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I promised you that this morning I would bring the second part of the message on Esther. The title of the message was “Portrait of a Queen.” The first message that I brought I believe on Saturday night was entitled, “The Queen God is Seeking.” My message this morning is entitled, “The Queen Meets the Challenge.”
In brief review, the way I interpreted the book of Esther—and I pointed out that this is a subjective, personal interpretation, not everybody has to see it the same way. It’s always been vivid for me this way ever since I first read the book of Esther. I’ve seen in it the theme of the choice of a queen. And we have in the opening of the book the queen who was rejected, Vashti. The queen who was doing her own thing, having her own party for the women. When the king summoned her, obedience and respect for the king was not uttermost in her heart. She was more concerned with her own program and her own activity. As a consequence she was rejected, she lost her crown and her position.
I pointed out in my first message that this, I believe, is a very vivid picture of a large section of the church today. It’s a Vashti church, a church that’s busy with its own program, doing its own thing no matter if it’s in the palace of the king. It’s the program of another, it’s not the king’s program. There is deep down in it a resentment of authority and particularly of male authority. I think this is so obvious that I don’t need to dwell on it, if you are in any way familiar with what’s taking place in the church in all denominations, and I think there are no exceptions. I think all major denominations are being affected. I see myself now some denominations going God’s way and some not. What I see is some in every section of the church responding to God and some, like Vashti, rejecting the king’s summons and then themselves being rejected.
Then we saw how a second queen was raised up, Esther. I think the essence of the character that brought her to the place of queen was her sensitivity to Hegai the eunuch, whom we took as a type of the Holy Spirit, whose task it was to prepare the queen for the king.
And we see in Esther also the benefit of parental training. Although she was an orphan, Mordecai, her uncle, brought her into his house and trained her. We see as we go through the story that even when she was queen she still acknowledged the authority of Mordecai. She is, if you wish—and I don’t say this to be controversial. It’s unfortunate that there are some words that are so often in the Bible and yet they become controversial. Like there was a time when the phrase “latter rain” would make some people mad. All you had to do was say “latter rain.” Although the phrase is in the Bible many times, they would dub you a heretic before they heard whatever you had to say. Let me add I was never associated with the movement that is called Latter Rain. But it is surely ridiculous if we cannot use a perfectly biblical phrase without infuriating people.
I remember when I was in East Africa, I was warned against these people called Latter Rain by the group that I was with whom I won’t mention the name of. I was warned so many times I thought, “I’ve just got to go and see what it’s all about!” So I went and I thought to myself, “They’ve got a lot more than we have.” I’m not endorsing that movement which eventually went far astray. But what I’m saying today, and I have to make all these apologies for saying it, Esther in some respects is a picture of discipleship. She was a girl who had grown up under careful training. Her character had been formed and when she was under pressure she stood the test because of the formation that had gone into preparing her for that position. She was a credit to Mordecai, her uncle. Even when his life depended on her, the life of her people, the training she had received and her sensitivity to the Holy Spirit brought her through in victory. She met the challenge.
Now I’m going to read some passages from Esther and try not to spend too much time in reading. We’re going to go to the beginning of chapter 3 and here we have something strange. The king, Ahasuerus, suddenly promotes this evil man whose name is Haman, and even confers his authority upon Haman, so that at the critical moment the king takes the signet ring off his own finger and places it on Haman’s finger. And the signet ring was the emblem of authority. The man who had that ring could seal any letter, any order with the ring and it was the king’s order from that moment. Haman was a wicked man.
