If You Remain Silent at this time, relief and
deliverance for the Jews will arise for the Jews
from another place: (Esther 4:14)
The book of Esther tells not only of the removal of wicked Haman and the salvation of the Jews, but it opens on the theme of the removal of disobedient Queen Vashti, and the surprising appointment of a successor ... a virtual nobody who came from orphan background.
Bearing in mind that all scripture ... is profitable (2 Tim 3: 16) there are vital parallels herein for our correction and instruction today:
1. Vashti had her own agenda, and threw her own party, declining the banquet where the king was displaying the riches of his royal glory, and the splendour of his great majesty ... The seven wise men later counselled that Vashti be removed because of the effect her behaviour would have on other women who could become contemptuous of their husbands!! (Esth. 1: 17, 22).
2. The replacement Queen elect, Esther, did not disclose her Jewish ancestry, obeying her wise counsellor, Mordecai. (Esth 2: 10). Let us note also that Esther used none of the cosmetics by which the other women sought to win the kings favour, but did only what Hegai (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) advised. And the king loved Esther more than all the women. (Esth. 2. 15, 17.)
3. But the paramountcy of Esthers appointment lay in the timing - something arose in her time which she herself was called to confront. This was the planned, systematic destruction of her own people, the Jews. This is not mere mythology or theology, but plain recorded history.
The events concerning Vashti and
the appointment of Esther, and the attempted destruction of the Jews are
recorded in the annals of
4. While much has recently been said about the silence of the Church, of Britain and other nations some 60 years ago at the time of the Holocaust - little or nothing is publicly uttered about the current efforts before our very eyes to again destroy the Jewish nation - Israel. So much for the Never Again!
5. Esther was clearly warned that even though she was Queen, she and her relatives would perish if she did not speak up for the Jews. If you remain silent... She had obviously been silent up to that point, and was given a choice: IF. Mordecai, the uncle warning her, again symbolises the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts turn to: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the holy Spirit is saying to the churches. To him that overcomes, I will give... Many churches being spoken to, but only an individual here and there actually hearing and responding.
Rabbinic interpretation of our opening text above, takes it to mean that, if Esther does not respond, God Himself will just intervene in some other way. That is undoubtedly a correct view.
6. If after the fast 9 months of
violence (since September 2000), plus the preceding 52 years of extermination
attempts against Israel, the
Church as a whole continues to remain indifferent and silent, with the whole
matter of the Messiahs return and 2nd. Advent pivoting entirely upon
God is not merely wanting PFI prayer groups. He is looking for whole Church response: prayer on Sunday mornings when the whole church is assembled. This is not PFI, para-church stuff. It is to do with the fulfilment of Gods word and His end-time purposes! It parallels the elder brother of the prodigal son: he just had no idea of what was in his fathers heart, yearning for His far-off son.
7. Scripture makes it clear that God is very angry at the
indifference and indolence, irresponsibility and insolence of the nations (i.e. Gentiles) that are at ease. (Zech 1: 12, 15.) And the Lord is exceedingly jealous
8. While we pursue our daily rounds, ignoring the huge issues swivelling on Israel, we need the trumpet warning of the approach of Gods Day of Vengeance for the Controversy of Zion - addressed specifically to Gentile nations (Is. 34: 1/2, 8.) Neither the rapture of the Church, nor many other things that we hope for, are going to occur before certain other difficult events - including this Day of Vengeance - first find fulfilment.
9. For Esther, silence was irresponsibility. So she
first called for 3 days prayer and fasting (even though prayer is not
specifically mentioned here). She knew
what to do and did it, even though she knew she was putting her life at
risk. Many ministers and Bible teachers
know what Gods purposes are for
If God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.
10. It was a grave risk for Esther to go uninvited into the kings palace, but she put on her royal robes and came to stand right opposite the very presence of the leading monarch of the world at that point in world history! She had gone saying If I perish, I perish! She drew near and touched the top of his sceptre.
What courage! what fortitude! and what a picture of the overcoming church that God longs to see. What an example of the plea and prayer that God waits for from our own hearts and lips!
While we could say that, in Esthers day the way into the holy place had not yet been disclosed, (Heb. 9: 8) today it is far different. Jesus Himself has opened up to us the new and living way and we are bidden to come boldly to the Throne of grace ... to receive mercy ... and help in time of need. (Heb. 10: 20, 4: 16.) Plus: If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.
11. It is no accident that Jesus died (some 500 years later) on the very day after Hamans edict had gone forth to destroy the Jews - 13th of Nisan! (See Esth. 3: 12ff)
(on) the fourteenth day of the month (Nisan), the whole assembly
of the congregation of
(Exodus 12: 6)
There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin:
He only could unlock the Gate of Heaven and let us in.
12. Esther (in Hebrew means Hadassah which, in turn) means Myrtle. The myrtle tree, more than anything else, symbolises the intercessor. In Zechariah 1, you find the man on the red horse mentioned three times as standing amongst the myrtle trees - hidden in the ravine. Why? Because the Lord is particularly with the praying remnant - here pictured as myrtle trees.
The myrtle tree is fragrant,
lowly and well-watered. Its sprigs are
long - lasting and evergreen. It has
shining leaves and bears starry, white blossoms. From it beautiful garlands are made. It is a main component of the Lulav, for the years final Feast of the Lord - Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles, rounding
off the main and final harvest. Will
you be a sprig of myrtle for
Tel: 01952 604207 Fax: 01952 ,313018
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THOUGHTS ON PRAYER
Trouble and perplexity drive me to prayer, and prayer drives away perplexity and trouble.
Embark on no enterprise which you cannot submit to the test of prayer. - HOSEA BALLOU.
Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
- MATTHEW HENRY.
Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer. - BUNYAN.
Between the humble and contrite heart and the majesty of heaven there are no barriers; the only password is prayer.
- HOSEA BALLOU.
The best and sweetest flowers of paradise God gives to His people when they are upon their knees. Prayer is the gate of heaven.
- THOMAS BROOKS.
For spiritual blessings, let our prayers be importunate, perpetual and persevering; for temporal blessings, let them be general, short, conditional and modest.
- JEREMY TAYLOR.
I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for that day.
Prayer is the soul drawing near to God. And when the soul draws near to God, the ground beneath our feet becomes holy ground, and the commonest bush is flaming with the presence of Jehovah. The soul needs no ritualistic paraphernalia or logical process to find a way to Gods ear and heart. It may be on the street amid the crowd that one turns his heart in petition to the Almighty. It may be in the quiet of the closet where the ladder drops from heaven to earth. It may be in the solemn temple, or it may be that one, bending head upon an office desk, reaches the throne of grace. It may be a mere desire or a groan which cannot be uttered. It may be a smitten breast and a publicans call for mercy. It may be a shriek amid disaster, when the crash of destruction appals the soul. It may be a heartbroken wail of anguish over a still, still face.
Whatever form it takes, it is that solemn moment when the soul in need turns to its God.
Religion is no more possible without prayer than poetry without language, or music without atmosphere.
Sometimes a fog will settle over a vessels deck and yet leave the topmast clear. Then a sailor goes up aloft and gets a lookout which the helmsman on deck cannot get. So prayer sends the soul aloft; lifts it above the clouds in which our selfishness and egotism befog us, and gives us a chance to see which way to steer.
Be sure of God. With simple, loving worship, by continual obedience, by purifying yourself even as He is pure - creep close to Him, keep close to Him. Be sure of God, and nothing can overthrow you.
* * *
D. M. PANTON
1. THE KNEELING FIGURE.
Conference of Ministers in
One of the greatest victories won in all the ages is extraordinarily significant for our own. Apart from the Persian armies (Xerxes is said to have mustered two million men), the largest host on record swarmed down upon the people of God in the time of Asa; dark-skinned masses vomited out of the heart of Africa - an apt type of the Hosts of Darkness now bearing down upon us in hordes unquestionably greater than have ever before massed against the people of God: when lo, on the battlefield, as monster a prayer-meeting as was ever held - six hundred thousand praying souls, watched by another million. The almost incredible defection of our leaders; an undermining of belief in the Word of God so universal as to imperil all faith; the seething restlessness of growing anarchy; the descent of deadly Satanisms, such as Spiritualism, Theosophy, Christian Science, and Millennial Dawnism; famine; earthquake, pestilence, war, on an unprecedented scale, in which God thunders (in vain) at the conscience of mankind; the return of martyrdom; a personal battle for holiness more desperate than any we have yet known:- behold, the dark-skinned hosts!
