The Feast of Purim

Esther

The Feast of Purim

March 22nd, 1970 @ 10:50 AM

Esther 1-10

Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days. And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace; Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment: And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king’s face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;) What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains? And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. And when the king’s decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: For he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people. After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so. Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter. So it came to pass, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women. Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it. And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her. Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;) Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house. In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name. Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king. And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate. Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai’s name. And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king. After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment? Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar. And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed. When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; And came even before the king’s gate: for none might enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. So Esther’s maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not. Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king’s chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was. So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king’s gate. And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people. And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai; All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. And they told to Mordecai Esther’s words. Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is; If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said. Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made. On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him. And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king’s house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in. So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour. And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. And while they were yet talking with him, came the king’s chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared. So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom. Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage. Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so? And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king. Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified. On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews’ enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her. And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews. Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king, And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces: For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred? Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews. Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse. Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace. And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;) The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them. And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand. On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done. Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows. And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand. But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey, On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another. And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book. And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.
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THE FEAST OF PURIM

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Esther 1-10

3-22-70    10:50 a.m.

 

On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor first inviting all of our people to the fifty-first year that we have conducted services in a downtown theatre, and ever since the Palace Theatre has been built, we have had our services there.  They are at high noon each day, beginning tomorrow.  The message tomorrow is entitled We Believe in God; on Tuesday, We Believe in Christ; on Wednesday, We Believe in the Bible; and on Thursday, We Believe in the Judgment; and on Friday, We Believe in the Atonement.  These things we believe.  And could I say to our members, we are hosts to the city of Dallas in those unusual and God blessed services?  And you be there if at all possible, from twelve o’clock to about twelve thirty-five or forty.

Now as you know, this is the Feast of Purim, a time when our Jewish people celebrate an unusual and significant deliverance.  I was asked if I would not preach on that Feast of Purim, which is the story in the Book of Esther.  I’ve never done anything like that.  So I said I would try.  And being a beautiful book in the Bible, I pray God will bless its message to our Jewish people, God’s chosen family, and to us.

Haven’t you read, haven’t you heard, don’t you hear it everywhere?  These pockets of poverty and these ghettos on the wrong side of the railroad track or in a section of squalor and filth and dirt in the city, that these are the breeding places of crime, and violence, and armed robbery, and rape.  And the sociologist comes by, and he is repeated like a refrain by your editors and your commentators and your politicians, “What is needed to solve the criminal problem in America and what is needed to rid ourselves of all of those acts of violence and assault is to upgrade these people; for the solution,” they say, “lies in affluence, in economic amelioration.  And if we can raise the economic level of these people, put them in palaces and give them all of the accouterments of wealth, then we have done with the problem of crime and of violence.”  Good.  Let’s look at that.

Here in the Bible we are first introduced in the first chapter of Esther to a man by the name of Ahasuerus [Esther 1:1].  From Persian – he was the king of the Medo-Persian Empire – from Persian, into Hebrew, into English, his name comes out Ahasuerus.  From Persian into Greek, into English, his name comes out Xerxes.  His father was the Darius who led the Persian armies in the invasion of Greece and who was defeated at the battle of Marathon.  His son is this Xerxes, who gathered a host like the sands of the sea for number.  He’s the one that scourged and whipped the Hellespont because it blew away his bridges.  He’s the one that built a throne to watch Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans destroyed at the Battle of Thermopylae.  He is the one that built another high throne to see his fleets destroy the ships of Greece; but who under Themistocles destroyed the whole Persian fleet from off the Mediterranean Aegean Sea.  This is that Ahasuerus.

He lived in a golden palace.  Would you not think according to these sociologists that a man who lived in a golden palace would live in a veritable sanctuary?  This man sleeps on a golden couch [Esther 1:6].  Would you not think according to the sociologists that a man who sleeps on a golden couch would rise to all manner of benefactions?  This man drinks out of a golden cup [Esther 1:7].  Would you not suppose according to the sociologist that a man who drinks out of a golden cup would be a paragon of virtue and excellence?  This man eats off of a silver platter.  Would you not suppose according to the sociologist that the man who eats off of a silver platter would be a man who walks in marvelous rectitude before his people?  I open the book to the first chapter of Esther, and that palace is worse than a stable; and Ahasuerus and his one hundred twenty-seven provincial governors are as filthy and as dirty as if they lived in a pigsty.  Would you not have thought that the men who were gathered in this great national convocation would have left it as heroes and chieftains of virtue and excellence?  But rather they reel from it; they stagger from it like half beasts and half demons.

