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Home arrow Writers arrow John R. Respess arrow Commentary On The Book Of Esther--Part 8
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Written by John R. Respess   

 

DUE TIME

Esther had not yet showed her kindred nor her people, as Mordecai had charged her; for she did the commandment of Mordecai like as when she was brought up with him.

Hence Esther obeyed Mordecai whilst queen as she did when a child in his ho use; that is, no high worldly honor elevates the Christian above the need of the Spirit; but the higher the place in. Church or State, the more the need of the continued attendance of the Spirit. And therefore the child of God cries as Moses did: If thy presence go not with me, carry us up not hence; and therefrom springs his fear of responsibilities. Because, however much his flesh may covet honor, he is afraid to seek it unless the Lord gives it; because he knows that without the Lord, it would be a plague and snare, and in the long run a shame to him.

Esther did not tell she was a Jew, because Mordecai had charged her not to do it. The time to tell it had not come, and she could not tell it in the Spirit, before the time. . There is a time to all things; a time to confess and a time not to confess; a time to be born and a time to die. To be born before the time is an abortion, and to die before the time is suicide or murder. Christ’s time to die came, and he said the hour or time is come and in due time, the time his death was due, he died. But our times are in God’s hand, and not in our own, and when the time comes to speak, do or suffer, we will do it in the Spirit. Moses thought his time to deliver the Israelites came forty years before it did; and he killed an Egyptian and fled to Midian forty years; but when God’s time came he returned emptied of his own strength and self-confidence, and loath to do the work he once so hastily sought. There was a time to shout whilst marching around the walls of Jericho, and it was when God bade them shout; “when I bid you shout, then shout.” Some people can shout any time and with such people one time is as good as another, because God is not in it with them at any time. Some can exercise faith at any time, and rejoice at any time, and mourn at any time, but as for ourself, we can do nothing in the Spirit, only as God bids us.

However wise a child of God may be and exalted in. the church or world, he is as dependent upon the Spirit as the most lowly and ignorant. Esther upon the throne was as dependent upon the Spirit, and as poor in Spirit as the most lowly Jew of all the captivity. But the time to confess it was when it would do good to confess, and when it would be confessed in Spirit or from necessity. That is God’s time, and when done in that time he gives the victory. A confession made to a brother or the church that justifies our wrong doing or palliates it, is not made in God’s Spirit and does no -good, but harm. It is made before the time that is the confessor has not been sufficiently bumbled. It is an abortion. When sin is confessed in the Spirit the flesh is abased and Christ is exalted; there is no boasting, no justification of self, but a putting of the rope around our neck and going to the executioner, and throwing ourself upon his mercy. This may be feigned, but not when we are charged by the Spirit to do it. It would have been boasting in Esther to have proclaimed before the time that she was a Jew, and have tended to dishonor the king’s choice, and been as if to have said that the king chose her because she was a Jew; which would be as if we should say that God chose us because we were sinners. This God did not do; and to say be did would be to say that God loved sin, which we know he does not. To say that the king chose Esther because she was a Jew, would be to say that he hated morality and loved immorality; because the Jews in captivity were as the publicans and sinners in Christ’s day. The -self-righteous despised them and would have nothing to do with them, and were offended with Christ because he received them and ate with them. But they loved Christ and the pharisees hated him, as they do to this day; because they believed he set the law of God aside in having compassion upon sinners. But that was not true; Christ did not set the law aside, nor undervalue their morality; he commended it, but taught that it would not save them; that they must be born again; and that a regenerated publican and sinner was in advance of them, notwithstanding the sinner’s past uncleanness and the ceremonial cleanness of the pharisee; because the penitent publican was right in heart, whilst the pharisee was right only outwardly. Esther was right in heart, though she was of the despised Jews; and it is that in a spiritual sense, which makes a Jew— one right in heart. In her heart there was a secret that none but the spiritual can know or reveal; it is not one that the law imparts, but one taught by the Spirit, and which honors the law. This secret was in Esther’s heart, and could only be revealed by her in the spirit of her kinsman when he bade her. To have proclaimed it before the time, would have been of the flesh, and been boasting of that of which she should have been ashamed. No convicted sinner can boast in the Spirit of being a sinner; but it is made to confess it with penitence. It would have been pharisaical in Esther to have boasted of being a Jew. For a Primitive Baptist to boast of being a Primitive Baptist, and of his honesty and uprightness, is a species of pharasaism; and especially so, if he is somewhat high in the world and boasting of it as if it was great humility in him to be one. It would be like a boy whistling whilst passing a graveyard at night; whistling to make as if he was not afraid, but really whistling because he was afraid. Sometimes we have thought some of us were afraid of doing something like somebody else, though it was a good tiling to do, lest we should not be different from others, thus making our difference a boastfulness and self-righteousness; when in fact we should be glad that the influence of truth regulated even the outward conduct of others in doing even a worldly good. The difference between us and the religious world is a difference mostly of spirit, as it was with Esther and the other virgins. We dare boast of nothing; our mouths are closed, and when opened in defense of and in obedience to the truth, it is of necessity, and not in anywise to the honoring of the flesh.

