Old Hope

Pastor Jerry Gillis - July 11, 2021

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.  
  2. What was one thing that God was showing you through Sunday’s message? 
  3. Read Romans 15:4. How did the story from the book of Esther provide you with hope? Be specific.  
  4. Why is it so important to understand that God is never absent – even when it might seem like he is? How does the reality of God’s presence change how you experience difficulty?  
  5. In light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today, how will you apply this “old hope” to your current life circumstances and obey what God is teaching you?  


Sermon Transcript

So, I recently read the story of a man who was in Albany, New York. And he had recently retired from a career in journalism and he decided as anybody who has recently retired, "what am I doing next? What am I going to do with my life?" And he was trying to figure that out. And he started with just doing what his wife told him, and that was clean out the garage. Right? So he goes into this garage that he hasn't touched in so long. And as he begins moving things around and dusting off some things, he finds this little metal tin, and he has never seen it before. Doesn't know what it is. And as he writes, he says, "well, I dusted it off. And there was this nice little design on the top. And I thought, well, I'm going to open this, maybe I'm not sure exactly what it is. It's been here for a very long time." And so he opens that up and inside, he finds a few little small envelopes and he thinks to himself, "I wonder what's in the envelopes. And he opens the envelopes and sees within them some seeds. And he thinks, "huh, that's weird." But he looked again in the tin and he also saw a letter that had a 3-cents stamp on it and was postmarked from May of 1940. He opened the letter and he began to read it. And he realized that it was a letter that was written to the original owners of the home. And it was from someone who apparently had passed by and who they'd had a discussion about hibiscus. And so as a result, these folks ended up writing a letter and sending with it some hibiscus seeds and they were still in the envelope, so the original owners of the house had not even used them. So now this guy is looking at the seeds and he's thinking to himself, "These seeds are over 80 years old. I wonder if they would still grow." And so he takes them and he plants them in his yard. And then he begins asking people after a week and two weeks and three weeks of nothing. He starts asking people who know their way around the stuff, "Is there any chance these seeds are gonna grow?" And a lot of them were saying, "Oh, I'm not really sure, they're 80 years old, right? I don't know if they're really gonna grow." And then somebody else said, "Maybe, but I doubt it." And then he looked back at the letter and it said, "Hey, be patient. These are hibiscus seeds. It takes them a little while." And so it was like, "Okay." And he kind of forgot about them. Sure enough, I don't know how long it was later, weeks or months or whatever. He goes out, and he starts to see some sprouts and they begin to grow. And when he tied up this little writing that he did, he said it was just remarkable for me because here I am as an older man who has retired from my career in journalism, wondering what in the world I'm going to do. unless I clean out my garage, I find some old seeds and I plant them, and as they began to grow, it gave me hope. Because I thought to myself, if those old seeds can still grow, then maybe this old seed can still grow too. Old hope. If I were describing maybe a summary of the old Testament, the Hebrew scriptures, everything that comes before. Matthew, mark, Luke and John and company. If I were describing the old Testament, I might could summarize it in that two word phrase, "Old hope." In fact, I wouldn't be alone in that kind of description because when the Apostle Paul was writing to the church at Rome, he actually references the old Testament or the Hebrew scriptures, the things that were written in the past. And I want you to hear what he says about them. It's not where we're going to spend our time today, but I want you to hear what he says about them. Here's what he says in Romans chapter 15, "For everything that was written in the past," talking about the old Testament scriptures, right? "Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope." You see, that's how the apostle Paul was viewing what came before, the old Testament scriptures. He says with the endurance that they actually kind of move us toward and the encouragement that they provide, what they will give us as they teach us is hope. Old hope. Hope's been around for quite some time, hasn't it? I mean, the truth is that we all could use a little bit of hope these days. I don't think I'm alone in saying that, I'm I alone in saying that? we could all use a little bit of hope these days? I mean, as I think about it, it's kind of in my own mind, I think to myself, we live, it seems in a world that just wants to rage against hope. Everything seems so despairing and so foreboding. Our circumstances often seem dark and seem hard. Maybe our lives aren't going the way that we thought that they should go, the way that we had planned for them to go, the way that we had hoped that they would go. Maybe we realized that our values and beliefs as followers of Jesus Christ are becoming less and less tolerated in the world that we live in and it feels a little bit hopeless. Our circumstances some times seem trying. The trials that we walk through, seem trying. Maybe what we need is we need some old seeds to grow in our lives. Maybe we need experienced some old seeds growing so that it will fill us with hope. So today, what I wanna do is I wanna take you to a time of crisis for the Jewish people in the old Testament, so that we can see the seeds of hope that are going to sprout in our own lives. Because the old Testament was given to us to teach us that with the encouragement that they give us and with the endurance that they help move us toward, it would give us hope. So I wanna take you back to the 5th century BC, right? This is a long time ago. 400 plus years before the time of Jesus. And it's in a town called Susa, which is the Persian capital. And so if I were talking to you about that in modern day geography, it would be in the country of Iran. That's where we would be at this point, right? Susa, what's going on there? Well, there's a version king and there's a Persian capital that's there where all the Jewish folks are. They had been through the Babylonian captivity, and now they're under in rule, these Jewish people. And it's a time of incredible crisis. What's the content of the crisis? No less than the extermination of the Jewish people. This is, what's a foot in this particular Persian kingdom. And where are we find a record of this in the old Testament so that we can look to it and gain some hope is in a book that's titled after one of the antagonist in the story, her name is Esther. So I want us to go to the book of Esther. If you're wondering where that is, it's in the old Testament, look it up in the table context. You can find it right before Ezra and Nehemiah. It's Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, right? Before that, you can go back further if you want to. Joshua judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Thank you very much. We can all remember those songs in our head, right? When we learn those books of the Bible. ♪ Ezra, Nehemiah ♪ I don't think it went like that. So I gave you... What I did is I just bought you a little bit of time to find the book of Esther. I'm gonna be taking some select passages from the book of Esther, because I'm actually gonna summarize the whole thing today. You're like, wait a minute, isn't this like a lot of chapters. It's a handful. We're gonna summarize them all. And I'm gonna do that relatively quickly. In fact, as we open up the book of Esther, we're introduced to kind of one of the characters in the story. He's to me, not one of the main characters, but he's kind of introduced that way, King Ahasuerus. He's also known as Xerxes I. Depending on your translation, you'll see both of those names and same guy, right? Not two guys, it's one guy. We'll call him Xerxes 'cause it's easier to say and easier to remember than King Ahasuerus, all right? King Xerxes I. Now, he's super wealthy and he wants everybody to know it. He's had a couple of kind of misfortunes in war, but he's coming back now. And he wants everybody in his kingdom to recognize how wealthy and how powerful and how awesome he is. And so what he does is for 180 days, he allows all the citizens of Susa to see how awesome and wealthy and wonderful he is. And then at the conclusion of that time, when he's shown off everything, he actually has a seven-day festival or feast for all the citizens of this, of the Citadel of Susa. Which would be pretty cool. It's like we get invited to a banquet, and I don't know when you would go and how he set all of that up. But anyway, the citizens are invited to this banquet that he's going to host. And while he's there, he's also showing off a variety of things. Well, he also wants to show off his wife, Queen Vashti. And he calls for her and has some of his folks, summon Queen Vashti to come to the banquet because he wants to show her off too. And she says, "I'm not coming." He's like, "I'm sorry, what?" "I'm not coming." So he consulted with some of the wise people in his council and he basically decided to make an example of her because you don't just tell the king that you're not doing something. That's just not how it went in the ancient world. You didn't just say to the king. "I don't think so." 'Cause the king will go, "I'm gonna kill you." Right, that's kinda how that went. And so he decides to basically dethrone Queen Vashti, takes away her crown, takes away her privileges, takes away her power. And that's what we learn in chapter 1. And chapter 1, we've got this picture that King Xerxes is really powerful, really wealthy, and he's going to get his own way in the story. So when we go to chapter 2, it's interesting because chapter 2 gives us kind of the middle Eastern version of a Persian beauty pageant. Now they're having tryouts for who gets to be the next queen. And so they're all these women from different places are going to be a part of this process of determining who's gong to be the queen, it's gonna take quite some time because they actually would take a lot of time to prepare them and get them ready. Literally, a year's worth of beauty treatments. Some of you are going, okay, cool, right? But a year's worth of beauty treatments, they're giving these women before they're presented to the king and then he's going to make his choice who the queen is. And while all of this is getting ready, this big Persian beauty pageant, we're introduced, in chapter 2, to the two protagonists in our story. Here, see who they are. It says, "Now there was in the Citadel of Susa, a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin named Mordecai," remember him. "Son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish," the son of a lot of people. "Who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah." Now you're going, who is that? "Whom he had brought up because she had neither father, nor mother." She had been orphaned. "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 here in chapter 2, we're introduced to Mordecai and to Esther or Hadassah, which was her given name. We'll use Esther because we're more familiar with that name today. And so what we learn is that Mordecai had actually, in chapter 2, told Esther not to reveal her heritage. Not to tell them that she's Jewish. He didn't know what kind of problem that might cause. And so she didn't reveal that she was Jewish. She was going through now, one years worth of beauty treatments. And wouldn't you know it, after the king had kind of sampled all of these women, he ends up picking Esther. He thinks she's beautiful, he's attracted to her. He wants her to be the new queen, and thus, she becomes the queen. Now, he still doesn't know that she's Jewish, right? But she becomes the queen and Mordecai who is kind of her adopted dad, now does what any good dad would do. He stands at the King's gate every single day and he's paying attention to where she's going and what she's doing. And he wants to just kinda keep an eye on her. Well, as Mordecai is at the King's gate, keeping an eye out for his adopted daughter, Esther, he overhears the guards at the King's gate, talking about an assassination plot against Xerxes. Mordecai's like, that's not good. So he gets word to Esther that there's an assassination plot, a foot. And she brings that word to the king. The king, and by the way, the Bible is very clear. Esther gives Mordecai credit for having done so. She tells the king, this came from Mordecai. So the king finds out about the people who are gonna kill him and has them killed, that's just how it went back in the day. "Oh really, so I've discovered an assassination plot. Okay, cool, what am I gonna do? You're dead." That's what happened. So they're impaled, they're gone, they're dead. And what happens is the king had a book called, "The Annals of the King" and they would write historical events in that book. And so they recorded in that book, what Mordecai had done, how he had thwarted this assassination plot, which was really remarkable. And it was written down in the King's book. Remember that, it becomes important later on. That was a beautiful thing, and as a wonderful thing. And when we turn our attention to Chapter 3, we now are introduced to what we would call the antagonist of the story, right? We've met Mordecai and Esther who were keys in this story in chapter 2. We met King Xerxes, who's kind of a central character in the story, but we're kind of trying to... Supposed to be impressed by his power in Chapter 1, but when we get to chapter 3, we're introduced to the antagonist. His name is Haman. Here's what it, it says about him in chapter 3, beginning of verse one, "After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of some of..." Son of that person. "Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other Nobles. All the royal officials at the King's gate, knelt down and paid honor to Haman for the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. Them royal officials at the King's gate asked Mordecai, why do you disobeyed the King's command? Day after day, they spoke to him, but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai's behavior would be tolerated for he had told them he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai's people were," that they were Jewish. "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." Man, this went from bad to super bad, didn't it? We're introduced to Haman. And what we see is that Mordecai had an awakening of sorts. He recognized that all these people are bowing in honor and in homage to Haman and Mordecai kind of realized in that moment, I'm a Jew. We don't do that. We don't do that. And so he obviously confessed that he was a Jew to those that were talking to him and Haman was incensed that Mordecai would not bow down and wouldn't honor him. And then when he found out he was a Jew, he was not just mad at Mordecai, he wanted to kill everyone. So check this out, Haman went from being homicidal, "I wanna kill Mordecai." To genocidal, "I wanna kill all of Mordecai's people. I want to take out all of the Jews." This went from homicide to genocide in a hurry. And why in the world, you kind of think to yourself, that seems irrational for this guy, Haman. Why would he wanna kill every single one of Mordecai's people, he's mad at Mordecai, why does he want to kill all the Jews? Good question, thanks for asking. Because you're reminded when it describes who Haman is, It says that he's an Agagite. Agag was the king of the Amalekites. And if you remember back from Exodus chapter 17, God had said, "I'm gonna wipe out the Amalekites. Like they're awful horrifyingly, bad people. I'm wiping them out." And eventually they were supposed to all be wiped out because in the time of Samuel, if you remember, God spoke to Samuel to talk to King Saul, to say, "You're to take them all out, don't leave anybody." Saul left some. He disobeyed the Lord and he left some. And so there were still Amalekites around. That's who this guy was. And he's probably thinking back to that battle where all of these Israelites killed all of these Amalekites. And he's not only angry at Mordecai, he wants ethnic revenge against the Jews as an Amalekai. So now you can start to understand why he went from being homicidal to genocidal. So what he did is he convinced... When we read this in chapter 3, he