Celebration Time
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Celebration Time

Esther 8:1–17  (ID: 2982)

Haman had been dealt with, but his edict of destruction against the Jews still stood. Alistair Begg walks us through the climax of Esther’s story, which finds Esther pleading with the king for her peoples’ lives and seeking the impossible—the overturning of the edict. In response, the king issued a new edict that nullified the first, empowering the Jews to defend themselves. The lesson they learned continues to be true today: God is graciously able to do the impossible and turn our sorrow into joy!

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Esther

The Unseen God Esther 1:1–10:3 Series ID: 11703

Sermon Transcript: Print

Esther and chapter 8:

“On that day”—that’s the day on which Haman had been hanged—“King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

“Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, ‘If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?’ Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, ‘Behold, I[’ve] given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.’

“The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal stud, saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, [and this] on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift horses that were used in the king’s service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king’s command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel.

“Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.”

Thanks be to God for his Word. Well, we just pause and ask his help:

Now, gracious God, with our Bibles open before us, we pray again for the help of the Holy Spirit to be able to understand and to believe and obey and have your Word applied to our lives. For we ask it in Christ’s name. Amen.

When you click on your computer, especially if you launch a new computer, you have to decide which language you want your computer to use, and you are able to choose between American English and I guess they would call it British English. And there are some significant distinctions, I know, and so do you. For example, in American English the verb to sort is used, we might say, properly: it’s used as the verb which describes the arranging of things in groups or the separation of things from one another, put together in a particular order, on the basis of time or on the basis of size or on the basis of color. So, for example, we might talk about sorting our sock drawer. And what we mean by that is that we’re finally going to make sure that they’re supposed to meet one another and live together happily—at least the ones that are supposed to be together.

In British English, while that usage is there, the verb is most often used in a far more informal manner. And if you’ve traveled there much, you will have encountered this, so that when people use the verb to sort over there, they’re often talking not about separating things by color or size but actually solving a problem or dealing with someone or dealing with something successfully. So, they’ll talk about getting something sorted, and what they mean is getting it resolved, getting it dealt with, getting it fixed. So, for example, they might say to you, “Don’t worry about the bill. I’ll sort it.” And if you’re not familiar with that informal usage, you’d say, “Well, there’s only one piece. How are you going to sort it? Are you going to cut it up in pieces, and then we’ll separate it?” No, what they mean is “I’ll take care of it. It’s sorted.” In the same way, they might ask you, “Did you get your flights sorted?” And what they mean is “fixed.”

Now, that verb is actually quite a helpful verb when it’s used in that informal way. And I have been excited about the fact that as we have come to the end of chapter 7 and now into chapter 8, things are getting sorted. Right? Things are being resolved. They’re getting fixed. There was a great sigh of relief at the end of chapter 7 when finally Haman was hanged. Because we had all determined that he deserved to be hanged, and only a few of us felt embarrassed about the fact that we felt that he deserved it. And that’s largely because of the way our culture thinks about retribution.

Those of you who take a particular newspaper will perhaps have seen in the Arts and Entertainment section on Friday an article, a brief article, about the final episodes of TV series. It was referencing things that I actually haven’t seen, but the article was understandable without that. And what it was talking about: things in TV series need to come to some kind of denouement. They need to come to resolution. They need to finally get sorted.

That’s why, for example, if you watched the end of Lost, you were just as lost as when you had watched the very first part of the series, because it never really got sorted. And interestingly, the writer of the piece, John Jurgensen, quotes Sara Colleton, who is an executive producer with the series Dexter, and this was her comment: “Whether you want to call it retribution, which is slightly too Biblical for my taste, there is some need for moral judgment that accumulates with these characters, which they cannot escape.” “I’m not prepared to call it retribution,”[1] she says, but she recognizes that when you watch the unfolding drama of these things, if justice is to be served, if things are to get sorted, then punishment must take place. And the great frustration that is often represented at the end of these things is largely due to a view of the world, which is often embraced by the writers, which refuses—refuses—to actually see justice done. The fact that we know that it needs to be done is an indication of the fact that we were created by God as moral beings and we exist with an internal awareness of oughtness, no matter how much we might try and deny it.

And so, when we view this chapter, the eighth chapter, we realize that things are being wonderfully sorted out. Haman had the gallows prepared for Mordecai; he swings on the gallows. Chapter 8 opens, and his property which he had amassed for himself is now handed over to Esther, in keeping with the rules of Persia. A condemned criminal, a convicted criminal, had all of his property taken in to the crown and then was at the disposal of the crown, and so the king decides to give it to his queen. He also “took the signet ring”—the king, that is—from the hand of Haman and put it on the hand of Mordecai, thus radically altering the circumstances of Mordecai the Jew.