The king did not choose Esther because she was a Jew; being a Jew had nothing to do with his choice, any more than our sins had to do with our election, which was nothing at all. God did not choose us because we were sinners, or because we were not sinners; neither because we were penitent or impenitent, or moral or immoral. True, we are made penitent, but that and all the graces of the Spirit, are the outflow of God’s eternal love. He chose us in Christ before we fell in Adam; our fall in Adam did not affect our standing in Christ, for grace was given us in him before we fell in Adam, and when the time came it was manifested—in due time Christ died for the ungodly; not because he loved our ungodliness, but because he loved us, even whilst dead in sin, with a I love that our ungodliness did not affect. We cannot boast of our unrighteousness, but of his mercy to our unrighteousness; to boast of it is to glory in sin. When the time came Esther, though upon the throne of the empire, revealed to the king her identity with her despised kinsmen, the Jews. It was for them as well as herself that she did it, and thus through the spirit of Mordecai she off eyed herself in their behalf. It was no boast, but a death to boasting.

 

AS THY DAY THY STRENGTH SHALL BE

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 hands 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; and therefore they were both hanged on a tree, and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.

With Esther’s elevation to the throne came Mordecai’s to the king’s gate. He had been her eyes, so to speak, whilst a child in his house; he watched over her in her girlhood; and when she had been brought with the other fair young virgins to the king’s house, he walked every day before the court of the women’s house to know how Esther did and what should become of her. His love and solicitude for her were not diminished by her age, dignity or increased responsibilities; as she seemed to be removed from him by her elevation, so was he elevated that access to her should not be cut off. Thus he watched over, strengthened and protected her. It is often the case that the children of God fear to assume public responsibilities, or join the church, lest they be left to themselves and reproach Christ; but he has promised to be with them, saying: As thy day so shall thy strength be.

