There was a dog that just could not stand for another dog to get the best of him in any way. One day the dog came across a chunk of meat that had fallen off a butcher truck. The dog picked up the meat and started running with it. All was going well until he started across a bridge with water underneath. He noticed, there under the bridge was another dog with a big steak in his mouth. He began to growl at the dog, and it looked as though the dog was growling back at him. He got so upset that he went to bark at the dog, and when he opened his mouth, the steak fell out into the river and sank to the bottom never to be seen again. Only then did he recognize he was looking at a reflection of himself in the water. When those feelings of anger rose up inside of him, all he had to do was “just let it go” and he would have enjoyed that steak.
ILL. A couple of years ago in Little Rock, a man was driving with his family, and was rudely cut off by a taxi driver. It really made him angry. When the traffic stopped, he jumped out of his car to give the driver a piece of his mind, and maybe even a piece of his fist. When he went after the taxi driver, the driver responded by pulling out a gun and firing. The man fell dead in front of his wife and his kids. He never thought that decision to get even would cost him is life, and his family untold suffering and grief. All he had to do to avoid this tragedy was too “just let it go” when he felt wronged.
Jesus came with a strong message dealing with revenge. He said in Matthew 5:38-39 "You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
This one verse is enough to keep some people from giving their lives to Jesus Christ. They’re thinking, “I’m not going to be a wimp”, “nobody is going to take advantage of me”, “if they hit me I’m going to hit them back.”I hear so often when someone is in trouble, “well she should not have called me a name, or he hit me first.” Yet this person is the one in trouble, and not the other one.
In sports, the person who usually gets the penalty is the one who responded to an injustice in anger. In school, the person who is usually in the principal’s office is the person who was getting even. In life, the person who usually ends up in prison, is the one who is getting back at somebody.
When Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, he is telling us to choose to live on a higher level and leave the idea of revenge to God. Think for a moment, who is it that you might have an idea of getting revenge against this day?
Is it an ex-spouse who did you wrong. Is it your child’s father or mother who’s acting the fool? Is it someone who has taken the person you loved? Is it a boss whose mean or a co-worker who has stolen credit for your work?
Is it someone who has cheated you out of something that rightfully belonged to you? Is it someone who has hurt you because of something that was said or done? All of these situations lead to the desire to get even, to get revenge. Some people plot and plan for a long time before they finally strike back. Action movies and popular novels…
There is a lot more to following Christ than showing up at church. To follow Jesus means a willingness to be obedient to God, even when it hurts and you don’t feel like it. You cannot be a wimp and follow Jesus Christ. You truly have to be a person of courage and of faith.
Romans 12:17-19… In other words, God is saying, “I saw the wrong that was done, now just let it go.” But God, we’re talking about my money here. God says yes, but “just let it go.”
You trust God to be able to make wrong right. Anybody can respond with a fight or a gun, but only the few and powerful can give it over to God. And this is a very important aspect of God’s plan of Salvation – restoring the image and likeness of God in fallen humans like me and you…
There are 4 major lessons we learn from the book of Esther:
1. God has a plan for your life.
2. Satan has a plan for your life.
3. You have a choice.
4. God has the answer.
1. God has a plan for your life. As you know the Jews rebelled against God by serving other gods and God let them be carried into captivity. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was carried into captivity by Assyria followed by Southern Kingdom - Judah which was carried into captivity by the Babylonians.
This wasn’t the end of the story for Israel, because God had a plan for them. His intention was to bring them back from captivity and the book of Esther gives us a glimpse of God’s plan of salvation.
In fact, God had in mind a much larger plan of salvation than just bringing the Jews back to their homeland, you see, God planned all along that a savior would be born in Bethlehem to a Jewish family, and that that child would grow up to be the savior of the world. His name - JESUS.
In order for Jesus to be born to a Jewish family in Bethlehem, God had to release the Jews from their captivity and bring them back to their homeland. The account of Esther begins in 483 B.C. some 37 years before Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls.
Now we are in the 3rd ch. Of Esther… Mordecai told the fresh Queen Esther to keep her identity as a Jewess concealed, and so she did. Xerxes probably didn’t care where she was from, hey – he was in LOVE and he had a new Queen.
Mordecai had a job at the palace as one of the security officers - while on duty at the palace he uncovered a plot to assassinate the King. Mordecai told Queen Esther who in turn informed the King and the assassins were caught and hung. The incident was quickly forgotten.
We’ll come back to this point that God has a plan for your life, but consider this…. God was setting in motion the plan of salvation for the Jews and he was using another unknown, virgin, Jewish girl to make it happen. Sound familiar?
2. Satan has a plan for your life. Esther 3:1-15 God’s plan with Israel was awesome…Another pattern that emerges is the Devil’s desire to destroy the Jews. Why did Satan work so hard to destroy the Jews? He tried to kill all the baby boys in Egypt – Why? Because he knew a type of a savior was going to be born – that savior (small “s”) was Moses. The Devil likes it when people are in bondage to him. The children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt and Satan wanted to keep them there until anything spiritually will be erased from their memory.
