxes, and plead for her people because the day is coming soon; the day of Israel’s appointed destruction. 

Jesus has commanded us, His Church, to go into the world; preach the gospel and make disciples because “The day is coming soon.;” the day of the Lord’s return and judgement of sin.

Will Esther hear the message and be moved to act on it? Does Esther have the courage; does Esther have the will to do what Mordecai has told her to do?  There was a time when she did.  Does she still have it now?  Does the Church have the courage; does the Church have the will today to do what Jesus has told us to do?

Lord willing, we’ll find out next Tuesday. I hope you’ll come back to be in God’s Word with pastor Buj. 

ESTHER #9

09/14/21

Esther 4:1     “When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.”

What exactly had been done? Let’s look back and see.

Esther 3: 13-14   “Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill, and annulate all the Jews – young and old, woman and little children – on a  single day…A copy of the text…was issued as law in every province and made known to the people…so they would be ready for that day.”

Mordecai tears his clothes and walks the streets of the city wailing loudly and bitterly.  He’s mourning. His heart is breaking because of what Haman is planning to do. 

Like the city of Susa in Chapter 3, the world today is frightened; it’s confused and bewildered by the devil’s plans.  People are anxious, depressed.  They’re either in denial or in despair. Like Mordecai right now, the Lord is walking the streets of every city, every town, every village, and every hut, weeping loudly and bitterly.    

Esther 4:2   “But he only went as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it..”    

It’s impossible to fully understand what the Book of Esther is all about unless we understand the significance and the importance of “the king’s gate.”   We don’t know the Book of Esther if we don’t know about the gate.  It’s where all the action takes place.  It’s where everything begins. 

The king’s gate is the passageway between two different worlds; two different realities.  Inside that gate, you have King Xerxes, the leader of a very large and powerful nation.  At least he still likes to think of himself as the leader of a large and powerful nation. 

As I pointed out last week, the real leader right now is Haman, a deceiver, a liar and a manipulator who has been elevated to the role of second in command, next to Xerxes.  Last week, Haman lied to Xerxes by telling them that the Jews were troublemakers who refused to obey the laws. Haman managed to convince Xerxes that the Jews should all be destroyed. 

The king believed that lie, took off his signet ring that represented all the power and authority that goes along with being the king and he told Haman to do whatever he wanted to do with those people. Haman managed to get King Xerxes to believe that destroying the Jews was actually Xerxes own idea. It was all done, by Haman, in Xerxes’ name. That’s how demonically clever and evil Haman is. 

Esther is also inside the gate.  Esther is the Queen; Xerxes’ wife.  But we see Esther as the Church, the Bride of Christ.  Today with Esther living inside the gate, we can also see Esther as the Church living in the world.  We can also see her as individual believers in the world; repentant believers who are living in the world, but trying not to become a part of it; trying not to become pressured by the thinking or the standards of their world; a Church of believers who are trying to maintain their unique and special identity; their convictions; their purpose in the world. 

Mordecai sits outside the gate.  Mordecai represents the Holy Spirit at work.  He has been Esther’s guardian, her counselor, her comforter and her protector since she was a child.  We see Mordecai as the Spirit of Truth. 

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him because He lives with you and will be in you..”

(John 16: 13-14)

Truth, God’s truth about what is “yet to come” is forced to stay outside the gate.  Mordecai can’t just open the gate and walk in.  The gate only opens from the inside.  The gate is always locked and guarded. Everyone one of us has a gate that determines who or what comes and goes in and out of our lives. It also only opens from the inside and we tend to keep that gate pretty well locked and guarded. 

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”    (Rev. 3:20)

Like Xerxes and Haman, our sinful nature wants to keep Jesus locked out of our lives   Mordecai, the Spirit of Truth, is outside the gate.  He’s not wanted; he is not welcome in the king’s world.

Let’s break here for now and, Lord willing, we’ll continue next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s Word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #8

09/07/21

Haman is deceitfully manipulating King Xerxes to approve of his plans to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom. Satan has a way of packaging evil to actually make it sound good and right.

Esther 3: 8-9    “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, ‘There is a certain people…in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from all the other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten talents of silver into the royal treasurer for the men who carry out this business.’”

Haman manages to convince the king that there is a dangerous, radical, intolerant group of extremists in the kingdom who refuse to obey the laws of the land. They preach hatred and refuse to tolerate other beliefs or other lifestyles and it’s in the best interest of the kingdom to get rid of them. I’ll personally take care of this and it won’t cost you a dime.