As he was with Esther in her private character, so was he with her in her official character, in Mordecai. As he was with her as a child in his house, so was he with her as a wife and as a queen in the king’s house. With the wife’s care is a wife’s love; with the mother’s a mother’s love; and with the queen’s responsibilities is the queen’s spirit; so with the member of the church; as God elevates him so he strengthens him. Ministers fear the great responsibilities of the sacred calling, lest they shame the cause of Christ; they fear to go forth in his name, with no money in their scrip, or supplies of wisdom to carry with them, lest they be left in confusion; fear to go forth destitute, forgetting that in that spirit alone will they be brought to the poor and destitute in spirit; to the house of their Master’s brethren. As God was with us in our spiritual childhood, so will he be with us in all to which he calls us; as our trials and responsibilities increase, so will he rise up to meet with and deliver us in them. It was not needful that Mordecai should be in the king’s gate whilst Esther was a child in his house, as it is not needful we should have the grace of a church member before we join the church, or the grace of a minister before we preach, or dying grace before we are to die. But when Esther was taken from his house and put in the king’s house—when she was made not only a wife, but a queen—then it was needful that Mordecai should be in the king’s gate. As Esther had official responsibilities, so it was needful that she should have official grace; because she would have official trials and enemies. Therefore, whilst Bigthan and Teresh were plotting, Mordecai was watching. They had access to the king’s ear; but Mordecai had access in Esther to the king’s heart, because the king loved her. They watched at the king’s door, but Mordecai had access in Esther to the king’s bedchamber, and even to his bed itself. They were so nigh the king that they felt no need of approaching him in Esther, and therefore knew not how to approach him and speak to his heart; but Mordecai and the Jews were so poor and far off that they could only approach him in Esther; the only access any could have to his heart. Thus Bigthan and Teresh were too rich to need Esther, and Mordecai and the Jews were too poor to do without her. As the children of God are made to feel the constant need of Christ whilst the self-righteous feel no such need, and despise the poverty that does. Bigthan and Teresh were honored counselors—were the king’s familiar friends, to whom was entrusted the king’s person—they were to him as Ahithopel to David; and like Ahithopel, in time of trial they forsook him and sought his life; sought to destroy the friend that had honored and enriched them. Like the Jews in Christ’s day, they were exalted by that which should have humbled them, and smote the hand that fed them. And like people now upon whom God has bestowed great gifts of mind and morals, they glory in them to their own honor, and not to the honor of God, their benefactor. Publicans and sinners, upon whom comparatively little of such advantages were bestowed, and who were destitute of morals, honored and reverenced Christ, whilst the self-righteous and haughty Pharisees, upon whom much had been bestowed of mind and morals, loathed and despised him. The penitent prostitute kissed the feet of Jesus and washed them with grateful tears, whilst the hard-hearted Pharisee looked on with supercilious contempt. Thus it was that those who seemed to be the nearest to the king were farthest from him in heart; and those who seemed farthest from him were nearest to him in love. Hushai, the Anchite, though seemingly farther from David, was nearer than Ahithopel; the one was nearer in the letter or profession, but the other nearer in soul, and when the letter fails the heart is found true. In Esther Mordecai and all the Jews were made one with the king, as no other people, not of Esther’s kindred, could be. They were linked together in one, and the weal of one was the weal of all, and the woe of one was the woe of all. The king loved Esther and she loved him; and Esther loved Mordecai and the Jews, and the king loved them in Esther, as the Jews loved the king in Esther.

 

LOVE NEVER FAILS

The conspiracy of Bigthan and Teresh was known to Mordecai, and he durst not hold his peace. He was bound, both in letter and in spirit, to make it known to the king. His obligation as the king’s servant in the gate required it; and should that be insufficient of itself, and he should fail of legal duty, his love to Esther, his child, and to his brethren, farbade his silence and compelled his crying out. He could not hear to see the destruction of Esther and his kindred; it would be his own destruction. He came into the king’s gate for such a time as that, and was there according to the king’s law by the spirit; because the obligations of his high calling were such that no man in the flesh could fulfill them; no man not related to Esther, the queen, as he was, could approach the king in her as he could; and unless the king was so approached in heart, he would hear no word against his trusted and honored servants. It was, therefore, with Mordecai not merely an obligation of the law to the king, but one of love to Esther; he loved her, and fidelity to her and his kindred involved fidelity to the king also; and whilst, therefore, be might have been faithless to the king as Bigthan and Teresh were, his love forbade faithlessness to Esther. Because, if the king should fall: Esther, as his wife and queen, would fall with him, and with her, all the Jews. Thus it is with Christians to God’s law—they are made faithful to the letter by the Spirit, and cannot in any in time of trial and temptation be faithful short of the faithfulness inspired by the Spirit. Bigthan and Teresh and the Jews are examples of this truth. It was with Mordecai as it was with the twelve and Jesus. When the letter disciples forsook Christ and turned back, the twelve could not do it. There was something in them that forbade it, that did not forbid the others, and of which the others were destitute. As there is something that makes a man love his own wife and children, though others may dislike them; that makes a mother cleave to her own son, though he may have disgraced himself and dishonored her. It is the spirit; the kinship and identity of soul. It is that which makes a child of God cleave to Jesus, though he feels so vile and unworthy; and to the doctrine that the world hates; loving it whilst others bate it; defending it whilst others seek its overthrow. Because to him it is a necessity; with him it is Jesus or death. It is a matter of grace, and because of grace. He is changed in heart and will be faithful wherein others are faithless. He will be faithful to the law that condemns him, and declare its righteousness, and is thus prepared to receive God’s mercy as an unmerited grace, as an amazing grace! So was Mordecai faithful to the king that had led him away from his country and wealth, and impoverished him in a strange land. He was faithful because he knew it was a righteous retribution for his sins, and in soul was made to love that holiness that condemned I sin in him. And especially so, as he experienced in Esther the king’s love for the poor, sin-stricken and impoverished Jews; and was thus made rich in faith; though having lost all things in themselves, yet, in the king’s love they had all things. All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Other refuge have I none,

hangs my helpless soul on thee.

