“For Such a Time As This” – Part 1
By Pastor Hal Mayer
I pray that the Lord has richly blessed you this past year as He has me. My experience has deepened through trials and victories, and I hope that yours has also. I pray that the sermons from Keep the Faith have been a great blessing to you and I hope that you are sharing them with others.
The powerful life story of Esther stands as a phenomenal lesson book of the Great Controversy. It is a story that has important lessons for all who read it in Scripture. Children love Esther and want to be like her, perhaps because it is the classic miracle success story with glamorous overtones. Children however, aren’t the only ones for whom this gripping and dramatic story is meant. The life of Esther is meant for those of us living at the very end of time. As we study this together over the next couple of months, I pray that you will gain an enormous blessing, but also that you will begin to see the Old Testament stories in a different way than you have ever seen them before. God put them there to open our eyes about the things coming upon us at the end of time, and to warn us of the dangers and issues involved in the events that are about to take place. After listening to this series of messages, you will never look at the old Bible stories in the same way.
Before we begin, let us once again ask God’s blessing upon our study together. Our Father in Heaven. Thank you for the stories in scripture that tell us of your love and your watch care over your people. Thank you for the evidence that reveals to us that we are living in the end time and that soon Jesus will come. But there is a crisis that will come upon God’s people just before Jesus comes and we want to be ready for that. As we study the story of Esther, please open to our minds to things we haven’t seen before. Give us fresh meat from the word to encourage us, comfort us and strengthen us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
There is a compelling statement in the book Adventist Home which we should read. It is found on pages 484 and 485. “To every household and every school, to every parent, teacher, and child upon whom has shone the light of the gospel, comes at this crisis the question put to Esther the queen at that momentous crisis in Israel’s history, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” You are an Esther in this last moment of earth’s history. You are called to this hour to be a witness to Christ and His truth. You have been called to the kingdom for such a time as this! But how many of God’s people have the character of Esther? How many are really preparing for the crisis that will call for the greatest faith and action this world and God’s church has ever seen! I dare say that few souls comprehend the enormous crisis and the momentous opportunities that lie ahead of those that are prepared for them.
But there is a larger and more advanced picture that we are given as we study the book of Esther. It involves the great controversy between Christ and Satan over God’s church, and it is an illustration of what is to take place at the end of time just before Jesus comes again, even down to some surprising details. Each main character in the story has his counterpart in the great controversy. The story of Esther mirrors the last crisis in the seen and unseen worlds.
Let us read from Prophets and Kings page 605. ”The trying experiences that came to God’s people in the days of Esther were not peculiar to that age alone. The revelator, looking down the ages to the close of time, has declared, “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. …The same spirit that in ages past led men to persecute the true church, will in the future lead to the pursuance of a similar course toward those who maintain their loyalty to God. Even now preparations are being made for this last great conflict.” I tell you friends, the story of Esther is God’s way of telling us what is coming and how it will come about. It also gives us assurance of God’s intervening hand keeping watch over His own.
Let us read the scriptures: Esther 1:1-3. “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:”
This is Xerxes the Great, known in scripture as Ahasuerus who ruled in the 5th century BC. He followed Darius Hystaspes, who had made the second decree releasing the Jews so that they could return to their homeland and rebuild the temple. Darius had given them great advantages. In Prophets and Kings we are told that God foresaw that a terrible time was to come upon God’s people and thus He moved upon Darius to encourage them to leave. Those that did not leave however came face to face with death. Do you think that this has applications for us today? God has told us over and over that we must leave the cities, for example. Yet many of God’s people fail to obey Him. In spite of difficulties (as it was back then), it is more easy now than it will ever be. Those who are praying and pleading with God for this, will have an answer. It may require sacrifice, but God will make a way. When God’s will is made known to us, it rests with us to take action and follow His counsel depending on Him to open the doors of opportunity as He did for the Jews under Darius. But to remain where God has told us not to be, is folly. The final crisis will be greater in the cities and more intense, than in the more remote areas of the world.
But that favorable time to leave had passed for the Jews in Babylon and they were now about to face a time of trouble such as they had never experienced – a death decree. Do you think God’s warnings today are for our good? We are about to face a time of trouble such as never was, and we need His warnings and counsel more than ever.
Yet the marvelous loving kindness of God is seen in preparing a deliverance for His people. Aren’t you thankful that God is so kind and gracious? Do you think that God will make a way of deliverance for His people from the time of trouble such as never was? Of course He will. But if we do not obey Him, that deliverance will not be for us.