But the truth is that Haman doesn’t really care what’s best for Xerxes or the kingdom.  He’s only concerned about his own interests and his own personal agenda.  He’s not satisfied with being number two.  He wants to become the king.  He wants to replace Xerxes and rule the kingdom himself but Mordecai was standing in his way; so he and his people had to be destroyed.  

Esther 3: 10-11  “So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman…the enemy of the Jews. ‘Keep the money,’ the king said, ‘and do with the people as you please.’”    

The King gave Haman his signet ring.  Haman now possesses the power and the authority of the king.  That’s what the king’s ring represented.  Now Haman has what he wants.  The next one to go will be Xerxes.  

Esther 3:12    “Then…the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out…all Haman’s orders to the king’s  satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. They were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring.”

Haman’s orders are written in King Xerxes’ name. Xerxes has been replaced; he just doesn’t know it yet.   

Esther 3:13-14   “Dispatches were sent …to all the king’s provinces…to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews…on a single day…and to plunder their goods.”     

Under Haman’s direct influence, laws are passed and persecution of Mordecai’s people increases; with the ultimate goal of eventually destroying everything Mordecai stood for.  

The Bible tells us in I John 4:3 that the spirit of the Antichrist is already in the world.  The devil is out to destroy the Church, its’ message and its’ influence in the world.  He’s out to ruin the lives of anyone who resists him; anyone who will not bow down to honor him; anyone who chooses to stand with Jesus on the side of truth.   

Esther 3:15a     “Spurred on by the king’s command, the couriers went out, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink.”

King Xerxes has no idea who he’s chosen to sit down and drink with; whose wisdom he’s been trusting; whose advice he’s been following.  He’s completely ignorant; pathetically naïve about who’s really in charge; who truly rules the kingdom.   

Esther 3:15b  “but the city of Susa was bewildered.”

The leadership of the nation has no idea how its’ judgments and decisions are affecting the people they’ve been entrusted to protect and serve.  When King Xerxes listened to Mordecai, he was saved and the nation was blessed.  But after Xerxes decided to place his trust and confidence in Haman, the city “was bewildered.”  It was perplexed; confused.  The word literally means to become all tangled up in thick branches.  The harder you struggle, the worse things become and the more helpless you feel. 

It’s so different when we know Jesus.  We may have troubles all around us, but those troubles can’t defeat us.  We don’t always know what to do, but we never lose the joy of living.  We may feel persecuted, but God is always there.  We may get hurt, but the hurt never stops us.

As we leave this morning, the nation of Persia is bewildered and God’s people are about to be destroyed. Mordecai, who represents truth; God’s wisdom and knowledge, is sitting outside the gate, being ignored.  But all of that is about to change.

Meet me back here next Tuesday to see how this plays out. Thanks for being in God’s word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #7

08/31/21

Thanks to Mordecai, the plot to assassinate King Xerxes was exposed in time to save his life and the perpetrators were caught and executed.

Esther 3:1     “After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman…elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other  nobles.”

Whenever someone is exalted; whenever someone is “lifted up,” others will be drawn to them. 

“ Jesus said…Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. “ (John 12: 30-32)

Xerxes “elevated” Haman.  He exalted Haman.  He lifted him up above all the other nobles and the entire nation was drawn to him and deceived by him.  King Xerxes knew that listening to Mordecai had saved his life, but Mordecai is still not allowed in the palace.  Instead, the king welcomes and honors a man named Haman; a man who seemed to come out of nowhere. 

Xerxes makes Haman the most important; most powerful man in the entire kingdom; second only to him.  Why would Xerxes do that?  Whatever possessed him to give so much honor and power to someone has never done a thing to help the king or the nation? 

There’s probably a lot of reasons. Haman had his own personal agenda. But one thing is certain; Haman would never tell the king something the king didn’t want to hear.  Haman would never confront; he’d never challenge; he’d never upset the king by telling him the truth.

Basically, Haman was a deceiver. He was a master manipulator.  He was a liar and now he’s second in command in the kingdom of Persia.  You could say Haman represents Satan.  You could say he represents the Antichrist.  But whatever you say, the point is that in spite of what happened in the past; in spite of what was recorded in their nation’s history; the leadership of Persia has just turned its’ back on the truth.  They completely ignored the truth of Proverbs 14:34 – that “righteousness exalts a nation.” 

