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February 02, 2020

Evil Persists

Have you ever heard anyone defend their sinful actions by saying "I didn't have a choice"? Listen or read to find out that, according to God, you do have a choice.

Pastor Mike Gerhardt, 02-02-2020, Esther Series #3, Evil Persists, Esther 3:1-15, Introduction: Sometimes the what we perceive is the plan of God doesn’t make sense. Think of Noah. The entire human race is swimming in moral sewage except for Noah and his family. God tells him to build a boat. He gives him plans that will take 100 years to finish to save humanity. What can I learn from Noah? Don’t miss the boat and there is only 1 boat. Plan ahead; it wasn’t raining when Noah started. Stay fit. When you’re 500 years old, you may be asked to do something big. Don’t listen to critics; just do the job that needs to be done. Speed isn’t necessary, the snails got on board with the cheetahs. Remember the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals. No matter the storm, with God, there’s always a rainbow.
Here are a few lessons from Esther: God has a plan. Satan has a plan. You have a choice. As we said the Jews rebelled against God and did not let the land rest. God exiled them for 70 years. The Northern Kingdom was carried away by Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom – Judah was captured by Babylonians. This wasn’t the end. God had always planned to bring them back. God’s plan to save his people is always at work. God’s plan of salvation included a Savior born in Bethlehem to a Jewish family. That child would save the world. For that to happen, God’s providence took over.
The historical account of Esther begins before Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem. King Xerxes threw a 6-month party. He had a final 7-day drinking binge where he ordered Queen Vashti to appear. She refused and was banished. After a four-year losing war with the Greeks, he had a beauty contest. The orphaned Esther won the heart of the King and he made her Queen. Mordecai told her to keep her identity a secret. The writer of Esther gives a side note: 2:21-23 recounts that on duty at the palace Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate the King. He told Esther who in turn informed the King and the assassins were caught and impaled on poles. The incident was forgotten. This will be important as the plot thickens. God’s plan of salvation for the Jews was centered on an unknown virgin Jewish girl to make it happen. Remember Mary the mother of Jesus? Think of yourself, God can use you where you are to fulfill his plan of salvation for your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Esther has been Queen and five years pass (3:7). Haman’s promotion went to his head and turned him into a murderer. Being a faithful Jew Mordecai would not bow down to Haman, and this made the ruler angry. The palace knew Mordecai was a Jew (v. 6). Haman decided to destroy all the Jews just because of his malice toward Mordecai. Satan is called the destroyer in Revelation. Haman and his fortune-tellers cast lots (pur in Hebrew) to find what day should be set aside for the extermination. It turned out to be nearly a year later! Haman offered about $25,000,000 in silver to pay for the slaughter. Haman lied of course, for Satan is both a liar and a murderer. Foolishly, Xerxes gave Haman his ring and the authority to act. Haman wasted no time for that very month he had the decrees written and sent out (vv. 7, 12), ordering the Persians to destroy, kill and plunder all the Jews even those who were back in the land of Palestine. It is difficult to see how the king could make a law to wipe out millions of people one minute, then sit down to eat and drink the next minute (v. 15). But dictators in our modern history have done the same thing. Satan was working out his plan through Haman. Satan has a plan for your life too. It has been the Devil’s desire to destroy the people of God when he had all the Jewish baby boys killed in Egypt. God had other plans and Moses was saved. Satan tempted the first generation of Jews out of Egypt to worship other gods, to lack faith in entering the Promised Land and to rebel. Satan tried to destroy the people of God when he led them into idolatry and witchcraft for which they were exiled. Satan even persuaded Herod to kill all the boy toddlers in Bethlehem. We shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus said of Satan in John 10:10 he comes only to steal (the sheep) and kill and destroy, But I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.
60% of Christian don’t believe in the Devil according to the 2009 Barna survey. In a Gallop survey in2012 68% of the general public do not believe in Satan the devil. Many think he is just a symbol of evil. Someone may say that nowhere in the book of Esther is Satan mentioned, but you can plainly see his handiwork. By the way, Esther doesn’t mention God either, but as you will see God was definitely at work to save His people.
Satan was successful in whipping, beating, crowning Jesus with thorns yet Jesus made it to the cross to be our sacrifice. Satan has been against Christians and Jews and anything of God. He was almost successful in eliminating the Jews during the Holocaust. Satan hates God’s people. He persecutes the Church worldwide like no other religion on earth. I believe Satan personally wants to destroy me and the ministry God has given me. He also wants to rob you of your joy and neutralized you and your ministry in Christ. He does not persecute those that do nothing for the Kingdom. He has deactivated many believers. Satan has a plan for your life to stop you from God’s intended purpose for your life. Haman’s edict is the last major effort in the OT to destroy the Jews. Obviously, that doesn’t include the Maccabean period of war. Haman is the epitome of all the powers of the world arrayed against the people of God. Now You have a choice. A choice of faith will involve risk. A choice to do nothing is a choice to be conquered by the devil. We are similar to Esther. People may not hear the truth if we don’t show them. If we don’t take a risk, people may live in their blindness and end up in an eternity called hell. Queen Esther made a decision to lay her life on the line to save her people. What are we willing to do? We send missionaries and chaplains into the heart of darkness to bring the gospel to a lost and dying world. They leave home and family for long periods of time. They give up the American standard of living to live and work in jungles, deserts and primitive villages in remote areas of the world. Yet they go, putting their faith in action because they realize that if they didn’t go – people would die without salvation. What can we do for the cause of Christ today? Take the risk. Share what Jesus means to you with a friend. God has a plan for each of us! He is for us. He wants you to share your testimony with someone who needs hope. God has the answer, and the answer is Jesus! So, what can we learn from the book of Esther? 1. God has a plan for your life. 2. Satan has a plan for your life. 3. You have a choice. Make the choice for Jesus today!