For Such a Time as This

Esther 2-7; 4:13-17

Introduction:

Dr. Ray C. Stedman (1917-1992) refers to the Book of Esther as “a gripping tale, but one might rather expect to find it in the pages of Reader’s Digest than the Bible.”   Flavius Josephus affirms in his twenty-volume classic titled Jewish Antiquities that Mordecai wrote the Book of Esther.We find the words of Mordecai to Esther in Esther 4:14b, “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  The phrase “For Such a Time as This” served as the theme for the 1993 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas.  “For Such a Time as This” is also the focus of our attention in this message.  Please observe three scenes from the life of Esther.

I. First, there is the darkness of obscurity.

Esther had an “uneventful beginning” according to one commentator.  We read in Esther 2:7, “And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother.  The young woman was lovely and beautiful.  When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”Dr. Henrietta C. Mears (1891-1963), founder of Gospel Light Publications, explains in her classic titled What the Bible is All About, “Esther is like Joseph and David.  God had each one hidden away for His purpose.  When the day came, He brought them to the front to work out His plan.  God hid Joseph away in a dungeon in Egypt, but when He was ready, He placed him in the position of prime minister of that country.  God always has someone in reserve to fulfill His purposes.  Sometimes it is a man like Joseph, or Moses.  Sometimes it is a woman like Hannah, or Esther or Mary.”

At this point it is good to remember the statement about our Lord Jesus Christ attributed to Dr. James Allan Francis (1864–1928).  It appeared in the Congressional Record, December 23, 1969, where we read, “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book.  He never held an office.  He never owned a home.  He never had a family.  He never went to college.  He never put his foot inside a big city.  He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born.  He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.  He had no credentials but Himself.  He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His divine manhood.  While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him.  His friends ran away.  One of them denied Him.  He was turned over to His enemies.  He went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was his coat.  When he was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.  Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.  I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.”

Please note that our Lord Jesus Christ lived on earth in relative obscurity and yet His influence continues to this day.
Dr. Kermit Zarley, “known mostly for his career as a tournament-winning professional golfer on the PGA Tour and its Champions Tour”, author of The Gospels Interwoven, proposes, “This story about Esther is full of types that prefigure the endtimes.”  He also states,” One thing that needs to be understood about typology, which is often true of parables, is that some of the details of the narrative may not coincide with the intended message.  Thus, scholars often caution against focusing too much attention on every detail in a parable or a historical event that contains typology, only requiring their relevance to the main theme.Nevertheless, there are many details in the story of Esther that have profound significance in their foreshadowing of the Jewish people in the endtimes.”  Dr. Zarley opines, “Esther typifies Messiah Jesus as the Deliverer of the Jews.”  He further explains, “As for Esther being a type of the Messiah, Judaism recognizes several messiahs (Heb. mashiah), with ‘the Messiah (ben David)’ anticipated as the supreme messiah.  Interestingly, Esther is the only woman Judaism has ever recognized as one of its messiahs, even calling her ‘the Redeemer.'”

Others believe that Mordecai is a type of Christ and Esther is a type of the true church.  Still others claim that Haman is a type of Christ.  Therefore, we must be careful in assigning types in our study of the Book of Esther.  We must not go beyond the point of sound biblical interpretation.

II. Furthermore, there is the dawn of obligation.

We read in Esther 4:13-14, “And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.  For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:13-14).The phrase recorded in Esther 4:14, “deliverance…from another place…” is “a veiled reference to God.”

Dr. Charles R. Swindoll observes, “Too often, if God’s name isn’t billboarded in front of us we can’t see Him…can’t feel the warmth of His breath.  But God doesn’t always advertise His presence.  Sometimes, He only whispers it.  He wants us to be sensitive to His subtle ways.  Just as Adam and Eve heard the sound of God walking in the garden (Genesis 3:8), we also need to put our ears to the ground and listen for the silent thunder of His gentle footsteps as He sovereignly walks the earth.”

Dr. Robert L. Hubbard, professor of Old Testament at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, explains, “[Mordecai] reminded Esther that being queen would not exempt her from death.  [However,] he affirmed that, if Esther refused to act, ‘relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place.’”

Dr. Alice P. Mathews shares in A Woman God Can Use, “Esther had come to realize that her position was not a privilege to be enjoyed, but a responsibility to be used [employed] to save others.  Her people were in peril.  Their problem was her problem.  It was her duty to save them because she was in the best position to do so.”

III. Finally, there is the daylight of obedience.

Dr. Martin Meyer “Moishe” Rosen shares in a Jews for Jesus Newsletter, “[Esther’s] Hebrew name was Hadassah.  Yet the young Jewish orphan had been assimilated into Persian society.  Even her name, Esther, is derived from the pagan goddess Ishtar.”   Her Hebrew name “Hadassah” means “Myrtle” (Esther 2:7).  Dr. Edith Alderman Deen (1905-1994) bestselling author of several books to include All of the Women of the Bible and Great Women of the Christian Faith, explains, “The name Esther means ‘star’ and she played a stellar role in the lives of people who were threatened with destruction.”We read the following in a promotional advertisement for Esther: A Woman Of Strength and Dignity by Dr. Charles R. Swindoll, “Integrity.  It’s one trait he found in the Bible’s Old Testament queen Esther.”  Dr. Swindoll affirms, “…Esther, a person of immense dignity, strength, and courage.  She shows real character.”

We read in Esther 4:15-17, “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai:  ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day.  My maids and I will fast likewise.  And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’

So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him.”