People are drawn to a righteous nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.  With total disregard to the wisdom that had blessed them in the past, they allowed themselves to drift away from the truth and formed an unholy alliance with something very evil; something very destructive and very demonic. Xerxes has just opened the door of his heart and his nation to the deceptive and manipulative control of Haman.      

Esther 3:2a      “All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him.”

The king commanded everyone; he passed a law requiring everyone to honor Haman. While Mordecai, who represents the truth; the truth that had once made their nation great, is forced to remain outside the gate; forgotten and ignored.    

Esther 3: 2b-3  “But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, ‘Why do you disobey the king’s command?’”

Refusing to obey the king’s command could cost him his life, but “Mordecai would not kneel down or pay honor” to Haman.   

Esther 3:4    “Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. They told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.”

Mordecai stubbornly refused to become politically correct.  Day after day, he refused to deny or compromise the truth.  Jesus had to deal with this when He began His earthly ministry. 

In Matthew 4: 1-11 “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”

Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones into bread. He challenged Jesus to jump off the highest point of the temple to prove He really was the Son of God. He showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world and said, “All this I will give you…if you will bow down and worship me,” but Jesus refused to comply.  The devil left, but he didn’t give up.  He wasn’t finished with Jesus yet.   

Esther 3:5     “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.”

Haman’s anger toward Mordecai ignited into a burning rage because Mordecai continually refused to submit to him.    

Esther 3:6     “Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.”

Haman hated everything Mordecai stood for and was determined to vent all his anger and release his rage on Mordecai’s people. Mordecai’s people would be experiencing the brunt; the full fury of Haman’s anger and frustration.

Are you identifying with this at all? Satan is not content to take on Jesus because he knows he can’t possibly defeat Him. In fact, he know he’s already lost. So he’s focused what little time he has left to destroying as many followers of Christ as he possibly can. He’s determined to destroy the Church.

 As a nation, we have tragically allowed ourselves to forget the lessons of our own history and we have gradually drifted away from the truth that made this nation great and we have formed an unholy alliance with something demonically evil; with a mindset and a philosophy that is hostile to everything God stands for. 

As I think about everything that’s happening in our world right now, I have to ask myself; do I bow down with the world or do I stand up for Jesus? Do I conform to the thinking of this world or do I stand up for my Savior and experience the fullness of Satan’s rage?

Come up with an answer and meet me back here next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s Word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #6

08/24/21

As we look into the book of Esther today, Esther will continue to represent the Church; the Bride of Christ; the Body of Christ in general; every local church in particular. Throughout this study, the Lord will be speaking to us about our own lives; as individual members of His Church.  But, stating today, we’re going to see King Xerxes take on an additional role in this story. 

From now on, instead of thinking of him as the Bridegroom, we’re going to see him as the leader of a very large and powerful nation.  Instead of focusing on the relationship between the Bridegroom and the Bride, Esther and Xerxes are going to show us the relationship between the Church and the State; faith and politics; the voice and the influence of the Church; the voice and the influence of my life, of your life in the world today.  

Esther 2: 19-20     “When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.”

Mordecai has guided Esther since she was a child and she’s learned to depend on him and trust in his wisdom. Because of Mordecai, Esther never feels alone. Mordecai represents the Holy Spirit, the one who is always with us; actively monitoring our daily circumstances; guiding us, advising us and protecting us from anything that threatens to destroy us. 

But now, through Mordecai, we’re going to see the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth whom God has sent to reveal the truth and make us aware of the truth.  Notice in verse 19, “Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate.” 

Truth “was sitting at the gate.” Actually, truth was sitting outside the gate.  Mordecai was kept away from the king by a high wall and a thick gate.  He had never been invited into the palace.  Mordecai was not allowed in the palace.  He was not welcome in the palace.  His presence and his advice were not wanted in the palace. 

Esther 1: 13-14 told us that king Xerxes had his own so-called experts who were given special access to the king when he needed advice or direction.  In this nation, the separation between the Church and the State keeps growing wider and wider every day.  We keep adopting policies and passing laws that have created an environment where God’s name, God’s Word and God’s presence are kept “outside the gate.”     

Esther 2: 21-22a   “During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate,…two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot.”

Mordecai overhears two of the king’s officers conspiring to assassinate king Xerxes.  Xerxes doesn’t know anything about it.  He doesn’t realize his life is in danger.  But Mordecai knows about it and he wants the king to live.  But how can the king’s life be saved if truth is not allowed past the gate?      

