Tag Archives: Xerxes

The One Thing God Cannot Do.

gavel-in-motion-iii    “So it shall be written; so it shall be done!”

   Who can forget those immortal words spoken by Rameses in the classic The Ten Commandments? In the movie, Rameses is in competition with Moses for the throne of Pharaoh and so after Moses builds a city for Pharaoh, a jealous Rameses vows, “’The city that he builds shall bear my name. So it shall be written. So it shall be done.’”

   In ancient cultures, people understood that when a king put a command or decree into writing, then that word would forever stand; even the king himself could not revoke it at a later date. Moreover, a decree by a king was not simply a careless word spoken in a moment of passion and then later revoked, but even if it was spoken carelessly, the king’s word would nonetheless become law and stand for all time.

   And what does this have to do with us? Just this: If you’ve ever received a word or promise from the Lord concerning your destiny, it will come to pass.

   “’God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?’” (Num. 23;19)

   In Scripture, God gives us several examples of this principle in order to prove the gravity of the point. Despite even rash words uttered by kings, those kings were not able to revoke their words at a later date – even though they might want to.

   In the book of Esther, for example, we’re told that King Xerxes gave a seven-day banquet in Susa during which the men drank “as much as they pleased”. After several days of drinking, it is probably safe to conclude that Xerxes was “much in his cups” so he decides to send for Queen Vashti for a little entertainment. Xerxes orders that the queen appear, complete with the royal crown on her head, so that he could show off her beauty to all of the men gathered. However, Queen Vashti refuses to appear (1:11-12).

   Now while commentators offer various explanations for this refusal of hers – some rather interesting – we don’t really know why she didn’t show. Some say that the order by the king included instructions for Queen Vashti to appear wearing only the crown (which, admittedly, would show off all her beauty); others say that it was a grievous breach of custom for a woman to appear before an assembly of men; and still others say that Vashti was having the equivalent of a hissy fit and refused to be treated like a mindless Barbie doll.

   I doubt the latter.

   When she doesn’t appear – whatever the reason – Xerxes is angry and demands to know what penalty the law provides for a queen who refuses to obey the king’s orders. His officials, concerned that Vashti’s example would give the wives of the kingdom permission to disrespect their own husbands, counsel the king to issue a written decree that Queen Vashti should be forever banished from the king’s presence and a new queen should be chosen. Xerxes, thinking this suggestion makes good sense, sends letters to every province in his empire proclaiming that every husband should be the ruler of his home (1:19-22). In other words, he put it in writing.

   Nevertheless, the Bible tells us that “when Xerxes’ anger cooled,” he begins to think about Vashti and the decree he had made, the implication being that he regrets his decision to banish her. Still, he cannot revoke the decree so his officials suggest a beauty pageant to find another queen (2:1-4).

   Fast forward several months after Esther is chosen to be the new queen: Haman, who hated the Jews, talks Xerxes into issuing a written decree to have them all killed on a certain date. Xerxes, not realizing that Esther is Jewish, agrees and, once again, puts his decree into writing and sends it far and wide throughout the kingdom (3:8-15). Later, once he discovers that his beloved Esther is Jewish and, along with her people, will be slaughtered, he grieves because he can’t revoke any decree that he has put into writing. In order to solve the problem, he has to issue a new decree giving the Jews permission to defend themselves (chapter 8). The king specifically tells Esther and Mordecai, “’But remember that whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can never be revoked’” (8:8).

   Revoking his Word is the one thing God cannot do.

    “’For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it’” (Is. 55:10-11).  

   Has God made you a promise concerning your future? Do not take it lightly for God does not promise what he does not fulfill.

   “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay” (Hab. 2:3).

   Prepare for it.

  

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Just Believe It.

God’s Eye in Space (NASA)

gods-eye-nasa

Have you ever gotten a promise from God – and then you’re not certain you’ve gotten a promise from God? Probably. You get a word somehow – from the Bible, a sermon, another person – and you know it’s for you. God is speaking the very thing to you that you’ve been praying about or that’s been your heart’s desire or that you wondered if, someday, you could do. But then that promise seems too good to be true – and you begin to wonder . . .

“Did I really hear that? Or did I imagine it?” It happens. We begin to doubt our ability to hear God. Then we become afraid to believe what we’ve heard because – well, what if we’re wrong??

Gideon certainly had this problem. God told him that he would be the one used to lead Israel into battle against its enemies and Gideon, who was the least likely in all of Israel to be chosen to lead anything, wasn’t quite sure he’d heard correctly. So, he initiated the “fleece” test. You’ve heard of that? A “fleece” is any test we throw out to God asking Him to prove Himself to us. Can you imagine?? (But we’ve all done it.) So Gideon put out a sheep’s fleece and asked God to make it dry despite the dew and then to do the opposite: wet and no dew. Gideon needed to be absolutely certain it was God who had said to go and fight. He was afraid he’d heard incorrectly. But, as it turns out, he had heard right; God did speak to him to lead Israel into battle and promised him he would win. Which then caused Gideon to say:

 “Who? Me? I don’t deserve a promise like that!” No one does – but that’s our perspective, not God’s. If you randomly open to any given page in the Bible, odds are you’re going to find God choosing someone inconsequential to do something quite consequential. Reference Abraham, Moses (after he’d been banished to the desert), Esther, Joseph, Gideon, David, Rahab, most prophets, Mary, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Matt the tax collector – you get the idea. Somebody has to do great things. Why not you? And if your promise has to do with receiving a heart’s desire – getting married, having a child, doing any specific thing – remember that God stands behind those promises, too. Both Sarah and Hannah desired to have a child and both did. In addition, Jesus healed many people whose desire was for wholeness or deliverance; He even answered prayers to raise the dead. God wants to give you your heart’s desire.

Nathan the prophet, speaking for God, told David, “’Go and do all that is in your heart.’”

“What if God changes His mind about what He promised me?” I don’t believe God does that – primarily based on what He says about changing His mind: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Num. 23:19). Translation: If God has given you a promise, it will happen.

The Lord gives us an interesting illustration in the Word to make the point that His word is unchanging, trustworthy, and reliable. Both King Xerxes in the book of Esther and King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel gave commands they later regretted. Xerxes gave a command allowing the slaughter of all Jewish people (not knowing Esther was Jewish), and Nebuchadnezzar gave a command to put to death anyone who insisted on worshiping anyone other than himself (not knowing Daniel had done this). However, having given the commands, even the kings could not revoke their own word. So if the word of mere man was so invariable, how much more the Word of God? As the Lord says about His own word: “’As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it’” (Is. 55: 10-11). Period.

“But what if I can’t do it??” Abraham expressed this fear right after God had promised him “the land,” saying, “’O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it [the land]?’” (Gen. 15:8). Abraham wasn’t questioning God’s faithfulness to His promise. Rather, Abraham was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to live up to the promise and “gain possession of it”. He didn’t understand that it wasn’t up to him to fulfill the promise – it was God’s work to do. In fact, the Lord goes on to tell Abraham that this possession of the land would happen long after he had died and that it would be His doing, not Abe’s. “’To your descendents I give this land . . .’” (vs. 18-19). If you’re worried about whether you “can do it,” remember God’s word to Zerubbabel: “’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty’” (Zech 4:6).

If you’ve received a promise from God regarding a dream, a vision, a destiny, count on it because the thing is this: the fulfillment of that promise does not depend on you; it depends on God.

Your job?  Just believe it.