The Tables Are Turned (Part 2 of 2)Esther 9:1-19
There’s a surprising turn of events in the book of Esther when the Jews celebrate a great victory rather than face annihilation. How did this dramatic shift happen? And what can we learn from the Israelites? Find out on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
From the Sermon
The Tables Are TurnedEsther 9:1-19 Sermon • Includes Transcript • 43:40 • ID: 2985
The Freedom of His Rule
By nature, we believe we have the right to rule our own lives. We think that nobody has the authority to tell us what to do or to rule over us. We will decide for ourselves, define who we are, and mold our own future. Yet this is a dreadful path, and it leads only to despair. For when we look within, however much we have been told to think positively and to believe in ourselves, we are still confronted by our need, our failure, our frailty, and our inadequacy. And when we look without, we see a divided culture and flawed institutions. To what, then, should we look?
The Old Testament records Israel’s repeated rebellion against God’s rule. In an attempt to look just like the nations around them, the Israelites demanded an earthly king (1 Samuel 8:5). Tragically, all of Israel’s kings eventually crumbled to dust: the mighty Saul, the great David, and the wise Solomon all failed politically, morally, and religiously. Surely, the people in the streets were making the same complaints that we hear today: “This is not what we were led to expect when this person became our leader! There must be someone better than this!”
Indeed, there is someone better. Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God, is the Creator, Sustainer, and King of the universe: “For by him all things were created …. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). He is the King who will perfectly fulfill the demands of the role: “In his days … the righteous flourish, and peace abound[s]” (Psalm 72:7); He will deliver the needy, the poor, and the helpless (v 12-13); all nations will serve Him, and “the whole earth” will “be filled with his glory!” (v 19).
As question 26 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism explains, Jesus carries out His kingly office “in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.” He comes to reign over us in such a way that we find real freedom in giving up our autonomy and real rest in quitting from our efforts to make our own future. “Come to me,” He says. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me … and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
Jesus is the resurrected and ascended King. His claim on us is total, and our response is all or it is nothing. We must decide whether Christ’s right to rule and reign over the universe will extend to every facet of our lives as well. Only then will we find Him to be “our shield and defender.” It is as you bow the knee to Him in those areas of life where you find it hardest, trusting that His rule is better than yours, that you give Him the place that He deserves and find the freedom and the future that you long for.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Give the King Your Justice
1Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
4May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
5May they fear you1 while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
7In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
8May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River2 to the ends of the earth!
9May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
10May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
11May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
12For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.
15Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
16May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
17May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!
18Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
19Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!
20The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.
You will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.
Few had fellowship with the sorrows of Gethsemane. The majority of the disciples were not sufficiently advanced in grace to be admitted to behold the mysteries of the agony. Occupied with the Passover feast at their own houses, they represent the many who live upon the letter but are mere babes as to the spirit of the Gospel.
To twelve, no, to only eleven the privilege was given to enter Gethsemane and see “this great sight.” Out of the eleven, eight were left at a distance; they had fellowship, but not of that intimate sort to which men greatly beloved are admitted. Only three highly favored ones could approach the veil of our Lord’s mysterious sorrow. Within that veil even they must not intrude; they remain a stone’s throw apart. He must tread the winepress alone, and of the people there must be none with Him.
Peter and the two sons of Zebedee represent the few eminent, experienced saints who may be written down as “Father”; those doing business on the great waters can in some degree measure the huge Atlantic waves of their Redeemer’s passion. To some selected spirits it is given, for the good of others and to strengthen them for future, special, and tremendous conflict, to enter the inner circle and hear the pleadings of the suffering High Priest; they have fellowship with Him in his sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. Yet even these cannot penetrate the secret places of the Savior’s woe.
“Thine unknown sufferings” is the remarkable expression of the Greek liturgy: There was an inner chamber in our Master’s grief, shut out from human knowledge and fellowship. There Jesus is “left alone.” Here Jesus was more than ever an “unspeakable gift!” Is not Watts right when he sings:
And all the unknown joys he gives,
Were bought with agonies unknown.
Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.
The Command to Leave Sinai
1The Lord said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ 2I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
4When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’” 6Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The Tent of Meeting
7Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord1 would speak with Moses. 10And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
12Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
17And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany
1Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3Mary therefore took a pound1 of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii2 and given to the poor?” 6He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it3 for the day of my burial. 8For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
The Plot to Kill Lazarus
9When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus4 was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The Triumphal Entry
12The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
16His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
Some Greeks Seek Jesus
20Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up
27“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
The Unbelief of the People
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
41Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
Jesus Came to Save the World
44And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
The Way of Wisdom
1Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
2She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
3She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
4“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
5“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6Leave your simple ways,1 and live,
and walk in the way of insight.”
7Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9Give instruction2 to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
12If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
The Way of Folly
13The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive3 and knows nothing.
14She sits at the door of her house;
she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way,
16“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks sense she says,
17“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18But he does not know that the dead4 are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
By Grace Through Faith
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body1 and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.2 4But3 God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
One in Christ
11Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,4 but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by5 the Spirit.
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