God had other plans, and he miraculously delivered Moses from sure death, and he went on to lead the Jews out of slavery. Then Satan started working overtime to try to spoil God’s plans for the Jews. He tried to destroy the Jews when he led them into the rebellion, idolatry and witchcraft for which they were exiled to Assyria and Babylon.
And now, Satan hatched a plan to kill the entire population of Jews. We shouldn’t be surprised because Jesus said of Satan that in John 10:10, “that he comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”
Satan knew that if he could wipe out the Jews, he would spoil God’s plan of salvation for the world. Do you recall that King Herod ordered all the baby boys born in Bethlehem during the time of Christ’s birth to be killed? Who do you suppose put that idea in his head? Satan thought he was finally successful the day they nailed Jesus to the Cross at Calvary. Oh, was he in for a surprise!
When the church was born Satan didn’t stop pushing for his plan. Historically, Satan has tried to eliminate both Christians and Jews. He was highly successful during the middle ages and more recently with the Jewish holocaust in Nazi Germany. Listen, Satan hates God’s people. He wants nothing better than to kill you, rob you and destroy your soul. Satan has a plan for your life – his plan is to stop you from achieving God’s intended purpose for your life. Don’t let him do it! This leads us to our 3rd point:
3. You have a choice. A choice of faith which involves risk or a choice to do nothing (which also has a risk – the risk of losing it all). Let’s go back to the book of Esther and meet a man by the name of Haman. Now Haman did not know God. But as far as this world was concerned, he was top dog, he was the man, and he had it all going on for him. King Xerxes had elevated Haman to the #2 position in the kingdom. He had great wealth as well.
When Haman walked by, the people were to treat him as some kind of a junior god. They would kneel down and pay honor to him. The king even commanded that they do so. All this praise and attention caused Haman to get a really big head. Now in the kingdom of Xerxes which stretched from India to North Africa, God’s people the Jews were scattered throughout the kingdom. Some of the Jews had a real problem bowing down to a man. They knew that God and God alone deserved to be worshiped. No doubt some of the Jews bowed, just to stay out of trouble.
But one guy, by the name of Mordecai would not bow down when Haman passed by… Imagine the top leader of Persian Empire riding and looking as people on the left & right are kneeling down. But one man, Mordecai is standing… How embarrassing…
One of the things that lead to us being hurt, is to have an over estimated opinion of who we are. Haman just knew he was somebody, and everybody was going to worship him and give him the respect he was due.
Sometimes we forget that we are not as important as we think we are. If we remember that we are here to serve Jesus Christ in every situation we find ourselves in, we realize there are plenty of insults that come our way. Yet often all we have to do is “just let it go.”
If somebody spit in our face, most of us would forget all about Jesus and come down like a nuclear bomb on the person. Yet that may be our moment of truth in our faith. Somebody might turn to Christ depending on how they observe our response.
People spat in Jesus’ face too, and Jesus said, whatever they did to me, they will do to you also. Jesus did not spit back. He kept his mouth closed.
Haman took Mordecai’s action as spit in his face. He was so angry, just killing Mordecai was not going to be enough. He wanted to wipe out every person that had Mordecai’s background. He wanted to kill every Jewish person, man, woman, boy, girl, and the elderly whether they had bowed down to him or not.
He was even willing to pay a large sum of his money to help the people carry out this plot. He convinced the king that a certain group of people were a threat to his kingdom and did not deserve to live because they would not obey the king’s laws.
He didn’t mention Mordecai’s name because he probably didn’t want the king to know that this was really about a personal vendetta. He didn’t even mention it was the Jews he was after. He simply called them a certain group of people.
The King accepted what Haman said. He let Haman write out the law. Haman had rolled the dice to decide what day and month this massive slaughter of people was going to take place. It was going to be on the twelfth of the month of Adar. Adar would correspond to our month of February.
4. Gad has the answer. The circumstances were so extreme, only to demonstrate the danger of not following God’s plan as 1st choice… Obedience to Him and His commandments no matter the cost. Haman is passing by the gate every day, to see the king…Self confident, proud. And at the gate, Mordecai standing. Ah! How dare you? Do you know who I am? I am the god of this world, I have the power over you, I can keep you here alive outside of king’s palace IF you… worship me! Worship!
Luke 4 NKJV – Jesus temptation… (read) Temptation 40 days… Satan revealing his plan/desire – worship me! Worship was and still central in God’s plan with you and me… Who & What you worship is your Master/Savior… Worship money? Money= your savior... Haman took Mordecai’s integrity very personal. He was so angry; just killing Mordecai was not going to be enough. He wanted to kill every Jewish person, man, woman, boy, girl, and the elderly whether they had bowed down to him or not.
"Satan will arouse indignation against the minority who refuse to accept popular customs and traditions.“(PK 601)" The Apocalypse of John tells of a time when those who refuse to worship the beast will be under threat of death. READ Rev. 13:15-17.
ILL. Dietrich Boenhoffer story… His integrity cost him his life, but saved thousand of Christians who were uplifted by his example…
1. God has a plan for your life.
2. Satan has a plan for your life.
3. You have a choice.
4. God has the answer.
Call… Make the choice for Jesus today!