"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Messiah's the Message of Manifold Messengers

Esther is the only book in the Bible where God's name is never mentioned.

But Esther is a book where God's grace is uniquely pictured.

Good News runs throughout the book.

And how that Good News is spread by messengers varies in methodology. This blog post is an encouragement to all evangelicals to be open-minded, encouraging, and even supportive of various methodologies in taking the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.

Rap music may not be your cup of tea. Preachers in jeans may not be a vision you like having. Change in your culture, whether it be church or society, may be difficult to accept.

The book of Esther reminds us that the message is always central.

But how that message gets out to the people often varies. Don't get hung up on the delivery. Churches who get adamant that only their methodology for doing Kingdom things is the only way are in danger of losing focus on the centrality of the Messiah and the Good News He sends.

Let me explain.

The Gospel Message 

Esther, the Jewish girl who marries the powerful Persian king, is the heroine of the book of Esther.

She intervenes on behalf of her people when Haman, a Persian royal who hated the Jews, obtained a Law of the Medes and the Persians - an unalterable law - that all the Jews in the Persian Empire, regardless of age and gender, should be put to death.

We, like the Jews in Esther's day, are under a similar unalterable law. "The wages of sin is death' (Romans 6:23). This law is inescapable, regardless of age or gender, fame or fortune, and any attempts to nullify it.

However, seventy days after that first Persian law of death went into effect, Esther intervened on behalf of the Jews to obtain a new law of life (see Esther 8:9), allowing the Jews--on the authority of King Xerxes her husband -- to destroy those who sought to put them to death.

Since any Law of the Medes and the Persians was irreversible, the new law only made the first law ineffectual, allowing a "way of escape" on the authority of the king.

So too, seventy weeks after the Jews were allowed to leave Persia (458 B.C.) to rebuild and restore Jerusalem,  Jesus came "to make an end of sin and death" (Daniel 9:24-27) by establishing a New Law (Hebrews 8:13), crushing the head of the enemy of His people (Genesis 3:15).

The new law in Esther's day went into effect with the seal of the king's signet ring (Esther 8:8). The signet ring was worn by ancients and "pressed" into a wax seal to authenticate a document.

That signet ring in the book of Esther is a beautiful picture of God's grace in Jesus the Messiah. In Haggai 2:22-23  the Messiah is called "God's signet ring."
"I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another. 'On that day,' declares the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’” declares the Lord of hosts.
The above verse is a Messianic prophecy that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is God's Signet Rings that authenticates the New Law of life.

Often the Old Covenant prophets would promise the return of David to the throne of Israel. Remember, David was the first ruler of Israel appointed by God alone before the exile. But when the prophets of the Old Covenant predicted the return of David, they actually meant "the Son of David."
The Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament were always about one of David’s sons as specifically outlined in 2 Samuel 7:8–16.

In the same manner, when the prophet Haggai predicted a future King and Kingdom, it was a prophecy about Zerubbabel who was the first ruler of Israel appointed by God alone after the exile. Like the prophecies of the future ruler through David's genealogical line, Haggai's words are a prophecy about one of Zerubbabel’s sons. So not only is "son of David" a title for the Messiah, so is "son of Zerubbabel."

Both Jewish and Christian scholars see the necessity for the Messiah ("God's signet ring") to be a direct descendent of both David and Zerubbabel.

When you read the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:13 and Luke 3:27 you find that Jesus Christ comes from the line King David through Zerubbabel.  Jesus is the rightful King of Jews. Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Messiah as given by the prophets, the King who destroys the power of all other kingdoms.

Jesus is God's Signet Ring.

The only way the old law of sin and death is rendered ineffective is through God issuing a New Law that protects His people by crushing the head of Satan (i.e. "the ruler of the kingdoms of this world"), a  New Law of life that is sealed with the King's Signet Ring, Jesus Christ.

