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Mar5SunMarch 5, 2017The theme of our Lenten journey this year is “Turning the Tables”. We will be going through the next 42 days focusing on how God defeats our enemies. Acts 26:17 “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” The only way this can happen is through the power of the Holy Spirit, thus our call for revival. We will be looking at many examples of how God has done this throughout scripture. God made a promise to David. Again, wasn’t the sunrise absolutely beautiful. Everyday we have a reminder of God’s love for us. Jeremiah 33:25 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If I have not made my covenant with day and night and established the laws of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.” There will always be a remnant and God will see to that because he made a promise otherwise we would all be destroyed. We also know that Galatians 3:26 in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So we have these great promises but we also know we serve a great and powerful God fully capable of defeating our enemies so that those promises are kept. But remember as Solomon said “those who continue wholeheartedly in your way” not a way but the way. So as we follow wholeheartedly we need to 2 Chronicles 32:7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. 8 With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”So as we go through these days together, we will see just like we looked at Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego already, that God is in control and more powerful than the enemies. Today we are going to look at Esther. This gives us a picture of God saving his people. There will always be a remnant. Esther 9:1 “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.” To turn the tables means “to change a situation so that you now have an advantage over someone who previously had an advantage over you: causes a complete reversal of the circumstances.” I love the Pixar short called Geri’s Game of the old man playing chess against himself. He starts slow but really gets into it. He finds himself losing to himself and is down to his king. He then feigns a heart attack and catches himself off guard. When he gets back the other self isn’t looking and he switches the chess board so that he had all the men and the the other is in checkmate. So he went from being check-mated to winning the game. The table was literally turned. Yes I realize he was playing himself but that is how fast it can change. One minute you appear to be losing and the next victory is yours.In the spiritual world we have absolutely no power to turn the tables on our own. Ephesians 6:12 “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” If this is our battle how in the world do we think we can do it in the flesh? Sure man has proven over and over they can accomplish things on their own but what are they really accomplished? Is it eternal or temporal. It really doesn’t make sense for us to attempt anything without the Spirit of God present in us. Actually it is absurd to think that we are the ones who can change the course of events. It is really easy for us to think we are in charge or it is all up to us to make something happen. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are competent / sufficient in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” We call ourselves Christians but neglect waiting on God and trusting Him and then expecting great things to happen. Its okay God I will do this on my own. Ruth tells us Ruth 1:1 “in the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. On the previous page Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Since today everyone does as they see fit we too have a famine and this famine has been going on for generations. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” This famine means people will not know the Lord. It is also very easy to give up hope and stop believing that God is in charge. As a Christian we must believe God is sovereign over everything including satan. Guess what satan wants you to do it yourself. If you are dependent on yourself you will never see what happened in Esther. God orchestrated the salvation of the Jews. I heard a preacher one time teach that Mordecai orchestrated all the events so that he could be in power. Turns out some people actually believe this nonsense. I actually found a website saying the same thing. How sad. Just because God is not mentioned does not mean he is not at work. No one could have put those events together as we will see in a moment. The book of Esther gives us this picture of God at work to save His people just as his plan of salvation unfolded with Jesus. There are people he chooses to be part of that plan. He was already at work with His plan to save the Jews.I read through the book of Esther yesterday and I suggest you also read the book of Esther to refresh your memory of the events that took place. As we saw in Daniel people hate the Jews. They had a disdain towards them that only grew but as we saw in Daniel the power of God saved them. We see this same contempt; actually it is a murderous hatred of which they looked for ways to dispose of them. The same happened with Jesus. The same will happen with us. Luke 22:2 “the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus.” They wanted him murdered. We also saw in the town of Nazareth where Jesus was been brought up Luke 4:28 “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.” Remember as you follow Jesus wholeheartedly people incited by satan will despise and have contempt for you but be strong and courageous, God will make a way.So God was already at work with the captives taken. He had people prepared for the job. People who were obedieant. Esther 2:5 “Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.” So with these two people, each being used in a different way, God prepared to save his people. I want to say before we go on that you must believe that God is preparing to save you. If you don’t believe that you will not have hope. If you are trying to save yourself stop trying to do it yourself. God is way ahead of the enemy. I know the plans I have for you!So the king needed a new queen and the “king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.” So right away she stood out. Then we have Mordecai who also stood out right at the same time. What are the odds Mordecai would over hear a plot to assassinate the King. So now we have Queen Esther whom Mordecai reveals the plot to and all this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.”Then we have this guy name Haman. He was your upward climber at any cost kind of guy. The king elevated him and gave him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles (and so was his head). 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.” So here we go. Esther 3:5 “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.” This guy not only looked for a way to kill Mordecai but all of the Jews. Yep, so far God nowhere to be seen. So now the stage is set. Esther is right where she needed to be. Faithful Mordecai right where he needed to be and Haman as pompous and proud do what he planned to do. The frightening part is Haman wields a lot of power. So this is what he comes up with. Esther 3:2 “Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.” As it stood the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. This was something that could not be changed. Now God’s plan to save them starts to unfold.Good ole Haman made a crucial mistake. Mordecai had told her to hide her identity as a Jew. Haman was now making war on the Queen and didn’t even know it. But before we get to tables being turned, my favorite part of these events is Haman having to give Mordecai a ride on a horse. The king realized one sleepless night that he had not honoured Mordecai for saving his life. So proud Haman who just happened to be on his way to ask about hanging Mordecai is asked by the King Esther 6:6 “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” So thinking he is talking about him he tells him what he would want done. I would love to have seen his face when the king said go and do all this for Mordecai. 11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” So after a bad day he gets home and his advisors and wife say you will surely come to ruin. He is on a downward slide and about to find out what the tables being turned looks like. Esther then reveals her petition to the king. Esther 7:4 “For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. You think Haman was having a bad day giving Mordecai a ride, he now was terrified as Esther revealed the adversary and enemy the vile Haman. Boo! He then is taken away and hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. One problem down but there still looms the irreversible edict for the annihilation of the Jews.So now another decree is written on behalf of the Jews. Esther 8:11 “The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar.15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” So now the Jews could defend themselves. Esther 9:1 “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.” Esther 10:1 “King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.So there you have it. God is sovereign. He reigns supreme. Do you find yourself worrying about a situation? The most important part is to humble ourselves before God so that he will hear cry. Esther 4:1 “When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” As we continue to wait on God for revival, are we prepared to call out to God for mercy. Yes satan is on the warpath. Yes he will use whoever is willing and there will be great disdain and even hatred for you as you stand before God. So we pray Psalm 140:1 “Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, 2 who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day.” Matthew 10:24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” As God’s truth goes forth this is war but know that the battle is the Lord’s. As 1 Samuel 17:45 “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel.