Tony Evans — For Such A Time As This
It is unfortunate that many people and Christians will have spent a large part of their lives climbing the ladder of success only to discover at the end that it was leaning against the wrong wall. In an effort to meet the standards of our world system and what it calls success, many will have missed the purposes of God.
Chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Esther, because it is in these chapters that the greatest statement and the most famous statement in the book is located, in chapter 4, verse 14, when Mordecai asked her the question, "Have you not attained royalty for such a time as this?" Or as the King James says, "Have you not been called to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
So I want to explain to you using the providential hand of God in the life of Esther how you know when it's your time. You hear people talk about, "It's my time, it's my season." And that's easy to say and quote, but how do you know when God has prepared you for the moment, that time that he has worked with you for through the good, the bad, and the ugly to bring you to a space of usefulness for his kingdom purposes?
Chapter 3 opens up with a problem, because we're told in chapter 3, verse 1, "After these events King Ahasuerus promotes Haman, the son of Hammedatha, Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over the princes who were with him. And all the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, but Mordecai neither bowed nor did he pay homage."
Houston, we have a problem. Ahasuerus, the king, has decided to elevate a man named Haman. Haman is made the second most powerful person in the Medo-Persian Empire, and the king has said, "I want there to be public recognition of the promotion that I've given to Haman, so I want everybody in the kingdom to bow."
And so, as everybody began to bow, then they came to one of the employees of the king named Mordecai, and they tell Mordecai, "It's time to bow. Mr. Haman is coming down. Mr. Haman is passing through."
Mordecai says, "Excuse me, but I can't do that. I can't bow and pay homage. I cannot worship him," so Mordecai refuses.
Houston, we have a problem. They wanna know, verse 3, "How are you transgressing the king's command?" Let me put it in everyday language, "How are you not doing what the government told you to do?" 'Cause this is the king talking.
This is governmental affairs, and they say, "Look, this is the government, and we expect you to obey the government." Obeying the government is one thing, worshipping and bowing to it, that's a whole 'nother ball game, and Mordecai says, "I can't do that."
They spoke to him daily, according to verse 4. They told Haman, "There's this dude named Mordecai, and he's not gonna bow, but let me tell you why he's not gonna bow. He's a Jew, and them people over there, they've been taught by, you know, their world view that you do not bow, that is, in worship, to men or to systems of men, governments, when they conflict with their belief system. And so, this Mordecai is not gonna bow."
Hmm. Haman, verse 5, was full of rage, ticked off. He said, "Well, not only am I gonna kill," verse 6, "not only am I gonna kill Mordecai, I'm gonna kill all of his people. I'm gonna do genocide against the Jews, 'cause I know all 'em people think like he think. So we're not gonna have that, not under my rule. King Ahasuerus has given me clout, and I'm not gonna-- if anybody around here is not recognizing my authority, so he's gone, and everybody like him is gone. We're gonna get rid of the Jews."
He brings the idea to the King Ahasuerus, and he tells Ahasuerus, "Mr. Ahasuerus, king, you got some people here who don't go with you. There is a certain people scattered, and they don't abide by your rules. They don't abide by your laws," verse 8.
"So, king, we gotta do something about these folk. So if it pleases the king," verse 9, "what I wanna do is I wanna get rid of 'em. I wanna exterminate 'em, 'cause they're gonna be a headache for you. In fact, I wanna get rid of these people so bad," verse 9, "that I will pay you to help get rid of 'em , talents of silver. I'm gonna give you a boat load of money just to get rid of these people, 'cause these people are nothing but trouble, because they're not gonna bow. They're not gonna submit to the government, they're not gonna submit to the authority."
So the King put his signet ring down, signed the law of Haman the Agagite. And so, now not only is Mordecai in trouble, the whole race of Jews is about to be exterminated, okay?
Here is lesson number one: you know it's your time, you know it's your time when God connects spiritual preparation with spiritual warfare.
You see, Haman was an agent of the devil, whose goal it is to thwart the purposes of God. In the Old Testament, it had to do with destroying the Jews. In the New Testament, it has to do with muting the effectiveness of the church, the people, representative people of God. And so, in order to pull that off, Satan uses people and uses systems in order to destroy the program and promises and purposes of God, and so now the Jews are about to be destroyed.
The scribes in verse 12 send the word out, the edict goes out about the destruction of the Jews. Letters are sent in verse 13 by couriers to all the provinces to destroy, to kill and annihilate all the Jews, young, old, women, children, but we're told that this happened-- was gonna happen in a 12-month cycle.
The edict is given, and when the edict is given, chapter 4, verse 1, "When Mordecai learned that all--of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes," the garments of sorrow, "and went out into the midst of the city and walked loudly-- and wailed loudly and bitterly."
You could hear that man crying all over the place, 'cause when Satan is trying to do a number on you, he can bring you to tears. Many of us know what it is to have a spiritual warfare against us, and we're weeping and wailing because the pain is so deep and so great. He was out there loudly declaring hopelessness because of how bad things looked.
"He went as far as the king's gate," that's the entrance to the king's palace, "and no one was to enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth." But there he was mourning, with great mourning, because we're told in verse 15 there was great confusion.
