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“Women of the Bible: Esther”

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Some of my favorite movies have to do with courage. I love watching Braveheart and The Patriot, both starring Mel Gibson. My favorite Disney movie is Moana because we see tremendous courage by the young character.

I love stories about courage. We must understand this reality about courage: courage does not mean that someone is without fear. Courage is when we do what needs to be done in the face of fear.

Today, we’re continuing our series called, “The Women of the Bible.” This week we’re going to learn about a woman of courage: Esther.

Let’s pray together before we go any further. Let’s ask God to speak to us as we learn about Esther.


Ok, as we learn about Esther, let’s learn a little background information first.

Esther was a young Jewish woman. Her people, the Jews had gone through a lot.

God had promised to make the Jewish people into a great nation, and He did. He delivered them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. However, the people of Israel (the Jewish people) were continually judged for their sin against God.

First, we see that the kingdom was divided, as they split into the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom: Israel and Judah.

Then, the northern kingdom (Israel) was conquered by the Assyrian empire.

After that, the southern kingdom (Judah), was conquered by the Babylonians and taken into exile.

Finally, the Persian empire took over and ruled over the remnants of God’s people.

However, God is continually full of grace, so He made it possible for the Jewish people to resettle in their land. During this time, some remained in the land ruled by the Persians, including those who are part of the story in the book of Esther.

That brings us to where we are today in this story.

So, that gives you a background, but let me tell you the story of Esther.

The book of Esther starts off by describing an encounter with the king of Persia, King Ahasuerus (also known as King Xerxes), who makes a demand of his queen, Queen Vashti. Queen Vashti decided that no man was going to tell her what to do, even if he was the king. Well, the king didn’t say “off with her head,” but he did say, “You can no longer be queen.” So, the king looked for a new queen. The way he did this was to bring in all the beautiful young women in the land, including a young Jewish woman named Esther.

Esther had an older cousin named Mordecai who gave her advice and took care of her as his own child.

Esther was wise and listened to the advice of others, and she earned the favor of the king, and she became the new queen of Persia.

Well, there was a bad guy who was part of the story named Haman. Haman was an angry man, and he hated the Jewish people, particularly Mordecai.

Haman was not only an angry man, he was an influential man who even had influence with the king. So, Haman came up with a plan to exterminate all of the Jewish people from Persia, starting with Mordecai.

Mordecai found out about Haman’s plan and warned Esther that not only would Haman kill the Jewish people, Esther herself might be killed if Haman’s plan succeeded.

So, Esther followed Mordecai’s advice, and she was used by God to spare the Jewish people.

There’s so much more to the story, but it’s ten chapters, so I’m not going to share it all this morning. If you haven’t read it in a while, take some time to do so this afternoon or this week.

So, let’s see what we can learn about Esther the person, and how we can be moved by this story from the Word of God.

First, we must realize that . . .

‌I. Esther did not choose her circumstances.

To begin with, Esther and her people did not choose to be captives under the rule of the Persians. No one chooses to be conquered and made subjects of a powerful evil empire. Yet, there was Esther; one of many Jewish people under the rule of the Persians.

Also, we need to realize that Esther didn’t enter a beauty contest and seek to become the queen; she didn’t choose that path. Rather, Esther was taken to the king’s fortress.

Listen to Esther 2:5-8:

5 In the fortress of Susa, there was a Jewish man named Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite. 6 Kish had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the other captives when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jeconiah of Judah into exile. 7 Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she had no father or mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter.

8 When the king’s command and edict became public knowledge and when many young women were gathered at the fortress of Susa under Hegai’s supervision, Esther was taken to the palace, into the supervision of Hegai, keeper of the women.

So, there was Esther, taken away to the king’s palace; a circumstance that she did not choose.

Also, not only did Esther not choose the circumstance of Haman’s evil plan against the Jewish people, but she did not do anything to warrant the terrible plan that Haman had.

Listen to Esther 3:8-11:

8 Then Haman informed King Ahasuerus, “There is one ethnic group, scattered throughout the peoples in every province of your kingdom, keeping themselves separate. Their laws are different from everyone else’s and they do not obey the king’s laws. It is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If the king approves, let an order be drawn up authorizing their destruction, and I will pay 375 tons of silver to the officials for deposit in the royal treasury.”

10 The king removed his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 Then the king told Haman, “The money and people are given to you to do with as you see fit.”

When it came time for something to be done to bring rescue to the Jewish people, Esther seemed to be the only one in a position to do anything about it. However, she didn’t choose that position; she didn’t choose her circumstances.

Nevertheless, her cousin Mordecai said to her in chapter 4, verse 14, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

Esther didn’t choose to be a captive, she didn’t choose to be a queen, and she didn’t choose to be the one who was in a position to bring rescue. Yet, there she was, in the midst of her circumstances.

Some of us are in circumstances that we didn’t choose, aren’t we?

Some of us are in work circumstances that we did not choose.

Some of us are in school circumstances that we did not choose.