But what a secure refuge it is when we can see it! But most of the time we are like the prophet’s servant when surrounded by a host of the chariots and horses of his enemies (2 Kings, vi.) He cried out, Alas, my master! What shall we do? And the prophet said, Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them; with them is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God. And Elisha prayed and said, Lord I pray thee open his eyes that he may see; and he saw and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and be deliveth them.

 

GOD APPOINTED OVERSEERS

The bishop or pastor of the church over which God has given him the oversight, watches over her in love, as Mordecai over Esther; he does it not for love of money, or filthy lucre, nor for honor. He thinks more of the cause than he does of any mere opinion of his; he will not distract and divide them about incomprehensible things, or things not essential. He may seem. at times inconsistent, as Paul did about circumcision in circumcising Timothy, (Acts xvi.,) and in declaring himself a Pharisee before the council (Acts, xxiii.); but it was because he thought less of himself than he did of the success and prosperity of the cause of Christ, and could patiently wait God’s time to bring order out of confusion. He did not hold his peace when the Spirit impressed him; he did not shun to declare the whole council of God, and to warn every one, day and night, and from house to house, even in tears. He never forgot that it was Christ’s cause, and that Paul himself was nothing. He would not be the head of any faction and have any baptized in Paul’s name. He had none called Paulites, after him. To him Christ was all in all, and Paul, Peter and Apollos nothing but ministers given the church by Christ.

The bishop or pastor may not divest himself of the, responsibility God has laid upon him by shifting it upon the church. If he has been taught the truth he is to teach it to the church; if danger is shown to him he is to show it to the church. God has put it upon him by giving him knowledge of it. Nor, indeed, can any member of the church to whom sin in another is known against the peace, order and purity of the church, hold his peace, if he loves the church. God requires it of him to make it known; to hide it is to partake of its guilt. If false doctrine is taught, all may not detect it, but by whom it is detected, of him it is required to expose it in love. Aquilla and Priscilla first took Apollos aside and expounded the truth more clearly to him, and he, like a child of God, meekly received it. There is no need to fear doing right if it be done in the right spirit. It may be a cross to bear, but it is to be borne for Christ’s sake; it may be dangerous, and in a sense death, but we are to die for one another. But it must not only be done in the right spirit, but it must be done according to law, or the letter. It must be done, not as an individual act, but as a member of the church; our self is not to be known in it, but Christ. Nor are we, if opposed, to take it as personal opposition, and get angry, but as opposition to the truth we represent; nor are we to forget that others are interested in it as well as we, and that it is as much their cause as ours. We are not to make ourselves big, but little; and he is least who is nearest the king in spirit, and biggest and most self-important, as Bigthan and Teresh, who seek the king’s place, and is furthest from him in heart or love.

Mordecai communicated the matter to the king through Esther, that is in the spirit of love and not of the flesh. He communicated it to her not as to his child, but as to his queen; so is the minister to deal in the church; not as her lord and master, but as her servant. And Esther, as the queen, certified it to the king in Mordecai’s name. It was all done officially, or according to law. There was no resort to any unauthorized tribunal to try the matter; no appeal to any higher court than the king’s court; no haying the matter before a synod or an association. There was none higher than queen, as there is none higher than the church; and to resort to any other body than the church, is to dishonor the church and Christ, and to put the servant on horseback as the prince, and to put the prince on foot as the servant. It is to overturn God’s order.

Bigthan and Teresh had a fair trial in the king’s court as every member must have in the church and the church only. To be tried and condemned by any other tribunal is a usurpation of law, and punishable by the law. If a member has a standing in any church with which another church is in fellowship, he is to be recognized as orderly until the church—not an Association— deals with him, and if his own church does not deal with him after having been notified that he is disorderly, and which charge has been sustained by gospel proof, then fellowship for the church herself may be withdrawn. This order maintains the dignity and supremacy of the church, and no other does or can. When, therefore, Bigthan and Teresh were fairly tried they were condemned and executed according to law, and the honor of the king and queen preserved.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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