"What do you wish queen esther? What is ur request? It shall be given to u, upto half my kingdom!! What do u wish peter day? What is ur request? It shall be given u! Ask of me and ì will give the nations to u! Ask - becuz u are most dearly loved! Ask becuz i am besotted wiv u! U have asked, wept and prayed - now wait. Wait as the eagle poised on the edge of the cliff waiting to soar, waiting for that gust of air! Be still, soak, now that i am ur father, ur daddy. Know my love!!"This was so timely. Firstly, in our church 2008 was a year of great blessing mixed with great battle. On the one hand, in July 2008 we had our first baptism service in three years. They were long and dark years for me personally until, during my illness of 2007, God began to break through into my life with the message of grace.
Light began to shine at the beginning of 2008 as I began to preach grace, and it was with great joy that three people were baptised in July - all of whom had been in church for a while, but God had taken hold of them in a mighty way. Then, in September 2008, seven more were baptised - glory to God!! And then two more in January 2009.
But... At the same time as this, we were losing key people. Some, sadly, because we were preaching the amazing grace of God, the free gift of His righteousness and that nothing, absolutely nothing, can remove us from our standing with Him. I've blogged a bit about grace too, here.
So, Dan's text was a real word of encouragement for me personally. Then, secondly, the text came on the day of our first elders' meeting of 2009. So I shared it with them and that stirred us up to prayer and brought real encouragement after all that had gone before.
Thirdly, God began to stir up a message in my heart from Esther 5. I shared my notes with Dan and he encouraged me to publish these notes (after my very long silence in the blogging world). So here they are:
This passage a real historical thing, but also an illustration. The book tells how Esther, a Jewish young woman becomes queen of the Persian Empire. Esther is an orphan who is cared for by her uncle Mordecai. But the king has an evil prime minister, Haman, who struts around and is annoyed because Mordecai won't bow down to him. So he tricks the king into signing an order for all the Jews to be killed on a certain day. Mordecai pleads with Esther to go into the king in order to plead for her people, but Esther knows that anyone who goes into the king's presence without first being invited risks death.
We have urgent needs, personal, as a church, national, international, but you only need to read the Law of Moses to see that no-one can go into the presence of God at any time. The holiness of God would burn up anyone who tried to draw near. Only once a year the high priest could go with the blood of a lamb.
Our problem is that many believers still deep down have that view of God - we can't approach Him, He is so holy, especially if we have not been very spiritual or we have sinned. But this historical record is a glorious picture that you CAN draw near, and you CAN ask for great and mighty things.
I) Fully attired
Clothed. "Esther put on her royal robes"(v1). We can imagine they were beautiful, made her attractive, so the king would notice her. Didn't go in her rags but as royalty.
But where did these robes come from? Did Esther work for them, make them with her own effort? They were the king's robes, given by the king to her. And so it is with us. We don't enter presenting our deeds and performances, we enter because HE has provided for us robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61v10, contrast Isaiah 64v6). What are they like? As those on their wedding day - spotless, radiant, beautiful.
Why put on? Not a perfect illustration because the robes are always on! But, if we are not aware of them, and do not remind ourselves of them, then we will be under condemnation, and will not draw near boldly and will have no confidence that we will receive anything.
But we ARE fully attired, fitted for His awesome presence.
II) Fully accepted
The king was facing the doorway (v1). Anyone who came in would be seen. Remember the legal position - no-one could not enter unless summoned. The king was waiting to judge, to punish anyone who drew near. And that is the view many have of God - many live with a continual sense that God is waiting to punish every misdead. Not a reverential fear, but a terror of God. That was the legal position - against the law of Moses for anyone to come into the presence of God. Certain judgement was the result for anyone who did not come in rightly.
But now in Christ, it is completely different. You are clothed in robes provided by the King. And He is waiting for your call, approach. He is eager to see you, for you to approach Him.
The king sees Esther (v2). When he saw her, she found favour in His eyes. At that moment of seeing, there was favour. He didn't have to think about it and wonder if He would accept her, rather, His acceptance and welcome was instant. You do not have to convince God of your worth to stand in His presence. You only have to convince yourself. The devil knows it, God knows it, but we tend to stay at a distance because we don't fully know it. This passage says "when" the king saw, she found favour. When the King of grace looks at you, you find favour in His sight. You haven't got to do anything, you have that favour because of being in Christ. That is the reality.
The OT priest had to go in with the sacrifice, the sacrifice had to be perfect and without spot or blemish. There was that question that would have been in the mind of every priest - will God accept the sacrifice? There is no question when you go into the presence of God - the full and complete sacrifice had already been made.
III) Fully authorised
The sceptre (v2). This is further indication of acceptance. It is the symbol of His kingly authority. He is holding out to say "come in", and what I have I give to you, you are welcome here. She would have come in and touched it, maybe even kissed it, and so indicating "yes, I accept your welcome, I receive your authority". You don't crawl into the presence of God saying "please accept me." You come in boldly because you are a son of God already, you are accepted already - Jn 1v12 (right = authority).
Not only correctly clothed, and found favour, but fully authorised to stand in His presence and that authority lasts for all eternity...
And she is authorised to ask for anything. What do you wish?
"Half the Kingdom."(v3) The king used a phrase to Esther which was saying, "I offer you the maximum." I'm giving you all I can, I'm willing to give you anything.
The maximum this king could give was "up to half the kingdom." But with God there is no limitation. He owns it all, the nations are His (Ps 2v8), the earth is His and all its fulness (Ps 24v1). So there is no limit to what He can give you.
So what are you going to ask for? Healing, provision, encouragement, refreshing, for your family members that are not saved, for your neighbours. What are we going to ask for as a church? For the transformation of the community, for the filling of these buildings with people who are being delivered? Lives being turned around? For the glory of God to be seen? What is your wish? What do you desire?
And this is the promise of the new covenant - Rom 8v32. The Lord is better than this king. This king is just a shadow. The substance, reality is in Christ - and far far better. He is infinitely more desirous to bless, infinitely more accepting, allow infinitely greater intimacy with Himself. This is God.
What is the hindrance? You can go in there even without asking anything, just to be and enjoy His presence. You are accepted, you have His favour, He is pleased with you, He likes you, He loves you. And as He is pleased with you, you can ask Him things, because His whole heart for you is "what do you wish?"
"Call to Me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know." (Jer 33v3)