Esther 2:22b      “Mordecai…told Queen Esther.”

Mordecai wants to use Esther to reach the king. Esther could bring the truth into places Mordecai was not allowed to go.  Mordecai tells Esther about the plot to assassinate the king.  Now Esther knows the truth; the truth that can save the king’s life. Esther knows the king is about to die and it’s up to her to tell him what he’s got to do to be saved. 

The question is, now that Esther knows the truth, what will she do about it?  What will Esther do with what she knows?  Will she speak up and save the king’s life or remain silent and let him die?  The Holy Spirit has shown us, through God’s Word, how much danger this world is in today and we know what’s about to happen in the future.  The Holy Spirit has shown us the truth. 

So the question is, does Esther have the courage; does the Church have the courage; do I have the courage to speak the truth that can save the life of my family and my friends; truth that can insure the future of this nation?  What will Esther do; what will the Church do; what will we do with the truth we’ve been given?      

Esther 2:22c   “Queen Esther…reported to the king, giving credit to  Mordecai.”

Does Esther have the courage to speak the truth?  Yes, she does.  Esther tells the king about the plot to take his life and she makes sure that Mordecai gets all the credit.  You would never have known about this Xerxes, if it hadn’t been for Mordecai.  He’s the one who wanted to save you.    

Esther 2:23a   “And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows.”  (i.e. impaled on a stake)

The king listened to Esther.  He took her words seriously.  He looked into it himself.  The king was searching for truth and he found it.  As a result, his enemies were defeated, his life was saved and the future of the nation was secured.  

Esther 2:23b  “All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.”

It was all recorded.  It became public record.  It was now an undeniable fact in their nation’s history that Mordecai spoke the truth and listening to Mordecai had saved the king and the nation.

There was a time in the history of this nation when truth mattered; a time when our leaders prayed together and the Bible was taken seriously; when we followed its’ advice and our leaders paid attention to its’ warnings; a time when we, as a nation, acted in righteousness and were guided by the Wisdom of God.  And during those times, our nation was blessed, our enemies were defeated and our future was secure.

But, as we’re going to see in God’s Word, times change and the lessons of history are quickly forgotten.  Peace and prosperity have a way of being taken for granted. Lord willing, we’ll pick it up from here next Tuesday. I hope you’ll join me. Thanks for spending time in God’s Word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #5

08/17/21

King Xerxes is preparing to select a new queen to replace the former queen, Vashti.

Esther 2:12     “Before a girl’s turn came to go to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.”

During this year of special beauty treatments, they all enjoyed the comfort and luxury of his palace and the extravagance of his food, his wealth and his lifestyle.  All of their needs were being provided.  They’ve always heard so much about him, but they’ve never actually met him. 

Can you relate to this at all? 

Ever since we asked Jesus to come into our hearts, we’ve enjoyed all the benefits and blessings of His Kingdom.  We’ve heard so much about Him.  We’ve been told how wonderful He is and how much He loves us and wants to be with us.  We’ve heard so much about Him, but we’ve never really met Him – face to face

  Esther 2:13-14  “And this is how she would go to the king. Anything she wanted was given her to take with her…to the king’s palace…She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.”

King Xerxes didn’t like ugly women. Even though they were all beautiful women to begin with, no woman was beautiful enough to stand in the presence of the king.  No woman was beautiful enough, by birth or by her own efforts, to satisfy the king.  Regardless of what she looked like before she got started, even if she had always been considered to be grossly unattractive, after Hegai was finished with her, she would be extraordinarily beautiful when the time came to meet the king.

God’s “eyes are too pure, (too holy) to look at evil.” (Habakkuk 1:13)

God can’t stand to look at ugliness either; the ugliness of sin, that is.  No matter how good or how beautiful we think we are; regardless of how good we try to be or how beautiful we try to make ourselves, no one is good enough; no one is beautiful enough to stand in the presence of a pure and holy God.  All sin, even just one sin,  is ugly and repulsive to God. Because we all have sinned, we all appear ugly and repulsive in God’s holy eyes. 

Jesus refuses to marry an ugly Bride.  If we want to please the king; if we want to be His Bride, we have to accept His invitation to come to His Palace; come into His House on a regular basis with the rest of the family and be willing to undergo an extensive series of beauty treatments, theologically referred to as Sanctification.   

Every time we pray together; every time we do what His Word tells us to do; every time we praise Him, especially during our trials; every time we gather to worship Him; every time we witness and tell someone else about Him; every time we repent of sin and ask Him to forgive us; every time we decide to trust Him, even when we’re afraid or when He’s not doing what want or expect Him to do; every time we endure a trial and our faith is tested, we become more beautiful to God and we are looking more and more like Jesus. 

Through all the things that are happening to us; we’re being prepared; we’re being transformed into the likeness of; we are being made to look as beautiful as – Jesus.  The Christian life is a series of one beauty treatment after another; preparing us for the day we stand in the presence of our King and finally get to meet Him face to face.   

 “…Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless,”  

(Ephesians 5: 25b-27)

A beautiful Bride; a radiant Bride; without any stains, wrinkles or blemishes; holy, clean and blameless when she finally meets the Groom.

Esther 2:15-17   “When the time came for Esther…to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai…suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. She was taken to king Xerxes…Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

The day has arrived.  The new Queen has been chosen and the bride is ready.   

Esther 2:18  “And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s  banquet, for all the nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.”  

The King prepared a feast and declared a holiday.  It is a great and glorious wedding celebration.    

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting” ’HALLELUJAH!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteousness of the saints.) Then the angel said to me ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’”    (Revelation 19: 6-9)

Jesus is the Lamb; the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world and the Church is His Bride.  So far we’ve seen how the Bride is chosen and we’ve seen what the Bride has to go through to stand in the presence of the Groom.   But we’re about to find out how the Bride is supposed to act.  What are her duties, her responsibilities in the Kingdom?  Is she just beautiful to look at or does she actually have a purpose?  What’s the purpose of the Church and what’s my purpose in the Church?

Come back next Tuesday and meet with Pasto Buj as the Holy Spirit continues to reveal and teach us new lessons from God’s Word

ESTHER #4

08/10/21

Esther. 2: 2, 4   “Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, ‘Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king… Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.”

Because she refused the king’s invitation to come to the banquet  being held in her honor, there’s going to be a new Queen to replace the Ex Queen Vashti. The king is going to decide; the king is going to choose the one he wants to be his new bride. This process will introduce us to more of the personalities in this story.

Esther 2:3  “Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch who is in charge of the women and let beauty treatments be given to them.”

Let’s begin with Hegai; the one who’s in charge of the king’s harem and who oversees the beauty treatments.  Hegai would represent – me.  I didn’t apply for the job, God asked me to do it.

 Actually, Hegai represents everybody in Ephesians 4:11; all the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers; everyone who’s been called; everyone who’s been commissioned and entrusted with the care, the keeping, and the preparation of the Bride; all those the Lord has called and ordained to oversee the beauty treatments; to equip His people for works of service and help them reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God; everyone who’s responsible for getting the Bride ready to meet the Groom.  

Esther 2: 5   “Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai…who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar…”

Next, we come to Mordecai.  Technically, he’s Esther’s cousin, but he raised her as his own daughter after her parents died.  He became her guardian, her protector.  Mordecai is an excellent example of the Holy Spirit at work.  The Holy Spirit is the one who brings us into the presence of God.  He’s the Comforter, the Counselor, the One sent by the Father to come along  side to help us.

Like the Holy Spirit, Mordecai works quietly behind the scenes without drawing any attention to himself.  Mordecai is coaching Esther; telling her what to do and what not to do; what to say and what not to say. 

The Holy Spirit has come to us to counsel us with God’s wisdom; advising us when to speak and when to be silent; when to act and when to wait.  The Holy Spirit is with us to guide us through dark, confusing and uncertain times; to warn us of danger; to assure us of God’s presence and reassure us of God’s love; to help us overcome whatever the world, the flesh and the devil may throw against us and help us live a joyful, satisfying and productive life; to be all God created us to be and accomplish everything God is calling us to do. 

Esther 2:7  “Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, who he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.”

Hadassah was her Jewish name.  Esther was her Persian name.  She was “lovely in form and features.”  Now, I’ve been a Baptist most of my life, but even I know what that means; in any translation.  She’s the title character and central figure of the book and we’ll keep learning more about her as we move through this series. 

Esther 2: 8 – 9   “…Esther…was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.”

As soon as he saw Esther, Hegai knew there was something special about her.  She stood out from all the rest.  She was uncommonly beautiful to begin with, but he provided her with additional beauty treatments because the king expected to marry the most beautiful woman on the planet.  She was given special food to keep her looking lovely and to give her skin that healthy glow.

