“The Great Comedy”        Esther 8                                       August 5, 2007


SI:  Last week we saw how the Lord worked through Esther’s plans

   to bring about the downfall of Haman, the enemy of God’s people.

   And we saw that in the Christian life, God still works through our plans.


But even though Haman was dead,

   the edict he had written for the destruction of the Jews still stood—

   and the laws of the Medes and Persians could not be revoked. 

So in this chapter we see that a second edict is written,

   this time by Mordecai, and it provides for the defense of the Jews.


What I want you to notice in this chapter is how everything is reversed.

   Jews who were under mourning under the threat of death—

   begin to sing and feast and rejoice. 

What was once hopeless, becomes so full of hope,

   that they have no more fear of the future.


INTRO:  This morning I’m going to start by taking you back

   to your high school English class. 

That may bring up unpleasant memories for some of you.

   I liked English and I hated math.

Last year Adrienne had algebra and when she would ask for help,

   just looking at the equations in her textbook gave me a headache!

   So I know I’m probably going to turn off some of you—but bear with me.


In literature there are two great patterns—the tragedy and the comedy.

What is a tragedy? 

   A tragedy is when a person starts out low, but through pride and ambition,

   or even through circumstances of life, he climbs to the top,

   and then he is brought down to complete ruin—lower than where he started.

From down low, to the top, and then down again to ruin.  Macbeth, Hamlet.


What is a comedy?  We use the term comedy just to mean something funny.

   But technically a comedy is the opposite of a tragedy.

A person starts out high, through pride, enemies, circumstances—

   he falls down very deep, but then fortune smiles on him,

   raised up again—higher than he was before.

Often times comedies end with weddings, feasts and dancing.  Midsummer Night’s

   From up high, to the bottom, and then up again, higher than before.


Now, with those two great patterns in mind—which best characterizes the Bible?

   The Bible is clearly a comedy.  In fact, it’s the great comedy.

It’s the story of how mankind was created in the image of God,

   as rulers over his creation.  Adam and Eve were God’s king and queen.

And then through pride, through their desire to be like God,

   they fell to the very bottom, whole race fell with them into sin and death

   and decay—the accusation and domination by Satan.


But, through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman,

   the human race is restored to glory.

And the glory that is coming in the new earth,

   will be even greater than it was in the Garden of Eden.

   How does the Bible describe the beginnings of that glory?  A wedding feast. 


What about his passage?  Comedy or tragedy?

   Might say, it depends on who’s perspective.  Haman or friend of Haman, tragedy.

But clearly, from the point of view of the people we care about—

   Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews, this is a comedy.

The Jews were living comfortable lives in Persian empire.

   These were the Jews who had decided not to return to the promised land.

   Many, like Mordecai and Esther, fitting in to Persian culture a little too well.

Then they fell under the curse of Haman’s edict—given to murder and plunder.

   “In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning  

   among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing.  Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.”


But then, by the work of Esther and the amazing providence of God,

   they where delivered and raised to incredible heights.  Look at 8:17

“In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating.  And many people of other nationalities became Jews because the fear of the Jews had seized them.” 

   First they were trying to be like everybody else,

   but after this, everybody wanted to be like them—total reversal.


So the Bible is a comedy, this story is a comedy.

   Now, let me ask you another question—What is your life?  A tragedy or comedy? 

I don’t ask that question lightly.  Because I know many of you have suffered—

   and some of you are suffering very deeply right now.

You may be at a very low point—fallen there by circumstances beyond control,

   or by the meanness of another person, or even your own foolishness. 

   May seem silly to ask you if your life is a tragedy or a comedy.  But it’s not.


Because if you can know, and really believe that no matter how low you fall

   that you will not stay there, but that you are going to be lifted up,

   and lifted up even higher and happier than you ever were before you fell—

That will radically change the way you go through the low points—

   and it will give you a taste of that future joy right now.


And as a Christian, if your life is not a tragedy, if final outcome will be

   light and joy and feasting and celebrating—

   then it’s wrong for you to look at your life in any other way.

As we look at this passage I want to point out three things that you must do

   in order to see your life as it really is—a comedy directed by God.

   1.  Trust in Jesus Christ alone.

   2.  Preach the Gospel to yourself.

   3.  Rejoice in the hope of glory.

MP#1  Trust in Jesus Christ alone

It must have stunned the Jews in Persia

   when they learned that the queen herself was a Jew. 

   And that her cousin, was the new Prime Minister.


Esther had kept her identity hidden for five years, now it was out in the open.

   And Mordecai put on a very public appearance,

   leaving the king’s palace in royal garments.

The big news was not just this new edict, but that the queen was Jew.

   And suddenly everybody wanted to be able to say:

   Some of my best friends are Jews.


The Jews were blessed because of their connection to Esther—

   but it was Esther herself who had taken the risk.

She left her place of security,

   she put her life on the line to get an audience with the king.

Then, after she had taken all the risks, and raised to greater honor and influence,

   her people enjoyed all of the blessings of being connected to her.