Now we find it is in the
prayer-gathering, and by the prayer-gathering alone, that the complete
Now we watch the kneeling figure in the prayer-room. Some one has said:- We have lost the secret of agonizing; all we can do is to organize. Asa betook himself to God; and Asa cried - for the history of a crisis is often merely the record of a cry unto the Lord his God, and said, LORD, IT IS NOTHING WITH THEE TO HELP, WHETHER WITH MANY, OR WITH THEM THAT HAVE NO POWER. What extraordinary blessings our enemies can bring us! Asa was never so radiant, never so secure, never so mighty as when beset by a million foes driving him on to God. A man who is shut up to God is shut up to omnipotence - to a God who doeth wonders as an habitual thing. Keen aliveness to overwhelming odds may have one of two effects: either discouragement fear fainting - defeat; or else, first every nerve braced, and then every promise of Omnipotence seized. Probably why so many Christians to-day refuse to face the facts lies in their fear of the effect on themselves, or on others. But grave and known danger, in its God-designed effect, can be one of the most magnificent incentives to prayer, and the actual creator of our most splendid victories. Having done his little all, Asa now casts himself upon Omnipotence: he realises, with vivid faith, that to an Infinite Power no one difficulty can be greater than any other difficulty; and that one man alone with God is in a huge majority. When you have reached the limits of human ability, you have not yet reached the limits of human possibility: with Gods impetus behind, what is impossible? All the dark-skinned hosts are powerless against God. Evan Roberts has said:- Beloved, when you move heaven, you move Hell. Prayer is two-fold. Prayer cuts both ways, it cleaves upwards, and it cleaves downwards. I dont care how humble the child of God may be in intellectual attainments, he has power in prayer to move heavenly forces in opposition to the spirit-forces of hell. That kneeling mans appeal to God was the death-sentence of untold multitudes.
But even more vital and
inspiring than the plea, is the substance of the prayer. Asa
us, 0 Lord, our God; for we rely on Thee, and IN THY NAME are we come against this multitude. To be identified with the truth is to be
identified with God. Carlyle says:-
Fight on, thou brave, true heart, falter not,
through dark fortune and through bright. The cause thou fightest
for, so far as it is true, no farther, yet precisely so far, is very sure of
victory. The falsehood alone of it will
be conquered, will be abolished, as it ought to be; but the truth of it is part
of Natures own laws, co-operates with the worlds eternal tendencies, and
cannot be conquered. This
is extraordinarily comforting to all who are fighting for God and His Word
against tremendous odds. Nothing is sure
in this world but the purposes of God: no interests are safe but Gods
interests: no final victory rests anywhere but with God: how wise then to fuse
our fortune with that of truth! Luthers
constant prayer was this:- Lord, this is Thy cause, not mine; therefore, do Thine own
work, for if this Gospel do not prosper, it will not be Luther alone who will
be loser, but Thine own name will be dishonoured. So the end is sure. All that God is going to do in coming days
is going to be done through a tiny band of faithful souls. If they kill us, they only crown us:
exactly so far as we identify ourselves with God, exactly so far the million
will be put to flight in the prayer-room.
Let not man prevail against THEE: so Jehovah,
on a like occasion, responds, - Fear
not ye, neither be dismayed, by reason of this great multitude; FOR THE
2. THE UNSEEN HOSTS.
So, in the gloom of midnight,
the hosts of
The modern thinker, steeped in science, would do well to mark what science itself tells of invisible worlds no whit less real than this. Lord I pray thee open his eyes, that he may SEE. All around us is a world real, physical, and yet, to us, wholly unrecognisable. The vibrations that create light on the optic nerve, intensified, pass into light - as real as the light we see - that is wholly invisible: vibrations that create sound on the auditory nerve, multiplied, pass into sound no human ear can hear. The noonday silence of a tropical forest, says Prof. Huxley, is, after all, only due to the dullness of our hearing; and could the ears catch the murmurs of these tiny maelstroms, as they whirl in their countless myriads, we should be stunned as with the roar of a great city. Faith is no imagination of something non-existent: it is a mental certainty of things unseen, but there. Suddenly the young man saw: suddenly the Syrians groped at noonday as in the night. Every day there are men that are receiving their sight, and every day there are men that are being smitten with blindness. The poet Blake said he was accustomed to see things incorporeally. But surely, someone objected, at sunrise you see just a yellow disc rising above the horizon? No, Blake replied; I see a Throne high and lifted up; and I hear the chant of Seraphim, crying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts. Our eyes are open to our perils: 0 Lord, open them to our power!