“I am the bread of life.  Anyone who comes to me will never go hungry. No one who comes to me will ever be thirsty.’ (John 6:35 )

God provides us with special food to nourish our spirits; to make us beautiful and complete on the inside. Like Esther, the confidence, the love, and the joy of truly repentant believers makes a noticeable and outstanding impression in the midst of a dark, depressed, anxious, hopeless, and sinful world.

Esther 2:10    “Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.”

If Esther had revealed her nationality and family background from the beginning, it would have greatly affected the outcome of this story. God’s timing is perfect. Jesus was also fully aware of when He could and could not reveal who He truly was.

Esther 2:11  “Every day he (Mordecai) walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.”

Esther might not have been aware of it, but like the Holy Spirit, whether she saw him every day or not; whether she talked to him every day or not, Mordecai was always there and fully in control.   

Just like Mordecai, the Holy Spirit is always with us..  He knows exactly where we are at all times. He knows everything that’s happening to us; everything we’re going through.  He’s there making sure that nothing coming against us will be able to defeat us.  

Let’s stop for now and meet here again next Tuesday when, Lord willing, we’ll get back into God’s word with Pastor Buj.

ESTHER #3

08/03/21  

Esther 1:16, 19   “’Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes…Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her position to someone else who is better than she..’”

According to a proposed law that her husband is about to pass, because Queen Vashti refused the king’s invitation to come to his banquet that was being held in her honor, she will be banished from the king’s presence forever and her royal position as the queen will be given to someone else “who is better than she;” someone who is willing to obey the king.

Esther 1:21  “The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memucan proposed.”

The proposal becomes a law that can never be repealed. Vashti can never be in the presence of King Xerxes again and her position as queen will be given to someone else who is considered to be “better than she.”   

What about that other Banquet that Jesus was describing that we looked at last week?  

  “I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”   

(Luke 14:24)

Find someone else to take their place. Refusing God’s invitation to come to Him when He’s calling us is a very big deal.  Hearing God’s invitation to come to Him and shrugging it off is seriously offensive to God.  Refusing God’s invitation to come to Him on His terms when He is lovingly calling out to us, results in eternal separation from God. 

That’s really what heaven and hell are all about.  Heaven is living forever in the loving presence of God and hell is being banished forever; permanently cut off, eternally separated from the mercy, love, and grace of God. 

Heaven is better than anything we could ever possibly hope for, imagine or dream about because God’s love is always there.  Hell is much worse than anything we could possibly imagine or dream about because God’s love and mercy are never there.  The full wrath of God is the only thing that will be present in hell.

1 John 5:16 says, “There is a sin that leads to death.” 

Mark 3:29 [CEV] says “But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven.  That sin will be held against you forever.” 

The only sin that leads to death; the only sin that will result in our being eternally banished from God’s mercy, love, and grace; the only sin that will not be forgiven is the sin of refusing to come; the sin of saying, “No,” to the Holy Spirit who is drawing us to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ alone; the sin of hearing God say, “You have sinned;” and responding, “No, I haven’t;” the sin of hearing God say, “You cannot save yourself;” and responding, “I’m certainly going to try;” the sin of hearing God say, “Accept heaven as my free gift and become my child by grace;” and responding, “Thanks, but no thanks.  I’ll do this my own way.” 

God will continue to invite us.  He’ll continue calling out to us; but not forever.  This is definitely a limited time offer with a predetermined expiration date.  Time will definitely run out.   God will continue to honor and bless those who say, Yes” to His invitation and are willing to come to Him on His terms.  If God is calling you and inviting you right now, please don’t refuse Him.  If God is speaking to you right now, don’t harden your heart against Him.  Don’t dismiss the words He may be saying to you right now just because I happen to the one writing them.

Esther 2:1   “Later, when the anger of King Xerxes had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her.”

Numbers 14:18 says, “God is slow to anger.”  “The Lord doesn’t become angry quickly.” (NCV)  He’s not a hothead.  It takes a lot to make Him angry, but God does get angry.   

“Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not provoke me to anger with what your hands have made…”   (Jeremiah  25:6)

  We can make God angry.  Following other gods; loving other things more; putting other things first; making ourselves or other things the gods of our lives, will break God’s heart and provoke Him to anger.  If we persist in doing it; if we keep saying “No” to the drawing of His Holy Spirit, it will lead to irreparable harm and eternal damage. 