I want to point out, and I think it’s probably not necessary to turn there this morning, but in 1Samuel 15:3–9 you’ll find that earlier in the history of Israel God had given strict orders to Israel’s first king, Saul, to go and destroy a certain group, the Amalekites, because they were the implacable enemies of Israel. Their continued existence was a threat to Israel. And God gave orders to Saul through the prophet Samuel that they were not to spare anybody alive. But Saul didn’t fully obey and he returned back and reported to Samuel that they had spared the best of the sheep and the cattle under the pretense of wanting to sacrifice them to the Lord. They had also spared the king whose name was Agag. And it’s emphasized in the book of Esther that Haman was an Agagite. Apparently in some way he was a descendant of Agag. And that, to me, is always a very vivid lesson. The lesson I see is this: If God tells you to destroy something, to do away with it, and you do not destroy it, it will destroy you. God never tells you to destroy something just for the sake of destroying. All God’s commands and instructions are always given ultimately for our benefit.
Here this descendant of Agag came as near as anybody has ever done to destroying the entire Jewish people. That, to me, is a very solemn lesson. Whatever God says to do away with, to get rid of, to put out of your life, to terminate, don’t spare anything because whatever you leave will destroy you. I just mention that.
Now we have here what I would say is a spiritual problem. Some people’s theology doesn’t leave room for any problems, everything is solved by simple formulas. The only problem is from time to time the formulas break down, they don’t work. And you get very frustrated people. I’ve dealt with quite a number. “I’ve done everything, I’ve made the right confession, I’ve said it 15 times a day, the right people have prayed for me and I still don’t get the result. What’s the matter?” Well as I said last night, God doesn’t tie Himself to formulas. You can’t get God in a box with your formulas. There are problems in the spiritual life. There are some unanswered questions. There are some agonies that we can’t explain.
And here I think is one of the great basic problems, the apparent alliance of God with evil. Here’s the king putting his ring on the finger of the man who wants to destroy Israel. I suppose for those of us that have lived as long as I have and even less long, that has a very up-to-date parallel in Adolf Hitler. After all, if you believe in Almighty God, you have to believe in some sense that God permitted Hitler to destroy six million Jews. That’s not easy to understand. But it’s a fact. And don’t come up with some simple solution that ignores the agonies. I was speaking to a group of Jewish people in South Africa recently and an elderly Jew in the front row at the end put up his hand and he said, “Question.” And he asked me two questions. The first was, “Does God want the Jewish people to remain a separate, identifiable people?” The second was, “If so, why the Holocaust?” And when he asked that question, a dead silence fell on all the people in the room. You could tell it was the question in every heart, why the holocaust? I couldn’t give him some facile answer. I answered him as best I could out of the scriptures but I think if I satisfied him at all it was more my sincerity than my theology.
There are agonizing things that happen in life. You are not guaranteed as a Christian that you’ll be spared all the agony. Why did this happen? Well, maybe I’ll be able to give you some kind of answer.
But let’s look first at this fact that the entire authority of the Persian empire was vested in the man who wanted to destroy God’s people, and they were God’s people. Beginning in chapter 3:
“After these events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite [notice that], and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage.”
Why didn’t Mordecai bow down? Was he just proud or stubborn? Why didn’t he bow down? He was a Jew, that’s right, and it was forbidden to a Jew to take the attitude of worship to any but the true God.
“Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, Why are you transgressing the king’s command? Now it was when they had spoken daily to him and he would not listen to them, that they told Haman to see whether Mordecai’s reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.”
It’s a strange thing about humanity, but when people have trouble with a Jew they automatically blame the entire Jewish race. It’s a psychological fact about humanity. It’s still true today. A person has one Jewish storekeeper who sells him some shoddy goods and he becomes an anti-Semite on that basis. Whereas if you had, you know, just an ordinary plain American who cheated you, you wouldn’t become anti-American. It’s just a peculiar feature of human nature. There are, of course, other racial minorities that tend to come under the same kind of condemnation but it’s nowhere like it is with the Jewish people.
So Mordecai doesn’t bow down, so he’s going to blot out the entire Jewish race. He was a typical anti-Semite. Now, he set about it in a very systematic way, by casting lots. He cast lots to find out what day this thing should be carried out. Why did he cast lots? What does it tell us about him in one simple phrase? That he was in the occult. He believed in divination, fortune telling and all these things. I want to suggest to you that any serious enemy of Christianity always has some involvement in the occult because the occult ultimately is the great enemy. We may not notice it or we may not appreciate it but always behind real opposition to the people of God is the power of the occult.