convinced the king, he said, "Hey, the Jews, they're bad news. They're breaking the law, they're bad news. And so what I want you to do king, most honorable king. I want you to sign with your ring, put your premature on there. And I want to make a law, an edict that comes from you that says, 'On a particular day, at a particular time, I'll cast lots for it.'" That's where the word pur, comes from, P-U-R in the Hebrew language. Pur means casting lots. "I'm gonna cast lots and whatever lots come up on that day, we're gonna exterminate all the Jewish people." King said, "Okay, if you say so, if they're all that bad, okay, we'll take them all out." So the king sent out that edict everywhere. Well, when we get to chapter 4, here's what happens. Mordecai receives news of this. He reads basically the edict that the king has sent out and he's not doing well with it. He's absolutely mourning and destroyed by all of this. Esther finds out that Mordecai is really, really sad and mourning and she doesn't know why. And so she asks some of her people to go find out from Mordecai, why he so terribly, awfully sad. Mordecai sends word back and says "Because we're all gonna get killed, that's why. all the Jews are going to get killed." And Esther's like, "what?" And Mordecai is like, "Yeah, that's what's gonna happen." And he produces the receipts as well, by the way. He's got the letter, and he's given that all to her and she's like, "oh no, this is terrible." So Mordecai says to Esther, "I need you to help. I need your help in this. I need you to go to the king." And she says, "You can't just walk in on the king. Because if you just walk in on the king and he's not happy about it, you die. It doesn't matter who you are, you die." Mordecai's response to that was remarkable in chapter 4. And then Esther's response to him was even more remarkable. Here's what it was. "When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer. 'Do not think that because you are in the King's house that you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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 become to your royal position for such a time as this?' then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai. 'Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendance will fast as you do. And when this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.'" What courage. This woman shows remarkable courage. "So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther's instructions." It really is remarkable, and when we go from chapter 4 into chapter 5, Esther is finally done with the time of prayer and fasting, and she goes into the king and she finds favor the king. And the king says, "My queen, what is it you want? Up to half the kingdom, I'll give you. What is your request?" And she says, "I want you and Haman to come to a banquet that I've prepared." And he says, "Great, we'll do." So he gets Haman and they go to this banquet, and while they're at the close of the banquet, the king says, "Okay, now that we've come to the banquet, what is your request, Esther?" And she says, "Well, my request is that you come to another banquet tomorrow." Probably a little nervous, probably a little like, "You and Haman, I want you to come to another banquet tomorrow." And he says "Done, absolutely we'll do." Well after the first banquet, and before the second banquet, Haman goes in his, hanging out with his wife and friends and he's bragging about how he got to be invited. "Only me outside of the king got to be invited. I'm awesome," it's like him just pumping himself up. "I'm incredible. But I'm having trouble enjoying how awesome I am because of stupid Mordecai." That's what he says. "This Jew who wouldn't bow down to me, I can't stand him. We're gonna eradicate all of them in a couple of months, but he's making me sick and I'm so awesome. I should be enjoying my awesomeness but I can't because he's there." So you know what his wife and his friends say? "Why don't you just build a 75-foot gallows and just hang him?" He was like, "That's an awesome idea." So he does. He immediately gets them going to build something, this is just in between the first banquet and the second banquet. And he builds a 75-foot gallows so that Mordecai can be exterminated before he goes to the second banquet so that he can enjoy the second banquet without having to worry that Mordecai is still out there and not down to him. This is nuts. Chapter 6, what happens is something remarkable. It's the night after the first banquet, but before the second banquet and the King's trying to sleep. But he can't, he's got insomnia. And see, you know what the king does? The king calls for some of his attendance to bring in the Annals of the King, and read them to him. He wants to hear about all the awesome stuff that's happened in his kingdom. And so he says, "Bring it in and read it." And then they get to this part, there was an assassination plot, and this man Mordecai, thwarted the assassination and alerted the queen who alerted the king, and we were able to thwart this assassination plot. And then it dawns on the king, "Did we do anything for Mordecai to honor him?" Here's where we pick it up in Esther chapter 6, it's awesome. "'What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?' The king asked." His attendant said, "'Nothing has been done for him.' And the king said, 'who is in the court?' Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he'd set up for him." He'd had all his people working hard to build the gallows so that he could kill Mordecai, and he shows up in the court while the king has insomnia. This is an amazing, just kind of accident, isn't it? The King's attended answered. "Haman is standing in the court." King said, "'Bring him in.' When Haman entered, the king asked him, 'What should be done for the man, the king delights to honor?' Now Haman thought to himself, 'who is there, that the king would rather honor than me?'" This is Haman. "So he answered the king man, 'For the man the king delights to honor have them bring a royal robe The king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and the horse be entrusted to one of the Kings, most noble princes and let them let them robe the man the king delights to honor and lead him on the horse through the city streets proclaiming before him, this is what is done for the man the king delights to honor' 'Go at once, the king commanded.'" He told the Haman, "Go, go, get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew who sits at the King's gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended." What! This is awesome. And as I'm reading that, I'm thinking to myself, you have got to be kidding me. Haman is to be thinking to himself, you have got to be kidding me. And by the time all of this is done and Mordecai, I mean, Haman has led Mordecai through the streets and everybody's had to honor the guy that Haman wants to kill and that he's built a 75-foot gallows to get rid of him on by that time, it's time for the second banquet now. And so they go to the second banquet. And in chapter seven, the king asked after the banquet where the king and Haman and Esther are there. He says, "Esther, what is it that you want? What can I do for you?" And she said, "There's a plot to kill me and to kill all of my people." The king says, "What, what are you talking about? Who's responsible for such a thing?" Haman? And the king says, "What?" And the king so angry, he leaves 'cause he has to think. This is like his second in command, his most trusted person. And he leaves, now while he leaves Haman doesn't. Haman is now approaching the queen, trying to beg her for mercy. And she's laying on the couch and he's begging for mercy so much that he actually flings himself onto the couch. And when he does the king walks in. King says, "What?" "Not only are you trying to kill her and all my people, now you're trying to take advantage of the King's wife while the king is gone, this ain't happening." And then he says to some of the Queen's servants, "What can we do to get rid of this guy?" And they said, well, "He built a 75-foot gallows," "To kill Mordecai. I just say, you go ahead and pale him there." King was like, "Done." And that's exactly what he did. Goodnight, Mordecai. Hung on the gallows he built himself. Now, after that chapter 8 through chapter 10, the king gives another edict to overturn the first edict and basically says, "Jews, no, you're good. Nobody's going to kill you. You can defend yourselves as some people try to do that." And they did. And then they instituted the festival of Purim, which they still honor now in Israel today. And that comes from that word, pur that I told you about, which means casting lots. And so during that time when they were supposed to be exterminated, they're celebrating their deliverance. And then interestingly enough, guess who gets Haman's old job? Mordecai, what a story this is. Now, what I wanna do with this story is not be just encouraged when we listened to it. But I wanna pull just a handful of things out of this story for just a moment. There are three reminders of hope for all of us. And here's the first reminder of hope. God is never absent. Let me tell you why I tell you that. I just read to you a number of passages of scripture in the book of Esther. From most of the chapters that I was covering, I was reading to you passages of scripture. I don't know if you've noticed this, but in zero of those passages of scripture that I read to you, was God mentioned, not once. By the way, if you were to read the entirety of the whole book of Esther, do you know how many times God has mentioned? Zero, not once. You're thinking to yourself, this is a book in the Bible. The Bible is a book about God. Why is this book that doesn't contain a reference to God, even in the Bible. Maybe for that exact reason. 'Cause you see, they were living in a time where it really seemed like God was absent. They've been carried off into exile by the Babylonians, and now the Persians had taken over. The greatest political power that was available to the world at that time. Now had a mark on the Jewish people and was going to, by actual political edict, going to kill them. This seemed maybe as hopeless as hopeless could possibly be for them, it seemed like too much. But what we need to understand when we read the book of Esther is that even though God is not mentioned, God is not absent. God is very present. You see, we were supposed to be really impressed in chapter 1 by how powerful and strong and influential Xerxes is as the king, but he is just upon. There's a real king behind the curtain. It is king of the universe. It is God himself who is watching over everything, the true king with true power. And even though He's never mentioned, He's never absent from the events that are going on here. Because God in his sovereignty is orchestrating his purposes behind the scenes, even when nobody is quite able to detect it. You and I need to remember that as a reminder of hope, my friends. You and I need to remember that. Because when you're walking through whatever trial you're walking through, that feels like a very dark valley and feels like God is absent, know this, God is never absent.