All the great people in the Old Testament, foreshadow Jesus Christ.

   Every prophet, priest, and king—or in this case queen—

   gave the Old Testament church glimmers of the Messiah.

We see Jesus in the life and work of Esther.


He also left his place of glory with the Father to save his people.

   And he not only risked his life for us, he actually gave it.

Remember how Paul put it in Philippians 2. 

   “He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 

   And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death,

   even death on a cross.”


So Jesus was in a high place, and he fell very low by taking our sin and curse

   upon himself and dying on the cross—but then what happened?

Like Esther, Jesus was raised to an even higher place.

   “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every

   name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the

   earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Jesus’ place now is higher than it was before he came to earth.

   Not that he is any more divine.

As God he didn’t become more perfect.

   But as the Son of Man, gained honor by conquering death and sin by obedience.


Now, perhaps you are in a low place right now.

   You’ve fallen emotionally, relationally, financially.

   Wonder if this will define your life—this tragedy, this fall.

Will you always be down here at the bottom?  Will you ever be raised?


As a Christian, your life is tied to Jesus.

   He left heaven for you.  He gave his life for you.

   He was forsaken of God and suffered the curse for your sins.

And now he is ascended, seated at the right hand of the Father.

   Bible says that believers are blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual

   blessing in Christ.  In other words, you get to enjoy all of the blessings of being

   connected to him—just like the Jews and Esther.


If you look to Jesus and trust him alone—and not your schemes and plans

   for lifting yourself up—but if you trust him—then you will be glad—

   even in a low place, because you will know you will be raised as he was.


When in seminary, visited elderly couple, he had had a stroke and fallen.

They were facing the reality that he needed to be in a nursing home.

   They talked about it.  She did the talking, he could not talk.

Asked if I could read any Scripture.  Jesus and Nicodemus—John 3.

   When I got to John 3:16.  He began to quote it with me.

   “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

   that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but . . .

When got to that point he grabbed my hand, squeezed it and said—

   “Have, have, have, have eternal life.”


Faith of a man who was in a low spot but saw his life as it really was,

   because he knew his fortunes were linked to Jesus Christ. 

MP#2  Preach the Gospel to yourself.

The Jews were amazed at this edict that Mordecai wrote, sealed with king’s ring.

For a number of months, the terrible decree of Haman had been posted

   throughout the empire.  Allowed Jews to be murdered and plundered.

   Suddenly along comes this counter decree.

   It provided for the defense of the Jews.


It was published in all the languages and alphabets of all of the peoples

   and sent to the 127 provinces of Persia, from India to Cush.

Specifically written in the language and script of the Jews.

   Everywhere this edict went—God’s people read it and rejoiced.


It’s easy to draw a line directly from this decree of Esther and Mordecai

   to the Gospel—there are so many parallels.

Gospel means good news.  This decree was good news.

   Gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ and his salvation that

   is going into all the world, translated and preached many languages.

It lifts the hopeless condemnation of sin and the law from our heads—

   and fills believers with joy.


Number of years ago, Jack Miller summarized the Gospel this way:

   The good news is that you are more wicked and sinful than you ever dared to

   admit, and at the same time you are more loved and accepted in Christ than you

   ever dared to hope. 

So the Gospel humbles you and raises you at the same time.


Decrees that you are so sinful that Jesus had to die for you—

   and that no matter how hard you try, you can never do anything to earn salvation.

   So if justice prevailed, you would go to hell.

That destroys your pride.


But Gospel also decrees your eternal value.  God loves you as he loves

   his own Son.  There is nothing you can do to lose his love or make

   him love you any less.  That destroys your condemnation.


Why do we have such a hard time in the low points of life?

   Why do we have such a hard time believing that the Lord will raise us up?

   Because of pride and condemnation.


Pride says:  I can’t believe I’ve done this.  What will people think.

Condemnation says:  I am the most worthless failure of a man.

   But in both cases, the future is dark, seems to be little hope.


Both the proud heart and the self-condemning heart don’t believe in grace.

   Believe it is up to me to earn God’s favor and blessing.

The only difference is that the proud man thinks he can,

   and the self-condemning man doubts he can—

   but both of them think it is their own work.


It’s so easy for Christians to fall into this thinking—

   especially when the fall you’ve experienced is a moral fall.

It’s different if you are in a low point because of a loss,

   or because of circumstances beyond your control.

   But when you know that it is your own foolishness, own sin

   that has brought you down this low—very easy to be proud or self-condemning.


And so you have to preach the Gospel to yourself.

Have to say:  Before I fell God didn’t love me any more,

   and now he doesn’t love me any less. 

Even when I was doing my best I was an unprofitable servant.

   Even my best works for God were filthy rags.

   But it is in Christ alone that I am accepted.

The blessings of God rest on Christ and his work, not on me.


Interesting promise in Joel 2  I will restore to you the years that the locust have eaten”

   There can be years of your life that are eaten up by your sins.

   Think of it.  Sins could eat up years of a marriage, years with children.