But Gods withdrawn curtain reveals a still more precious truth. Fear not: for they that be with us are MORE than they that be with them. The dragon drew a third of the stars of heaven (Rev. 12: 3): apart altogether from His own omnipotence, Gods hosts of light outnumber the Powers of Darkness as two to one: how much more they outnumber our human enemies! Every Syrian chariot was outmatched by a more powerful heavenly chariot. Every human warrior had, pitted against him, a spirit-warrior to whom dynamite or poison-gas is as nothing. The angels are no idlers: are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister? (Heb. 1: 14). No demon escapes their keen scrutiny: wherever a foe lurks, an angel watches: they attend us in our loneliness; they are beside us in our danger; they join us in our worship. Infinitely greater power is for us - for our salvation, our holiness, our victory, our glory - than ever can be against us:- Ye are come, says the Apostle to all Christians, to INNUMERABLE HOSTS of angels (Heb. 12: 22).
We now arrive at the supreme
lesson: the other world is potent only to the man who sees it. The
mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha; that is, between the hosts of
3. THE LIMITLESS RESOURCES.
For Paul, after a prayer as comprehensive as was ever uttered, breaks into a doxology (Eph. 3: 20) as full of vision of the Infinite as ever fell from human lips, a doxology almost incredible in its revelation of wealth inconceivable. God, he says, is able to do - here is activity, execution, accomplishment; all that we ask, all that we think; above all that we ask or think; abundantly above all that we ask or think; exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think; according to the power that worketh in us - the resident and omnipotent Spirit of God. That is, God is not only able to accomplish our utmost prayer or remotest thought, but, when He has done so, an infinity of prayer-answering power subsists beyond. George Muller was asked in his old age, Have you always found the Lord faithful to His promises? Nearly nine thousand five hundred orphans, he replied, have never wanted a meal Hundreds of times we have commenced the day without a penny in hand, but our heavenly Father has sent supplies by the moment they were actually required. One million four hundred thousand pounds have been sent to me in answer to prayer. For nearly seventy years every need has been supplied.
The implications Godward are profound. Such ability means resources infinite on which to draw: it means agencies that cannot be baffled in translating His wishes into fact: it means draft-plans that are boundless from which such answers can be executed: it means a love that is unplumbed that can surround all human cries with so shoreless an ocean of response. No less are the implications manward. Paul has just uttered one of the deepest prayers, of the widest sweep, ever uttered; yet he has at once to say that Gods ability to answer far outstrips all that men ever, as a matter of fact, do ask. No prayer in our mouths, or that has ever been in human mouths, has ever yet plumbed the depths of God, or even approached the nearest limit of His resources. For the statement goes to a staggering length. God is able to do exceeding abundantly ABOVE all that we THINK. Our uttered prayers are timid, shrunken, puny, beside the wide sweep of our thought-life: nevertheless, nothing has ever been conceived, but infinite conceptions lie, unwrought, beyond.
Nor is this all. Gods infinitude of resource is as boundless in time as it is inexhaustible in power. Unto Him be the glory unto all generations for ever and ever. Language almost breaks under the effort to express the inexpressible: dazzled, overwhelmed by the infinite capacity of God to transcend all mortal prayer, and all finite imagination, Paul heaps together the vastest terms to utter the unutterable:- TO ALL GENERATIONS OF AN ETERNITY OF AGES. Gods infinitude of resource, outstripping all prayer and even all conception, will never become an obsolete truth, an exhausted fact: generations without end down an unceasing eternity will never see a horizon to God, or to the power of God: as the ages pass, ages that are single beats of the pendulum of Eternity, Gods wealth beyond will always escape our experience, and exceed even the utmost reach of our mental grasp.