Just as the king of Persia gave his signet ring to Mordecai (see Esther 8), so God so loved us that He gave us His Son (John 3:16 and Hebrews 8), giving Him for our protection (Matthew 1:21

Through the King's Signet Ring (Jesus Christ), the old law of sin and death is made ineffectual. Even though we deserve death each time we sin,

God's signet ring renders the irreversible old law ineffectual because Jesus establishes the new law of life. That's rich grace.

When we realize what we’ve been given in the King’s signet ring, the riches of the King's grace cause us to lose our desires for the lesser pleasures of this life and to be captivated by the eternal riches of our King (see Ephesians 2:7).

This is the Good News of the New Law signed with the Signet Ring of the King

But how that Good News is delivered to the people varies according to the messenger.

This is a wonderful lesson from Esther 8:10 for all gospel preachers and teachers.

The Persian king sent couriers throughout the Persian empire to declare the good news for the Esther's family.

We are also commissioned by the King of Kings to "move swiftly" throughout the world, to go and herald the good news to people everywhere (Matthew 28:18-20).

The words of Esther 8:10 (KJV) are specific as to how the couriers from King Xerxes were to be sent out with the good news of the New Law:
 "...by mules, camels, young dromedaries and horseback."
We who proclaim the gospel can be compared to messengers riding mules. Mules are slow and steady.

However, we can also compare to riders of three faster animals, all mentioned in this Esther text. Camels are faster than mules,  young dromedaries  are faster than camels, and horses are faster than them all.

It matters not how we get the message of grace out to the world, it only matters that we are riding with an important message.

I find it fascinating that the New American Standard lumps all four animals together and translates Esther 8:10 in this manner:
"The king sent out couriers riding on steeds sired by the royal stud."
No mules. No camels. No dromedaries. No horses. Just "steeds sired by the royal stud."

Some of our methods may be slow (ever pastor a church that's stuck in the 80's?), some of our methods may be faster than others, (ever been a part of a Christian group that intentionally puts people above programs, and never settles for status quo 'just because we've always done it that way'?) and some of our methods may be swifter than the fastest thoroughbreds (ever been a member of a church that changes their methods for reaching people so fast you can't keep up with the changes?)

If the New American Standard translators are anywhere close to the ballpark in their translation of Esther 8:10, you shouldn't be too quick to judge someone else's methods of carrying the gospel message - whether they're going slow or going fast - for we all are "couriers riding steeds sired by the royal stud."

It seems God puts an emphasis on our message and may be a tad indifferent to our chosen methodologies. 

23 comments:

Christiane said...

"you shouldn't be too quick to judge someone else's methods of carrying the gospel message"

Wade, we had a similar discussion over at Imonk recently, and this was included in it:


"Christiane says:
November 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm
what about us ‘eclectic’ types ?

I am at home and at peace in the Catholic liturgy, yes;
but I hear the beauty and form of the old ‘shape-note’ singing from the Appalachians, and I am at home with that too, it makes my heart sing . . . . . and is there any Christian here who would not be moved by the writings of the Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer? And take a look at the work of Southern Baptist Wade Burleson over at Istoria Ministries blog where he and his Church are helping minister to men and women who have been incarcerated. . . . can we not take hope from this also?

comes a time when ‘one’ style begins to open us to other ‘styles’ of worship, as long as the focus of all of these is CHRIST THE LORD . . . so maybe ‘different’ styles are reflections from the same Light? I think they well might be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STtz7ZhEC6U

Mike Bell says:
November 16, 2018 at 8:49 pm
I used to blog in a site called Eclectic Christian. So I deeply appreciate where you are coming from here."

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately today, it seems the gurus of "how to do church" are accepting ONLY of whatever has been done in the past is now to be tossed. Locally so many are moving past CCM into rock concert style worship that those who are introverts, or more inclined to hymns or to liturgy and classical music suffer the put downs of being "lacking in neuroplasticity" or "afraid of change."

