Mark Driscoll's sermon on today's passage: Jesus Has a Better Kingdom
King Xerxes was drunk. Not surprising after the 180 days plus 1 week crazy party that he had going on. And, of course, we all know that you make your very best decisions when you're drunk. So, he sends the eunuchs (because only eunuchs would be allowed anywhere near the King's massive harem) to summon Queen Vashti to parade before the thousands of drunk men who are in a near animal state of debauchery, wearing her crown - possibly only her crown.
And Queen Vashti, rightly, refuses. She bravely refuses the King that no one ever says no to. Not ever.
And he, not surprisingly, gets furious. And in his fury he also becomes defensive, which we do when we actually know we're wrong but are determined to be proven to be right. And he gets his "wise men" to help build a case against Vashti.
Driscoll gives us an example:
“I’m the king, she’s not. I sit on a throne, she doesn’t. I rule over the world, she’s lucky to have me. I give orders and everybody obeys, she should have obeyed. She’s my wife. What right does she have to say no to me? And she’s humiliated me in front of the men. How can I rule as a king without my dignity intact? Oh yes, and the men are right. If she defies me, then we’ll have anarchy and corruption. She’s taking down the whole empire.”
Isn’t it amazing how one unrepentant person can build a case that sounds pretty convincing? Satan is not only a deceiver, he also helps us to deceive ourselves.
And, of course, it was an international crisis....
“Well, you know, King, if we don’t do something, we’re all jerks like you, and our wives are all frustrated like yours, and if yours tells you to stuff it, ours are going to tell us to stuff it. This is now a crisis.”
And their solution? Vashti's punishment? It's actually quite ironic and funny. She didn't come when he called her, so her punishment is that she will never see him again! Hmmm, I don't think she minded that very much, do you?
And they want the King to find a new Queen, better than Vashti - and their definition of better is a wife that stays quiet and just does what she's told.
Driscoll points out several things we can learn from this account.
First of all for the men.
1) The standard of beauty is your spouse. (that applies for men and women, of course). If the person you marry has dark hair, then you like dark hair. If the person you marry is short, you like short.
2) Your wife is not a trophy to be paraded about for men to ogle.
3) Your wife should be your best friend. King Xerxes and Queen Vashti were obviously not friends. You don't treat your friends the way Xerxes treated Vashti. You don't. You shouldn't get married because of money or power or sex or comfort or any other reason other than love, and friendship.
4) We need to recognize your own weaknesses in Xerxes. In your heart do you love money? Power? Sex? Comfort? Food? Drink? From swimsuit issues to Victoria Secret ads to cheerleaders - the temptations are out there. Don't presume you're better than he is and invincible to temptation. Be on your guard.
Then the ladies
1) Submission does not mean doing something against the moral law of God - which obviously includes anything that is degrading, humiliating or endangering. If your husband asks you to sin, or to cover up his sin - you say no. NO!
2) You need to learn to stand up for yourself and say no when it is appropriate - lovingly, respectfully, prayerfully, say no. Woman was made to be a helper to her husband, and being quiet or not saying no, is often not helpful.
3) You are not a trophy for your husband to parade about for men to ogle. If your boyfriend is doing that, dump him. Straight up. Dump him. If your husband is doing that - say no, and cover up.
In general - when you are wrong, repent. Repent! It doesn't matter if you are more powerful, if you are wrong repent. Whether you're a boss or a parent or a president or a husband or a pastor - if you're wrong, repent! Don't become defensive, don't try to justify your actions or make excuses. Repent. That's the easiest way to solve the problem, and it's the godly and right thing to do.
King Xerxes made up a law that each man should be ruler of his household and that the women should all be quiet and just say yes. Well, guess what. Just because something is legal doesn't make it morally right.
Adultery is legal. But it's a sin.
Abortion is legal. But it's a sin.
Homosexual marriage is legal (in Canada and in parts of the States, I think). But it's a sin.