Keep in mind as we study, that a human allegory of divine things does not “stand on all fours,” so to speak. Human beings, and especially carnal ones, can never fully reflect God’s character or His purposes, yet there is an overriding principle in the story that transcends human limitations. It is that principle that we are going to study, and I think you will be amazed as we do. When God wants to talk to us about big and important things, He uses human stories to illustrate it. For example Ahasuerus is carnal and loves to party and get drunk, but yet we can see that he plays an important role in the illustration of the final crisis that the book of Esther presents.
Another example of the allegorical nature of Esther involves the feast. A feast is a principle of God’s kingdom too. Though it is not a debauched feast, it is nevertheless, a very important element. After all, you and I are invited to a feast called the marriage supper of the lamb. And Jesus Himself knocks at our heart’s door and promises to come in and feast or sup with us. Meals should be a very bonding time, and God used feasts and meals in the sanctuary service, in the ordinances He left for His church, in the new earth, and in other ways to bond His people to Himself. Ahasuerus’ feast, though greatly faulted, is a dim symbol of the feast that God wants to have with you and me. And you’ll see why.
Now notice verse 4. “When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even and hundred and fourscore days.” For six months Ahasuerus held this feast. It went on and on. Notice that he showed the people the riches of his glorious kingdom. Isn’t that what God wants to do? Doesn’t God want to show you the riches of His grace, His character and the rich principles of His kingdom? Notice
Ephesians 2:7 “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” What a wonderful God we serve.
Think about it, you are invited to be a prince or princes and a noble in the heavenly kingdom. You are invited to become part of the power of the universe, and to come to a feast with Christ where He will show you His majesty and power by the lives and testimony of His followers. Revelation 1:6 says that we are going to be “kings and priests” unto God with Christ on His throne, and one day He is going to show us the wonders of His universe similar to what Ahasuerus did in his day. We will be dazzled by heaven’s glory, in much the same way as the common people at Ahasuerus’ feast were dazzled by the beauty and glory of the court in verse 6. “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.”
Listen to this statement from Conflict and Courage , page 243. “Occasions of indulgence such as are pictured in the first chapter of Esther, do not glorify God. But the Lord accomplishes His will through men who are nevertheless misleading others… [T]he Lord works out His plans through men who do not acknowledge His lessons of wisdom. In His hand is the heart of every earthly ruler, to turn whithersoever He will, as He turneth the waters of the river.”
So God speaks to us from behind the scenes, from the shadows, from His vantage point. In spite of his indulgence and licentiousness, Ahasuerus reveals some things about the future that we would not otherwise see. Even though he may have been duped by Haman, the net result is the same as in the great controversy and the final crisis. God must allow Satan to play out his agenda in the world and in the church. Therefore in spite of human wickedness, God used Ahasuerus to represent Himself in the great controversy and final crisis, and open our minds to the surprising nature of these things.
Ahasuerus for example is the ultimate judge. His word is law, and his decisions are final. There is no appeal beyond him. He occupies the same position in the kingdom that God does in the great controversy. Though he is human, and a rather debased one at that, God in His mercy to us places him in this story in such a way that we can see the justice of God over the enemies of God’s people. Ahasuerus cannot represent God in the fullest sense, but he plays a role in the controversy which is similar to the role that God must play also.
Verse. 5. “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;”
So now there is another feast. This time it is just for those in the palace city of Susa, or Shushan, which is about 150 miles east of Babylon in modern Iraq. This feast shows the generosity of Ahasuerus. He is actually a man that is interested in all his subjects, even the menial ones. The description of the palace reveals to us that it must have been a most gorgeous place, a sight unfamiliar to many of the people in attendance. Likewise, no doubt, our eyes will dazzle at the sight of the heavenly palace where Jesus is going to feast with us.
Now notice vs. 7. “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.”
Ahasuerus’ wine was no doubt fermented, but it is never forced upon the people. Christ never forces the will or the conscience. And in the last days, when truth and light from God’s holy word is more abundant than at any other time in history, God still lets His subjects choose whether or not to accept it.
Now the story begins to get interesting. Verses. 10 and 11. “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 show the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.”
Notice the king’s purpose. He wanted to show all his people and rulers the beauty of his queen. Isn’t that what God wants to do with His church? Isn’t it God’s purpose to reveal Himself through the character of His people? In scripture a woman represents a church. God’s church is His bride. Let me read it to you from the Spirit of Prophecy.
“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church,—He the bridegroom, and the church the bride.” That’s the General Conference Bulletin, July 1, 1902. Though in other places the bride is described as the New Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem represents the center of Christ’s kingdom, His palace, His Shushan. The people are part of His royal kingdom. Their loyalties and affections are on Jerusalem, wherein is the palace and the temple. Therefore the New Jerusalem also represents God’s church where He dwells and over which He rules.
Verse 12. “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.”