Even when you can't see him. When you walk through those relational hurts, God is not absent. When you are treated unjustly or treated unfairly, God is not absent. When we walk through a pandemic, God is not absent. When you walk through loss, God is not absent. When you are dealing with financial anxiety and feel like you've lost hope, know that God is not absent. When whoever your preferred candidate is at the local or the state or the national level loses, know this, God is not absent. When your nation or your city or your state feels like it's going off the rails, know this, God is not absent. No political power is able to overcome the great power of the king who sits behind everything, and even though he may be unseen and unnoticed, God is still working. Do not fall prey to the pride-filled lie, that only what you see in God working is all that God is doing. Because God is never absent. There's a second reminder of hope in this story. And it's this, that deliverance can come in unusual ways. Deliverance can come in unusual ways. Who would have ever drawn up or dreamed that two humble Jews have no reputation would have been responsible for stopping a genocide of an entire people. Esther and Mordecai had no wealth of lineage, they had no political connections, they had no inherent privileges. But once again, God uses the weak things of the world to frustrate the strong. That's, what we read about when the apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are." We can see it time and time again in scripture, whether we're talking about God choosing the most unlikely of people to make a promise about His salvation for the world in Abraham. He was the son of a pagan idol maker. Or maybe God saying, "Hey Moses, I know you're a stutterer. You're gonna be my mouthpiece"

Or Gideon or David, or keep naming any of them, God uses the weak things to frustrate the strong. You see my friends, when we recognize God's sovereignty over everything, that He is the great king behind everything, the one who is never absent, then we don't have to worry about having to control or having to gain political power or having to gain wealth or having to gain might because God, the sovereign one is above all and overall, and deliverance can come in unusual ways. When we endure my friends, when we endure in the world that we live in by faith, when we walk in faith, when we endure by faith, then God in His own timing and in His own way will deliver as He sees fit. Even if it's in some of the most humble and weak and unusual ways you could ever imagine. Doesn't this give you hope? A reminder of hope that God is not absent and the deliverance can come in unusual ways. But let me give you a third reminder here. Evil will be embarrassed and righteousness will be vindicated.

Evil will be embarrassed, and righteousness will be vindicated. You see, my brothers and sisters, I want you to recognize something, evil has its own consequence. As I make this third reminding point here of hope evil has its own consequence. Listen, in fact, to what the book of Proverbs says, "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them." You see, evil has inherent in it, its own consequence. Imagine Haman's embarrassment. The man that he hates that would not bow down to him is now the one Haman has to parade through the streets with a horse and robed in the King's official robes and tell everybody, this is what it looks like for a man who is honored. Imagine Haman's embarrassment. Worst still, imagine Haman's plot to build a gallows to hang Mordecai on, that he himself gets hung on. Evil will be embarrassed and righteousness will be vindicated. Yes.

