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Jesus is Better

Turning the Tables

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(10/13) Today, in Esther chapter 9, we’re focusing on two men, powerful men, significant men, and important men. One man’s name is Haman. He’s from a family, a line called the Agagites. These are a godless people and Haman is not a godly person. He doesn’t belong to the Lord… he’s not going to heaven… and he doesn’t have a good heart. He’s a bad man from a bad line of descendants, headed toward a bad eternity, and he’s issued a decree. He has issued a death sentence for the people of God, that on a particular day it will be legal to kill all of God’s people. But in a great turnover, the man who once was was high was taken low… the man who was alive was put to death… the man who wanted to kill Mordecai himself died… the man who built a seventy-five-foot-high gallows in his own yard to crucify his enemy was crucified in his own yard… in front of his own family.

Meanwhile, the other man, Mordecai, he’s one of God’s men. He’s not a perfect man, but he’s one of God’s men. He is a man who, in a great turnaround, takes the position of Haman. He becomes the second most powerful in the nation. He gets the signet ring, the power of attorney, to act on behalf of King Xerxes, and he has the opportunity now to reverse this death sentence that is on God’s people… his own people. And so Mordecai issues a second decree that God’s people have the right and the King’s authority to defend themselves against their attackers. And so now we’re going to see, in Esther chapter 9, one of the most bloody and most controversial sections in all of Scripture. Let’s read together from God’s Word in Esther chapter 9, verses 1-19:

“On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king's administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

The number of those slain in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. The king said to Queen Esther, "The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted."

"If it pleases the king," Esther answered, "give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day's edict tomorrow also, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on gallows."

So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they hanged the ten sons of Haman. The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

That is why rural Jews — those living in villages — observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.” NIV

1. They got the upper hand

The first thing we see is it goes from a death sentence under the rule of Haman to life under the rule of Mordecai. And the people of God didn’t have to die. Verse one says,
“The enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.”

The tables were turned… that’s what happens. You see they were going to die, but now they live. They were going to be attacked, but now they’re going to defend themselves. They were ruled by Haman, but now they’re ruled by Mordecai. They were going to be destroyed, but now they’re going to destroy their enemy. The tables were turned…

And God is the one who turned the tables. God can show up and change everything in an instant. Now this is not a promise that everything in your life will go better today, but it is a promise that with God there is always the possibility that he could show up and change everything in an instant… The cancer could be cured, the marriage could be healed, the children could return, the unemployment could come to an end, the suffering could be lessened and things get better.

Yet you and I… we lose hope, when we look at our circumstance and we don’t look up to our God… when we don’t pray how he might intervene and in an instant change everything. The Bible tells us that the tables were turned… and the people of God got the upper hand.

Here’s the good news: as the people of God today the tables have turned… you’ve got the upper hand… you don’t need to believe Satan’s lies... you don’t have to die… you don’t have to experience suffering… you don’t have to experience loss… You see the tables have been turned.

Our part, our responsibility, is repentance… to turn and to change. You see Haman’s family line came to an end... His sons were dead, the family line is over, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Your family, your “friends”, your neighbors, they may criticize you, they may reject you… because that’s what fools marching off to hell do. They encourage you to join their parade and they criticize you if you don’t march in step.

That is what the Bible says, listen to this, Peter writes, “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:3-5).

You see, you don’t have to be like others… you don’t have to be like your family. In the grace of God, through repentance, you can be adopted by a new Father into a new family to leave a new legacy. But it starts with humility and repentance. A repentance that starts in the mind. The Bible says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). It’s a change of mind. You’re thinking differently, that leads to a change of heart, and that leads to a changed life.

2. No one could stand against them

You see but Haman never experiences that. He should’ve repented… he should’ve gathered his sons as he was facing his death and said, “Sons, I’ve rebelled against God. I’ve been proud and arrogant and now everything has back fired on me. I’m going to die. I’m going to be crucified in our yard. And this is what happens to those who don’t repent.” But he didn’t tell them… he didn’t say that... and his sons carried on his attitude, his thinking, and his behavior… and they all got crucified!

But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can repent and live. You can see the tables turned. You can repent and have your wife, children, grandchildren repent. You can see the tables turned in your life and in your family like Mordecai.

You see, Mordecai’s not governed by the Law of the Medes and the Persians. He’s governed by a greater law… the law of repentance and grace. We have seen in the past weeks that he’s not serving God. When the story begins, he’s a coward isn’t he? He’s passive… he avoids conflict… he abandons his responsibilities… he lets others take over… he puts his own daughter, Esther, in danger… he’s a coward! Mordecai’s not a man who is strong… he’s weak.