Isn’t that funny?  They teach us these things, and all the time the only difference in a poor man and a rich man if he’s a thief, if he’s a poor man he’s a poor thief, if he’s a rich man he’s a rich thief.  But whether he’s poor or whether he’s rich, if he’s a thief he’s a thief, whether he’s rich or whether he’s poor.  The poor man may be with a gun, plotting the robbery of a 7-Eleven store; but the rich man, if he’s a thief, will be plotting to cheat his stockholders out of all of their investments.  They’re just the same.  Yet they would persuade us that the difference in crime and virtue is a difference in economics.  God says that’s a lie; and human history says that’s a lie!

The Lord Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesseth” [Luke 12:15].  And there is no record in human history that riches, and wealth, and affluence, and material possession ever raises the moral rectitude and virtue of the people.  In fact, if I can read history at all, I would say that as long as those Romans were virtuous and hard-working people that they were able to expand, conquer; but when the affluence of the provinces of the Roman Empire that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea poured their wealth in the city of Rome, it found itself in a morass, and it bogged down in depravity, and luxury, and wanton immorality.  And that’s exactly what happened here in the first chapter of the Book of Esther [Esther 1:1-9].  The king, Ahasuerus, and his princes have given themselves to voluptuous iniquity and to compromising carnality; and that’s the scene as the book opens.  I don’t charge anything for that, that’s just free.

And of course, as you know, the men in their drinking and in their debauchery and in their orgy, they are like all other men.  There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t see this in the men here in the city of Dallas.  We want to have the accouterments of a stag party; “So bring on the queen, beautiful, beautiful woman, that we may look upon her beauty.”  Doesn’t change; that’s the way it was then, that’s the way it is today in the city of Dallas.  And some of my own men I’ve had others say, “Did you know I saw one of your deacons down there on the front row at that stag party?”  Wouldn’t that thrill your heart?  See, they’re just the same:  human depravity, whether it’s in Ahauerus and his princes, or whether it’s in the First Baptist Church, it’s just all the same, all the same.  Pretty hard for anyone of us to lift up ourselves and point a finger at anybody else; just all the same.  “Bring on the queen that we may behold her beauty.”  And God bless her, whoever Vashti was, she refused, “I will not do it” [Esther 1:10-12].  And that’s why it was that they chose another queen [Esther 2:15-17].

Well, we are now introduced to the second man here.  He is a prince, and he is elevated by the king of the whole world, for the civilized world was in his hands [Esther 3:1].  And he was an absolute despot, an Oriental monarch.  And for no reason at all that I can see, he elevated this prince, whose name is Haman, he elevated him to be second in the kingdom [Esther 3:1].  But he was a little man; and the mark of a little man is he expects the fawning sycophancy of all of those around him.  So when Haman walked out in the streets, he expected all of the subjects of the kingdom to fall flat on their faces before him; the great Haman is walking by [Esther 3:2].  A little statue needs a high pedestal upon which to display itself; so little Haman needs the sycophantic genuflection of all of the people in order to feel himself important.

Same kind of a story––and I repeat human nature doesn’t change––that’s where the story of William Tell came from in Switzerland.  In the 1300s there was an Austrian duke, ruler of Switzerland, by the name of Gessler; he put his hat on a pole in Altdorf.  And when people passed by just his hat, they were to bow and remove their hats and bare their heads.  And there was a Swiss citizen of Altdorf by the name of William Tell who put his arm around his boy and refused to bow.  How do you like that?  He refused to bow.  And in Shushan, or Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire, there was an employee of the government, a Jew by the name of Mordecai, and when all of the citizens of Shushan bowed down when Haman passed by, Mordecai stood straight up [Esther 3:2].  A little man is big in his vengeful spirit.  And not only against Mordecai himself did he avow injury and evil, but he avowed it against the whole family and the whole race to which Mordecai belongs [Esther 3:3-6].

There’s always something of justification in a man’s reasoning for the confiscation of the property of these people.  They’re industrious; and wherever they are, whether in Israel or in Germany or in Russia or in the United States, wherever those people are, they work and they prosper, and they’re industrious, and they become affluent.  That happened, as it always has through the generations, in the Medo-Persian Empire.  And this man Haman, when he thought of the destruction of those people, he thought of the tremendous properties that would be appraised when he destroyed those families [Esther 3:2-6].  You see, Hitler had a reason for his anti-Semitism:  it was an excuse to bring into the coffers of their Fuhrer, the millions and millions and millions of dollars that were confiscated when the Jewish people were destroyed in Nazi Germany; there was a reason for it.

You know, it’s a strange thing about people.  Wherever they are that way, there’s always a big worm that eats at the heart.  I don’t know why except God made it that way; there’s always a black drop in the blood stream.  Look at Haman:  he was superstitious.  I have a little comment to make to you about that:  the less religion you have the more superstitious you are; and that’s a general rule that you’ll never see violated.  For example, I used to wonder where under high heaven are the people who read these astrological forecasts.  They’re published everyday in the papers.  Why, I said, “There’s nobody read those.  Why, we are Christian people, we love God; we’ve been saved.  We’ve been delivered.”  So I asked, “Why in the earth do you men who edit the daily newspapers of Dallas and everywhere else, everyday you faithfully print an astrological forecast?”