He is now able to come before the king, because the queen has told the king “what he was to her.” The lovely little phrase there at the end of verse 1: “And Mordecai came before the king,” explanation, “for Esther had told what he was to her.” This was an amazing thirty-six hours for this king. He suddenly realizes, “I have been living with a Jew for all this time! She’s done a masterful job of covering it up. And now I find out that Mordecai the Jew, who is featured so much in this story, is none other than her older cousin, her kind of adoptive dad.” And so he recognizes that there is a hand that is higher than his hand at work in this.

And Mordecai himself, his circumstances are so vastly different. Because at one point, he had really been the benefactor to his cousin. So, he looked after her, he gave her wisdom, gave her direction, gave her protection, and so on. She was on the receiving end from Mordecai. Now we’re told that Mordecai is on the receiving end of Esther. And verse 2 ends, “And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.”

It’s all getting sorted, isn’t it? But if it was completely sorted, it would be the end of the book. But it isn’t, and it can’t be. Why? Because the big issue is unresolved. And the big issue is that the edict for the destruction of the Jewish people still stands. And the reason it still stands is because of the law of the Medes and the Persians. It can’t be revoked. It’s not as if he can just say, “Oh, forget that one. It doesn’t really matter.” No, he is bound, the king is bound, by the decision that he had allowed to be made.

And if Esther was only interested in making sure that Haman got his just desserts and that her older cousin was elevated to a position of usefulness, then the whole story would be complete. But she wasn’t. Her life did not revolve around the destruction of Haman and the elevation of Mordecai but rather around the salvation of the Jews. That was her concern. Salvation for herself was not enough as long as her people faced annihilation.

There’s a lesson in there. I’ll leave you to pick it up.

Esther Pleads

Verses 3–6 describe the way in which Esther pleads. Esther pleads, verses 3–6. And she pleads because the Jewish population were still under the domain of an edict that was fast moving towards its expression. And here in verse 3, her approach to the king is very different from her previous approach. You remember last time we said that the way in which she had invited the king to a banquet and then to a second banquet and had worked in such a way as to cause him to, on three separate occasions, in a public manner, express his willingness to do for her what she desired was masterful. It was shrewd; that’s the word that we used. She dealt with him as if she was a chess champion, moving pieces around on the board with consummate cool.

But now look at her: she’s a blubbering mess here in verse 3. Now the floodgates of emotion have opened up. “She fell at his feet and [she] wept and [she] pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite.” Now, she recognizes that the king signed it into law, but it’s not in her best interest to say to “avert the plan that you signed into law. Let’s just stick with Haman for the time being,” the evil man who was an opponent of the Jews. And she falls at his feet. It’s only a matter of hours since Haman had fell at her feet. He fell before the queen, concerned only for himself. She fell before the king, concerned only for her people. She’s asking the king to do the impossible. She’s asking him to revoke the irrevocable.

And from verse 3 to verse 4, she collects herself. The king gives to her an audience—perhaps some time lag between verse 3 and 4 that isn’t identified for us there. Or maybe she just gets ahold of herself the way… I was going to say “the way some ladies do,” but that probably violates some contemporary principle of distinguishing between the sexes and so on. But I’m not really bothered about that. In verse 3, she was just a spluttering mess, and in verse 4, she’s got ahold of herself. And she’s back on her game again: “If … if … if … if.” “If this, if this, if this, if this, then…” And she plays upon her relationship with the king. That’s really what she does. She relies upon both his self-interest and the relationship she enjoys with him. And the rhetoric in her questions—her twofold question—is absolutely crucial. She says, “Listen,” verse 6, “how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?”

Well, that’s the real question, isn’t it? That’s the question that another Jew, when his life was radically grabbed ahold of by God, that’s the question that he asked. It’s an understandable question, isn’t it? Paul in Romans 9: “I[’m] speaking the truth in Christ—I[’m] not lying; my conscience bears … witness in the Holy Spirit…” Why? “… that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. … I … wish that I myself were accursed…” Why? “… and cut off from Christ…” Why? “… for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Why? Because “they are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ,” the Messiah, “who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”[2] Paul doesn’t say, “You know, I met Jesus on the Damascus Road, and he turned me the right way up, and frankly, that’s all that really matters to me now. As long as I’m okay, it doesn’t really matter beyond this.”

