Mordecai and Esther
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Mordecai and Esther

Esther 2:5–23  (ID: 2964)

In the kingdom of Persia, God was working behind the scenes, using Esther and her uncle Mordecai to bring about His sovereign plan. He gave Esther her beauty, which reminds us to avoid pride and comparison with others. He also gave Mordecai his position, which reminds us of the challenges of living in a pagan culture. While both of them made the questionable choice to hide their faith from Persian authorities, Alistair Begg reminds us that we read Esther not to find specific moral examples but to see God’s sovereignty at work.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Esther

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

Sermon Transcript: Print

We’re reading this morning from the book of Esther and from chapter 2, and beginning with the fifth verse. The hymn that we have just sung, which is a paraphrase largely from the Psalms, could equally well have been sung by Esther. It’s good to bear that in mind: that the God whom we praise is the God of Jacob, Abraham, and Isaac. It’s an amazing thought.

Esther 2:5:

“Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.”

Incidentally, it just made me think there of Moses in the bulrushes and the way in which the passage of the family members was in proximity there, just watching out for Moses—and yet God was watching out for those who were watching out.

“Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women—when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

“When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

“Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.”

Thanks be to God for his Word.

And now, Father, with our Bibles open before us, we humbly look to you, that we might in studying the Bible not read into it anything that isn’t there nor fail to see what is so clearly there. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, as we’ve just noted on the screen, during the week hundreds of children—some 750 or so—have spent the week learning one of the great Bible stories, one of the great stories from the Old Testament. And the plan for the teaching was very carefully prepared, and the teachers were also carefully prepared, as they learned the story of how God sovereignly brought about the preservation of his people and particularly of the part that was assigned to Joseph in the accomplishment of that purpose.

It is a serious misuse of the Bible to make it disclose something that God has chosen not to reveal. It is equally serious when we fail to say what God has so clearly disclosed.

The teachers, I think, would agree with me—although I haven’t checked—that it is not difficult to tell these stories, but it is difficult to tell these stories properly. It is just as difficult to tell the stories properly when you are speaking to children as it is when you’re speaking to adults. There’s a peculiar risk, in addressing children, that we talk down to them and we think to have accomplished our purpose by amusing them rather than actually conveying to them the story so that they might understand the message. The same thing is true in any kind of teaching opportunity, and it extends to the responsibility that falls to me. It’s relatively easy to address a story like the story of Esther and to do so in a way that may be intriguing, at times alarming, whatever, and for certain bits and pieces to be picked up, and yet for people to walk out and not really have any idea about what was going on at all.

Therefore, we have to, in our teaching, always say to ourselves—I say to myself—“Don’t allow the main point to be lost in the details.” Don’t allow the main point to be buried by an overactive imagination, either on your part or on the part of those who listen. Because it is a serious misuse of the Bible to make it disclose something that God has chosen not to reveal. It is equally serious when we fail to say what God has so clearly disclosed, and not least of all in a book like this, which we’ve been trying to study now for a few Sunday mornings, and we’re trying to make progress today—a book in which the name of God is never mentioned, and yet a book in which we are learning how God is providentially at work, preserving his people as a witness for his name’s sake. That really is the story of Esther, the essence of it. There are variations on the theme, but it is making that clear to all of us who would understand. Here, in this particular account, we are learning that God works everything out in order that his people, those whom he has called to himself, might be a witness to his name. And we’ve been trying to teach one another and learn together that when God seems to be absent, he nevertheless is always present and is always working out his purpose.

I think all of us now have a finger in Ephesians chapter 1 as we come back to Esther, so that we might realize exactly the magnitude of what is involved here. And we’ve been quoting these verses from Ephesians 1 to each other, haven’t we? Where Paul, writing to the Ephesians, speaks of the wonder of salvation, and he says that God is “making known to us the mystery of his will”—“the mystery of his will”—“according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”[1]

Now, I went to see how Eugene Peterson had paraphrased that, and I found it quite helpful. You don’t want to ever study from The Message, but it’s useful to have alongside a proper Bible. This is how he paraphrases what I’ve just quoted to you from Ephesians 1:

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we[’re] living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in [everyone] and [everything].[2]

I found that very helpful. I wonder, do you as well? Long before we ever heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, and he had designs for us.