In his classic Believer’s Bible Commentary, William MacDonald (1917-2007) past president of Emmaus Bible School, shares, “Matthew Poole [(1624-1679)] comments on Esther’s famous and heroic words, “If I perish, I perish”:  ‘Although my danger be great and evident, considering the expressness of that law, and the uncertainty of the king’s mind, and that severity which he showed to my predecessor Vashti, yet rather than neglect my duty to God and to His people, I will go to the king and cast myself cheerfully and resolutely upon God’s providence for my safety and success.’”

It is no wonder that Charles Haddon Spurgeon offers the following endorsement of the Matthew Poole Commentary, “If I must have only one commentary, and had read Matthew Henry as I have, I do not know but what I should choose Poole.  He is a very prudent and judicious commentator . . . not so pithy and witty by far as Matthew Henry, but he is perhaps more accurate, less a commentator, and more an expositor.”

Joyce Rogers, widow of longtime Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Dr. Adrian P. Rogers, writes in The Secret of a Woman’s Influence, “Queen Esther saved an entire nation but she did so by being UNDER AUTHORITY.”

The late Southern Baptist evangelist, Dr. Vance Havner, writes, “Obedience is becoming a lost doctrine these days.  Parents and teachers are advised to ask not obedience but cooperation of children and students.  My father never asked me to cooperate.  If I hadn’t cooperated, he would have operated!”

Dr. Dorothy K. Patterson, professor of Theology in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, shares the following in a devotional titled, “Service Through Providence”, “Effective service almost always comes by assignment rather than choice.  When my husband and I accompanied our college mission team to East Africa, we suspected that many of our tasks would be lowly, but we assumed that our ministry would be primarily spiritual.  Once there, I was needed to prepare meals for the students, and my husband was enlisted to assist the medical team in dispensing medications to patients in bush clinics.  Neither of us used our theological training, but we both were called to serve, and in that serving we were able to share Christ with countless people.

A member of a hated minority race, bereft of parents, without any material legacy, living in exile in a foreign land, untutored by formal education, Esther had been reared and trained by her older cousin Mordecai.  In God’s providence, this teenage orphan was thrust into the royal court of Persia.

Though perhaps not as far-reaching in influence as Esther, we are each what God has made us with our own respective circle of opportunities.  In opportunity lies the real test of character.  Though we usually think of affliction as the major test of character, in Esther’s case, prosperity and fame were the testing ground.

Mordecai believed that Esther was placed in the king’s household by divine appointment to do God’s timely work.  He passionately pleaded with Esther to put her life on the line because he believed the promises of God.  He had watched the power and faithfulness of God unfold over the years.  Mordecai understood that it is not failure that brings despair, but unfaithfulness and idleness.

Esther had her opportunity, we have ours.  A difficult and dangerous human task is no excuse for failing to perform divinely assigned duty.  God chooses where we are called to serve; we choose, as did Esther, whether or not to respond in obedience to that call.”

Dr. Edith Alderman Deen writes in her All the Women of the Bible, “Esther herself lives on in the hearts of her people and is still commemorated at the Purim Festival as the woman who rose up as a savior of those Jews who were refugees in Persia about twenty-four centuries ago.  She has become one of their heroines because she served with fearlessness, intelligence, deep insight, and prudence.”

Conclusion:

Esther is a hero in Hebrew History!  Her story is a great source of inspiration.  For example, The New England Primer, a textbook for school children in America in the late 1600s presents the following rhyme to represent the letter “Q” in the alphabet, “Queen Esther comes in royal state, To save the Jews from dismal fate.”  A later edition used the following rhyme, “Queen Esther sues / And saves the Jews.”We read in Psalms 75:6, Psalms 75:7a, “For exaltation [promotion (KJV)] comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south.  But God is the Judge:  He puts one down, and exalts another.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 lists the kind of people God often chooses.
Paul writes, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”Dr. Harold L. Willmington shares the following: “The great John Wesley was often helped during his ministry by a noble lady of high English society named Lady Huntington.  This gracious woman who gave so much of her time, talent, and treasure to Christ would often testify as follows:
‘I am only going to heaven through the letter M.  How thankful I am that Paul did not say that not any noble are called, but rather not many noble are called.  Therefore, I am only going to heaven through the letter M!'”

Major W. Ian Thomas (1914-2007) warns in his classic titled If I Perish I Perish, “NEVER BREAK YOUR HEART TRYING TO BE SOMEONE ELSE!”  He continues, “In the first place, you never will be!  You will always be you, and no one else.  The person who gets up in the morning will be the same person who went to bed the night before; so you might as well get reconciled to the fact that you are the person you are going to live with for the rest of your days.

In the second place, it is the way God wants it!  He never intended that you should be anyone else but you—but what He would like, is that you should learn how to be the person He intended you to be.”

Dr. J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) founder of the China Inland Mission, opines, “God always gives his very best to those who leave the choice with him.”   Another poetically expresses, “He knows and loves and cares, / Nothing this truth can dim; He gives the very best to those / who leave the choice to Him.”

Allow the Lord to reveal His high and holy purpose for your life, because you too have come to the kingdom “for such a time as this”!
If you do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord you can pray a prayer like this:

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, in thought, in word, and in deed.  I am a sinner by nature and a sinner by choice.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sin and that he rose from the grave on the third day.  I ask Jesus to take over my life and to be my Savior, my Lord, and my King.  Thank you for giving me the forgiveness of my sin and everlasting life.  Amen.

Franklin L. Kirksey
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