Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
What is faith? Bible tells
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrew 11:1)
Faith is the very object that we hope for, and the proof of our faith although it is not seen by our eyes. And hope is the very engine for life. Having hope is the very reason why we toils every day from morning to evening. Without hope, one’s life suddenly becomes meaningless. A small and tiny wave of life storm hits, and one’s life is swept away along the tiny wave. However, one with hope in faith is immovable. Even a biggest storm of life hits hard, the hope stays put securely, because it firmly anchors on faith. Many forefathers of our faith endures something unthinkable with hope in faith, and they came out triumphant and victorious by faith.
How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. (Hebrews 11:32-35)
Yes, our forefathers of faith overcame all things and became victorious over the impossibilities that they met. They did not choose impossibilities in their lives, but they endured in hope and won over the impossibilities by faith. Then Bible concludes,
the world was not worthy of them. (Hebrews 11:38b)
Sure. The world challenges us and bring pains in our lives. Those challenges often seem invincible and look unsurmountable, but it is not true. Again, by faith, our forefathers were victorious over all things. However, this does not mean those challenges and pains magically disappear before our hope in faith. No, absolutely not. Our forefathers proved again and again. They actually endured joyfully in hope and defeated the challenges and pains by faith. Thus, they proved their faith. Thus, the Bible says, “the world was not worthy of them (i.e., our forefathers in faith).” Yes, after all, the world still is not worthy of each one who has true faith in God with hope for His Eternal Victory.
Now, we clearly know that we will overcome and be triumphant over seemingly unbeatable challenges and unbearable pains in our lives. Even so, why are we still struggling in this world? Because faith is not visible. Yes, we cannot see faith. The powerful faith is not visible. It sounds strange that we cannot see or touch something with such power. However, it is true. Have we ever seen faith or hope? No. Nobody has even seen neither faith nor hope. Why? Hope is for future, and faith is also. Thus, neither does not exist in us and with us at present time. If so, we don’t call faith or hope, because we can touch with our hands and see with our eyes now. This is the very nature of hope and faith. However, the world always denies the existence of our hope and faith, and constantly bombards us to destroy our hope and faith in us, but we know that all attempts of the world have been futile, and will continue to be futile.
Faith is not passive either. It again and again provides itself. Yes, hope is not yet with us now, but faith proves our hope again and again. Although the world denies, but hope in faith has never been quenched. After all, the world is not worthy of our faith, and it becomes absolutely powerless before those who have faith in God. After all, faith in hope is a mere reflection of Our God, which is the proof of our absolute victory in Him.
Here is one encouragement of us in Bible this morning.
Esther was adopted and raised by Mordecai, her uncle after her father and mother died. She grew and became a way beautiful and lovely woman. Her unique beauty was noticed by King Nebuchadnezzar, and she became queen. She was a Jewish, but she kept it secret. Mordecai and Esther believed God in a foreign land, and truly worshiped one and only God.
Haman was one of the quickly rising stars in the king’s palace. Soon King Xerces promoted Human over all the other nobles, making him the most powerful official in the empire. All the king’s officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by. But Mordecai refused to bow down before Haman because he only bowed down and worshipped God.
Mordecai was always bothered by Mordecai who did not bow down to him like other officials in the empire. Haman was not so happy about Mordecai, and he always wanted to get rid of Mordecai. Haman realized Mordecai was a Jew. He plotted against to kill Mordecai as well as the rest of the entire Jewish population. He selected March 7th, nearly a year later for his plan. However, one thing that Haman did not know was Queen Esther was a Jew.
Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 large sacks of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury.”
The king agreed, and confirming his decision by removing his signet ring from his finger and giving it to Haman. The king said, “The money and the people are both yours to do with as you see fit.”
So on April 17 the king’s secretaries were summoned, and a decree was written exactly as Haman dictated. It was sent to the king’s highest officers, the governors of the respective provinces, and the nobles of each province in their own scripts and languages.
Mordechai, as soon as knowing Haman’s plan, tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes. The great fear fell on the entire Jewish population, and they presented the fear to God.
Mordechai sent the message to Queen Esther, but she responded, “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.”
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
What was her answer?
1. Go, gather together, fast and pray for me.
2. I will do the same with my maids.
3. Then, I will go in to see the king in faith, although there is a risk that I might lose my own life.
Her answer was packed with her absolute faith in God. She did not just fight against with her own strength. She leaned on God. She did fasting and prayer to God, not just an ordinary prayer. She also asked the same to Mordechai and the rest of the entire Jewish people. All became one voice to God.
Yes, God answered when Esther, Mordechai, and the rest of the Jewish people fasted and prayed humbly and fervently with contrite hearts. Haman’s plan was blocked by the mighty hand of God. However, all of the problems caused by Haman, which were prayed upon, was not resolved immediately like finger snapping. In fact, initially the situation became worse. Mordechai plotted together with his wife and friends to set up a sharpened pole that stood seventy-five feet tall, and in the morning to ask the king to impale Mordecai on it.
Let’s recap on what the world did. When Esther, Mordechai, and the rest of Jewish people fasted and prayed, the world was not idle. It introduced an even more evil plan of killing Mordechai on the 25’ (about 8 meters) long sharpened pole by specially preparing it for Mordechai. This is how the world responds when we fast and pray before God. Why? The world knows its end that is coming soon with an utter destruction. This makes the world even more desperate before our prayers and fasting.
After all, God hand was stronger than the Haman’s plan and his power purchased from the king. King Xerxes gladly met Esther, and reverted his initial edict devised by Haman. The Haman’s plan was blocked, and God completely eliminated the root of evil – Haman. Haman was, in fact, hanged on the sharpened pole that he elected to hang Mordechai.
When we confront with our life challenge, trail and pain, what should we do? First, we have to fast and pray to God, while telling out authentic fear, concern and needs to God. We should not forget God, who is Our Ever-Loving Father, hears us carefully with His compassion and love. Then we fix our eyes on Him instead of the world with faith in Him. Additionally, we should expect what the world would do. The world will not stand still and bring in even worse challenges, trials and pains against us. However, we know the very ends of all things thrown at us by the world. Even so, we can be in peace in God, because all things thrown at us are mere signs of the world in desperation before our prayers and fasting. Who is bigger, stronger and mightier? God or the world? Of course, Our Ever-Loving God is. Then we should say with our own month,
But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!” (Psalm 31:14)