Posted in esther, for such a time as this, last days, prophecy

How does “For such a time as this” have meaning for us today?

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m just in awe of the Lord these days. I sit stunned, day after day, at the news of the hour. We are living in the last days, the end of time. We have been since Jesus ascended and will continue to until the rapture and we are gathered up and glorified.

Therefore in addition to studying the Bible and watching for His return as we are commanded, we also should ponder His plan and providence of His decision to station us here, now, for such a time as this. Whatever time we are living in.

Continue reading “How does “For such a time as this” have meaning for us today?”

Posted in esther, heirs, herod, prophecy, salome

Of two kings, their women, and death on a platter

What the unconverted heart wants is so different from what the converted heart wants. As James Smith said in 1859, the state of the unconverted is-

They are in a state of misery. They do not enjoy the favor of God, nor taste the sweetness of his blessing. Have what they may, they are never satisfied, for their immortal nature is always craving for something higher and better. … They are in opposition to God.

As John Murray said of the converted heart,

It is the Holy Spirit working directly, efficaciously and irresistibly upon man’s heart and mind, making the man over again, and creating him anew after the image of Christ in holiness and righteousness of the truth. A revolution, a reconstruction takes place at the center of man’s moral and spiritual being: sin and pollution are dethroned in the citadel of man’s being, and righteousness takes its place. (source)

Our desires align with God’s, our desire is for hatred of sin, pursuit of holiness, our neighbor’s good, service, forgiveness, mercy, righteousness and more.

The two hearts (converted vs. unconverted) were never more starkly contrasted as in Salome and Esther’s.

Esther Before King Ahasuerus with Haman Being Sent to the Gallows,1577
(studio of) Claeissens, Anthuenis (1536-1613)

According to Mark 6:21-29 a daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and her mother Herodias at the occasion of his birthday, and in doing so gave her mother the opportunity to obtain the head of John the Baptist. Even though the New Testament accounts do not mention a name for the girl, this daughter of Herodias is often identified with Salome. According to Mark’s gospel Herodias bore a grudge against John for stating that Herod’s marriage to her was unlawful; she encouraged her daughter to demand that John be executed. (source)

and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 24And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” (Mark 6:22-25).

Deadly desire: Aubrey Beardsley’s illustration
for Wilde’s play (Getty Images) Source

Why does the unconverted heart want death on a platter? Because John the Baptist had spoken against the King’s unlawful marriage. Nobody likes it when their sin is pointed out, least of all the one with an unconverted heart. The daughter, which through history we know is named Salome, sided with her mother in wanting the burr in their side dead. Silencing the voice of God used through His people never silences the conscience though, nor does it destroy coming judgment for their sins. The sinner may gain temporary relief, but it is only temporary.

King Ahasuerus of Persia ruled from Ethiopia to Iran, over 127 districts. When he saw kind and gentle Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her.

Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” (Esther 5:2b-4)

Both kings had asked the women in their lives what request they had and promised to fulfill it up to half their respective kingdoms. What power! What an important moment! If you were given such a powerful promise, what would you ask for? Each woman instantly knew what she wanted.

Esther famously was concerned with doing God’s will, even to the risk of her own life. She spoke up on behalf of her people, who were under threat of genocide. Esther wanted life for her people because they were God’s people, Salome wanted death to John the Baptist to silence the convicting voice. The two hearts could not be more starkly different.

Pray to the Spirit to continue softening your heart so that given an opportunity to ask a favor the King of Kings, you will ask in a way that is aligned with His will. What tragedy it was for Salome to ask for something so fleeting so as to gain temporary relief from the conviction of her sin, only to discover in the end that punishment is forever. Even more so is the tragedy when they have available the gracious and eternal relief from sin’s burden of guilt and shame through Jesus Christ- and spurn it.

“Up to half my kingdom” the promise was even more ironic. Those with a converted heart will share as co-heirs the entire kingdom, wealth beyond imagining, peace and joy and treasure of the highest kind: Jesus. (Galatians 4:7).

Posted in annunciation, catholics, discernment, esther, immaculate

Comparing Mary’s "Yes" to Esther’s "Yes"

There is a doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church that has to do with Mary and the Annunciation. When the angel Gabriel came to announce the impending conception of Christ in Mary’s womb, Mary said yes. By the way, did you know that Catholics do not refer to this as the Immaculate Conception? The Immaculate Conception is Mary’s conception, they say she was conceived without sin. Catholics believe Mary was supernaturally preserved from all sin, and so was sinless throughout her life.

Back to the annunciation. Catholics believe that due to free-will, if Mary had said “No” then Jesus would not have been born and the entire Plan of God would have been thwarted. Mary is exalted and elevated to a position that is unscriptural, because really, the Catholics are all breathing a huge sigh of relief that she said ‘yes’. Here are quotes from various Catholic Doctrine sites:

Catholic.com

God permitted the Redemption of mankind to depend on the free-will decision of a human being. Whether or not we would have a mediator was dependent on Mary’s “yes.” Had there been no “yes” from Mary, there would have been no mediator.