I wonder, do you believe that? Or do you believe the sort of contemporary perspective that God is out there somewhere, and everybody in Cleveland is just desperately looking for him? Apparently, he’s gone on a long vacation, and he’s not coming back. And so you get these stories all the time in the newspaper and on the media saying, “These people were looking for God up this mountain, and they’re looking for him over in the wilderness,” or “They found him up a tree,” or whatever it was, and “Man is just on this dreadful search, but he can’t possibly be found.” Yet no, you read your Bible, you find it’s the exact opposite. You’ve come along to Parkside this morning, and if you read the Bible, you will discover that it is the reverse of this: that God has designs on you, that he is already seeking those whom he chooses to save. It’s wonderful.

And here in the book of Esther, this unfolds for us. And beginning at the fifth verse, we are introduced to—we might refer to them as the hero and the heroine. Esther is largely passive in this. Mordecai is the one who is more active. And so, we will consider them both, beginning with Mordecai himself.

“Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai.” It’s a great sentence. I really, really like this sentence—or half a sentence, is it? There’s a comma there, yeah. “Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai.” It just makes me want to read on. I want to say, “Well, who is he? What’s he doing? What kind of name is Mordecai? Where is Susa? What’s a citadel?”

Do you read your Bible like that? I hope you do. Don’t read it like [monotone], “Now there was a Jew in Susa, his name of Mordecai…” People read the Bible the way they don’t read any other book. They read the Bible, they’re waiting for something to hit them: “Oh, it didn’t hit me.” What did you think was going to hit you? It’s written in the English language. You understand verbs and adjectives, don’t you? Nouns? Prepositions? Read the Bible the same way—investigatively, imaginatively.

“Now there was a Jew there.” Well, why was he there? Well, we’re told that his family had been swept up in the Babylonian invasion, which took place in 597 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar had come in, gathered up a crowd of people, and taken them away into exile. Among them were folks like Daniel, who chose, along with his friends, not to defile himself with the king’s food.[3] Mordecai’s family was part of that company, and it appears that Mordecai, like many second- or third-generation exiles, had a peculiar interest in his country’s welfare.

It’s very interesting, isn’t it? As Americans, we’re in search of our roots, aren’t we? I meet people all the time, they tell me—anyone who tells me they’re from Scotland, they always have had a castle: “Yes, oh yes, I’m Scottish, and we had a castle.” “Oh, you did?” Well, you know, I’ve met a number of people… There’re not enough castles to go around, unless you were all completely from the same family. But it’s fascinating.

I’d say, “Well, where were you born?”

“Oh,” they said, “I was born in Minnesota.”

I said, “Well, I thought you said you were Scottish?”

“Oh, well, I am, but my grandfather’s grandfather’s great-grandmother’s friend came over here in, you know, to the Carolinas in the seventeenth century.”

“Oh, I see!”

And then they tell you all kinds of things about Scotland that you’ve never known, even though you grew up there. I have the embarrassing problem of being asked about the clan warfare in Scotland. I don’t know a thing about it! Nothing about it at all. And they always ask me, assuming that I would know. The first-generation people don’t know. You have to be removed two or three generations; then you have to start looking around for it.

That’s what Mordecai’s doing. He’s removed from it, but he’s trying to figure out how to be a good Jew and a good citizen in Persia: “How can I be a good Jewish boy and a good citizen?” That’s a hard question, isn’t it? It’s the same question that we face as believers today: “How can I be a good Christian and a good citizen? How can I live for Jesus and live in this community? How can I live in such a way that I’m not an obnoxious character, that I’m not a down-in-the-mouth rascal, that I’m not always complaining and moaning and groaning because things are not the way I expected them to be?” Of course they’re not! They weren’t for Mordecai, or for the rest who were there with him. They were a minority in a context that was overwhelmingly opposed to them.

So, we’re told not only a little about his family background and context but also about the fact that he has adopted his cousin. Verse 7 tells us that “he was bringing up Hadassah.” Hadassah is this girl’s Hebrew name. It means “myrtle.” She’s better known by her Persian name, Esther, which means “star.” And we’re given here essentially the elements of this girl who becomes queen. We learn, of course, that she was an orphan—she was an orphan—that her mother and father were gone, at the end of verse 7 there, the middle of 7: “She had neither father nor mother.” And so she was adopted by her cousin, who apparently was much older than her, or significantly older than her, enough to play the role, essentially, of father to her. She was an orphan, she was adopted, and—still in verse 7—she was attractive. She was attractive. “She had neither father nor mother,” but she “had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at.”

