Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says we need to take our eyes off people and care more about what God thinks.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you’re living to please others, you’ll make wrong choices. You’ll make foolish choices. You’ll experience consequences as a result in your life. But if your life is driven by a desire to please the Lord in how you look, how you dress, how you act, how you talk, who you date, who you marry, the job you have—if you’re driven to please the Lord, if your life is based on convictions, then you’ll be willing to stand alone. You’ll be willing to go against the crowd, if need be. You’ll have courage because you’ll be fearing God and not men.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, June 20.

Do you ever hear debates over some topics and wonder, “How can two people see things so differently?” It really has to do with the fundamental beliefs people hold in their hearts. Today, we’ll see how core beliefs affect everything. Here’s Nancy, continuing in a study called Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time.

Nancy: When we first started this series, I challenged you to read the book of Esther repeatedly during the series and to look for three things.

I encouraged you to look for God and His attributes—and we’re seeing God’s providence and His sovereignty all through this story.

I encouraged you to look for the battle that’s taking place between two kingdoms: the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God. I think you’ve seen how that battle is personified and epitomized in Haman and Mordecai. The battle between them is really just a picture of a bigger, cosmic battle.

Then I encouraged you to look at the characters involved and see the contrasts between those characters. There are in the story of Esther two sets of characters who could not be any more different. The difference between them is like night and day. On the one hand, we have King Xerxes and his wicked prime minister, Haman. That’s one set of characters, and they have a lot of similarities.

On the other hand, we have Mordecai the Jew and his cousin Esther, whom he has raised as his own daughter and who becomes the queen. Mordecai and Esther are a pair who have a lot of similarities, and they are very different than Xerxes and Haman.

In our last session, we saw that Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had made for Mordecai, so now wicked Haman is out of the way. In God’s providence, God has brought Haman his just dues, his just deserts.

Before we go on to see what happens in the rest of the story—you won’t want to miss that; it’s an exciting conclusion to the story—I want to take a break in the action today and take some time to contrast these two sets of characters. This is just a summary of what we’ve seen as we’ve been studying them, and we see two different kinds of people.

Now, don’t try and write all of these things down, because it will be on our website. So as you’re listening to this, be thinking, “Which side of the page, which column, do I fall in? Do I have some of these characteristics of Xerxes and Haman? Or do I have the characteristics of Mordecai and Esther?” You may find you have some of each. So let’s compare these two sets of characters.

Xerxes and Haman were both of royal descent—both descended from kings. Mordecai and Esther, on the other hand, were nobodies. They had a humble background. Esther was an orphan. They were part of a minority population. They were nobodies.

Xerxes and Haman, on the one hand, had wealth, power, position and influence. But Mordecai and Esther started out with none of those things. They were poor. They didn’t have any influence, or so they thought.

Xerxes and Haman were insecure people. They were fearful of losing their prestige, losing their positions. They always had to be clamping down, controlling, in order to keep their positions. But Mordecai and Esther had nothing to lose. Therefore, they had nothing to fear.

Look at Xerxes and Haman on the issue of control. They were driven to control others, and that’s what insecure people will do. In order to hang on to their position, they try and control others. But Mordecai and Esther were willing to be under God’s control.

Xerxes and Haman— we’ve seen this over and over again—were arrogant, proud people. Mordecai and Esther, on the other hand, were humble and meek.

We’ve seen that Xerxes and Haman did not have self-control. We’ve seen that in a number of ways. They were easily angered when their position was threatened or they didn’t get their way. They were intemperate when it came to their eating and drinking habits, whereas Mordecai and Esther demonstrated the grace of self-control. They demonstrated restraint under pressure. They were stable. They were steadfast.

We’ve seen in the last couple of sessions that Esther went through all of the rigmarole of having those two banquets, those two feasts, before she actually told the king what was on her mind. How hard is that, when you’ve got something on your mind, to wait two days to tell your husband? Am I right? You just want to say it. But she had self-control.

She and Mordecai, when they were provoked, and in the face of threats, were patient. They were meek. Now, that doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything. It doesn’t mean they just stood there and took it and stayed silent. There was a time to speak, but until it was that time, they were self-controlled. And when they did speak, they were self-controlled in how they spoke.