EWTN, Global Catholic Network:

St. Irenaeus (late second century): “By obeying, she became a cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”

From the Archdiocese of Perth, Australia:

“Without Mary’s “yes”,” the Archbishop said, “without her “let it be done to me as God wills”, the Lord Jesus would not have been born and we would not now be preparing to celebrate his birth in just a few weeks’ time.”

In this way, the Catholic Church denies the sovereignty of God.

I’d like to bring your attention to a book of the Old Testament that has some parallels to the Annunciation scenes in Luke. In Esther, we have a young girl, put into a dramatic position with weighty consequences to herself personally and to her nation of people, the Israelites, just as Mary was. Esther is presented with a choice, to become engaged in God’s work in the saving of all Israel, or to decline. Would Esther say yes? Or would she say no?

ESTHER: Andrea Del Castagno (~1450).
Esther was actually a Queen

Esther is an interesting book because it is the only book that has no mention of God. Yet His providential works via His total sovereignty are saturated throughout the book. God’s plan did not depend on Esther. If she had said no…well read the scripture yourself.

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Deliverance will come from another place. Will. Not “if.” Nothing was dependent on Esther, except her personal obedience and trust of the LORD in whom she had declared faith. She was providentially put into an important moment of time and her answer would say more about her faith than any disruption of God’s plan, which was going to come to pass anyway.

Besides, I don’t recall that the angel Gabriel asked Mary anything. He arrived to tell her what God said will happen.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

There are seven “wills” in those verses. Not seven “pleases.” If Mary had said no, would Gabriel have had to return to heaven and say, “Sorry God, what you said will happen…won’t happen after all?”

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. (Psalm 33:10-11)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

Mary with the Child 1520-25,
Albrecht Altdorfer.
The biblical Mary is not a queen.

In the same way, nothing about God’s plan was dependent on Mary’s yes. Of course, God’s omniscience was such that He already knew her answer. In addition, His will is irresistible. (Romans 9:19a). His plans will come to pass. (Lamentations 3:37). God hadn’t spent a thousand years organizing the genealogies of each man and each woman and hadn’t providentially preserved each baby birthed in that line of Mary’s forefathers and foremothers from each tribe so Jesus would emerge as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, just so it could boil down to one teenager’s answer. God wasn’t in the balcony of heaven wringing His hands and wondering if Plan B was going to have to be drafted.

Please have compassion for Catholic believers. If their entire salvation throughout all the ages depended on one girl’s yes then they must not have very much peace of mind, or security. If their god can be thwarted by one moment of time, by one girl, by one answer, then what kind of god do they have faith in? A god that perhaps cannot hold them to His plan, either. Or hold the earth. Or be sovereign over anything.

Do they believe Job when Job says I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

Do they believe Isaiah’s words speaking for God, when it was written, Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (Isaiah 46:9-10)

I’ve read several of the Catholic Apologetics sites. The Catholic apologists do a good job of using scripture to support their unscriptural stances. They make reasonable answers to these very questions and are well written enough to confuse a weak Protestant or strengthen a weak Catholic. So what is the key to evangelizing Catholics?

Mike Gendron was a Catholic for many years before the grace of God opened his eyes to the truth. His apologetics site is aimed at Catholics and discussing in Catholic issues & doctrines. Under the heading on this “Articles” page, is the essay Evangelizing Catholics.

We have the faith in a sovereign God who providentially makes His will come to pass. There is enormous security and comfort in knowing this God. The Catholic god is not one who completely saves, not one who is strong enough to withstand a girl’s no, and is not strong enough to bring His will to earth. Share our Mighty God with them, in the ways advised at the site above. Show them this God-

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

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Further Reading

The Counterfeit Mary of Catholicism

Posted in esther, for such a time as this, last days, prophecy

How does "For such a time as this" have meaning for us today?

I’m just in awe of the Lord these days. I sit stunned, day after day, at the prophetic news coming alive. There is no doubt that we are living in the last days, the end of time. There is no doubt that the events we are seeing are the very ones that were prophesied to occur just prior to the second return of Jesus Christ.

Therefore in addition to studying the prophesies and watching for His return as we are commanded, we also should ponder His plan and providence of His decision to station us here, now, for such a time as this.

Mordecai said to Esther, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Now, we do not all have the terrible privilege of being the vehicle from which and through which God Himself brings deliverance to an entire people, as Esther was, but we do need to be mindful of the weight of time and the fact that God deliberately chose to put us here in this time, now. Do we take the time to thank Him? To ponder our role in these last days? To ask and seek His face as to why and what it is He wants us to do that is particular to this time, as opposed to other centuries He could have elected us to dwell in?