Can you think of a church that refused to obey God and that refused to reveal His glory and character? Of course you can. Israel failed to represent the Glory and character of God. They refused to obey Him. They stoned the prophets, they went whoring after idols, and they rejected the Son of God. They could no longer be His channel of light to the world. God had to depose them from being His church, just as Ahasuerus deposed Vashti. God had to chose another church just like king Ahasuerus had to choose another bride.
Verse 16. “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.”
Vashti had lost her influence. She could no longer represent the king in her sphere of influence. Likewise Israel lost the influence that God had given her, and could no longer represent Him. Notice too that the counselors were afraid that there would “arise too much contempt and wrath.” Imagine what would have happened if Israel had fulfilled God’s purpose. Do you think we would have had so many bloody wars in history? Do you think we would have witnessed the holocaust? Do you think we would be facing the results of the feminist movement and the gay movement, both of which arise, to a certain extent, from too much contempt and wrath? When God’s principles of family order are disturbed, it creates baleful results. Here in the story of Esther, we see a prediction of what would happen to society if there were multitudes of dysfunctional families. It is a pointed warning about the very time in which we live, just before the final crisis.
Some years after Vashti is dethroned, Ahasuerus gets around to choosing a new queen. He had been at war with the Greeks and had been distracted. The king’s servants propose a simple plan. Bring all the most beautiful women to the palace, and then “take your pick.”
Now another character in the epic story is introduced. His name is Mordecai. Before we find out whom he represents in the great controversy, let us learn something about him. He is a keeper or guardian of the gate of the palace. Perhaps he is even the one in charge of palace security. He may also have been responsible for the chamberlains or eunuchs that guarded the inner doors of the palace. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In many ways, Mordecai actually represents Christ in the great controversy. He is the guardian of the way into the king, symbolically illustrating the work of Christ in opening the way to eternal fellowship with our Father in Heaven. It is through Christ that we have forgiveness of sins, favor with God, and an eternal home in heaven. Without Christ it is impossible to have access to the Father.
There are other ways in which Mordecai represents Christ. Hi is the great antagonist to Haman just as Christ is the great antagonist to Satan. Note that he brought up Hadessah in verse 7, which happens to be his cousin. He has adopted her into his family when her parents died. What has Christ done to His church? He has adopted it. He nurtures it and cares for it just like Mordecai adopted Hadessah, nurtured her and cared for her. Verse 7 tells us that he “took her for his own daughter.”
Mordecai was an insider in the palace. He was acquainted with all the happenings of the court. He was familiar with court proceedings and legal processes, the king’s plans, and is acquainted with the king’s family. Jesus likewise, is the great insider of heaven. He is familiar with heaven’s legal challenges in the great controversy; He is fully acquainted with the Father’s plans and is an intimate of the heavenly family. As the story unfolds, you will yet see other important parallels between Mordecai and Christ.
Verse 8 says “…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…”
Once most all of the other maidens had arrived at the palace, Mordecai sends Esther. This is strategic. He wants her beauty to catch them all by surprise. Esther obviously represents God’s church, but more specifically, she represents the last church or the remnant church. And when you think about it, most of the other churches are common place and mundane, both in doctrine and in character, in comparison to the remnant church. When people understand the Adventist message, they are often caught by surprise having never realized how deep and complete it is. Even though you can still find God in other churches, there is none so fair and beautiful as Christ’s last church. No doubt there was some jealousy among the other women at the bestowal of beauty lavished upon Esther, and perhaps unkind things were said about her among the other virgins. Likewise, it shouldn’t surprise us that there are many unkind things said about God’s remnant church too. After all, no one can effectively and persuasively contest her doctrines and principles; her beauty, so they have to resort to unkind words.
Hegai does not know Esther’s birth name. He only knows her Persian name. Apparently Mordecai gave her the name Esther so that she would not have to reveal her true identity. Her name means “star.” And how fitting that Esther, a symbol of God’s church be represented as a star. The scripture says, “And he had in His right hand seven stars…” “The seven stars are the angel’s (or messengers) of the seven churches.” That’s Revelation chapter 1:16 and 20. These stars are the teachers and ministers of the church, represented as being in the hand of Christ. Likewise, the church is the messenger to the world. It is the bright star in Christ’s hand that reveals His character to the lost. The remnant church especially, is going to instruct the world in the highest and best principles of God’s kingdom. Even though most will tragically reject its teaching, it is a bright star in the darkest of times. How fitting that Mordecai gave Hadassah the name Esther. The church represents Christ, the bright and morning star. The Woman clothed with the sun, has a crown of twelve stars on her head. Men looked to the stars to guide their ships. The wise men, followed the star to the baby Jesus. The stars in the heavens have always provided assurance that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Likewise the church reveals this truth about God as a shining witness in the heavens.