No, when a man or a woman is converted, not only are they set in a right relationship with God, but it then becomes apparent to them that those who are unconverted are in a wrong relationship with God and that they, then, must be set right. That’s what she’s saying: “King, I can’t just sit here in the palace, in light of the calamity that is before my people. My kindred are about to be destroyed. Don’t be surprised that I’m weeping and crying before you. I got myself together here in order that I might state my case.” Paul says, “I long that this would be true.” I spoke with one of my Messianic Jewish friends just in the last two or three days, as his mother passed into eternity. And he asked me again, “Pray for her, in the dying embers of her life, that she might turn to Yeshua, that she might embrace him as the only Messiah available to her.” And she wouldn’t, and she didn’t, and she resisted him, firm to the end.

Listen, loved ones: we’re in the same boat. If it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that comes judgment,[3] and if the way to escape the judgment is only, solely, finally, in the cross of Jesus Christ, then only those who come to the cross of Jesus Christ in believing repentance and faith will escape the judgment. So could we just gather here on the Lord’s Day morning and sing songs so that we could feel good about each other? What about the calamity? What about the destruction? Where’s our pleading before the King who holds the lives of men and women in his hands? It’s challenging, isn’t it?

The King Responds

Verses 3–6, Esther pleads. Verses 7–8, the king responds. He responds to Mordecai and Esther as a single entity, and essentially what he says is “Look, I’ve done my part.” That’s verse 7: “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and I had him hanged for you. I got rid of your enemy, and I gave you his estate, and as far as I’m concerned, everything is pretty well sorted.”

Now, if you imagine him saying that—“You know, listen… You know, what else are you looking for from me? I hanged him on the gallows. He intended to lay hands on the Jews; that was the big concern. I’ve now taken from his resources, and I’ve given them to you. Esther, you’ve now given them to Mordecai.” But he must have sensed in their eyes that this was not sufficient for them. And so he operates as he’s done before: he says, “But, you know, if you want, you could do something. You could, I guess, write another edict. You could write it,” verse 8, “in the name of the king. You could seal it with the king’s ring, because I’ve given it to you, Mordecai. And once you do, it cannot be revoked.”

You know, old habits die hard, don’t they? This is quite a character. You would think that after the mayhem that ensued when he took the Fifth the first time—where Haman came and inveigled himself and said, “You know, I could write an edict,” and he said, “Yeah, whatever. Go and write an edict,” and then he suddenly realized that he’s trapped by the edict, that he took his hands off the steering wheel and allowed the man to write—and yet, here he is, he’s going to do it again. He apparently really doesn’t care about his kingdom. I think that’s the facts. He cares about himself. He cares about his power and prestige, his authority and his significance. He knows that he’s unable to revoke the previous edict; that goes back to 1:19. But he is prepared to back the writing of a contradictory edict, so that it’s going to be edict versus edict, and may the best edict win. That’s exactly what happens.

The Decree Is Issued

So, 3–6, Esther pleads; 7–8, the king responds; verses 9–14, the decree is issued.

Now, I’m gonna leave you to do some of the hard work in comparing 3:12–15 with 8:9–14. After all, you’ve got to do something for your homework; I can’t do everything for you. But I think you will thoroughly enjoy seeing for yourselves the way in which the narrator masterfully weaves this account together by using the direct relationship between language that related to edict number one and language that relates to edict number two. I’ll point out just a little for us to get you started.

But what he’s doing is he’s causing us to put our finger, as it were, back in chapter 3, when this second edict, now, is written in order to render the first edict obsolete. It can’t be removed from the statute books. It has to stand. But the second edict can nullify it. Because what Mordecai’s edict is about to do is to reverse Haman’s by giving power to those from whom the power had been taken in the issuing of the first edict. In other words, it was just going to be a great annihilation—a pogrom, a destruction—with the Jewish people being unable to do much to help themselves.

And so, the edict is very, very clear, isn’t it? “[And] the king allowed the Jews,” verse 11, “who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate…” You recognize the language from chapter 3? That’s edict number one: Haman says, “I want you to issue an edict so that the Jews may be destroyed and killed and annihilated.” Mordecai says, “That’s good language. We could use the same language. We’ll just write it in the same way. So we’re going to be allowed to destroy and to kill, annihilate, anyone who comes against us.” And this would be true of “any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods,” and this to take place on that very day when edict number one was to be put into effect. So, in other words, it is exactly edict versus edict.