“In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, [now I’m going to take the marginal version.] and the lot fell on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, that is the month Adar.”
That’s the reading in the margin. I think we have to take that because it makes sense. In other words, in the first month he cast lots for every day of the year until the lot fell on a certain day which was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. So in that way Israel had about eleven month’s warning of the destruction that was to come. Verse 8:
“Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people, and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain.”
There again, that is typical. They’re different, they’re separate, they keep different laws. And then what is usually a slander is added, and they don’t keep the law of the land. Now there’s no evidence that the Jewish people didn’t keep the law, that was a lie. First of all, they’re pointed out as separate, different, having their own laws and then it’s added and they don’t keep the law of the land—which is usually not true. Verse 9:
“If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries. Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, The silver is yours, [Keep your silver is a better translation] the people are in your hands to do with them as you please.”
A terrible situation. Then the king’s scribes were summoned and they wrote out this edict and sent it to every part of the Persian empire in the language and the script of each group. It was distributed through the 127 provinces of the Persian empire. I imagine that the entire Jewish race was to be found within the borders of the Persian empire at that time. In other words, it would have been total genocide.
I’ve said already this is the century of genocide. This is a century when people are not just content with murdering a few, but they aim to destroy whole races. One of the races that they aim to destroy is the Christian race. There are forces at work in the world today that will not be content until Christianity and Christians have been removed from the earth. It’s not a little space that we’re playing for, it’s existence.
We’ll go on now to chapter 4, Mordecai’s response and then Esther’s response. I want again to just take a moment or two to give you my symbolic view of these two persons Mordecai and Esther. Again, emphasizing this is subjective, but this is the way it speaks to me. I see Mordecai as a picture of the ministries that build the church. They’ve been mentioned here today, Ephesians 4:11: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. Mordecai is the ministry of Christ to his body. Esther is a picture of the church, the product of the ministry. And it’s going to be interesting to see that if Mordecai hadn’t done his job well with Esther it would have cost him his life because he came to a point where it was Esther’s response that was going to settle the whole question.
I think that’s challenging for I am in that ministry to the body of Christ. I have to ask myself what am I producing? Am I producing an Esther who will stand the test, and when my hour of need comes, if it comes, will stand by me? There are many, many ministers in the history of the church who were betrayed by the people they ministered to. It really behooves us in the ministry to ask ourselves what kind of people are we producing. Will they stand the test? There’s going to be a time of testing. And if we don’t build the right kind of character, we don’t give the right kind of training, we’re going to be bitterly disillusioned in the time of testing.
“When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly.”
I am not Jewish, I think you know that. But I really made some kind of a study of Jewish character. I’ll tell you one thing, basically the Jewish people are emotional. If they feel anything they express it. Mordecai didn’t keep his feelings in, he went out in the city and put on sackcloth and he let out a loud and bitter cry. When Jews feel something they usually say it. They sometimes tend to say it loud!
“He went as far as the king’s gate, for no one was to enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.”
I want you to note that because we’re coming back to it. One of the laws was nobody ever got into the king’s immediate presence clothed in sackcloth. So when Mordecai put on sackcloth he disqualified himself from entering the king’s presence. And then there was sackcloth and mourning and fasting for all the Jews in all the provinces. Verse 4:
“Then Esther’s maidens and her eunuchs came and told her, and the queen writhed in great anguish. And she sent garments to clothe Mordecai that he might remove his sackcloth from him, but he did not accept them.”