These people who gaze at the stars and think up there in that planetary system they find all those auspicious and propitious moments when they’re to do so and so, or not to do so; why, I said, “That’s impossible.”  And do you know what the editors told me?  They said that “We know this is inanity; but, if we dare to take that out, there is no thing that is separated from the paper that will raise a greater outcry than if we take out of the paper these astrological forecasts.”  Well, I thought, “Dear me, I gotta go to preaching again.”  Oh, the less you know God and the less you’ve got religion and the less you are spiritually inclined, the more superstitious you are; you just put that down in everybody’s life.  He’s got a hang up on something.

And Haman was.  So, he was looking for a propitious day and a propitious month in which to destroy Israel.  And he casts lots, Purim plural; Pur one lot, Purim, Purim, plural for lots; he cast lots in order to find the right month.  He cast lots until he found the right month, and he cast lots until he found the right day.  And as God had it, the month was the twelfth one; and they were casting lots in the first one [Esther 3:6-7].  So that’s the first evidence of the providence of God:  there is time, there is time.  Now, oh we must hasten.

Mordecai the Jew; why didn’t Mordecai bow? [Esther 3:2].  He explained to Haman that he was a Jew and he didn’t worship but God [Esther 3:4].  How do you like that?  I say that’s great!  And these people who bow down before a man and kiss his hand, to me, are the antithesis of what God expects in a Christian believer and disciple of the true Jehovah up there in heaven.  We are not to bow before any man.  And this man Mordecai said to Haman, explained to him, that he was a Jew and didn’t worship or bow before anyone but God.  You know what my observation of most people is?  They’d bow down to a dog if they felt it would further their lot, increase their salary, bring them something of reward.  What is it to bow down?  “Why, that’s nothing, just bowing down.”  But God says it’s something.  You’re not to bow down before any man.  You’re not to bow down before any image [Exodus 20:4-5].  You’re not to bow down before any graven image.  You’re not to bow down to anyone except the Lord thy God.  “Hear O Israel”: this is the great Shema, “There is one God, there is one Lord; and Him only thou shalt serve, love, adore, worship the Lord thy God.  And Him only shalt thou serve, and thou shalt teach that to your children, and to your children’s children” [Deuteronomy 6:4-7].  Well Mordecai explained that to Haman, “I’m a Jew, and we don’t bow down before men or before images” [Exodus 20:4-5].

I tell you, the more I read about these Jews the better I like them.  I am far in spirit kindred to a Jew than I am to a whole lot of the segments of the Christian so-called church.  I don’t believe in images; and I don’t believe in bowing down before idols.  “Oh, but you don’t understand, pastor, this is not the thing itself; this is just to bring back to my mind this saint, or this so and so.”  Did you know the idolater of Greek would have said that same thing to you?  “Why, I don’t believe Pallas Athena is there; this just brings to my mind Pallas Athena, the goddess who lives up there on Mount Olympus. . . This is not Demeter, I realize, this just brings to my mind Demeter.”  God calls that idolatry; and it is nothing else but idolatry.  God says you are not to make unto you any graven image; and you are not to bow down before it, you are not to do it [Exodus 20:4-5].  And that’s what Mordecai said to Haman:  “I am a Jew [Esther 2-4], and I don’t bow down.”  I like this man [Mordecai].  Over here he exhibits a tremendous faith and one that I believe in.  He said to Esther, he said:

Who knoweth but that thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

You Esther, you hesitate to go in before the king to plead for the life of God’s people;

But Esther, know this:  that if you do not make that appeal, then deliverance will arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed

[Esther 4:14].

Isn’t that great?  “God will preserve and keep and deliver.  It is just that I am persuaded that God has chosen you to do it.  But if you do not, deliverance will come from some other place” [Esther 4:14].  That is one of the great tenants of the faith.  However the storm shall roar, and the waves rise, and the earth quake and the very stars fall out of the sky, somehow it shall be well with the righteous; God taking care of His own.  That’s what the Lord meant when He showed Moses on the back side of the Midian desert a bush that flamed unconsumed [Exodus 3:2].  It was a picture of God’s people, the fiery furnace, and the fury of tribulation and persecution, and the wastes of governments cannot destroy the people of God or the kingdom of our Lord.  He believed that; we believe that.  He was a good man and a kind man [Esther 4:14].

