“Sorrow Turned Into Joy” – 8/27/17

Justin MarshallSermons

“Sorrow Turned Into Joy”    08/27/17

As individuals and as a group. There will be times when we face seemingly overwhelming odds.

The Jewish people were looking at possible extermination at the hands of their enemies.  (473 BC)

Esther 9:20–22  Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

The opposition in this story is a man named Haman.

God is not mentioned in the book, nor is there any direct reference.  Nevertheless, God’s hand can be seen at work.

God used people

It’s interesting to note that the people God uses are not somehow more spiritual or better than ordinary people.  In fact, neither Mordecai nor Esther are shown as being particularly religious.  Mordecai shows stubbornness and pride in his refusal to bow down to Haman.  Esther shows reluctance out of fear for her own life.  Neither of them mentions God or prayer, neither observe the traditional Jewish laws.

Mordecai

Brought the news to Esther’s attention

Encouraged her to do what she could

Wrote the decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves

His influence made the governors help the Jews

Esther

Esther 4:14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

At first Esther made excuses for why she couldn’t do anything

Esther was willing to go against the law to speak up for justice, even if it meant her death

God used circumstances

Mordecai being in the right place to overhear the plot against Xerxes

The cast of the lot – gave almost a year for the Jews to prepare

Xerxes being unable to sleep

Xerxes having read to him the account of Mordecai saving him

Esther being in the position she was in

God’s sense of humor – having Mordecai honored by Haman

God’s justice – Haman being hanged on his own gallows

For us

We may face situations which seem impossible

In the early 1950s, Joseph Stalin, the ruthless butcher of millions of innocent people, had bloody plans for dealing with the “Jewish problem” in the U.S.S.R. Just as things were reaching a crisis point in 1953, he died . . . on Purim!

In 1990, Saddam Hussein of Iraq defiantly invaded nearby Kuwait. As pressure ramped up from the international community, his army began firing SCUD missiles into Israel. The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, repeatedly assured the people of Israel that they would be protected. After the U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq, they were quickly victorious and the hostilities ended . . . on Purim!

God will deliver us

Need to trust

Need to pray

Need to act

God will use us

God provided the opportunity but the people had to do their part

May use us to encourage others

May use us to change the situation

We don’t have to be in high positions of influence or authority to make a difference.

God used Moses to deliver the people of Israel from Egypt

The Civil Rights movement got much of its start by a tired seamstress refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

Or consider the story of Stanislav Petrov, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Soviet army during the Cold War. In 1983, Petrov was on duty in a Soviet missile base when early warning systems apparently detected an incoming missile strike from the United States. Protocol dictated that the Soviets order a return strike.  But Petrov didn’t push the button. He reasoned that the number of missiles was too small to warrant a counterattack, thereby disobeying protocol.

If you are facing an impossible problem – trust, pray, and do what you can

Be open to how God might use you as the answer to someone else’s problem