Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013 ~by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 27, 28
Today's scripture focus is Esther 9:1-19
Today's Driscoll sermon: Jesus is a Better Reversal

Jesus said in Matthew 20:16
"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

and today's Driscoll sermon shows us in the book of Esther just how true that verse is.

And in a great reversal, the man who 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 family.

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 reversal, takes the position of Haman. He becomes the second most powerful. He gets the signet ring, the power of attorney, to act on behalf of King Xerxes. He has an opportunity, now that he has inherited the entire estate of Haman, to reverse this death sentence that is on God’s people.

It was a reversal in what was expected, in what was anticipated, in what was decreed. No one could have possibly imagined that such a huge reversal could have happened. Instead of receiving a death sentence, the Jews were given permission to defend themselves. They were given the opportunity to reverse their outcome.

How often do we pray for a reversal in our lives? How often do we long for an about-face that takes us in a totally new direction? Do we cry out in exasperation when we think things are too horrible, too big, or too difficult?? What can we do?

"Our part, friends, is repentance. God’s part is reversal. God can and does show up and change everything in an instant. 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 reverse everything in an instant.

The cancer could be cured, the marriage could be healed, the children could return, the unemployment could be rescinded, the suffering could be alleviated. You and I, we lose hope when we look at circumstance and we don’t look up to God and how he might intervene and, in an instant, reverse everything and all of our suffering. It says that everything was reversed for the people of God. A great reversal occurred."

God has the power to reverse....and He did.

Sometimes when I read about the battles in the bible where many lives are lost, I can't help but think about these lives as individuals--as sons, fathers, uncles, cousins and the people they left behind. I wonder why God would issue the command that would result in the annihilation of thousands of people. After all, isn't not killing others a commandment? I did appreciate Driscoll's thoughts on this particular mass loss of life:

"The sentence was sent out by Haman: “You can kill all the Jews on this day.” And then Mordecai gives a reverse decree designating that God’s people can defend themselves. So, the warning was given: don’t attack God’s people, they will respond, you could die. Some did not relent or repent, and as a result, they attacked and were destroyed." (emphasis mine)

They were given a warning and those who chose not to obey the warning were destroyed. How many of us listen to warnings we are given. Gentle nudging from God, observations by our friends and families, outright signs to warn us of imminent dangers ahead. Do we obey?

"How many of you, your business, your life, your family, your spirituality, your marriage, you say, “You know what, we picked the wrong direction, but it’s too late now.” It’s like we’ve run the intersection, you can’t hit the brakes and back up, just proceed forward. That’s a demonic lie. There’s always an opportunity to repent and to trust God to make a reversal. It’s never too late as long as there is breath in your lungs, and then it is."(emphasis mine)

There is always an opportunity to repent and to trust God to make a reversal. Isn't that encouraging? No matter what the circumstance, there is always a chance to give God a chance to reverse the situation. What a great promise to cling to when things just seem so hopeless. When we repent, we are given hope of a reversal through the grace of God.

"Haman does not repent. He dies publicly, shamefully, and he is impaled, and his sons proceed forward with the plan of their father. You ever heard the old adage, “Like father, like son”? The Bible talks about the sins of the fathers. The boys are just like their dad. Ten of them.
Haman thought, “I will put to death all the people of God so that they will not have a legacy and a lineage,” and in a great reversal, he is put to death and his ten sons follow in his fateful example, and they are all impaled. They’re crucified. They’re put to death."

Haman, the man who should have never been born if Saul had followed what God had said, now leaves behind no family lines. All 10 of his sons are killed.  God has reversed Haman's plan and ultimately destroyed him. 

God knows what he is doing. As we read through the book of Esther, there are questions that don't have any answers and things that do not make sense. I loved this:

"The Bible’s honest, and when you read the Bible, everybody looks bad except for Jesus. There’s only one hero. So when we go to the book and we say, “I want a perfect hero. I want somebody who got it right. And when they make a mistake, I really struggle with that and I want to reinterpret the data.” Don’t.

Maybe Esther got it right, maybe Esther got it wrong. The truth is, either way, God does perfect work through imperfect people. God draws straight lines with crooked sticks.

Isn’t that hopeful for you and me? You say, “You know what? I’m not perfect.” Well, neither was Esther, neither was Mordecai....
...And it’s in the book because it’s the most honest book that’s ever been written, and it encourages us to be honest. “Here’s my sin, the sins of my family, the sins of my people. Let me be honest.” And it means that sometimes—maybe this is the point. Maybe the point of not knowing whether or not Esther acted in a noble way, maybe the point is sometimes you don’t know.

God does perfect work through imperfect people. Yes, He does. He is the God of hope through repentance. He is the God of change and chances. He is the God of Reversals.

Tomorrow's scripture focusEsther 9:20-10:3
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 29, 30

1 comment:

TammyIsBlessed said...

Great post Pam. I really liked this sermon by Driscoll and you pointed out pretty much all the parts that jumped out at me too.

I had never really noticed that Esther asked for Haman's 10 dead sons to be impaled. I liked how he explained the two positions and acknowledged that we really can't say definitely whether she was right or wrong because the Bible doesn't say and you could rationalize it both ways. (I tend to lean towards it being a wrong choice). But I liked the fact that he said - you know, some things in the Bible we just don't know. And in this case it's because it isn't something we have to know. It's not of primary importance, it does not affect our salvation.

And yeah, this is one brutally honest Book all right!