Incidentally, there were many other women that were part of Ahasuerus’ kingdom. These women were to be instructed in the way of God by Esther. Likewise, God has many churches that are “not of this fold,” yet they are a part of His church because they follow the light they have. I believe whole churches will join Present Truth when they understand it and the Holy Spirit moves in on them. I know some that have already. It is God’s remnant people that are to teach them His ways and His truth, and lead them to safety.
Hegai is very impressed with Esther’s physical beauty, but it is her character and dignity that appeals to him. Verse 9 says that “he speedily gave her her things for purification,” and gave her the best place in the house of the women. When Esther comes to the palace, not only is she physically beautiful, but her countenance shines with a brightness and radiance of Christ’s character. The same is true when we have Jesus in our hearts. Our countenances will reveal His love and His power. And it is noticed. That is exactly what the church is supposed to do, reveal the character of Christ to the on-looking world, through its countenance and through its practice.
Verse 11 tell us that “Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.” Do you think that is what Jesus does with His church? Of course He does. Every day He looks after His people both personally, and His church collectively, to be sure that their needs are met, and that they are being nurtured in the fear and admonition of the Lord. That is why it is so important to spend time with Christ every day, to learn His will and take spiritual nourishment from Him. Without it, you cannot be a part of His church.
In verse twelve we are given an interesting view of the purification process that these women went through. I take special interest in this, because the plan of redemption is about purification also. God’s church must be purified, else it cannot be redeemed. But pay attention to this verse. It says; “(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;). Notice that the purification of Esther and the other maidens was one year long. Likewise, the round of sanctuary services, which was all about purifying the church, was one year long. Esther, in type, was purified before going to see the king. Likewise in anti-type, the church, the remnant must also be purified if she is going to see her king. The great controversy cannot end unless the church is purified. Again Esther is a symbol of God’s church on earth.
When Esther finally went in before the king, the scriptures tells us that he “loved Esther above all the women… that he made her queen instead of Vashti.” Verse 17.
Now pay particular attention to verse 18. “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.”
Do you remember what happened when Christ established His new church. He poured out His Holy Spirit in the early rain and “gave gifts unto men.” That’s found in Ephesians 4:8. Let’s read it. “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Notice that king Ahasuerus also in type, gives gifts unto men when Esther becomes queen. Notice also that there is a feast called Esther’s feast to commemorate his love for her. What did Jesus do with His disciples in establishing His church? He gave them ordinances including the Lord’s Supper – another feast, that commemorates God’s love for His church in sending Christ to redeem her.
There is one more little event that sets the stage for the great crisis of Esther’s life. It is a seemingly insignificant incident. It appears that Mordecai becomes aware of a plot to kill the king. We find it in chapter 2 verses 21-23. “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.”
This little side trip into the politics of the court of Persia shows us something important. Mordecai is the informant to Esther, and in type represents Jesus who is the informant to His church of anything that will effect her welfare. Like Mordecai, He keeps a watchful eye and warns His people of dangers and difficulties. He sits in the spiritual gate and gathers information concerning the plots of Satan to overthrow the apple of His eye. The parallels in types and symbols are amazingly extensive between the characters in the story of Esther and the great controversy. As we proceed we will gain a clear understanding that the story of Esther is a type of the last great crisis that God’s people will face before Jesus comes the second time.
Next month we will pick up the story and learn about the plot to destroy all of God’s people in one day. We will also learn of a few more characters that symbolize figures in the great controversy. In closing this message, let me read to you a very special quotation that will show us that we have a special work to do today, just like Esther in her day. It also tells us something about next month’s message. It is from Prophets and Kings page 605.
“The decree that will finally go forth against the remnant people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews. Today the enemies of the true church see in the little company keeping the Sabbath commandment, a Mordecai at the gate. The reverence of God’s people for His law is a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord and are trampling on His Sabbath.”
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, it is with grateful hearts that we study the story of Esther. We recognize in it, that you are above all, and you are working behind the scenes keeping watch above your own. May we have confidence in your love and benevolent heart toward your precious remnant people. And may we lean mightily upon your arm of strength in every crisis in our lives. Lord, there are many listeners to this tape that are struggling with sin.
And friend, perhaps you painfully and longingly desire to leave your life of sin and live a pure life like Esther; to have the countenance of Jesus on your face. Perhaps you aren’t living up to the name you profess and are spiritually dead. Jesus wants to give you His peace and a certainty of His love and forgiveness in your heart. You may have it. Our loving Father in heaven holds out the scepter to any repentant soul that comes to Him. Just pray in your heart with me; Lord, take my sins and cast them away. Take my heart and purify it. Restore me into your image so that I will have the courage to face the enemy in your strength. I have sinned often and need cleansing. I trust in you for life and happiness and peace. And thank you for the story of Esther, In Jesus’ name, Amen.