But over the course of the book, we have seen that he’s a man who is growing in repentance. He’s changing. He’s learning to become more courageous, more verbal, more outspoken, more responsible, and the result is that the Bible says, quote, “He became more and more powerful” and other men are motivated by him (Esther 9:4). They see the transformation in his life… they’re encouraged by him… they’re motivated by him.

And so now we find Mordecai is a man of God… he’s leading the men of God on the mission of God… nobody could stand against them… and verse 5 says, “The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them” (Esther 9:5). Today if want to be great leaders… If you want people to follow you… If you want to make a difference in this world politically, spiritually, or culturally… It begins with repentance.

You see… Mordecai’s a sinner… you’re a sinner… I am a sinner… and the Bible says, “Death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). If we claim that we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:10). Yet as Simon Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).

You see one of the great things that leaders do is they repent, and then God is invited to show up and to turn the tables. You see no one could stand against the people of God and today if you are willing to admit that you too have sinned… that you fall short of the glory of God… then you too will be justified by his grace (Rom 3:23-24).

The Bible says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalms 91:1). You see our Lord God is our refuge… he is our fortress… he is the one in whom we trust… and he enables us to stand (Ps 18:33).

3. We are more than conquerors

So if God is for us… who can be against us? Who could bring a charge against those whom God has chosen?

Allow these words of the Lord to settle in your heart. “Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation" (Ps 91:14-16).

You see Jesus Christ died for our sins, but more than that, he was raised to life, and is at the right hand of God interceding for us. There is nothing that can separate us from Christ’s love. We are on his team. There is no trouble… no hardship… no persecution… no poverty… no danger… no sword... no nothing. The Bible says, “In all of these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us… neither death nor life… angels nor demons… the present nor the future… any powers, heights, or depths, nothing in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

But I wonder if we’re honest with ourselves, how many of you today, are still allowing yourself to be ruled by the Law of the Medes and the Persians?

You know what I mean? In other words it can not be changed. So you don’t repent. When you’re wrong, you don’t say I’m sorry. When you’ve chosen the way to go… you continue in it even if it’s disobedient… even if it’s heading toward death.

How many of you in your life, your family, your spirituality, and your marriage, would say, “You know what, I went the wrong way, but it’s too late now.” How many of you think it’s like you’ve run the red light, you’re through the intersection, and you can’t hit the brakes… you can’t back up… the only option is to move forward? Well let me tell you, that is a lie of the Devil. I want to assure you today that our God is a God of u-turns… that Jesus is better… there’s always an invitation… there is always an opportunity to repent and to trust God to turn the tables. It’s never too late as long as there is breath in your lungs!

You see Jesus Christ died for your sins two thousand years ago. He loved you so much that he gave himself for you. Nothing can diminish his love for you. And today we are more than conquerors through him who loved us… nothing in all of creation is able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39). And so, it depends on you. No more excuses, no more blame-shifting, no more throwing up your hands in resignation. It’s repenting. When you’ve done something wrong, say you’re wrong. When you’re acting stupid, say you’re stupid. When you’ve made a mistake, try and make it right by the grace of God. Our part is repentance… God’s part is to turn the tables.

Repentance from us is simply: “God, I’m wrong, I’m sorry.” Then God turns the tables and says: “I’m going to show up and do something amazing.” And this is how God works, because Jesus is better. He came down from heaven to live in poverty and humility… he came down to live the sinless life we should’ve… our God turned the tables. We were destined to die for our sins, but Jesus came down and died in our place for our sins. We are unrighteous and sinful, but Jesus took our sins and gave us his righteousness. Our sin brought us death, but Jesus’ death brought us life. Jesus died and was buried, but he rose to conquer death. And lastly, Jesus is coming again to reverse the curse.

The Lord Jesus will return, he will turn the tables on a world that rejected him, to judge and rule over the world he created. On that day when he turns the tables in an ultimate, eternal, irrevocable moment, when the sick will be made well by Jesus, the lame will run to Jesus, the blind will see Jesus, the deaf will hear Jesus, the hungry will eat with Jesus, the weeping will be embraced by Jesus, the poor will be rich in Jesus, the humble will be raised up with Jesus, the victims will get justice through Jesus, and the dead will rise to be with Jesus.

Jesus is Better!

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