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Jesus is Better

It’s a Party

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(10/14) We’re going to read in a moment, from God’s Word in the Holy Scripture, 12 verses that are a summary statement for the entire book of Esther. And in those 12 verses we find the history of this holiday called Purim… I don’t know if you have any Jewish family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers, but they will have various feasts, festivals, and holidays that they celebrate throughout the year, one of which is Purim. And if you’ve ever wondered, “When did that begin or what is that all about?” We find it right here at the end of Esther. Purim is a party. As God’s people experience salvation, they respond with celebration, in this great holiday, the Jewish feast and festival of Purim.

And let me say this, as we read the Scriptures, we see the history of God’s people and we hear how God brought salvation to them. And that gives hope to us that the God who showed up in their day, has showed up in other days, and will show up today for us, our children, and our children’s children… that he will be there for them as well.

So as we’re reading this, God is communicating… he’s reminding us how he has acted in the past, so that we can celebrate that in the present, as an act of faith and hope for the future. And I want you to think about the particular ways that God’s salvation has come into your life… how he has saved you from some misfortune… maybe it was sickness… maybe it was from sin, temptation, and eternal condemnation. Whatever it was… unless you capture that moment… that period in your life… you won’t remember and you won’t celebrate that either. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could keep that joy… that spirit of rejoicing where salvation began… where God worked in you or your family and you could share that with generations to come?

How many of you remember the date when you were saved… when you were born again? That is important… it’s an anniversary… and it’s the cause for celebration.

You see we need to remember that we belong to something bigger than ourselves and we do that as we celebrate our redemption and our salvation. We do this together as the church, as the people of God, when we celebrate Christmas… when we celebrate Easter… and these kinds of celebrations are significant, important, historic occasions for us to remember the past as we lean into the future. And that is what we see here in verse 20…

Let’s read together from Esther chapter 9, verse 20, “Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.

29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes — words of goodwill and assurance — 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther's decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.” NIV

1. But it’s not Heaven.

So this is a holiday in the kingdom of Xerxes. And I want to remind you that holidays are holy days… that’s what it means… a Holy Day! Yet oftentimes we celebrate apart from God… or we celebrate in defiance of God… maybe by excluding God… by eating too much… or drinking too much. You know some of us get more excited when our football team wins than we do when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What do you celebrate? What do you get excited about?

You see the ancient holidays were intended to celebrate with God, as we celebrate God, yet some of us need to learn to shout, to raise our hands, to throw parties, to rejoice in the context of worship. And as we do, it becomes a catalyst for our faith… it’s easier to remember God… and it’s easier to remember when God showed up, and how God worked in our lives.

It’s a lot easier to celebrate... That’s what we learn about Purim… it’s a party but it’s not heaven.

You see even though God showed up in a big way… even though things are wonderful… even though things have changed… it’s not heaven. Look at chapter 10, verse 1. King Xerxes is still the king. Now was Xerxes a good king or a bad king? He was a bad king… he was a drunken, perverted, bad king. So they’re not celebrating a new king… they’re not expecting great change… they don’t have a new found hope… it’s just the same old king. He didn’t get saved. He didn’t fall on his face in repentance. He wasn’t crying out to the Lord for mercy. No… he was still a drunken, perverted, Persian king.

And what we see here is that you can still get excited, you can still throw a party, you can still worship and celebrate God even if you’re not super excited about the political leadership over you… I just had to say that… that’s something to think about isn’t it, but seriously, look at verse 1. “King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores.” King Xerxes raised their taxes and they throw a party. They throw a party during a tax increase, but this is no Tea Party. They’re not protesting. So why are they celebrating?

Now, here’s what I find interesting… they’re still where? They’re still in Persia… they’re not in Jerusalem. They’re still under king Xerxes… he’s still a pagan king… he’s an enemy of their God… their taxes haven’t gone down, they’ve actually gone up. And so they were about to be killed, everything they owned plundered, and they didn’t die, so he taxes them.

Things haven’t changed much in the past several thousand years have they?

Okay, so this is just government. They either kill you or tax you. You’ve got two options, that’s how it works… sounds familiar doesn’t it? And so what do God’s people do? They celebrate. Now if this was your home, it’s going to be hard to celebrate. But it’s not their home… they will be able to celebrate… and they do celebrate, because they know they’re part of a greater kingdom.

2. A Greater Kingdom.

So the bad news is that they have the same king, the same kingdom, and taxes are going up. The good news is that God loves them. He hasn’t dealt with all of their problems, but he’s dealt with their biggest problem… the annihilation of the entire race. And not only that but look at verse 3, “Mordecai the Jew was… preeminent…” He was, “held in high esteem… because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews” (Esther 10:3).