Really? So if one person likes Wheaties and another prefers Cheerios but the new guru in town wants only frosted flakes served, the Wheaties and Cheerios folks are now defective, frightened people clinging to the past?

Kudos for this post Pastor Wade. Some folks are reached by high liturgy, organs, and classical music and will NEVER be reached by rap. Some like their country and detest rock. And of course vice versa.

And for some, no matter their favorite worship style, there will some places they will not compromise lest they blow the message. So styles based on rebellion against authority, or that do physical damage, or that use the science of the use of endorphins to manipulate must be rejected on matter of moral principles. Others will see that differently.

But I swear, as a love of good CCM and detester of the bad, of good southern gospel and detester of the bad, of both low church and high liturgy, the next time some "worship leader" or "senior pastor" stands in front of me and chides those not wanting a new worship style for being either set in their ways, unwilling to change, putting their preferences ahead of evangelism, or even somehow brain challenged I will barf then and there.

Because what he is probably really saying is "I want my style and anybody who disagrees can go to h e double hockey sticks."

linda

Wade Burleson said...

Christiane,

Your spirit is precisely the Spirit of Christ.

Amen to your words.

Linda,

I echo your thoughts in your comment.

Amen. Amen. Amen!

Thank you ladies for bringing both style and class to this blog post through your comments.

Gina Clark said...

I will freely admit that I never thought I would EVER darken the doors of Emmanuel. It was big. I didn't believe I'd find anyone I had things in common with due to false impressions of the membership of the church.
I came alone, to a sermon, and I liked how you taught. I also thought you must be crazy when you encouraged people to give as they were led AND to take from the collection if they had a need.... And I don't mean figuratively - I really thought you'd just had some crazy moment with that comment.

After joining a Bible Study I was really impressed by how hands on so many of the ladies were in being actual, working hands and feet of Jesus.

Then.... I told Jason that if we were going to be married he had to agree to church. He wasn't even a little bit thrilled about it being Emmanuel.

His first visit he ended up in the sound booth and the rest is history. Our attendance & involvement hasn't been spectacular since Isaac was born - but neither of us has ever experienced any church where literally anyone is welcomed and loved and ministered to in some way. Nor have I ever experienced a church where changes big and small were made to be even better at being gracious and loving to everyone.

We have found, through Emmanuel and the people there, that we enjoy different types of worship, teachings and people that we'd never have been open to before. To me, that's what I think all of us should be able to take away from being part of a church.

As usual, a excellent writing about faith.

everette said...

The Persian empire was a vast nation of widely varied geography. Mules would have been best at travelling through the swamps and mountains. Camels (i.e. Bactrian, two-humped camels) are native to what is now northeastern Iran and Afghanistan, and thus would have been used in the mountains and high deserts there. Dromedaries (i.e Arabian, one-humped camels) are much more common in the low deserts of Egypt and Arabia. And the fast horses would have been best at traveling on the extensive Persian road network.

Each type of mount was uniquely suited to carry the message in a particular environment, and in some cases, people would not have been able to hear the message unless it was delivered by someone on a specific type of animal. So this is a great post.

Wade Burleson said...

Everette,

Beautiful comment.

You’ve added some great visuals.

Rex Ray said...

The link below shows what one man’s efforts have accomplished. I wonder if hungry people would be receptive to spiritual food.

https://news.microsoft.com/features/global-garden-how-one-mans-vision-to-feed-his-family-blossomed-into-an-international-effort/?ocid=lock

BTW; As Calvary paid for the sins of Moses; would Hamon have been in heaven if he’d repented?

Rex Ray said...

I believe he was only sorry he got caught.

Rex Ray said...