Thankfully, the Bible also assures us that, even though God can get angry, He is also “abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished,” (Numbers 14:18)  God is overflowing with unconditional, unfailing love but because of His holiness, He  will not, because He cannot, ignore the seriousness of sin.     

God has provided a way for all sin to be forgiven.  But He will not let sin go unpunished.  If we keep saying, “No;” if we continue to refuse the mercy, love, and grace He has provided for us through Jesus, our sins will all be judged and found guilty. 

Psalm 86:5– God is “rich in unfailing love to all who call on Him.” to everyone who repents; who turns away from his own sinful, selfish ways and accepts and trusts in Jesus alone as their Savior. 

“The anger of King Xerxes had subsided.”  After a while, he cooled down and was no longer angry at her. 

God’s “anger only lasts only a moment, but His kindness, His favor lasts a lifetime.” (Psalm 30:5).   

Come back next Tuesday and spend some more time in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

ESTHER #2

07/27/21 

King Xerxes has spent the last six months displaying “the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty” (Esther 1:4) trying to impress all of the nobles, the officials, and the military leaders of his kingdom.

Esther 1: 5-6    “When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed gardens of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest, who were in the city of Susa.”

What a magnificent sight that must have been. King Xerxes gave a lavish banquet lasting seven days in the enclosed garden of his palace.  He invited all the people, “from the least to the greatest.”  There were no words to describe the beauty and the splendor of those royal gardens, the furnishings, the mosaic pavement; the table settings.(Esther 1:6) It was all too awesome to accurately describe with words. 

Ironically, in Luke 14, Jesus also talked about a banquet. Like King Xerxes, this man prepared a great banquet and invited many to attend.  (Luke 14:16)  

Esther 1: 7-8  Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.”   

The “royal wine,” the King’s own, personal wine was “abundant and in keeping with the King’s liberality.”  The King’s generosity was even more extravagant than his palace. 

Wine is often used in the Bible to represent the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is referred to as “the new wine.”  Have as much as you want.  The supply is unlimited.  Keep refilling your glasses..  If you have too much, you’ll start acting crazy for Jesus.  Our God is a generous God; continually providing for His people out of the abundance of His riches.  

Esther 1:9  “Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.”

Enter Xerxes’ wife, Queen Vashti; soon to become known as his first wife, the Ex Queen Vashti; his wife under the old contract, the old covenant.   

Esther 1: 10-11   “On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him… to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and the nobles, for she was lovely to look at.”

King Xerxes gave a special invitation to Queen Vashti to come to his banquet.  “She was lovely to look at” and he wanted to show off in front of his friends. He wanted to put her amazing beauty on display to impress all his guests.   The King always got the best of everything and like his palace with its gardens and furnishings, Queen Vashti’s beauty was greater than mere words alone could describe.   

`           Esther 1:12a  “But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come.”

Queen Vashti refused the King’s invitation to come to his banquet.  Ironically, the same thing happened to the man who gave the banquet Jesus was talking about.  

“At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.” Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”  (Luke 14: 17-20)

 Like Queen Vashti, they all refused to attend the Banquet.   

Esther 1:12b   “Then the king  (Xerxes) became furious and burned with anger.” 

Again, the same thing happened to the man Jesus was talking about.

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry.” Luke 14:21a

The owner of the house became angry because his invitation had been rejected. King Xerxes was furious when his wife, Queen Vashti, refused to attend the banquet he had given to impress everyone in his kingdom.

Esther 1: 13-15    “Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in the matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times and were the closest to the king…who had special access to the king and were the highest in the kingdom. ‘According to the law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?’ he asked. ‘She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.’”

“According to the Law, what must be done?”  The marriage of King Xerxes and Queen Vashti was built upon and was governed by Law. In Babylon, King Xerxes’ word was the Law.  Everything he said had to be done.  Every command he gave had to be obeyed.  Every one of his orders had to be carried out, even the commands that were given to his beautiful and loving wife. 

When the King said, “Come to my banquet;” Queen Vashti was obligated by law to be there.  But she said, “No.”  She rejected the king’s invitation.  She outright refused to come to His banquet.  Because she refused to carry out the command of the king, she was guilty of breaking the law. 

Israel’s relationship to God was built on and governed by the Old Testament Law.  In order to be in a right relationship with God, everything God said had to be done exactly as the Law required.  Every command God gave had to be obeyed completely. If you disobeyed one commandment, you were guilty of breaking them all.  