So not only did they see the salvation of God… not only did they have a revival of faith… but God gave them Mordecai. And they loved Mordecai because he ruled differently. Xerxes ruled through intimidation, he’s selfish, self serving, and self seeking. Yet Mordecai rules with love… he is very selfless, his decisions are for the good of all the people, and he wants the people to glorify God. So they love Mordecai and he’s become kind of like a father figure to them… kind of like George Washington. He’s the founding father. And the people love him in a fatherly way and he cares for them in a fatherly way.

And the Bible says, he spoke for the good of the people, he spoke blessing over them, he spoke the promises of God over them. That’s very important because the people began to understand the promise of a greater kingdom. The people began to take their eyes off themselves, off the political climate, off their pagan culture, and turned their eyes to heaven. To heaven where God had promised, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14).

So Mordecai was interceding for the people of God and I love the wording of the Amplified Version of this text. In verse 3, it says, “he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to his whole race” (AMP). He spoke of a kingdom of peace. And that’s actually a Jesus word. Remember Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. So don’t let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

You see God made the world in peace, but then sin came and destroyed that peace. Peace as God intended is the world without sin… peace is the world without death… peace is the world without terror, fear, oppression, or suffering. You see when God was done creating the world, he “saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). It was all peace, it was still, it was perfect, and it was right. It reflected the very character of God, and then sin was introduced through Adam to ruin, to attack, and to destroy that peace. And the result is that we live in a world that’s not peace… it’s been stained, corrupted, affected, and marred by sin.

And so Mordecai comes speaking peace, speaking life where there’s death, speaking truth where there’s lies, speaking light where there’s darkness. He’s echoing the truth of God, he’s echoing the love of God, and he speaks peace to the people, giving them a vision of what life could be like and will be like when the Lord Jesus Christ comes… the One who is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). So, when Mordecai speaks peace to the people, they love him, they embrace him, because they hear the eternal echo of the promise of a greater Kingdom. They know that Jesus is Better… that Peace is coming… the Prince of Peace is coming!

3. God Wins and his People Rejoice.

If you forget everything that you have read or heard in the Word of God, just remember that God wins and his people rejoice. We need to remember that because it’s been a long dark struggle through the book of Esther. Death is reigning, people are drunk, men are out of control, women are being abused, money’s being misspent, and everybody is fighting… but that’s just because, we’re still in the middle of the movie. So as they say… don’t throw out your popcorn… don’t walk out of the theater… wait until the end… it gets better… because “Jesus is Better.”

God wins and his people rejoice!

God’s going to work it all out and in the end, we’ll rise from death, sin will be no more, the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, will come again, and all our enemies will be destroyed just as Haman was. And we will live together as the people of God with a celebration that is much greater than Purim. We will be joining with the angels and all of heaven. We will be joining with God’s people from all times, from all the nations of the earth, singing the praises of the Prince of Peace.

And so for us, the end is at the end of this life, at the end of human history, where God wins and we rejoice! And until then, we’re in the middle of the story. And so what we need to remember from this great story of Esther, as we get to the end, we need to party… now in the end it’s a party… and it will be for all of God’s people. In the end, God wins and his people rejoice. That gives us hope… that keeps us going… because Jesus it Better.

And today, we’ve finished the whole book of Esther. We’ve gone through the complete book, verse-by-verse, and Jesus is not mentioned… not one time have we seen the name of Jesus in Esther. And so let me explain why, Jesus is the center and the heart of the whole story. All the stories of the Bible, all of the deliverances, all of the promises all the foreshadowing and types, are streams and tributaries that are coming together into a river of redemption for the story line of the Bible that leads us to Jesus.

So the big idea that we need to take away this morning is that the Bible’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s not about us. The Bible’s about Jesus… the Bible’s for us… but the Bible’s about Jesus who came and gave himself for us. You see there’s difference. You can know a lot of Scripture, but if you don’t know Jesus, you don’t understand it. That’s what Jesus said.

In the Bible, in John’s Gospel, Jesus told these really religious, really smart, really educated guys… “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40).

This morning have you come to Jesus? It takes humility but you need to receive the truth that you are a sinner, that Jesus is your Savior, and that you need to come to him for forgiveness. Jesus is the source of your spiritual life, the new birth of your soul, eternal life, and resurrection from death. You need to know the Savior who saved you. You need to come to him that you may have life.

Jesus is Better!

This message has been edited for readability. God bless you!

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