Xerxes and Haman were driven by the opinions of others. So when the king’s counselors said, “Get rid of your queen”—the king was drunk—he said, “Okay, out with Vashti. She’s banished.” He acted impulsively because he was driven by the opinions of others. He had a fear of man. He was driven to impress others. He lived to please others; whereas, Mordecai and Esther were driven by principle. Their lives were characterized by convictions, and it didn’t really matter what others thought.

Once Mordecai decided, “I’m not going to bow before Haman,” it says the others around him, day after day, told him, “You need to bow; you need to bow.” He wouldn’t bow. He was not going to be swayed by the opinions of others because his life was driven, not by fear of man, but by fear of God. He was driven to please God, and as a result he was willing to sacrifice his reputation. He and Esther were both willing to stand alone, to go against the crowd.

We have some young women here. Let me just say, I hope you young women will grow to be women of conviction, women of courage. There will be men in your life, friends, people in your life who will challenge you to do things the world’s way. If you’re living to please others, you’ll make wrong choices. You’ll make foolish choices. You’ll experience consequences as a result in your life.

But if your life is driven by a desire to please the Lord in how you look, how you dress, how you act, how you talk, who you date, who you marry, the job you have—if you’re driven to please the Lord, if your life is based on convictions, then you’ll be willing to stand alone. You’ll be willing to go against the crowd, if need be. You’ll have courage, because you’ll be fearing God and not men.

Xerxes and Haman were protective of their own reputation and image; whereas, Mordecai and Esther were protective of their people.

Xerxes and Haman were self-centered and self-seeking; whereas, Mordecai and Esther were others-centered. They were selfless. That’s what motivated many of their actions and choices.

Xerxes’ and Haman’s world centered around themselves, but Mordecai and Esther aligned themselves with God’s bigger purposes and plan. And what was that? To preserve the line of Christ, to fulfill God’s promised judgment against His enemies the Amalekites. We’ve seen that. So the world didn’t center around themselves. It wasn’t about them. They said, “It’s all about God. It’s about His purposes. It’s about His kingdom. It’s about His plan.”

Xerxes and Haman saw themselves as the whole picture. Not only did their world revolve around themselves, but they said, “My world is myself.” Whereas Mordecai and Esther realized that their lives were one small piece of a much bigger picture.

Ladies, this is so important. In life, if you think that how you feel, how others treat you, what’s happening to you, how your marriage is going, how your children are doing—if that’s your whole world, then you will end up making selfish choices and being a miserable woman.

But if you realize instead that your life is dispensable, that you are one small piece—important to God, yes—but one small piece in a huge, eternal, infinite, grand cosmic plan of a redeeming God, then you’ll be willing to take your place in that plan and say, “Look, my life doesn’t have to turn out okay. All that matters is that I give my life to God’s purposes being fulfilled.”

Xerxes and Haman insulated themselves from the plight of others. While the whole city was in confusion after this edict was sent out, Haman and the king sat down to drink and party. Their lives were insulated from the plight of others, but Mordecai and Esther identified with the plight of others.

Xerxes and Haman viewed their position as a means to exalt themselves, but Mordecai and Esther viewed their position as a means to serve others and to intercede, to intervene on behalf of their people.

Xerxes and Haman sought to control others, and as a result, they ended up being controlled by others. Whereas, Mordecai and Esther sought to serve, and as a result, they ended up being served by others.

Xerxes and Haman were impetuous. They acted hastily and then regretted it afterwards; whereas, Mordecai and Esther were restrained. They were measured in their words and their actions. They thought before acting.

Xerxes and Haman, as we’ve seen, were emotionally unstable. They were irrational. They were erratic. Their behavior was unpredictable. But Mordecai and Esther, because their lives were grounded in Jehovah God, were emotionally stable. They were thoughtful in how they handled things.

And last but not least, as we look at the contrast between Haman and Mordecai, we see in Haman a man who exalted himself and forced God to humble him; whereas, Mordecai humbled himself, and as a result, God exalted him.

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and in due time, He will lift you up. (See James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6.)

Leslie: Can you believe that two sets of people can be so fundamentally different? The more important question is, which set of people do you most resemble? I hope you’ll spend some time reflecting on that question today.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with more teaching. First, I’ll tell you about the list she’s been following about two conflicting worldviews. You can download that list on our website. It’s ReviveOurHearts.com.