Well, we’re beginning to build a picture of her, aren’t we? She had a good figure, and she had a beautiful face. Not everybody who has a good figure has a beautiful face. Not everyone who has a beautiful face has a good figure. She had both. There was a song a long time ago in the charts in England that made this point very straightforwardly. I don’t know if you remember it, but it was—you have to do it in a Cockney accent—but the refrain was: “Nice legs, shame about her face.”[4] Okay? And as it went through, and every time it came back, the same thing: “Nice legs, shame about her face.” So here we go in Esther: nice legs, nice face. She’s the complete package. She’s a star.

So it’s no surprise—it’s no surprise—that she’s included in the pool that is being fished now for a replacement for Vashti. ’Cause he’s, you know, he’s the king. His scouts are out, and she finds herself included. Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that when the pool was finally brought together in the harem, it amounted to some four hundred women.[5] So we’re not talking here about a handful of folks; we’re talking about a significant number of people. And she is part and parcel of that. Verse 15 says that she “was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.” Clearly, her looks were significant in the providence of God. Okay?

So, let’s just say a couple of things. Good looks open doors. Good looks open doors. If you deny that, you’re not living in the real world. But not all the doors that good looks open should be walked through. And good looks are the result of the creative handiwork of God. Therefore, good looks must never be the occasion of self-celebration. Because Psalm 139:[13] tells us that we are intricately wrought in the womb of our mothers. That means that God actually oversees not simply the creation of a person but the creation of a personality, the creation of an identity, the creation of a physicality, the creation of it all. And he has done so purposefully. So, in the case of Esther, he is responsible for how she looks. That’s what the Bible says.

Now, let me ask you: Do you believe that? And if you believe that, please stop comparing yourselves and saying things like “If only I was taller, if only I was fairer, if only I was darker, if only I was whatever I was…” You are what you are by the providential ruling of God. And he don’t make no junk. Right?

God actually oversees not simply the creation of a person but the creation of a personality, the creation of an identity, the creation of a physicality, the creation of it all. And he has done so purposefully.

Now, if you affirm that, realize that when you walk out into tomorrow affirming that truth, believing it and standing by it, you walk out into a world that is increasingly opposed to that notion. You don’t have to go searching for this. You just have to pick up magazines and lay them down. Yesterday I had occasion to pick up Vogue magazine, because there was nothing else there, so it was Vogue. I always have to have something to read; so, it was there, I picked it up. And I came upon an article by a lady—a famous fashion writer in Britain, Sarah Mauer—and she wrote an article concerning Casey Legler, the Olympic swimmer for the United States, who has just been signed to the Ford Modeling Agency—to the male Ford Modeling Agency. So, she’s the first woman to be signed as a male model. Okay? That’s the first thing you should know. In the article, this is what Legler said: “Legler refuses to be pinned down by what she sees as old-think categories of gender.” Now, here we go: “‘I happen to be a woman—sheer luck of the biological roulette.’” Okay?

Now, what I’m trying to do myself and trying to help you to do is to realize that there is a direct connect between studying the story of fifth-century Persia and walking back out into the environment in which we all live our lives, and to learn how, as Mordecai had to learn, to be a good Christian in an environment that doesn’t believe what we believe—so that we do not use such information as a battering ram, but we’re not naive either. And we realize that the story we have to tell—it’s C. S. Lewis again, isn’t it? “I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the sun, not simply because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.”[6] So that Christianity then says, “No, when we come to the issue of the identity of an individual, that individual is not there as a result of biological roulette,” no matter what they say. God made them this way, with all of the pluses and all of the minuses and all of the challenges of human sexuality. If that is not true, then we’re lost.

Now, my purpose is not to wax eloquent on this, or even try to. But let me give you a flavor as the article finishes. This is how the article finishes. It’s quoting 1969—I was seventeen, some of you weren’t even born—1969, Mick Jagger appears on the stage in Hyde Park wearing a frilly dress over his jeans. I don’t know if you remember that. He looked absolutely ridiculous. And everybody knew that he did, and there was a wholesale reaction to it in the British press: “What is this fellow doing? This is this is absurd.” This article, 2013—May 2013—says, acknowledges, says, “Listen, in the world of music and in the world of the arts, this frontier was being pushed back successfully forty years ago. They were doing for us what we needed done, and here’s what we’ve discovered: fashion and music fought the battles for freedom and equality hand-in-hand, and so they do now. With same-sex marriage approaching widespread acceptance and anti-discrimination legislation being steadily broadened to include hate crimes against transgendered people, it’s only right and natural…” That’s a fascinating phrase. “It’s only right and natural…” I never noticed that myself until now. “It’s only right and natural that visions”—here’s the phrase I wanted to note—“that visions of a whole new spectrum of normality…” “Of a whole new spec—” Do you see the skillfulness of language? “It’s only right and natural”? No, it’s not! “That a whole new spectrum of normality…” “I think it’s starting to evolve into something we haven’t seen before.” Really? That’s exciting! “And it’s here to stay.”

