This past Sunday we began a 5-week series in the book of Esther. This book chronicles the providential work of God in the lives of His people, even though God isn’t even mentioned or referenced in the book! As we pressed into the first two chapters of Esther, we saw the contrast between King Ahasuerus and Esther. While there are many contrasts between these two individuals, the most prominent contrast in the text was around the concept of favor. The main idea of the sermon was God is at work in securing favor for his people to accomplish His purposes. This was evidenced in the contrast between Esther and the King.
1. Seeking the Favor of Man: 1:1-2:4
What was clear about the king is that he was using everything within his power to get what he wanted from the people. Whether it was pomp, wrath or lust, the king was leveraging the favor that had been given to him in order to fulfill his personal desires, not God’s purposes.
2. Winning Favor through God: 2:5-18
Esther is introduced as a striking contrast to the king. Three times in verses 9-17 we’re told that Esther is winning favor. It’s not because she’s winsome or has a dynamic personality. This is happening because God is doing this! God is granting Esther favor for the express purpose of putting her into a position to care for and protect His people. When God grants us favor, He does so to accomplish His purposes in the world. Esther was winning favor through God, and was to use it for God’s purposes.
3. What Does this Mean for Us?
We finished by taking what is an abnormal passage, and applying it to our lives today. Here were five ways Esther 1-2 speaks into our lives today:
What Favor am I Seeking?: We must consider this question. Am I seeking the favor of man, or am I seeking the favor of God?
What am I Doing with the Favor Entrusted to Me?: Secondly, we must ask what we’re doing with the favor that God has entrusted to us. In each of our lives, God has given us some measure of favor. What are we doing with it? Do we recognize that God’s favor is meant to be a source of blessing for others to direct us all toward God?
The World Has Not Changed – Sin is Still the Issue: As shocking as aspects of this story are, the truth is the root issue is no different in this story as it is in our lives. Sin is still the issue! The symptoms or manifestations may look different, but the root problem is still the same: sin.
God Has Not Changed – He is Still at Work: While it’s discouraging to know that the world hasn’t changed, we can be grateful and thankful that God hasn’t changed. Think about this, God uses a king in a drunken stupor to demand something ridiculous from his wife, the queen. It’s in this that God sets in motion a plan to providentially care for His people. The same God who is at work in the book of Esther is at work in your life and my life today!
This Story is a Picture of the Gospel: We must remember that the Old Testament leans forward towards the cross. The story of Esther is no different. In this story we see God working out a good plan for His people much like the good plan that He worked out through Jesus.
As we move through this week, let’s do so as men and women who take the favor that God has bestowed upon us and use it to accomplish His good purposes.