Now that, to me, is kind of typical. When we really see the truth about a situation and proclaim it, there will be people who will say, “Don’t get so excited, it will be all right, just relax. Don’t keep your sackcloth on, just put on some nice normal clothing again.” Mordecai said, “Don’t offer me that kind of comfort. This is life or death.” Verse 5:
“Then Esther summoned Hathach from the king’s eunuchs, whom the king had appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. So Hathach went out to Mordecai to the city square in front of the king’s gate. And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict which had been issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show Esther and inform her, and to order her to go into the king to implore his favor and to plead with him for her people.”
See? His relationship with Esther was still that of instructing her and guiding her. The question was would she obey in this crisis?
“Hathach came back and related Mordecai’s words to Esther. Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai: All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.”
Let me comment on the last statement first. She was the queen. She hadn’t been summoned into the king’s presence for thirty days. That must have been an unusual situation. And it must have caused her to wonder whether the king’s attitude toward her had changed and she really needed to know at this moment because everything depended on his attitude to her.
Now again, I see something in it that I believe is true in the spiritual life. There are a number of situations in this book that picture tests that we go through. And I believe sometimes, in a certain sense, we feel we haven’t been summoned into the king’s presence for thirty days. Somehow God seems to have withdrawn Himself. He seems to be remote. We still read our Bible, we still pray, we’re still doing our duties, but there’s been no summons from the king. And many times we begin to wonder has he changed his attitude? Does he not care for me as he used to do? There’s something wrong. How do we handle that situation? Do you know what I believe? We just have to keep on believing.
You see, I think there’s a beautiful example of real faith here. The Bible makes it clear faith is not feeling, it’s not sense knowledge. What is faith? It’s very, very hard to know what faith is. But there are situations, and Esther was being brought into one, where there’s no encouragement, there seems to be no response from God, we’re totally unable in our own strength to face the crisis, we have no feelings. What’s happened? We’re left with one thing. What’s that? Faith. See, faith is very hard to discover inside yourself. Did you know that? Many times you think you have faith, you don’t. Other times you’re surprised to discover you did have it after all. I’ve never met anybody who exactly knows all the time when he has faith. I certainly don’t.
I think I can say this out of personal experience. I’ve been through some experiences lately where things didn’t exactly work out the way I felt they should, where pressures and problems came against me that I thought really didn’t belong to me. For one thing, just to give you an example, years ago the Lord miraculously healed me of eczema. I mean, I didn’t have eczema for 37 years. The last few months, in a small measure, it came back. Well, what have I done wrong? Why could God heal me 37 years ago, why could he keep me healthy, what happened? Really, I just have to tell you, I don’t know. But it isn’t the important thing. I could look at my hands and say, you know, “God has overlooked me.” That wouldn’t be right. I hope I can communicate to you, because it’s very, very basic, what is faith. It’s not feeling. It’s what you’ve got left when all the feeling has gone, when all the encouragement has gone, when no one is there patting you on the back and saying you’re a wonderful brother. Then you know whether you’ve got faith. And God, I think, has to let everyone of us come to the place where we discover the real faith. It really only comes under pressure.
So Esther says, “I don’t know what the king’s attitude toward me is. I’m his wife but I haven’t seen him for thirty days.” How would you feel like that if you were the king’s wife? “Now you’re asking me to risk my life and go into him without being summoned.” I’m sure she didn’t go in on the basis of feeling. She went in on the basis of faith.
Well, she kind of offers her excuse to Mordecai, “You know, I haven’t been summoned and if I go in without being summoned, unless he stretches out the golden scepter, I’m going to be put to death.” Verse 12:
“They related Esther’s words to Mordecai. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther...”
Now I’ll tell you something else in the ministry. There will come times when people that you are ministering to are in a desperate situation. And the only remedy is a desperate remedy. You cannot offer that remedy unless you’re desperate yourself. That’s one of the real tests of the ministry, is when other people are in desperate need. It just doesn’t work if you’re not committed and you’re not desperate to pat that person on the shoulder and say, “You’ve got to go through.” If you’re not willing to go through you can’t tell him to go through. I think, in a way, in the ministry we’re tested more when those who look to us for leadership are in need than when we’re in need.