Hadassah was her name [Esther 2:7].  Hadassah was his uncle’s daughter; his father’s brother’s daughter.  So Mordecai and Hadassah were cousins.  And when she was chosen queen, she was given the name of Esther, Star—I think that’s a beautiful name, Esther, Star.  Now the plot, the plot: Haman says to Ahasuerus the King, “I will give you ten thousand talents of silver if you let me destroy these people who are disloyal subjects in the empire” [Esther 3:9].  Ahasuerus didn’t even inquire or ask who they were; but the clink of that silver was all sufficient.  How much is ten thousand talents of silver?  I tried to figure it out and I don’t know; the price of metals so rise.  But a talent is a weight, it is a weight, like a shekel; a shekel is a weight in the Bible.  A talent is a weight, and a talent is all that one ordinary, strong man can carry; that’s a talent.

Now Haman offered to Ahasuerus ten thousand talents of silver; all the silver that ten thousand strong men could carry.  In my trying to find out how much that was, I learned – Herodotus in detail talks about Xerxes and his kingdom and all these things back there – Herodotus, by the computation of Herodotus, that ten thousand talents of silver would equal two-thirds of the income of the entire province in tribute for one whole year; it was an enormous sum.  And the king greedily took it.  And then the Scriptures say, “And they sat down to drink” [Esther 3:15].  And the king and Haman sat down to drink.

Whenever you see that in any life, in any corporation, you’ve got trouble.  Just look ahead of you; you’ve got troubles.  You’ve got troubles in the man’s life, you have troubles in the man’s home, you have troubles in the man’s children, and you’ve got troubles in the corporation.  “And the king and Haman sat down to drink.”  And then it says, “And Haman stood up and went forth glad” [Esther 5:9].  Oh, why shouldn’t he?  Why, the whole world has been thrust into his hand, and all he has to do is walk down the glory road to the golden throne; think of it.  Having the world in your hand, to wear it like a jewel or to play with it like a toy, think of it; or to put it on like an ornament, or to sit on it like a golden throne.  The whole world in his hands, and that hated Jew; for him he built a gallows fifty cubits high [Esther 5:14].

But where is God all this time?  So many times do we think that.  Look at this world, and look at our own nation, and look at this thrust of dark and atheism; but back yonder, and over there, and up there, and way down here God:  look at this, “And it came to pass that on that night could not the king sleep” [Esther 6:1].  Isn’t that something?  The king could not––how many “could nots” will you find in human history?––the king could not sleep.  On that night, that particular night, he couldn’t sleep.  So he called for the books of the chronicles of the kings of Persia to be read before him [Esther 6:1].

And many times in the Bible you’ll hear those chronicles referred to.  He calls for the chronicles; and the book happens to open just right there.  Why didn’t it open two chapters ahead?  Or why didn’t it open just one leaf behind?  But it opens right there, just right there.  And it opened at the place where the chronicle had written a story of how the king’s life had been saved by that Jew Mordecai [Esther 6:2].  And the king listening to the reading of the chronicles said, “Mordecai saved my life; I remember that.  Was anything done to honor him?”  No [Esther 6:3].  Then the following story that I haven’t time to follow through [Esther 6:4-7:10].

God’s hand keeping His people.  God’s hand directing His people.  God’s hand preserving His people.  I have some deep persuasions about you and about Dallas and about America.  I don’t think God will deliver that nation to destruction who sends out missionaries, and who preaches the Bible, and who loves Jesus [Psalm 33:12].  I don’t think so.  I think there’s a hand of God to stay the enemy, if He sees His people on their knees in prayer, in supplication, in reverential worship and adoration [2 Chronicles 7:14].  According to the Book I believe that.  And I think the same thing about you.  I think there’s deliverance for you.  Whatever the problem, whatever the tribulation, whatever the impossible deranging, unnerving, devastating, indescribable heartache, I think there’s deliverance for those who place their trust in God, for He lives, and He looks, and omnipotence is in His hands [Isaiah 41:10].  That’s what the Book of Esther was about: that God’s people might be encouraged in the faith, and that we might have great assurance in our Christian lives as we walk in the providential love and gracious mercies of the blessed Jesus.

Now we must sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you anywhere in this throng, in the balcony round, on this lower floor, come, make the decision now just where you’re seated.  And in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming.  Do it and God will bless you in the way.  He will walk down that aisle with you, and He will walk out that door with you.  Come, “Here I am, pastor, I make it now.”  Do it, while we stand and while we sing.

THE FEAST OF PURIM

Esther 1-10

3-22-70

I. The king

1.    Ahasuerus, Xerxes

2.    Son of Darius

3.    Opulence, decadence, filthy living

II. The prince

1.    Haman

2.    Second in the kingdom

3.    Demanded to be worshipped

4.    Jealous of the Jews in Persia, sought and planned their destruction via the king’s decree

III. The Jew

1.    Mordecai

2.    Would not bow to Haman

3.    He knew God would preserve the Jews through Esther

IV. Day of judgment

1.    Haman exposed to the king as the enemy of the Jews

2.    God is omnipotent