According to Romans 2:12 “All who sin under the Law will be judged by the Law.” So, according to the law of Babylon, what must be done to Queen Vashti?  What is the penalty for saying, “No” to the king?

Lord willing, we’ll see how this all plays out next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s word with Pastor Buj.

ESTHER #1

07/20/21

We’re going to be spending some time in the Old Testament Book of Esther.  Most of us, including us preachers, don’t really know what to do with the Book of Esther. It’s an interesting book with some pretty colorful characters and an intriguing plot that has all kinds of twists and turns.  It’s a true story and a very important piece of Jewish history. 

If it hadn’t been for Esther, there might not be a Book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah probably would not have gotten to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In fact without Esther, Israel might have been destroyed as a nation. But if you’re not a student of Jewish history, you might be tempted to ignore the Book of Esther completely. 

God’s presence, God’s love and grace; His wisdom, His protection and His power are all brilliantly displayed through the entire Book of Esther. But Esther is the only book in the Bible that never mentions God’s name. So why are we bothering to study it? I can think of two reasons.  

(1) Jesus said: 

“You diligently study the Scriptures (specifically the Old Testament) because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39)

They “testify about me.”   We’re going to be taking a closer look at the Book of Esther over the next several weeks because, like every other Book in the Bible, The Book of Esther points us to Jesus.  It tells us about Jesus.  The Book of Esther is all about Jesus. 

(2) The second reason I’d like us to be studying Esther is:  

“From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures (specifically the Old Testament) which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”  (2Timothy 3: 15-16)

The whole Bible, including the Book of Esther, has been inspired by God.  Esther gives us wisdom to recognize our need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  And it’s vital for teaching us, for correcting us and showing us how to live a life that is pleasing to God.  It’s designed to equip us for whatever God is asking us to do.  Its’ message is relevant to the needs of the world we’re living in today. 

Throughout the book, God is teaching His people about their relationship to Him and their purpose as His people. He’s teaching them about His perfect plan of salvation and deliverance that was coming through Jesus, the Christ; their promised Messiah. 

 But first, let’s take a look at the historical background of this story.   As the Book of Esther begins, the nation of Israel has been conquered, taken off their land and forced to live in Babylon for 70 years.  Ancient Babylon is modern day Iraq.  Israel was living in what is now called “Iraq” for 70 years.  After 70 years, Babylon was conquered by Persia, (now known as Iran.) 

Finally, Cyrus, the king of Persia gave the Jews permission to return to Israel.  Most of the Jews decided to stay in Babylon. They had no Temple there, so they couldn’t worship the Lord or offer sacrifices for their sin, but their life was so much easier and more comfortable for them in Babylon. 

The city of Jerusalem had been destroyed.  They felt there was nothing to go back to.  God was not pleased with their decision to stay in Babylon, but the Book of Esther shows how God continues to protect and care for His people even though they choose to live in voluntary exile.

Let’s begin to get acquainted with the personalities in this Book.      

Esther 1: 1-2    “This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,”

King Xerxes was the king of a very large Kingdom.  The capital city of his Kingdom was the city of Sousa.  We’re going to see how God was able to use Xerxes to accomplish His will for His people.      

Esther 1: 3-4   “and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all of his nobles and officials… For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor  and glory of his majesty.”  

For six months, King Xerxes displayed the opulent wealth of his Kingdom and the splendor and majesty of his Empire.  He gave a few select people a brief glimpse into his world, into his palace and into his lifestyle.  Nothing else on earth even came close to matching it.  There was more beauty and more wealth on display than the human mind could even imagine; more than anyone else’s eyes had ever seen.  Nobody else lived the way King Xerxes lived or had the things he had. 

We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  God and Heaven are far greater than anything this world has ever seen or any human mind could possibly imagine. 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  (1 Corinthians 2: 9-10)     

God displayed Himself and the magnificence of His Kingdom through Jesus Christ.  For the three brief years Jesus was on earth, He taught us that God’s Kingdom was like a mustard seed; like a treasure hidden in a field; like a net thrown into a lake that caught a large number of fish. 

He healed the sick.  He raised the dead and caused the blind to see.  For three years, through Jesus, God graciously and lovingly gave us a brief look into His world, into His palace and into His lifestyle.  Those who wanted to hear it could hear it and those who wanted to see it could see it.

Lord willing, we’ll come back to this next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

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