You're a Jewish father sitting there with your family, and you hear coming across the evening news, "All Jews are to be exterminated." There's panic in the city of Susa, and now everybody is wailing because it looks like a hopeless situation.
Let me tell you something. Never count God out no matter how bad things look. Well, Esther finds out that her cousin is out there in sackcloth and ashes. She doesn't really know what's going on, and so she sends him clothes out there to get him dressed. He rejects the clothes, and so it now gets real interesting.
She sends her servant Hathach out (in verse 6) to Mordecai, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasury for the destruction of the Jews.
He sends word back to Esther, gave a copy of the edict, and this is what he says to her in verse 8, "That he might show Esther and inform her, and to order her to go to the king and implore his favor and to plead with him for her people."
Mordecai says to Esther's servant, "Take the edict to Esther and tell Esther now to go to the king and tell him who you are. Remember, I told you don't tell him when you first-- when he first brought you in. Don't tell him 'cause there's an anti-Semitic atmosphere in this city, so you don't tell him, but girlfriend, honeybun, cuz, it's now time to come out the closet. It's now time to go public. It's now time to let it be known who you are and who your people happen to be. It's time."
You know it's time for God to move you to your ultimate purpose when he has given you a position that leverages influence for the advancement of his kingdom.
He says, "Girl, you're not just here 'cause you're pretty. You're pretty, but that's not why you're here. You're here because when you were pretty and didn't know what was going on, God knew this day was gonna come."
He doesn't use the name "God," but it will be clear in a moment that's his frame of reference. God knew that this day was gonna come. It's time. You've been set up for a situation when God has positioned you to leverage influence for his kingdom purposes.
Let me put it another way. When your position in life allows you to leverage influence for the advancement of God's program and God's people. To put it another way, when he has blessed you to be a blessing, so he tells her, "It's time, it's time for you to use your position, your influence, your resources, and you are now to leverage that in light of the spiritual issue."
The problem is if you don't see the spiritual, you don't see the opportunity. See, if all you're looking at is the physical, then you don't see what's happening behind the scenes in the spiritual, so you're all shook up about what's happening in the physical, because you don't know that there is a spiritual activity occurring behind the scenes.
So she hears that she's supposed to go before the king, so she sends word back to Mord, "Mord," verse 11, "all the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days."
Mord, let me explain something. I need you to understand, cuz. It's sorta like this. Me and the king have not been talking for 30 days. Thirty days, we're not-- you know, we're on the outs with each other. He doesn't want me in his bedchamber, he's not talking to me, 'cause between chapter 2 and chapter 3 is 5 years, 'cause you know after 5 years the marriage can go south. So it's a 5-year marriage, and he not all that impressed with her beauty anymore.
Maybe she'd picked up a few wrinkles in 5 years, I don't know, but whatever it was for 30 days he's not talking to his wife, he not talking to her, and he says, "There's a rule in this house.
If you go in the king uninvited, and he does not hold out that royal scepter, it's over. It's over. You are put to death. "And if I go into my husband's room, and he has not invited me, and he does not hold out the scepter, uh, I'm not willing to do that for y'all, 'cause I used to be a Jew. Now I'm Jew plus."
What she did is what we do. We misdiagnose kingdom opportunity, 'cause we will see it. All we see is, "This could have a negative effect on me." See, she forgot something. If it wasn't for the goodness of God, she wouldn't be there. She missed that. Along the way she misunderstood if it wasn't for the goodness of God.
Girl, you did not get here on your own. You got here the same way a turtle gets to the top of a fence: somebody put it there. So she forgot all that, and having forgotten all that she said, "Look, this is about me now, not about y'all. It's about me. Y'all get it like I got it, 'cause right now it's about me, and I can't put myself in that position."
She forgot, and it's easy to forget how you got where you are. It's easy to forget. Once you start living in a certain neighborhood and driving a certain vehicle and wearing certain clothes and getting a B.A. and an M.B.A. and a doctorate, it's easy to forget that if it were not for the grace of God, you would not be in the position you are now in.
It's easy to forget that, and when you forget that, you're not so concerned about how other folk gonna make it. You wind up saying like her, in essence, "I made it. Why y'all not making it?" You become (we become) self-absorbed.
See, I clearly understand I am not supposed to be here. I am not supposed to be on the street, in this pulpit doing this. When I was raised and my father was not a believer in those early years and the home was in total disarray, I'm not supposed to be here.
But because God invaded my home and led my father to Christ, changing his life, bringing God into our family, taking me to a Bible-teaching church, allowing me to have unique opportunity.
See, I clearly understand the only reason I'm standing here today is the goodness and grace of God. So the moment I lose sight of that, the moment I lose sight, that what Paul said, "I am what I am only by the grace of God." That's the only reason that I am.
The moment I lose sight of that, my role has now been illegitimized, because God did not allow me the experiences and opportunities that he's allowed me to make it all and only about me. And anybody who does that must be held to account that it is not just about me or you or even us, it's about the kingdom of God, and when we lose sight of that, then we've missed God's plan and program in history.
You see, your destiny will always involve a test: whether you wanna be a blessing or whether you only wanna be blessed. Because once you hit that test, God now examines your heart. Are you here for him, are you here for how he can use you for others, or is this just about you, me? Is this just about selfishness?