Finding Christ in Nehemiah and Esther
NEHEMIAH: Nehemiah models sainthood. Sensitive and yielded he serves God. Faithful and transparent he shows godliness. His characteristics read like the want ads for biblical ministry in the 90’s - “Powerful Team Builder”, “Fervent Man of Prayer”, “Humble Servant”, “Godly Politician” and so on. What can we learn from him? More than could be shared in one study. We can survey his life and the book that bears his name and glean three practical insights, treasures from his legacy. Nehemiah models: Godly Character, Godly Prayers and Godly Leadership.
I. Nehemiah: GODLY CHARACTER
A. He grieved when God's name was not honored: Nehemiah 2:2 so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid, (NIV)
B. He modeled dependence upon God: Nehemiah 2:4 The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, (NIV)
C. He practiced glorifying God: Nehemiah 2:8-9 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?" And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me. (NIV)
D. He shared God’s work in his life: Nehemiah 2:18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, Let us start rebuilding. So they began this good work. (NIV)
E. he feared God: Nehemiah 5:15 But the earlier governors - those preceding me - placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. (NIV)
II. Nehemiah: GODLY LEADERSHIP. He demonstrated elements of Godly Leadership. Nehemiah lives out proper ways to deal with obstacles and opponents.
ESTHER: The God who is in control! As long as man has been on earth Satan has sought to derail the plan of redemption. Cain kills Abel. God has to exterminate the contaminated race except for Noah and kin.
Haman [mentioned 45x in the Scriptures; literally "magnificent", chief minister of Ahasuerus, enemy of Mordecai and the Jews, who plotted to kill the Jews but, being foiled by Esther, was executed, with his family, on the post he had made for Mordecai]. Haman was the last descendent of the Jew killing Amalekites [3:1] poised to at last exterminate the people of the Covenant.
Mordecai [mentioned 60x in the Scriptures; literally "little man" cousin and adoptive father of queen Esther; son of Jair of the tribe of Benjamin; deliverer under Divine providence of the children of Israel from the destruction plotted by Haman the chief minister of Ahasuerus; institutor of the feast of Purim; a Jew who returned from exile with Zerubbabel] a faithful and obedient descendent of Saul [2:5] is the tool God uses to complete His plan for the Amalekites.
A. The Selection of Esther as Queen 1:1-2:21
B. The Elimination of the Jews planned by Haman 2:22-5:1
C. The Exultation of Mordecai over Haman 5:2-8:4
D. The Emancipation of the Jews from their death threat 8:5-10:3
II. The book of Esther is a skillfully crafted book demonstrating the unfailing control of God. Our Lord is seen in the seemingly insignificant coincidences of life that together form the tapestry of His providential directing all things together for good. Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose. (NASB)
III. God’s sovereign rule is assumed though never stated throughout the book. This makes His power even more vivid because it is seen but never mentioned. Esther 4:12-16 And they related Esther's words to Mordecai. Then Mordecai told [them] to reply to Esther, "Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?" Then Esther told [them] to reply to Mordecai, "Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in
IV. The Major themes of the Book of Esther
A. GOD HAS PROMISED DELIVERANCE FOR HIS PEOPLE !
B. GOD HAS PROMISED CONFLICT FOR HIS PEOPLE.
1. God is our Victory. Jehovah-nissi, our Banner as He fights the enemies of His Kingdom for us. Exodus 17:8-10, 14-16
2. We need to seek His intervention in the battles of life. Exodus 17:11
3. God commands them to destroy their enemies completely. As we are to also through Christ.
a) The flesh is our foe. Colossians 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (NASB)
b) The Holy Spirit is jealous for our whole hearted devotion. James 4:5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? (NASB)
C. GOD HAS PROMISED REST FOR HIS PEOPLE!
V. The Conclusion
A. God is at work Guiding His Plan from start to finish. Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ: (KJV)
B. God will defeat His enemies whoever they may be! He always wins
1. His Sovereign plans are never frustrated
2. Human hatred and bitterness always lead to personal destruction as in Haman.
3. God uses regular people like us who will obey Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him. (KJV)
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