I remember very vividly, and Eric will never forget, a time when he was in desperate need. We’re not going to go back over those unhappy days. I’ve always wondered really whether I gave him the help he really needed at that time. I gave him what I had, I couldn’t give him more. But when somebody else looks to you for leadership in their need, you really find out how much you’ve got. I think that’s a bigger test. You can’t just offer them sweet platitudes and religious phrases. “Jesus will help you, brother.” That is hypocrisy. Jesus said, “You help them!” That’s what they call a religious cop-out. “Jesus will help you. Praise the Lord.” Don’t offer somebody that when they’re in that place.
“Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews.”
Now we’re getting down to basics. Life or death.
“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 attained royalty [or the kingdom] for such a time as this?”
I commented that the Jewish people have got a very interesting way of making complicated rules and then getting around them when they don’t suit them. I mean, you don’t understand what’s happening in Israel unless you know that they make laws and then they make their own way around those laws if it suits them. But the reason they do that is it leaves the initiative with them, if they just make laws and stick to them they don’t have any choice. This is very true about immigration. I don’t want to get involved in something that’s political but they’ll make a law that forbids a certain class of person to immigrate. Namely, believers in Jesus. That means they don’t have to let anybody in if they don’t want to. But if they want to let somebody in, they’ll find some way around the law. They’ve done that for a number of people, some of them friends of mine.
So one of the rules that was made when they wanted to determine the canon of scripture, what books should be in the Tenach, the Old Testament was that any book that didn’t have the sacred name of the Lord, Jehovah, in it could not be in the canon. Well then here’s the book of Esther and obviously it’s got to be in the canon. A Jewish festival is based on the book of Esther, the festival of Purim. Besides, she’s one of the great heroines of the Jewish race and it’s a decisive turning point in Jewish history. But the name of the Lord isn’t in the book. So what do you do? You make another rule! So, I say it because of this verse, verse 14:
“Mordecai said, If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place...”
What’s that? That’s the Lord. So that’s as good as, you see? That’s how Esther got into the canon!
Now, I see Esther as the church, I said that. And I want to suggest to you that the church is in the same position as Esther at this point. I want to say two things. First of all, Esther had a relationship with the Jewish people which was not public. She was Jewish and nobody knew it, not even her husband. But if the decree went out to destroy all the Jews, Esther would be destroyed because she was Jewish. I believe this is true of the church. I believe the church has a relationship with the Jewish people which we cannot disclaim. As I understand scripture, I’ve been grafted into that olive tree and I’m proud of my ancestors because they’re Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I can’t have Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for my ancestors and disclaim my responsibility to their descendants. I cannot have it both ways. So, I’m like Esther. If the Jewish people are threatened, I have to come to their help because if I don’t, I’ll suffer just as they will.
Now, going further and speaking about the situation in the world today, in the providence of God, when the State of Israel was being birthed, when the political forces were released in Europe mainly, at the end of the last century, that eventually brought the State of Israel to birth [the forces of Zionism, which is essentially a political and not a religious movement]. Two other major world forces were beginning to come forth. One was atheistic communism and the other was the resurgence of aggressive Islam, the Mohammedan religion. Now I believe this was in the providence and wisdom of God.
Today, the State of Israel is threatened by these two major world forces, atheistic communism and Islam. And between them they muster incredible amounts of wealth and military resources which make Israel look simply like a pea in a bucket. God did it because he’s bringing Israel to the place where they have no other source of help but God.
But, the interesting thing is that the same two major world forces, atheistic communism—or if you talk more generally, humanism (secular humanism of which atheistic communism is merely one manifestation), and Islam are the two major world forces that threaten the church. Each of them will not really rest content short of genocide. I think that’s very obvious in respect to the statements of atheistic communism.