Women are using this website as a way to connect with solid Bible teaching. You can listen to audio archives of programs or read past transcripts. Women are also using it to connect with one another. If you visit there, you can post a comment about what you think of today’s program and read what other listeners have to say.

The most thorough way to enjoy our current series on Esther is to order it on CD. Each CD contains additional teaching from Nancy that we didn’t have time to air. When you’re having a stressful, difficult day, you can pull out the story of Esther and remember that God always has a plan. You can order the CDs at ReviveOurHearts.com. If you’d rather call, the number is 1-800-569-5959.

Do you ever find that it’s easier to start something than to finish it? When Esther approached King Xerxes, a lot of things started going right. It would have been easy for her to relax, but her work wasn’t over. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: What a difference one day can make. We’re going through the story of Esther, and we saw in chapter 7 that the Jews had been condemned to death by wicked Haman’s edict. Now Haman has come to justice, but the edict is still in effect: Months hence, the Persians are going to be able to kill and destroy and annihilate all the Jews.

When we come to chapters 8 and 9, we see the continuing sovereignty and providential hand of God in effect. When God says it’s time to move, it’s time to work, how quickly the tables can be turned. That’s what we’re going to see in these last few chapters of the book of Esther.

Let’s begin in chapter 8, verse 1: “On that day. . .” This is the day that Haman is hanged on the gallows that ironically, providentially, he has constructed for Mordecai.

On those very gallows, Haman himself is hanged, and

On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her [that he was her adopted father, her cousin]. And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman (verses 1-2).

Is this a change, or what? I mean, everything is different. In the situation that had been so hopeless, we now see that God has been at work. He has been fulfilling His purposes. In a matter of moments, Mordecai is lifted up from a position of a despised, lowly dissident to a position of prominence and power and influence. He replaces Haman as the prime minister of the largest kingdom in the world, perhaps with a hundred million population.

In chapter 4, Mordecai wasn’t even allowed to enter the king’s gate, and now he’s brought right into the presence of the king. Earlier, Haman had used the power of the king’s signet ring to decree Mordecai’s death. Now Haman is dead by the king’s decree, and Mordecai is in charge of the king’s ring. Everything has been turned upside-down, inside-out, topsy-turvy, right-side up.

As I was meditating on this passage a few days ago, a verse came to mind from Revelation chapter 11. I thought, “This is a great Old Testament picture of a promise we have of what will happen one day.” It says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (verse 15). Amen?

That’s what’s going to happen. In the book of Revelation, you have all these horrible chapters about Babylon, the whore of Babylon, and the kings of earth gathering themselves together against the Lord, threatening Him and threatening His people. There are times of fear and trembling and trepidation and shaking, and God’s people seeming like they’re in the loser’s seat. But then the King comes riding in on His white horse. He takes over.

Mordecai is lifted up to the throne. Haman is dead. Mordecai triumphs. He now has the ring, and the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.

This Old Testament picture is just a glimpse of a great promise we have that someday there will be no wicked kings and rulers in this world. Righteousness will be exalted. All sin will be put down. Sinners will be condemned and judged, and God, who sat on the throne all along, will be recognized as the undisputed King and Lord and Ruler of the entire universe.

You see in this story something bigger than this story. It’s a picture of God’s grand plan.

Now, because Haman was a criminal, according to the Persian law, the king had the right to confiscate all of his property and holdings. Rather than keeping it for himself, the king turned Haman’s fortune over to Esther, making her an incredibly wealthy woman.

This poor orphan girl is now the queen and has this huge estate. Rather than keeping it for herself, Esther turns this over to Mordecai and appoints him as the overseer of the entire estate. Is it true that God exalts the humble? Isn’t it true? That’s what we’re seeing illustrated here in the book of Esther. Wait for the Lord. In His way, in His time, He will right all wrongs.

Ladies, it’s not just true for Esther and Mordecai. It’s true for you. It’s true in that marriage. It’s true with that difficult husband. It’s true with that impossible child. It’s true with that impossible boss. You be faithful and do what is right, and in due time, God will reward you.

Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king.