You want to live the next two decades here in America as a Christian? Then you better start learning to stop thinking in majority terms. You must start to think in minority terms. For genuine, Bible-believing, affirming, gospel Christianity is in the minority—significantly in the minority. Don’t be alarmed. Why? Because of the story of Esther. What is the story of Esther? That God is preserving a people in the midst of an alien environment so that they might be a witness to his name. Their job was not to take over Persia. Their job was not to bring down the government. Their job was not to shout at the moon and cry the blues. Their job was to learn what it meant for them to affirm their faith in an alien environment.

Now, you say, “Well, can we get back to the story now?” Okay, that’s fine. Yeah. All right. She was an orphan, she was adopted, she was attractive, and she was amenable. She was amenable. She was apparently amenable to this whole idea. Now, if you want a little discussion over coffee, you can talk amongst yourselves, say, “Was it right for her to be amenable?” And you can throw in “Was it right for Vashti not to be? Or was it wrong for Vashti to be and right for Esther to be?” And so you can go on all around, all through lunch and into afternoon tea, discussing it.

And it’s awkward. It’s difficult. When you read the part here, it’s obvious that she comes into the group, and immediately, the fellow who is responsible for them, he takes a shine to Esther, he fast-tracks her, he gives her her beauty treatments right up front, he gets her on the dietary plan that they obviously have, he assigns her seven personal maids from the palace, and when it’s her turn to go in to the king, he coaches her accordingly. And off she goes. And it works out pretty well. In fact, she wins the prize—first prize! She’s the queen.

So, she was amenable, and then the last thing to notice is that she was approved, or she was accepted. Yes, she was accepted! “The king loved Esther,” verse 17, “more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so … he set the … crown on her head and made her [the] queen instead of Vashti.” And then he was so excited about it, he had the big feast, “Esther’s feast,” and then he went about the business of pouring out his generosity on the provinces by way of tax relief and so on.

Well, here she is. We know, because we’ve read on—at least some of us—that she’s now in a position to be able to help her people. But do you think that’s what she was thinking about? I doubt it very much indeed. You’re sensible people. You can figure this out. There’s no indication of that at all. No, she’s an orphan. She’s been brought up by her cousin. There’s a beauty pageant. She enters it. She’s got a good chance, and she comes out on top. Now she’s the queen. It’s gonna be a chapter or so before her cousin says to her, “Who knows but you came to the kingdom for such a moment as this? I mean, the whole reason that you’re actually here is for something far more significant than that you can wear a crown on your head.”[7] But as we’ve said all the way through, in the immediacy of things, the providences of God are seldom self-interpreting.

And no matter what we say about that, would you agree that it isn’t necessary for us to approve of the path that she’s taken? Do you understand that distinction? We recognize that God is providentially in control of the drama that is taking place in her life. We affirm that. The Bible makes it clear. But we don’t have to say that the decisions that she made along the way were all good decisions. ’Cause I don’t think they were. Do you think that the average Jewish mother would be thrilled to find out that her Hadassah was sleeping with an uncircumcised pagan king? As a Jew? No way! Do you think that the average Jewish father would be thrilled to know that his Hadassah had gone undercover in Persia and refused to let anybody know about her kindred or her background or about her identity? I don’t think so.

I’m pointing this out so that we might recognize that these events are not as tidy as we might wish. And we ought to be encouraged. Because the events of God’s providence in our lives are not as tidy as we might wish. Review your life and realize that not all your decisions were good ones, not all your plans were selfless, and yet God in his providence has brought you to this day.

Now, we need to stop, so let’s just notice that Mordecai’s pragmatism really works to his good here, whether we like the idea or not. In verse 10, he had commanded Esther to conceal her Jewish identity. He was a pragmatist. He decided, “It’s better if you go undercover. I don’t think anything is gonna be served at the moment by you coming out and declaring yourself.” He then puts himself in the right place to observe the proceedings. In verse 11, he is walking “in front of the court of the harem” in order “to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.”

In Esther we find a God who is committed to the welfare of his people, working out all things even when he is apparently most hidden.