Now, some of us will be tempted to stumble over this statement of defense. And Debra Reid, in her wonderful little commentary, in a helpful sentence—which I picked up this week—says, “The text needs to be interpreted as it stands, rather than be watered down to accommodate modern moral standards.”[4] Okay? So, “the text needs to be interpreted as it stands.” How is it written? It’s written in light of the Old Testament principle. Which principle? “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”[5] That principle is not about gaining unlimited retribution against an enemy, but it is about ensuring that punishment for a crime matches the damage done by the crime and doesn’t supersede it. So it’s actually a protection in going over the top in retribution.

And when you read the Old Testament, it comes out very clearly. If you understand the activities of modern-day ethnic Israel, you must read it in those same terms. They share none of our concerns. They and other parts of the world are bemused by our Western culture that fails to match the crime with the punishment. So, for example, somebody steals two hundred thousand dollars. And eventually, when it’s gone through the legal system for months and months and months, the person will probably end up spending some months in a place that he really doesn’t want to spend the months. But when he comes out, the person against whom the crime was committed is still out two hundred thousand dollars. Now, from this perspective, boyo should not be lazing around for twelve months, but he should be working and keep working until he’s paid back the two hundred thousand. That way, the punishment would match the crime.

And it’s interesting, isn’t it, in light of where we began, with the notion that we’ve gotta get these TV series resolved, and “while retribution is too big of a biblical concept for me, nevertheless,” says Sara, “the cumulative impact of these people’s wrongdoings has to somehow or another be resolved.” It’s gotta get sorted. That’s the frustration that is part and parcel of so much legality and illegality within our Western world. But here, no problem. And so “the decree was issued in Susa,” verse 14. Verse 15 of chapter 3: “And the decree was issued in Susa.” Decree number one, decree number two.

The Jews Celebrate

Verses 3–6, Esther pleads; 7–8, the king responds; 9–14, the decree is issued; and 15–17, the Jews celebrate. The Jews celebrate.

Esther 3: complete confusion, despair, mourning, sackcloth, weeping, fasting. Chapter 8: joy, light, gladness, honor. Who brings about changes like this—in a city, in a life, in a home, in a heart? Only God.

At the end of chapter 3, following the first edict, you will recall that chapter 3 ends, “[And] the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.”[6] People met with one another and realized what was before them, and understandably so. Now, in the issuing of edict number two, the city is rising up in celebration: “Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown.” If only Kool & the Gang had been around! He could have just walked out into the street and said, “Celebration time, come on!” Right? And it would be like every wedding reception of the last twenty-five years, and just a picture of Mordecai and Esther going crazy in the street. He’s got his robes on, and the whole thing is fantastic. It’s so masterfully written! It’s a great story.

Chapter 3: complete confusion, despair, mourning, sackcloth, weeping, fasting. Chapter 8: joy, light, gladness, honor. Who brings about changes like this—in a city, in a life, in a home, in a heart? Only God. Only the unseen God who is at work in these great absences. That’s what makes it pulsate. That’s what makes the joy. That’s what makes it all that it is.

Mordecai previously couldn’t even go into the king’s presence. He sat out at the gate, and his dress was sackcloth. Now he comes out of the king’s presence, and he is wearing royal robes. Previously, the cries in the city were cries of despair and confusion, “a loud and bitter cry”[7]—chapter 3 or chapter 4—and now the celebration and the joy. In 4:3, the people are mourning, fasting, weeping, and lamenting. In 8:16, there is light, there is gladness, there is joy, there is honor. Do you get it? Mourning, fasting, weeping, lamenting. Light, gladness, joy, honor. What a transformation!

And, in fact, it had such an impact that according to the final sentence of the chapter, there were some who out in the country, either for fear of themselves, or because they always wanted to be on a winning team, or because they had genuinely decided that this Jewish community had an answer to their questions, a number of them “declared themselves Jews.” And that’s there for your follow-up.

Joyful Christianity

Well, how should we end? Someone says, “As quickly as possible.” How should we end?

There’s so many lines that flow out of this, but let’s just take one as our conclusion: the flavor of Christianity is joy. The flavor of Christianity is joy. You say, “Well, that’s…” No, it is. What was the message of the angel? “I bring you good news of great joy [which shall] be for all … people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[8] Good news of great joy. Psalm 16, the psalmist says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; [and] at your right hand [there] are pleasures forevermore.”[9]

Joy, in one sense, is the flag flown high from the castle of our hearts, because the king is in residence. You go to Buckingham Palace; if the flag is there, if the royal standard is there, you know that Her Majesty is in residence. And the Christian population has a flag. It’s not the United States flag! That’s the United States flag. The Christian population has a flag, and on it says “Joy.” And when we teach our children about JOY, we always teach them: “Jesus first, others next, and yourself last.”