Gill’s Exposition of the Bible explains of the Esther verse, “and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? he intimates that he believed that the providence of God had raised her to that dignity, that she might be an instrument of saving his people in the time of their distress; and this he said to encourage her to make the experiment.”

Isn’t that phrase, “God raised her to that dignity” a wonderful and at the same time, a terrifying thing to consider? We each have a dignity to perform in His name and for His name.

Wesley’s Notes goes further:

“We should every one of us consider, for what end God has put us in the place where we are? And when an opportunity offers of serving God and our generation, we must take care not to let it slip.”

For what end, my Lord and my God? For what end do you seek to have me serve in these last days?

And my favorite, Matthew Henry’s Commentary punctuates the Esther verse with this comment:

“We are prone to shrink from services that are attended with peril or loss. But when the cause of Christ and his people demand it, we must take up our cross, and follow him. When Christians are disposed to consult their own ease or safety, rather than the public good, they should be blamed. The law was express, all knew it. It is not thus in the court of the King of kings: to the footstool of his throne of grace we may always come boldly, and may be sure of an answer of peace to the prayer of faith. We are welcome, even into the holiest, through the blood of Jesus. Providence so ordered it, that, just then, the king’s affections had cooled toward Esther; her faith and courage thereby were the more tried; and God’s goodness in the favour she now found with the king, thereby shone the brighter.”

Yes, we are prone to shrink from service that carries with it dishonor, persecution, or even death. But shrink we must not do! We are put here for a service to Him that will allow Him to shine His goodness all the brighter.

There is no doubt that we are enduring terrible pressures of the days. Sometimes it feels that our shoulders seem unequal to the task of carrying them. But then,we do not have to carry these pressures! The Lord’s yoke is easy and His burden is light, if we but cast our cares upon Him. His shoulders will carry the world’s government (Isaiah 9:6). He carried the cross on His shoulders on the way to Calvary, and He placed all the sins of the people on His shoulders while He was ON that cross. He seeks and finds one lost sheep whilst the other 99 are grazing on the hill, and when He finds the lost one, puts it on His shoulders and carries it home to much rejoicing. (Luke 15:3). He can bear all things. And through Him, we can bear the days, too.

And what days they are! Let’s take a look at some news:

MIDDLE EAST

Egypt broadens Sinai campaign to root out terror
“Egypt’s military said on Wednesday it would broaden its offensive against militants in the Sinai Peninsula, a campaign that has raised concerns in Israel about the movement of heavy armor into the area near its border. Disorder has spread in Sinai since President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow last year. Analysts say Islamists with possible links to al-Qaeda have gained a foothold. This has alarmed Israel.”

Israelis to ‘lose’ 300 meters to Sinai security
The IDF is set to issue orders that would convert an area of 300 meters within the Sinai border into a closed military zone
“Israelis will soon be banned from approaching too close to the Sinai border. A report on Army Radio Thursday morning said that the IDF was set to issue orders that would convert an area of 300 meters within the Sinai border into a closed military zone, which only soldiers and security personnel would be able to enter. The order would apply even to areas where the Sinai border fence is in place. The fence, much of which contains electronic sensors to detect intruders, is about three quarters complete.”

Iran doubled capacity of bunker enrichment plant, ‘significantly’ hampers inspection, IAEA charges
“Iran has effectively shut down a probe of a site suspected of being used for work on nuclear weapons development while doubling the number of machines it could use to make the core of nuclear warheads at an underground bunker safe from airborne attack, the UN nuclear agency said in a report Thursday.”

An IAEA report said the Fordo [nuclear] plant has around 2,000 centrifuges installed, compared with around 1,000 in May. This is terrible news. Joel Rosenberg has an essay tonight titled,

Inside the debate: Should Israel Strike Iran in the next 10 Weeks? What Netanyahu, Barak and their critics are thinking

Iran has repeatedly said they plan to wipe Israel off the earth. Iran’s top officials and its theocratic clerics believe with all their heart that doing so is an Allah-given right, duty, and responsibility to show Allah their seriousness in preparing the way for the final Imam to arrive.

Israel has repeatedly said “Never again,” this is their national motto. Yesterday Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Iran a “disgrace” to humanity, during a meeting Wednesday evening with the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Germany, David McAllister. “Seventy years ago, six million of our people were destroyed in an act of genocide. The world pledged ‘never again’ . . . It appears that many among the international community haven’t learned anything.” Netanyahu said that the Iranian “regime denies the Holocaust and is working to destroy the Jewish state. This regime oppresses its people, takes part in the butchering of innocent Syrians, and calls for death toAmerica, death to Israel.”

So sadly, “Never Again” will prove to be a hollow motto. Jesus said regarding the abomination of desolation, and as for the Jews in Jerusalem, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Prophecy students know that ‘Never Again’ will soon change to “Not again!!”

