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 Golden Calf
1When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden1 calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
7And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
11But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.
15Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.
21And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
25And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord's side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” 28And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”
30The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” 33But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. 34But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”
35Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.
The Death of Lazarus
1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus1 was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16So Thomas, called the Twin,2 said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles3 off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.4 Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved5 in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus
38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
54Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
55Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56They were looking for6 Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
The Blessings of Wisdom
1Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
4“To you, O men, I call,
and my cry is to the children of man.
5O simple ones, learn prudence;
O fools, learn sense.
6Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right,
7for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
9They are all straight to him who understands,
and right to those who find knowledge.
10Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold,
11for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
12“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.
13The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
14I have counsel and sound wisdom;
I have insight; I have strength.
15By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
16by me princes rule,
and nobles, all who govern justly.1
17I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.
18Riches and honor are with me,
enduring wealth and righteousness.
19My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
and my yield than choice silver.
20I walk in the way of righteousness,
in the paths of justice,
21granting an inheritance to those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.
22“The Lord possessed2 me at the beginning of his work,3
the first of his acts of old.
23Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
26before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
27When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above,
when he established4 the fountains of the deep,
29when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his5 delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.
32“And now, O sons, listen to me:
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
34Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
35For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord,
36but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.”
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful1 in Christ Jesus:
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us2 for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known3 to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee4 of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,5 to the praise of his glory.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love6 toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
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