God promised David that there would always be a remnant and in that promise alone we can rejoice. But we also must be aware that God commands obedience and because of rebellion, even the remnant went into captivity. 2 Chronicles 36:20 “He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.” When you read the book of Esther, you see God’s people in captivity but you also see God fulfilling His promise to David and saving the Jews from annihilation as God always prepares a way for His people. This preparation is seen throughout scripture, for example, we saw Hannah pray. 1 Samuel 1:10 “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” We saw how God used Samuel and then David, Josiah, Paul and others but now He would use Esther and Mordecai to save His people. God had warned His people over and over, but they refused to listen and ended up in captivity and now they were about to be destroyed. 

        You can read the account of this great salvation in Esther. A quick summary tells us Haman hated Mordecai and Haman decided the best way to get rid of him was to wipe out his people. 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.” Haman then tricked the King and put his plan into effect. “12 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.” What Haman didn’t know was that God had already prepared for this. He did not know that Esther, the King’s wife, was a Jew. Mordecai said to Esther, Esther 4:14 “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

        Not only was Esther put in place for such a time as this, we saw God control events. The king couldn’t sleep and had the book of Chronicles read to him and was reminded that Mordecai had not been honored for saving his life. In walks Haman and thinks the king wants to honor him, but his plan starts to backfire. Esther gets involved and again Haman thinks she wants to honor him, but it is here the king finds out about Haman’s plot to kill his wife and the Jews. Then Haman is no longer with us. It really is amazing how God puts things together for His own purposes. Acts 13:36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.” The king then told Mordecai, Esther 8:8 “Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked. 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. 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.” 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. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.”

        It is at this point we should also be filled with joy, knowing there is hope of freedom in our captivity. The people were captives in the land, but they repented and trusted God. 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.” God had already provided a way for them to be saved and the tables were turned on their enemies. Just as the church has been taken captive, God has already provided a way. This is where the story differs as the church doesn’t seem to be aware of its captivity. The problem for the church is the church rebelled against the way, Jesus Christ who gave us Hebrews 10:20 “a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.” The church went their own way and desolation followed which is very similar to Israel and Judah but most don’t know it. There is no other way but Jesus, so the church must turn from their wicked ways and return to the only way, truth and life and follow God’s word. The Jews were mourning and were in great despair because their enemy was about to annihilate them. The church today doesn’t know enough to be in despair, even though the church has been decimated. It is at this point we should rejoice knowing that God will hear our cries of repentance. Greater rejoicing will come on the day of our freedom. God said 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” First of all we need to understand that we should be mourning and humble ourselves and repent for our rebellion. Psalm 51:17 “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Acts 2:37 “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” This promise even in our captivity should bring us great joy.

            When that understanding comes, we need to be joyful knowing that God has a plan already in place to save His people just like we saw in Esther. Then the remnant of the church will rise up and go to the ends of the earth. When you come to the realization that we should be mourning due to the condition of the church, that is good, but don’t stay there but be joyful because God has given us this promise; Jeremiah 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” When we hear His word, our mourning will be changed to joy. Nehemiah 8:5 “Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. 11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve. 12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” Joy comes from the words of God, if you believe them. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” If we trust God’s word, we can be joyful even in our captivity because we know that our Redeemer lives. Knowing that we can repent and God will hear our cry brings us great joy. Jesus said Mark 1:14 “Proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come, The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

             You may think that God has forgotten about you, but His plan will unfold in His time. So be ready to be used by Him. Luke 12:35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. 48 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Your sorrow can be turned into joy and your mourning into a day of celebration. As you wait, be ready and be steadfast. Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Jude 1:24 “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”