Most of you are probably not in any way aware that Islam is probably an even more hate-filled force than communism. Atheistic communism is against Christianity but there are Christian churches that flourish in communist land. Not many, but there are some. You cannot find a flourishing Christian church in any Moslem country. Just look at the situation in Islamic countries where it is a crime punishable by death to preach the gospel to a Moslem and where for a Moslem to convert to Christianity is a crime punishable by death. The mark has been taken off Islam in the world today. I believe one of the final confrontations that’s going to come to the church is with Islam. The Moslems laugh at the Christians. They despise them. They think they’re soft and easily deceived and they’ll deceive them just as long as they can till they’re ready to destroy them.
So the two same forces that threaten Israel threaten the church. We’re in exactly the same position that Esther was. If we don’t stand with the Jews we’ll be destroyed. We have an invisible relationship which obligates us, we have no choice. I believe that way.
My wife and I were having dinner with a well-known Jewish rabbi and his wife in Jerusalem and we had a very amazing conversation. The rabbi’s wife is a pretty, let me say, outspoken woman. She doesn’t stop and think whether what she’s saying is discreet or tactful, she just says it anyhow. We were sitting there at dinner and she had been in the United States recently and had come back through Rome. In Rome she’d been going around apparently looking at the Christian shrines and all these things. If you’ve been in Rome you’ll know that there’s a tremendous emphasis on death. Practically every church is built over somebody’s grave, including St. Peter’s. We’re sitting there at dinner and she talks about Rome and she says, “What do you think about this Christian emphasis on death?” I said to her, “Frankly, I think it’s overdone. After all, the cross wasn’t the end.” She looked at me and she said, “No, it wasn’t, was it?” I thought, “Lady, do you know what you said?”
Then a little while later she said to us, “You know, America is turning away from God and turning away from Israel.” Then she said, “Do you know what I think? I think the Christian church is going to be divided for or against Israel.” I have not been able to get away from those words ever since. I’m not saying it will happen. You see, you say, “Brother Prince, why do you have to be so involved with Israel?” I’ll tell you why for me. Because I’m involved with the Lord. Because I believe the Bible is the word of God. Because I believe the Bible clearly declares that it’s God’s will to restore Israel and places upon all believing Christians a responsibility to be personally involved in what He’s doing.
And in the last resort I think of this issue there’s going to be no neutrality. It’s going to be either for or against. That’s the problem with God, isn’t it? When He starts to move He eliminates fence-sitting. That’s why people don’t want God to move in the church many times because until the Holy Spirit comes on the scene you don’t know where half the people in the church really stand. Then one day a demon cries out and somebody gets onto that and there’s turmoil in the church and all sorts of polite and respectable and nice people begin to behave in a very un-Christian way.
The supernatural, when it’s demonstrated, begins to bring out into the open what people really are. When God intervenes He eliminates neutrality. I really don’t believe that we are going to have the privilege of being indifferent about what God is doing to Israel. I could quote many scriptures to you which charge us to become involved. I think we’re in the same position as Esther. If we say we’re in the king’s palace, it doesn’t affect us, the word of God says don’t think you’ll escape. But God will raise up deliverance from another source.
Let’s look now at Esther’s final decision beginning at verse 15 of chapter 4.
“Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go into the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded.”
It’s interesting to notice that at this point Esther gave the command to Mordecai. She had come of age, the crisis had made a queen out of her. It’s also very interesting that she’s never called Queen Esther till this next chapter. This is the first time she’s titled queen.
“Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace. And it happened when the king saw Esther the queen...”
But the New International Version says “Queen Esther”—the first time the title is bestowed upon her.
“When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. Then the king said to her, What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it will be given to you.”
We don’t need to read further. She had broken through, the crisis had been resolved. The rest is the outworking of what was accomplished there.
Now, let me give you a little more of my symbolism. We’ll come to a close very quickly. I see Mordecai as said as the five ministries, the church building ministries: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. But I see Esther as representing now the two ultimate ministries which are—how many of you know? You have to know me to know what I’m thinking. The king and the priest.
See, let me for a moment go into the tabernacle. The trouble with me is if I go into the tabernacle I find it hard to get out again! But you’re familiar with the tabernacle, you know, this structure that Moses erected contained, I think, endless spiritual truth. The tabernacle was in three sections: the outer court, the holy place, the holy of holies. Each is distinguished by the light available. The outer court is with natural light: sun, moon, stars. Inside the first curtain, the holy place, the light was artificial: the seven-branched candlesticks lit by olive oil which is the Holy Spirit. Beyond the second curtain there was no light, have you ever thought about that? And it was surrounded by very thick coverings. In other words, it was in total darkness except what? When was it illuminated? Only when the ?shekinah? glory, the presence of God, filled it. Then it was illuminated by God’s personal presence.
Now, I see this is a picture. The first curtain is into the unseen realm. We’re out of the natural and into the invisible, apprehended only by faith. The first curtain is resurrection. The second curtain is what? Ascension. Not only are we risen with Christ but we’re seated with him. We go through the cross and the grave into resurrection and ascension.
Inside the first curtain are the five ministries: apostles, prophets, et cetera. Beyond the second curtain it’s ascension, we share the throne. Where Christ sits on his throne as king and priest, we are invited to share the throne. And when Esther put on her queenly robes and went into the immediate presence of the king, she was taking her place with him on the throne. She shared his authority from that moment on. Up to half the kingdom was hers. And the truth I’m trying to bring out is that we in the ministry will not accomplish our task unless we train a queen that can share the throne. See what I’m saying? And at this point though Mordecai was the man who trained Esther, his destiny depended on her. And I believe that’s true. In other words, we who are in the ministry have got to produce a church that can act like a queen, that can go beyond the second veil, second curtain and share the throne and take the authority. And it is essentially the church that’s going to do it, not just individual ministries.
Let me just read you one beautiful passage in Isaiah 52. Just the first two verses.
“Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city. For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no more come into you, shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.”
I believe those words apply to the church at this time. I believe the church has groveled in the dust, she’s been a captive, she’s worn chains. The Holy Spirit, through the scriptures, says, “Get out of the dust, shake it off, put on your royal garments and remember you’re a queen. And the king is waiting for you.” See? No one ever went into the king’s gate in sackcloth. But when Esther dressed like a queen she had access to the king.
I believe that’s what the church has to do to realize she’s a queen; to stop groveling in the dust, to shake off the chains, put on the beautiful garments that Jesus has provided: the garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness, the ornaments of the Spirit, and walk in like a queen. When the king saw his queen, she won his heart. He stretched out the scepter and said, “Help yourself. All I have is at your disposal.” That’s the church that’s going to culminate this age.
Let me just sum up by answering a question based on what I’ve said. What is God seeking in the church? So much of this is in line with the message we heard from Dan. I say four things.
First of all, determination. If I perish, I perish but I’m going.
Second, dependence on God alone. There was no other source of help. Every other source of help was excluded. God is bringing the church and bringing Israel to that place.
Third, we have to acknowledge our relationship to Israel and our responsibility. We cannot hide away in the king’s palace and say it doesn’t matter what happens to them, we’ll be all right.
There was a saying in the British Army which I will not quote in its original form. When one soldier was selfish and unconcerned about another he would say, “Bless you Jack, I’m fireproof.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what happens to you, I’m all right. We cannot say that. We are not fireproof, we’re involved.
And fourthly, the climax can only come when the church learns the ministry of intercessory prayer and fasting. It’s remarkable how well this dovetails with the previous lesson.
Let me just make those four points again and I will close. What is God seeking in the church?
First, determination, guts, intestinal fortitude.
Number two, dependence on God alone.
Number three, that we acknowledge our relationship to Israel and accept the responsibilities that goes with it.
And number four, we have to get the victory by intercessory prayer and fasting. Amen.
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