Yes Everette,
The Living Bible states: “…sent the letters by swift carriers—riders on camels, mules, and young dromedaries used in the king’s service.” (Esther 8:10)

“The decree was written in the name of the King Xerxes and sealed with the king’s signet ring. (Esther 3:12 NLT)

Ester asked the King: “…let there be a decree that reverses the order of Hamon…(Esther 8:5 NLT)

The King denied her request: “…whatever has already been written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet ring can never be revoked.” (Esther 8:8 NLT)

But the King let Mortdecai write another decree to everyone: “…a decree was written exactly as Mortdecai dictated. It was sent to the Jews and to the highest officers, the governors, and the nobles of all 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia…” (Esther 8:9 NLT)

“The king’s decree gave the Jews the right in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them…and to take property of their enemies. (Esther 8:11 NLT)

“…the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them…it was the Jews who overpowered their enemies.” (Esther 9:1 NLT)

“…They gained relief from all their enemies, killing 75,000 of those who hated them. But they did not take any plunder.” (Ester 9:16 NLT)

The Jews could handle their enemies as long as the didn’t have to fight the king’s army.

The same today, as long as they don’t have to fight the United Nations like Obama stabbed them in the back in 1966 as the link below states: “The government of Israel retaliated with a series of diplomatic actions against some members of the Security Council and accused the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama of having secretly orchestrated the passage of the resolution.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_2334

Christiane said...

Good Morning, REX RAY

glad to see you alive and commenting

concerning Israel, the truth is that we love Israel dearly, but they have a harsh attitude towards the Palestinian people which has aggravated relations rather than encouraged healing; so for many of us, we also have sympathy for the 'outcasts' that need some resolution of old grievances in order to become settled and peaceful.

I figure if Northern Ireland could resolve its conflicts between the different factions, then it can happen anywhere on earth . . . Northern Ireland's history is a terrible one for what can happen when hatred rules the day. So there is hope for Palestinians and the Israelis.

Your health? I hope you are doing better and go from strength to strength. Have a great Lord's Day.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Thanks for your concern. Our prayers tonight are for my cousin, John Lodwick, who is in Baylor hospital in Dallas. He is to receive a liver transplant tonight. He has a rare disease that killed his mother. The liver produces too much iron.

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,
I will pray for him tonight. Let us know how he does.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

GOOD NEWS, the operation went well and John (about 70 years old) is doing well in intensive care. This is the ‘history’ of the event.

Sunday morning the pastor said the night service would be led by the youth leader for a prayer meeting for John who was to have the operation at 10:30 Sunday night, and he would be at the hospital (about 90 miles from here).

At the prayer meeting, I told of his wife (married when they were 17) telling us that morning however it went it would be OK because John knew the Lord.

Morning came and everyone was anxious to hear news, but NOTHING. (John and his wife don’t have cellphones.) Finally, at 1:00 P.M. I texted a person that thinks John is his hero, his 16 year-old grandson. (He has shot a lot of ducks on our lake.) I wrote: “This is Rex. Do you know how the greatest guy in the world is doing?”

Reply: “I am doing good. Thank you for asking.”

Then two minutes later: “I am just kidding . “Pops the other greatest guy in the world is doing good. He got a new liver and will be staying at Baylor hospital a little while.”

I phoned or texted relatives and several church people including the pastor. The pastor texted back: “Yes he is. Procedure went well. He is recovering in ICU.”

Christiane said...

Glad to conclude the year with good news, REX RAY.

He will need some time to heal and to get adjusted to new medications regarding the transplant not being rejected, but it sounds like he's made a good start. I take it Baylor is a great hospital. I'll continue to keep him in my vigil prayers. Thanks for letting me know.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Thank you for your prayers for my cousin, John Lodwick. He still has a long way to go.

Wade,
I’m sending you copies of my father’s book, my brother’s book, and my uncle Rex Ray’s book.

When Fundamentalist high-jacked the SBC, they changed all the names such as “Foreign Mission Board” to “International Mission Board”, but one group refused for their name to be changed:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman%27s_Missionary_Union
This link states: “Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) is an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention that was founded in 1888. It is the largest Protestant missions organization for women in the world.”

At one time Rex’s ‘adventure book' was used as a study book by the Women’s Missionary Union.