But do you think that our contemporary culture has even an inkling of that—that the thing that marks the Christian is joyful celebration? Joyful celebration! I remember the man who was coming home from church, and he saw a donkey looking over the fence with this big, long, gray face. And he said to the donkey, he says, “You must have been at church today as well.” Robert Louis Stevenson writes in his journal, “I have been to Church to-day, and [I] am not depressed.”[10] It’s remarkable, you know, that he finally got through a service without going, “Oh man, that was brutal!” Joy!

Surely if there is unmitigated joy in Susa in fifth-century Persia, the rejoicing of the Christian population today ought to more than match the rejoicing of the Jews in Persia. Says Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his little book Spiritual Depression, “In a world where everything has gone so sadly astray, we should be standing out as men and women apart, people characterized by a fundamental joy and certainty in spite of conditions, in spite of adversity.”[11] That’s so very important, isn’t it? ’Cause it’s not a superficial joy that says, “Everything is great,” because everything isn’t great. It’s not a superficial approach to life that says, “But that doesn’t really matter.” Yes, it matters. But it is a deep-seated conviction that even through the tears, even through the sadness, even through the pain, even through the cancer, even through the loss, even through the divorce, even when I think that all my options are done and there is no chance left, that in that and in there, there is a joy that is unspeakable, and it’s just full of God.

When the hymn writer fastens on that in a hymn that begins, “Through all the changing scenes of life,” the hymn writer says,

Of his deliverance I will boast,
Till all that are distressed
From my example courage take
And soothe their griefs to rest.[12]

“Of his deliverance I will boast till all that are distressed from my example courage take and soothe their griefs to rest.” We’re supposed to be a means of that happening.

When, in the early ’80s, we used to sing a song based on Isaiah 61, we sang, “He gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for [a] spirit of heaviness.”[13] Isaiah 61 is the passage that Jesus read: “I’ve been anointed to preach good news to the poor, to deal with those who are brokenhearted and disheartened,” and to discover a joy that is found in him alone. Because Jesus then says to them, “And today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”[14]

Well, our time is gone. Let me just end with a question: Are you sorted? Are you sorted? Have you got these big questions sorted: who God is, why he has come in the person of Christ, what this joy means, how it is found in repentance and faith? That’s why we’re studying the Bible: because it’s a book about Jesus, introducing us to him and telling us a story that is just so unbelievably good that if you ever understand it, you’ll think it isn’t true, or it’s so unbelievably good that if you ever really understand it, you’ll say, “How could it ever possibly apply to me?”

Well, what happens is he takes all of our rags of our moral righteousness, or our moral corruption, or our religious indifference, or our religious affectations, and he grants to us robes that clothe us with the credentials necessary to live as his ambassadors and to die as his friends. And if you ever laid hold of those robes, you’ll know for sure that you don’t deserve them. If you think you deserve them, you probably don’t have them. But if you have ’em, you’ll know you don’t deserve them. Because it’s about grace, not about earning.

It’s a great story. Still got a couple of chapters left.

Let’s pray:

Now, gracious God, look down upon us and help us. Because we have to think these things out, and some of us are aware of being at the end of a road that seems to have no more options left, no more exits on the freeway left to us, and before us just seems to stand a great emptiness. Help us to find that the Lord Jesus, Savior, stands in between us and that great yawning emptiness, with his arms stretched, opened wide to gather us up in his embrace and to clothe us with the robes of his righteousness. Fulfill your purposes, we pray, in us and through us, for your Son’s sake. Amen.

[1] John Jurgensen, “How ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale Can Stick the Landing,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2013, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304526204579097430735706624.

[2] Romans 9:1–5 (ESV).

[3] See Hebrews 9:27.

[4] Debra Reid, Esther: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008), 136.

[5] Matthew 5:38 (ESV). See also Leviticus 24:20.

[6] Esther 3:15 (ESV).

[7] Esther 4:1 (ESV).

[8] Luke 2:10–11 (ESV).

[9] Psalm 16:11 (ESV).

[10] Robert Louis Stevenson, quoted in William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The New Daily Study Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956), 1:117.

[11] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 23.

[12] Nahum Tate and Nichols Brady, “Through All the Changing Scenes of Life” (1698).

[13] Robert Manzano, “Beauty for Ashes” (1976).

[14] Luke 4:18, 21 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.