In verse 22, it is his position “at the king’s gate” that is mentioned twice in the closing verses that gives him the knowledge of an assassination plot, which allows him to use that as an opportunity to curry favor with the king. Webb, in addressing the awkwardness, as he puts it, of trying to decide some of the questions that are raised by the actions of Esther and Mordecai, has a wonderful sentence where he says, “They may be [heroes], but they are at best heroes of questionable morality and orthodoxy.”[8] Heroes, yes, but “of questionable morality and orthodoxy.” They are not possessed of the same propriety and boldness of Joseph or of Daniel. And when we come up against this and begin to think these things through, we realize why people have largely ignored the book of Esther. Calvin apparently never preached a sermon on it in all of his ministry. Luther regarded it with real hostility. Luther did not like the Jewish nature of it. Luther had problems.

What’s the problem? Well, we’ve just come full cycle to where I began. Remember I said at the beginning, it’s very difficult to tell these stories in the proper way. Not difficult to tell the stories; difficult to tell it in a proper way. And here’s where it goes wrong: when we look to anyone other than God himself as the hero.

Who is the hero in the story of Joseph? God. Who is the hero in the story of Naomi? God. Who is the hero in the story: Moses, Esther? It’s God. God in his providence has granted to each of these individuals a little piece in the unfolding drama. But if we’re not determined to tell of God as the First and the Last, as the Alpha and the Omega, when we tell these stories, then we should just leave the stories alone. Because they will just end up being moralizing. They’ll just end up being, you know, “Esther did a good thing, and you should too,” or “He did a bad thing, and you ought not to do a bad thing.” And that would be perfectly fair. Except that’s not what we’re supposed to learn! What we’re supposed to learn is that we look past the examples of Esther and Mordecai to a God who, even in their dubious responses, even in their questionable orthodoxy, in their questionable morality, is ordering all things according to the eternal counsel of his will. So, we find a God who is committed to the welfare of his people, working out all things even when he is apparently most hidden.

And I say to you again, loved ones: this biblical worldview is one whereby we affirm our trust in the unspoken lessons of an unseen God. And to go back out into the week and do that and say that in a world that is largely deist or pantheist is very quickly to be regarded as strange and weird. It’s okay to be regarded as weird for our view of the world as given to us by the Bible. Some of us have managed to be regarded as weird and difficult for less virtuous reasons, and we ought to repent of that.

In talking with these fellows—these guys, both in the various movies here—I was just saying to them, you know, how thrilled I am that they are in that environment to live for Christ, to affirm these things, and to do so in a way that recognizes that for them to do so is not whistling in the dark, it’s not putting on rose-colored spectacles, it’s not pretending that things are other than they actually are, but it is simply to bow beneath God’s majesty, to rest in his sovereignty, and to live in the security which is the birthright of all who belong to him.

And when you look down at the final sentence of chapter 2 and you read, “And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king,” you say to yourself, “Well, there’s an apparently inconsequential little sentence.” No! If he hadn’t written it down, he couldn’t have read it when he was suffering from insomnia. And if hadn’t read it when he was suffering from insomnia, then he would never have known what Mordecai did. And if he… And if… And if… And if… And if…

Are you bowing beneath God’s majesty? You take your identity and your sexuality and say, “God, I know you put me together like this. Now, because you put me together like this, I’m gonna have to live as you have made me within the moral framework of what you have ordained is in and out. That may seem really hard to do, but I’m gonna do it, because not only will I bow beneath your majesty, but I will rest in your sovereignty. I don’t want to believe for a minute that I am a random collection of molecules, just a product of biological roulette. I can’t believe that. I can’t sleep at night with that. But I want to find security in who you are and in your love for me and in your care for me.” If you’re prepared to do that, you’ll discover that God’s gonna meet you more than halfway. ’Cause he’s the one who actually inclines your heart.

Father, thank you. Oh, help us not to put into this story what isn’t there, and help us not to leave out what is obviously there. We bow down before you. You are a good God. We bow in the awareness of the mystery of your will that you have chosen so that in the fullness of time, in Jesus, everything might be united in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Help us to hang on, Lord, the way your people hung on in fifth-century Persia, in the awareness that you are God. And we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

[1] Ephesians 1:9–10 (ESV).

[2] Ephesians 1:11–12 (MSG).

[3] See Daniel 1:8.

[4] John Ford, “Nice Legs Shame about the Face” (1979).

[5] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 11.6.2.

[6] C. S. Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?,” in The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 140. Paraphrased.

[7] Esther 4:14 (paraphrased).

[8] Barry G. Webb, Five Festal Garments: Christian Reflections on the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, New Studies in Biblical Theology 10., ed. D. A. Carson (Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic, 2000), 120.

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.