This is a reminder of hope in this story. Now, this story, this old seed that we are allowing to grow today gives us hope. And it's not just my friends, it's not just the hope that the principles we just studied are true, and they are. But it's a reminder that this story, in the book of Esther, acts like a small seed representing a giant tree. You see, this story in miniature is a picture of the grand story of God called the gospel. This is getting on the preacher at this point. Sin, entered the world to defile the image of God in people and creation. And it had its way. It felt as if, it seemed as if that the world itself was going off of the rails. The enemy, the devil himself began wreaking havoc on the world. Violence and crudeness and immorality. And though God chose a people for himself. The enemy, Satan hated them and he wanted them dead. The enemy would infect empires and Kings and he would lead nations away from God. The enemy would seek to kill and to steal and to destroy using all the weapons at his disposal to create civilizations that were brutal, that were unjust, that were drunk with power and violence. And he did it to be able to try and steal the glory of God. But God was not absent. The world was dark and occasionally we would see glimpses of grace, just like we see in the story of Esther and Mordecai. But the world continued to grow darker in darkness. But into the darkness, a light has shined. This light is so bright that the darkness has not comprehended it. The darkness has not understood it. This light was a baby born to a teenage mom and a battered husband. It's amazing because it was God, but it was not what we suspected. It was God made flesh. God made vulnerable. God made small, but deliverance can come in unusual ways. And this baby, God with us, the God Emmanuel, the God who is never absent. This baby came to deliver his people. The enemy tried to kill him. In fact, he influenced Herod to murder the children, the male sons that were in Bethlehem. But evil would be frustrated. He would not at that time, be able to get the Son of God. Evil would be embarrassed. And as Jesus grew into a man and began His ministry, the enemy himself would take Him and he would tempt Him and he would rail at Him. And in fact, he even said, "if you bow down to me, I will give you all of these things." And Jesus just like Mordecai said, "I will not! I will not bow down."

And it, just like it did to Haman, it incensed the enemy. I want the Son of God dead, and I want all of His people dead. So using everything the enemy could get his hands on, the most powerful tools that he could find, a Roman cross backed by the power of the Roman empire. Satan moved men to hate and he moved men to violence and Jesus was in fact mocked. But evil will not go unaddressed. Evil will not get its way. Evil will be embarrassed. Because it looked good on Friday, it looked good on Saturday, but on Sunday, Jesus gets up from the grave. And Jesus in His resurrection, embarrasses evil and righteousness is vindicated. Not only for the Son of God, but for the people of God as well.

Jesus will put a final end to this enemy. Every tool that the enemy used will come crashing on his own head. Not only will Jesus be vindicated by Satan bowing down, but so will the righteous in Jesus. Evil will not be dismissed. Evil will be judged and Satan, the great enemy, will, just like Haman, be hung on his own gallows.

Because I can promise you this, that evil is going to be frustrated and embarrassed and the righteous will be vindicated. I don't know when, it may not be right away. But it's going to happen. It's going to ultimately happen. And it may very well happen in a moment that you don't expect it. And it may come in a very unusual way. Because this is the nature of this God who is never absent in Christ. That he will never leave you, never forsake you. That's what Jesus words were to His disciples and to us who have followed after Him, He'll never leave us. He'll never forsake us, He's always with us. So whatever season, however, dark, whatever it feels like to you, I hope that the hope of the Holy Spirit has been breathed into your world this day. And then what you do is you lift your eyes to the hills from whence cometh your help. And you lift your eyes in such a way that you fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Who for the joy that was before Him endured the cross scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. And your struggle against sin, you have not yet resistant to the point of shedding your own blood. This is what a Hebrews chapter 12 teaches us. So if that's you Christian, believer, allow the spirit of God to speak that into your world today. And believe it by faith. Father, I pray in the name of Jesus. That for every way, in which your spirit has spoken today in the lives of your people, that we would respond by faith to your truth and that we would believe it and put it into practice. We thank you that the truth of the end of the story, just like it was an Ester, and just like it will be at the end of the time, is that the enemy will hang on his own gallows. Jesus, you are victorious, you are Lord of all. Even when we don't see it, you are at work and we trust you in all things. Father, I pray that you would speak that truth by faith, into the hearts of people and we would embrace it and be changed by it. And for those that need to respond in faith, to receiving you, Lord Jesus and experiencing forgiveness of sin and eternal life, may you give them the strength and the courage to follow through on that decision for your glory? I pray now in Jesus name, amen.

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