Some of us are in family circumstances that we did not choose.

Some of us are in financial circumstances that we did not choose.

Some of us are in emotional circumstances that we did not choose.

Some of us are in hurtful circumstances that we did not choose.

Hear me, brothers and sisters: circumstances come our way and we often have no control over them. However, we do serve a God who has sovereign providential control over every atom in this universe.

We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control how we respond. That leads to our second point: Esther did not choose her circumstances, but . . .

‌II. Esther did choose courage.

In case this reality is not obvious, Esther did not have to choose courage. Esther could have taken the easy road and she could have simply laid low and hoped that everything worked itself out, but that’s not what she did.

When Mordecai said to her, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” She decided to take action.

First, notice that she calls for a time of fasting among the Jewish people.

Listen to what Esther says in Esther 4:16, “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.”

You see, Esther wanted to seek the Lord regarding this matter. She realized that God needed to be part of her response, so she asked the Jewish people in the land to fast on her behalf.

Then, I love to see Esther’s response. She said, “If I perish, I perish.”

We see such courage from Esther. You see, even though she was the queen, she was still subject to the authority of the king (we saw that reality with Queen Vashti, the queen before Esther).

Esther knew this reality and said to Mordecai in Esther 4:11, “All the royal officials and the people of the royal provinces know that one law applies to every man or woman who approaches the king in the inner courtyard and who has not been summoned—the death penalty—unless the king extends the gold scepter, allowing that person to live. I have not been summoned to appear before the king for the last thirty days.”

Esther knew that she could very well die by approaching the king. However, she chose courage. She said, “If I die, I die.”

Esther’s courage reminds me of the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when they were threatened to be thrown into a fiery furnace for not worshiping a false idol. They replied in Daniel 3:17-18, “If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

Such courage! Oh that God would give us such faith in God, that we would have courage in the face of fear.

I’m reminded of the words of Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?”

Listen, church: if God is for you, you do not have to fear any mortal; you don’t have to fear the power of any human.

Remember, the words of Paul in Romans 8:31? “What, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

If you belong to the powerful king of Creation, then you don’t need to fear the king of Persia or any other power in all the universe! There’s no power like the power of God! If God is for you, who can be against you?

Esther needed courage, and she, indeed, choose courage.

She courageously approached the king, and God worked wonders through her decision.

She courageously faced Haman directly and called out his evil right in front of him and the king.

She courageously set aside her own preferences and her own safety so that her people could be rescued.

God used her courage to bring about the rescue and the blessing of the Jewish people throughout the land of Persia during her time.

Listen, church: courage is always better than living in fear.

It takes courage to face fearful situations.

It takes courage to share the gospel when you’re uncomfortable.

It takes courage to stand up to a gossip in the church.

It takes courage to fight for the oppressed.

It takes courage to hold on to your convictions when everyone else around you seems to be going the other direction.

It takes courage to do the right thing at school when others reject you for doing so.

It takes courage to have the hard conversation that needs to be had with someone you love.

It takes courage to answer the call to serve in ministry or to surrender to the mission field.

However, it is always better to act on courage, rather than to live in fear.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is to say in the face of fear, “Whatever happens, happens.” As Esther said, “If I die, I die.”

Be courageous, as Esther was courageous.

Let this bottom line summarize the teaching from God’s Word today:

‌Bottom Line: We cannot choose our circumstances, but by God’s grace, we can choose our response.

Don’t forget what Esther did when she was faced with this terrible situation. She asked the people to fast on her behalf.

Esther sought the Lord when she faced uncertainty and fear. Esther’s courage was not rooted in Esther. Esther’s courage was rooted in Almighty God.

In the same way, when you stand with courage in the midst of your circumstances, you are standing in the courage given to you by God’s Holy Spirit.

When you respond in a godly way, you are responding that way, not because you are special, brave, smart, or any of those things. Your response is rooted in who you are in Jesus, and the certainty that God is in control of all things.

You know, what’s beautiful about this story, and all the other Old Testament heroes is that they looked forward to the hope of God’s rescue that would come. They knew God would seal the promises that He made to them. Now, we have the opportunity to look backward to the rescue that was already earned for us in Jesus. We look backward to Jesus’ death and resurrection to see that God is fulfilling all of His promises in Jesus.

We can have hope, we can have faith, and we can have courage because of the work of Jesus.

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Take some time to remember that God is in control.

God worked out something beautiful and miraculous in Esther and in the Jewish people.

Brothers and sisters, He’s still in control today, and He is still doing beautiful and miraculous work. You can trust that He is in control.

‌Weekly Challenge #2 – Commit to choose courage over fear.

Maybe you need courage to share the gospel with a classmate, a coworker, or a neighbor.

Maybe you need courage to be a better parent or spouse.

Maybe you need courage to confront someone in sin.

Maybe you need courage to answer a call to ministry or some form of Christian service.

However, God is calling you, commit this week to choose courage over fear.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

Response Song – God You’re So Good

(Announcements – Richard)

(Giving emphasis)


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