And she said, "If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” (verses 3-6)

Now, in that paragraph, we see some wonderful principles in relation to intercession. Look at Esther’s intercession on behalf of her people.

First of all, she’s persistent. She spoke again to the king. She’d already spoken once to the king. She’d already exposed the plot, but she spoke again. She didn’t rest her case when Haman was finally out of the picture, because she knew that even though Haman had been hanged, they still had to deal with the ramifications of his evil edict.

So she carried her mission through to completion by once again going back to the king and pleading with him to reverse the edict that he had previously issued: All Jews will be annihilated and destroyed. That edict is still in effect, even though Haman is hanging on that gallows.

Then, in verse 3, we also see that she’s earnest. She fell at his feet. She wept. She pleaded with him. She’s in earnest; this matters to her. I don’t think that she’s out of control. I think she wants him to see the fervency of her heart.

Then, she makes a righteous request. Again, verse 3, she pleads with the king to avert the evil plan of Haman and the plot that’s been devised against the Jews.

In verse 4, we see that access has been granted to her. Listen, you can’t intercede with the king unless he gives you access. You can’t intercede at the throne of grace unless the King—capital “K”—grants you access. And the wonderful thing about the gospel is that in Christ we have been granted access to the very throne room of God. That’s why God says in Hebrews, “Come boldly to the throne of grace” (4:16 NKJV). Enter in, ask what you will in the name of Christ, and it will be given.

Then, as Esther approaches the king, she doesn’t have a demanding spirit. Instead, she has a humble and submissive attitude: “If it pleases you . . . if I have found favor . . . if it seems right before you . . .” She’s not demanding her rights. She’s pleading, humbly, and submissively.

Is that how you pray? Do you demand that God change your husband’s heart? Do you demand that God change your son or daughter and bring them back? Do you demand that you get the job that you’ve been wanting? Do you demand that your husband get a raise? Do you demand these things of God as if they were a right? Or, when you pray, do you pray humbly and submissively, “Lord, if it’s pleasing to You, if I have found favor in Your sight, if it seems right to You, then would You let this request be granted?”

Then, she makes a specific request in verse 5: “Let an order be written to revoke the letters”—the letters that were written by Haman to destroy the Jews. Do you pray specifically when you pray? Or are you just saying, “Lord, get me out of this mess?” What is it you want the Lord to do? What is your request? Intercession needs to be specific.

Then, Esther personally identifies with her people. She’s got a personal stake in this. In verse 6, she says, “How can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” You see, Esther is not content to have her own life and that of Mordecai spared. She can’t rest until she knows that the need of her people has been met.

I think how different that is for many believers today who are content to enjoy their own privileged position and relationship with Christ, while remaining blind or indifferent to the groans of those in spiritual danger around them.

Charles Spurgeon said it this way, “Try this recipe, O believer, whenever you are sad of heart and in heaviness of spirit. Forget yourself and your little concerns and seek the welfare and prosperity of Zion for the people of God. When you bend your knee in prayer of God, limit not your petition to the narrow circle of your own life, tried though it be, but send out your longing prayers for the church’s prosperity. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and your own soul shall be refreshed.”

Father, we join our hearts in this moment in crying out to You on behalf of Your people. We see the worldliness, the sinfulness, the sinful bondages, the moral impurity, the immodesty, the disrespect, the divorce, the broken relationships between parents and children.

O God, we see these things, not just outside the palace, not only in the world, but we see them in the house of God. And, O God, we cry out to You to intervene, to avert Your judgment on this world, to give time for people to repent, to have mercy, to draw hearts of people to Yourself.

Lord, we pray for Your people, the church, and we say, “How can we bear the shambles that so many of our churches are in today?” And we say, “O God, have mercy.” Hear our prayer. Revive the hearts of Your people for Your glory and the sake of Your kingdom. We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Amen. I’ve always known Esther to be an exciting story, but the teaching of Nancy Leigh DeMoss has shown me how many deep truths the book of Esther offers for someone ready to explore. I hope you’ll connect with the story and follow up on things you’ve learned. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com to explore the story via transcripts, podcasts or CDs.

After studying the book of Esther, you may have a test. Not a pen and paper kind, but a spiritual test. Find out more tomorrow when Nancy continues the series on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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