So we are face to face, awed, with the vast comfort of God. We are confronted by a Heavenly Father whose habit is to give more than is asked or thought. Moses asks to see the glory of God, and he sees it - on the Mount of Transfiguration, a thousand years later: Solomon asks for wisdom, and he gets riches and honour as well: Martha asks for a cure, and she gets a resurrection: Paul asks for service, and he is made the writer of letters that have moulded millions. But it is more miraculous than that. Is any vice un-mastered? - God is able, not only to cure it, but to give us the counter-virtue: is any doubt paralyzing us? - God is able to make us shining exponents of that very truth: is any offence against us unforgiven? - God is able, in that very wound, to plant the flower of an active love. For the centre of our prayer is a God who is love, who wishes the highest His creature can hold. Bishop Philipps Brooks, when found once in his cabin prostrate upon his face, was overheard saying, 0 Lord Jesus, Thou hast filled my life with peace and gladness. To look into Thy face is earths most exquisite joy.
The years are laying snowy hands
upon many of our heads; all of us are rapidly hastening to that bourne from which no traveller returns. Little children, it is the last hour: let us
give ourselves to Prayer. Dr. Bachus, a
former president of
* * *
Note on the Prayer Hour
Prayer, says William Law, is the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of
Him, that we are capable of in this life; and in our collective
prayer-hour we have the crowning method, the supreme instrument, by which to
accomplish Gods purposes amongst us. A foremost
Paul has shown us how God beholds a prayer-meeting, and has expressed His desires. I will therefore that the men pray everywhere (1 Timothy 2: 8): the desire of the Apostle is the desire of God. Two things are requisite for a prayer-meeting with which it is impossible for the meeting to be a failure: (1) a high level of closet-prayer at home; and (2) almost equally vital - an intention to pray aloud before we come. Many find it easy to pray in a mission, or in a revival, and complain bitterly of the cold atmosphere of the ordinary gathering: to which we reply, - My brother, you are a splendid oarsman down-stream; but what the Church supremely requires are powerful rowers up-current. Prepare your prayers, says Mr. Spurgeon, by preparing yourselves; and then come resolved to pray, with ideas and trains of thought so marshalled that but a spark will fire the mass. Let us be careful how we say that we have not the gift of prayer. If we have the grace of prayer, the gift matters little: the gift may make us acceptable to men, but it is the grace that makes us acceptable to God: the gift may puff us up, but the grace always edifies. As old Archbishop Leighton says: It is not the gilded paper and the good writing of a petition that prevails with a King, but the sense of it. Nor is it necessary to be long and elaborate. It is remarkable how effective short prayers have been. Lord, remember me Lord, help me Lord, save me: if Peter had had as long a preamble as men sometimes put into prayers nowadays, he would have been forty feet under water before he had got as far as the cry for rescue. Id rather have a man pray three times, and only five minutes at a time, than to have him take fifteen minutes all at once (D. L. Moody).
Now we see the petitioners
themselves. Lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing. A man who, cherishes anger, says Luther, can
never hope to prevail with God in prayer. A brother of perhaps lesser ability, of
awkward enunciation or stammering speech, can so pray, because
of the life behind the prayer, that a
power from on high suddenly moves the assembly, as
though an angel shook his wings. God looks at the hands of Aaron and Hur.
The hands in the workshop, in the factory,
in the office, in the home - can God see a soil on our palms or a dye on our
fingers? A Congregational minister in
God says that the throbbing dynamos in the power-house of the Church must never cease. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6: 18). Satan, says George Muller, doesnt mind how much a Christian prays, if he can only get him to stop praying. A certain church was mightily blessed for fourteen years in succession. The confession of a member in the prayer-meeting both explained the blessing, and reveals how church blessing is in daily jeopardy. Brethren, he said, I have been long in the habit of praying every Saturday night, till after midnight, for the descent of the Holy Ghost among us. And now, brethren, and he began to weep, I confess that I have neglected it for two or three weeks. The figure of Peters cock on many a Church spire drew these lines from Keble:-
Lo, on the top of each aerial spire
What seems a star by day, so high and bright,
It quivers from afar in golden light -
But tis a form of earth, though touchd with fire
Celestial, raised in other days to tell
How, when they tired of prayer, apostles fell.
It is the ceaseless prayer which
brings the complete victory. Continue stedfastly in prayer. Some years ago a little group of missionaries
started work on the