It doesn't matter if the state legalizes immorality, we answer to a higher law - God's law.
The laws of the state always change.... Only God is always right. Only God never makes a mistake. Only God never speaks an errant word. Only God is unchanging. Only God is perfect, and holy, and righteous, and glorious, and good. And when God gives a sovereign decree, and it is written down, and it is transmitted, and it is translated, it is to be obeyed by everyone, everywhere.
But what continually happens in that kingdom, in our kingdom, is people don’t want to repent. And so, like Xerxes, we like to rewrite the laws. We like to reinterpret the laws that God has already given. We don’t write Scripture. We don’t rewrite Scripture. We repent and obey. We repent and obey.
Xerxes was a great king, but he was an evil king. But the truth is, it doesn't matter who would be on the throne, we are all faulty and flawed and fallen sinners. So there will never be a glorious kingdom here on earth. Never.
Again, I love how Driscoll ends his sermon....
There is a great, aching need at this point in human history. It is crying out, “Where is one to sit on the throne? Is there another king? Is there another kingdom? Is there more hope? Is there any help? Will a king come?” And this is one of the last books of the Old Testament, and there are four hundred silent years, and the heart of God’s people is aching, and quaking, yearning. “Where is a king? Where is a king?”
And he’s high and exalted, and he’s ruling, seated on a throne, and he does something that Xerxes never did. He got off his throne, and he came down to this confused, fallen, flawed, failed world, and he came not to take, but to give. He came not to enslave us, but to free us. And so the story of Esther falls within the storyline of the Scriptures that’s all about Jesus, and if we don’t allow Jesus to come into the story through the themes of king and kingdom, all we’re left with is moralism. Xerxes was a bad guy, Esther was a good girl. Be like Esther, not like Xerxes. That’s not enough. The Bible’s not just good news for what we can do; it’s good news for what God has done.
And so the heart’s cry here is, “There has to be a better kingdom. There has to be a better king.” Xerxes sat on his throne, feeding sin, and our King Jesus got off his throne to forgive sin. Amen? Xerxes appealed to our depraved nature, King Jesus comes to give us a new nature. Amen? King Xerxes’ words are no longer read and obeyed, but King Jesus’ words will forever be read and obeyed. Amen? Xerxes gave people what they want, King Jesus gives people what they need. Amen?
Xerxes banished his people from his presence, King Jesus never banishes any of his people from his presence. Amen? Xerxes paraded his wife degradingly, King Jesus, at the end of time, parades his wife spotless, pure, gloriously. Amen? Xerxes no longer sits upon a throne, but King Jesus sits high and exalted, risen from death, ascended into glory, forever upon his throne. Amen? Xerxes died and his people died, King Jesus rose and his people will rise to be with him forever. Amen? And Xerxes’ kingdom has come to an end, but King Jesus’ kingdom never comes to an end. Amen? Alright! Let’s honor our king.
Lord Jesus, you are high and exalted. Right now, Revelation tells us over, and over, and over, you’re high, you’re exalted, you’re seated upon a throne. The nations surround you. They cry out worshiping you day and night. The angels join them. Lord Jesus, you alone are the King of kings. Your throne alone is occupied by a great and glorious ruler. Your kingdom is coming and it will never end. Lord Jesus, keep us hungry for more, more of your kingdom, more of your glory, more of your presence. Give us a new nature with new desires to where we no longer are satisfied with the pursuits of this world and its kings and its kingdoms. And Lord Jesus, it is my prayer that we would be your kingdom people, that every decision we would make would simply be one of, “Does this honor or dishonor my king? Does this glorify or not glorify my king?” And Lord Jesus, we thank you that despite history being filled with kings and rulers who come and go, it’s your throne, above all, coming eventually to rule over all, where there is a King worthy of our worship to be met. Lord Jesus, you are a better King, you provide a better kingdom, and to that we say amen.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Esther 2:1-18