   Years of productivity.  But God says:  I will restore those years.

How?  By his grace.  That’s the Gospel. 


Martyn Lloyd-Jones commenting on this verse in a sermon on condemnation:

Do you realize that in the hand of God you can do more in five minutes than you could have done in fifty years on your own?  Do not listen to the devil.  The past is not altogether hopeless, it must not mortgage the present or the future.  God delivers you, makes you a new creation; you are a new man in a new world.  Leave the past.  Never look at it again.  It is always the devil that makes you look back.  Refuse it, set your face steadfastly towards the future, that glorious future that is before you!”

That brings us to the last thing this passage teaches that you must do

   in order to see your life as it really is you must—

MP#3  Rejoice in the hope of glory

   The Jews rejoiced.  Verse 16 says it was a time of happiness and joy,

   gladness and honor.  Verse 17, says that there was joy and gladness,

   feasting and celebration.


Why were the Jews celebrating so soon?

In many ways they were still at a very low place—

   The date for their destruction was still set.  13th of Adar.

   Haman was dead but his edict was still in effect.

But they were rejoicing as though the final victory had already taken place.

   They had a certainty about their future that gave them joy in the present.


In the next chapter, the 13th of Adar comes, Jews win the victory.

   And they have a really big feast then—becomes an annual celebration.

   Looking back to their deliverance.

But in this chapter we see the feast before the feast, anticipating victory.


Throughout the New Testament we find the theme of anticipation.

In Colossians 1:27 Paul calls it “the hope of glory”

   hope that is stored up for you in heaven”  Colossians. 1

   the blessed hope”  Titus 2

   the hope of the glory of God”  Romans 5

   a living hope”  1 Peter

   this hope, an anchor for the soul”  Hebrews 6


All of these piling up of descriptions of this hope essentially mean the same thing.

Through Jesus Christ you can know for certain that God has plans for your future.

   Wonderful plans.  Resurrection.  New creation.

Even the Bible cannot describe what God has planned. 

   It only gives us rumors and hints of something wonderful.

   Talks about trees of the field singing, mountains dancing.

   Harvests that never end.  Wine flowing from the mountains.

   Lion lying down with the lamb.


The Apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christian minds simply quotes Isaiah:

   “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived

   what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

That is your real life.  That is what God has planned for you.

That’s a defense against the weariness and discouragement that threatens you.

When you become a Christian you are not lifted out of this world.

   The Christian life is not life in a magic circle.

   You live in this world, wrestling with sin and the effects of sin.

You are cast down at times.  Fall very far and hard.  Like Jews did.


Perhaps you’ve been through some long years of struggle.

Maybe you’ve been fighting with a particular sin.

   Maybe you have a child who has wandered from the faith.

   Maybe you have long-term marital strife or financial uncertainty.

   Or illness, or the death of a loved one.

But as low as you have been—these things will not define your life.

   You have a future that God has planned—the hope of glory.


Jesus says one day you are going to sit down at a feast—wedding supper of Lamb.

   That feast will be a celebration of Jesus’ victory, and your victory.

Will look back over all your struggles, all your low points,

   and the struggles of all of God’s people through the ages—

   and there will be nothing but joy as you see where God has brought you.

But you don’t have to wait.  You can start to celebrate that future victory now.

   Just like the Jews feasted before their victory in the hope of glory.


If you’ve ever been in a wedding, you know there are two celebrations—two feasts.

   There is the wedding reception after the wedding—wedding cake and the punch.

   That’s just pure laughter and fun.  Band, dancing, and celebration.


But there is also the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.

   That’s also a celebration—but it’s different, isn’t it. 

And even though there is lots of laughter at a rehearsal dinner—also tears.

   People missing—Bride says, wish my dad could be here.  Grandparents.

   And sometimes speeches made, advice given—marriage blessing, but hard times.

It’s a celebration of what is yet to come—wedding the next day.


You are invited to a rehearsal dinner for the wedding supper of the Lamb—

   it’s called the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus invites you to come.

Wants you to eat and drink and be glad knowing that this is the celebration

   before the celebration—that he has great things planned, hope of glory.

If at a low point, right for you to bring that to this meal—tell Lord where you are—

   and ask him, through the bread and cup, to fill you with the hope of glory.



There is someone greater than Esther who has done even more for you—Jesus.

   Just as he was humiliated and exalted, so will you be too through union with him.


There is a great edict published for your deliverance—the Gospel.

   It declares your and you deliverance, it humbles you and lifts you up.


There is a great day of celebration—the glory that no eye has seen,

   that God has prepared for those who love him.


Knowing these things, believing them, preaching them to yourself,

   will give you a totally different perspective on your life.


If you are a Christian, your life is not a tragedy—

   no matter how low you are today or tomorrow—it’s a comedy in the truest sense. 


You may be brought low—but you will be lifted.

   And you will be able to make King David’s words your own

   when he said to the Lord:


   You have turned my wailing into dancing;

   You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

   Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.