I’d like to add to his book that tells in only the three sentences how his father died.

They lived on a one thousand acre ranch in Oklahoma. Rex was the oldest of his five brothers and two sisters. When he was 15, his father, Hez, got sick from a barware scratch. His mother, Mary Dee, sent him to get the closest doctor about 20 miles away with the command, “Don’t come back without him!” (She knew the doctor was known to be a drinker.) The doctor told him, “Your horse is tired. You start walking him home and I’ll catch up with you.” Rex didn’t argue with the doctor, but felt bad being unable to obey his mother. Two days later, the doctor showed up saying, “Hez will be OK, just turn him out to pasture.” As soon as Mary Dee saw he was drunk, she sent Rex many miles to a railroad to go to Whitewright, Texas where her cousin was a doctor. Several days later, her cousin saw Hez could not open his mouth. He said, “I got here too late; you have ‘lockjaw’ (blood poison) you’ll not be with us in the morning.”
Hez, had wanted his six sons (youngest was six months old) to run the ranch, but told his wife, “Now, you can make them all preachers.” Years earlier he had traded a bad knife for a boy’s spur. Convicted he had cheated the boy, he got off his horse, knelt in a ditch, and asked God to forgive and save him. He told her to sell the ranch and buy a farm where her parents lived in Bonham, Texas. He also told her to teach the girls not to kiss a boy until they were 18. He’d vowed he’d never die in bed. So, at age 45, he put his boots on and sat in a rocking chair waiting for a sunrise that would never come. His wife called him “Papa”. She followed him 38 years later as she raised up from bed smiling like a child, saying “It’s so beautiful. I see Papa.”

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

"Wade, I’m sending you copies of my father’s book, my brother’s book, and my uncle Rex Ray’s book."

Wow, Rex. I shall read them with interest.

Thank you.

Happy New Year.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Also not in his book is about Hez’s neighbors borrowing his pack of dogs that hunted wolves. (Wolves would kill young calves.) Each time they rode up, the dogs got excited because they liked to run. Hez’s favorite dog would go to each horse looking for his master, but then he refused to hunt.

Happy New Year

Christiane said...

Hello out there REX RAY,

wow, your story about Hez is very moving

glad to hear your cousin is healing and yes he has a long road ahead of him, but it sounds encouraging what you have shared

how's your own health doing? Did the antibiotics do the trick?

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Ah, my old ankle. Antibiotics helped. It’s better. Someday…

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,

would exposing the wounded area to direct sunlight help the healing process?
(I know, I know, wrong season of the year, but still . . . for a short period each day for a while?)

sometimes 'nature' comes through for us when all else has been tried

if it were me, I'd also try salt soaks to draw the infection out which is a bit old-fashioned, but hey, if it works (?) . . . it certainly would help with the soreness, that's a given

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

The disease of cellulitis is bad news.

I have a list of 31 dates I’ve seen different doctors or hospitals in the last 5 years. They include laser-vein surgery, artery surgery, skin-graph, and hyperbaric chamber treatments. One knee stays warmer than the other, at one time my left hand was swollen awful, and my right index finger was double in size and leaking fluid. Last month doctors took blood, put something in it, put it back in me, then a “Solar-medicine, chamber” looked for infection. At present I’m putting a doctor’s salve on ankle and walking without a cane.

Long story short, I wouldn’t trade places with Lazarus for the world. :)

https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-cellulitis-can-be-life-threatening-so-prompt-treatment-is-key/

Christiane said...

Hey out there, REX RAY

I never had cellulitis myself, but we had a teacher at school who did and she suffered a lot because she didn't know what it was and didn't get to a doctor promptly. It took a long time for hers to be healed. Courses of antibiotics and she had to wear clean white cotton sox every day over the affected areas on her feet.

you hang in there, it may take a while

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I received the books! Thank you. Haven't had a chance to read them yet, but appreciate your generosity. Also, hope your ankle gets better quick!