PESTILENCE

Great rampaging diseases are prophesied to occur in the Tribulation. Disease will be one of the methods Jesus uses to judge the world and bring widespread death. (Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:8).

Right now, did you know that one of the worst outbreaks of West Nile virus to ever hit the United States is happening, and is continuing to expand?

4 dead so far as West Nile disease becomes epidemic in Michigan
“West Nile disease — a mosquito-borne illness — has reached epidemic proportions in Michigan, particularly in older suburbs that ring metro Detroit and Grand Rapids, state health officials warned Wednesday. Michigan’s 80 cases this summer, including four deaths, rank the state as the sixth highest in the nation with the problem, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

West Nile Virus Cases Hit 1,590; Death Toll at 66
“Reports of West Nile virus infection in the country now total 1,590, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday – an increase of more than 40 percent in one week alone. CDC officials also reported during a Wednesday afternoon teleconference that 66 people have died from the disease so far. Of all of the cases reported thus far, 889 – or 56 percent – are classified as neuroinvasive, meaning patients develop meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis. These figures represent a striking increase from last week’s report of 1,118 cases”

2,900 Yosemite visitors warned about possible exposure to deadly hantavirus
“About 2,900 Yosemite National Park visitors from around the world who stayed in Curry Village this summer have been notified about possible exposure to hantavirus, a mouse-borne illness that can develop into severe and often-fatal respiratory disease. People who stayed in the cabins from June 10 through Aug. 24 have been notified by e-mail or letter about possible infection, Yosemite National Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb told CBSNews.com. In addition, visitors who were planning on staying in the tent cabins in Curry Village at Yosemite have been re-booked in other locations, while the 91 cabins undergo sanitation and retrofitting.”

John MacArthur believes that the prophecy will be fulfilled via rodents. He preached on “The Grim Reality of the Last Days,” saying “Luke 21 also adds there will be plagues, terrors and great signs from heaven. You want plagues, how about the black death, 1300’s in Europe, carried by rats, killed 60 percent of the population of Europe in excess of a hundred million people. How about 40 million plus in the great influenza, the early twentieth century. Great signs from heaven, terrors, fires, diseases, heat, cold, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought.”

Well, we have all that now, including diseases, and in the Tribulation diseases will run away from being managed through medicine and bring death along for the ride.
————-

DROUGHT

Isaac rain may bring some drought relief

Praise the Lord, I hope it does!!!

“As Hurricane Isaac continues to pound the Gulf Coast with rain and wind, meteorologists say the storm could provide some much-needed hydration in parts of the country hit hard by drought. Isaac will bring “soaking downpours” to parts of Arkansas, Missouri and other Central states into the weekend, according to AccuWeather. The rain will arrive too late for summer crops, such as corn and soybeans, which were damaged by the hottest July on record. But the moisture could reach far enough westward to benefit some of the upcoming winter wheat crop, according to Dale Mohler, a meteorologist at AccuWeather.”

————————
CULTURE

Girl, 10, charged with manslaughter in Maine

What a horrible thing!! Society has surely degeneration’s too far when children are [allegedly] killing babies!

“PORTLAND, MAINE (AP) –— A 10-year-old girl was charged Thursday with manslaughter in the death of an infant whose mother said had ingested medication and been suffocated.  The girl, who is not being identified, is the youngest person to be charged with manslaughter in Maine in at least 25 years. The infant, Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway, of Clinton in central Maine, had been left overnight with an adult baby sitter in nearby Fairfield.”

 ———————–

Back to Esther. When Mordecai tells Esther she may have been put here for such a time as this, what Mordecai is really doing is affirming Divine sovereignty. “He affirms divine sovereignty. He affirms his confidence in the revelation of God that he would preserve his people. But he also understands that Esther can perish and he can perish and many other Jews can perish if she doesn’t act. … The invisible hand of God is evident everywhere” in the Book of Esther and His invisible hand is everywhere in the world today. No one, no matter how they attempt to destroy the people of God and the purpose of God, can succeed because God’s covenant love for Israel will be fulfilled, is being fulfilled. And the message for you is this. While you’re going through life and trying to make sure you fix all the little pieces of your life, understand this: that there is over and in, above and below your life a divine architect ordering every detail. And if you belong to Him and are in the covenant of His love, He is accomplishing His perfect will. And you can rest in that, you can rest in that.”

“The Lord is still on the throne. These are challenging times, challenging days to live in. You can become pretty distressed about the way things are going, the way things are going in the world is chaotic, disconcerting, troubling, disturbing, distressing, some ways frightening. Not so in the kingdom. The divine architect is ordering our lives, those of us who belong to Him and are in covenant love with Him. He is ordering our lives to His eternal glory, every part. How wonderful to live in that confidence” (source)