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Esther 4 1-When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth

with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; Mordecai perceived all that was done- When Mordecai hears that Haman has convinced the king to pay men to round up all the Jews and kill them he goes into morning. sackcloth with ashes- Sackcloth is a coarse, black cloth made from goats hair. It used of morning, repentance and often by the prophets.

1st occurrence of the use of sackcloth in the Bible: Ge 37:34 And Jacob rent his clothes,
and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days Jewish response (OT)- Throughout the OT we see seasons of morning, distress & prayer accompanied by sackcloth and ashes.
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And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth. before the gate3

And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.- OT Jewish response- NT we dont do this.
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So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not.
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Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was. It is interesting to me that Mordecai knows but Esther does not. Obviously, Mordecai knows because of his place at the gate but also because he is in the streets (so to speak). It is not at all uncommon for those in government and for those who are wealthy & live a higher standard to be totally disengaged from the common people. Most people with money do not understand the struggles that the poor have. Most people in power do not understand the life & difficulties of the common people. Esther is insulated from the common people and unaware of the struggles they now face.
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So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate.

And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. Mordecai is very aware of the details of the situation. Mordecai shares with Hatach the situation and the plot of Haman to kill all the Jews.
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Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people. Mordecai has copy orders- appeals queen
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And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;

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All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. Esther fears for her own life. If she approaches the king without being summoned he can have her killed.
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And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.

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Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. Esther either will be destroyed with the other Jews or for her going to king without being summoned. The proverbial rock & hard place. But the thing to consider is that if she does nothing she and all her people will be destroyed. Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house- Mordecai is correct. Simply because she is queen does not mean that she is safe. Haman knows Mordecai is a Jew and everyone knows that Esther is Mordecais niece. We have already seen that the king will put away his queen. What would he also not kill her simple replace her with someone else?
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For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place- Mordecai has faith that God will deliver them. thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed- Rest assured, the first person that Haman intends to kill is Mordecai and his family. Do not forget that this is a person vendetta against

Mordecai for his refusal to pay homage and respect to Haman. But also do not forget that this is a tribal feud that goes back to a time in the past. who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?- I love this phrase and this is something we should all be asking ourselves. You are where you right now and God has a plan and a purpose for you where you are. You are in a unique place that no one else is. You have relationships with people around you like no one else exactly has. God has you where you are for the purpose of serving Him. God has you in relationships with people for the purpose of expanding His kingdom by sharing the Gospel with them. Let me clear here. I have said it before but I want to say it again. No one has ever been converted by simply watching someone else and how they live. The Gospel is verbal. It is a spoken or written message. Do not use the commands of God to do good works and to love your neighbors and enemies as an excuse for not sharing the message of the Gospel. Christianity is not passive. Christianity is not sleeping in church for two hours and thinking you are going to squeak into the heavenly kingdom. Esther could choose to remain silent. She could just think about herself and not risk anything. Who knows, maybe the king would spare her. But God did not bring her from the lowly estate of a capture Jewish girl to the place of a queen for her to be selfish and self-centered. Neither has God redeemed you from the lowest estate of a wretched sinner- a rebel- a God hater-so that you could lounge around on a pew for a few hours a week on Sunday then pursue pleasures and self the rest of the week. You are where you are for such a time as this. And you have a choice. You can keep quiet. You can be lazy. You can just go through the motions and wait for life to be over. Gods will accomplish what He has purposed to do without you but you will suffer loss for your laziness, disobedience and lack of love for Him and others.
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Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,

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Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
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So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law- fasting and prayer mostly unknown. We are weak in prayer and fasting is almost unknown. We spoke for several weeks on prayer. Let me encapsulate some of those things which we said then. Mark 14:38 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Christ chides Peter because he could not prayer for 1 hour. Yet, so many of us cannot even sit still and be quiet to pray for just a few minutes. It is pathetic. Prayer is a basic Christian discipline. Corporate prayer life is a reflection of our private prayer life. We are weak people. We are undisciplined people. We are selfish people. For the most part, we are not a very spiritual

people. Asking some people to stay awake during church is just too much. Asking people to sit still while praying is just too much. Calling for a meeting of prayer and no one will come. And we wonder why God is not answering our prayers. We dont understand why our children are lost and rebellious. We wonder why our churches are dying. We are confused as to why our nation turns further and further away from God. We want the blessings but we are not willing to labor to receive them. Prayer is the basis for entrance into fasting. If we were to call a day of fasting in the church I seriously doubt anyone would be spiritually strong enough to undertake the call. We cant even pray or listen to a sermon. Quite frankly, anyone who is not disciplined in prayer will not be able to undertake spiritual fasting. Let me define what fasting is. Fasting is setting aside the consumption of food and or drink for the purpose of prayer and spiritual issues. I think there has been some confusing in the past about certain types of fasts. Some people have said that they will fast from caffeine, of fast from chocolate of fast from TV. First off, the Biblical concept of fasting is related to food not amusements. So giving up TV, or sports or going to the movies is not Biblical fasting. Certainly Christians could and should do with a lot less amusements in our lives and it would be good for us to se these things aside and use the time for spiritual growth but that is not fasting. Also the idea of denying ourselves something like tobacco, coffee, tea, chocolate, etc. is not Biblical fasting. I think this has been imported into the Protestant churches from the Roman Catholic Church. Giving up certain things like sugar, coffee, TV, etc. is required in the RCC is an act of penance to gain merit before the Easter holiday. It has no place in the Protestant Church. Again, in and of themselves some of these things may not necessarily be a sin but anything that feeds the flesh or that becomes an addiction is an inroad for Satan to use against you. Also anything that threatens our health is poor stewardship of the body that God gave us and is sin. Christians should be disciplining themselves to do without those things anyway. Biblical fasting is the denial of food and sometimes also the denial of food and drink for the purpose of being able to focus solely on God in prayer. The purpose of this fast the need for a response from God is more important than the food and drink that sustains my life.There is individual fasting and there is corporate fasting. Jesus gives guidelines for individual fasting/ Matt. 6:16-18 When you fast- assumes that they will fast. Nowhere is there a command that Ye shall fast but Jesus makes the assumption that His disciples will be fasting and then gives instructions on how to fast. This is individual fasting but there are times of corporate fasting. Queen Esther calls for all the Jews to fast and pray for God to intervene in their situation. This is a normal pattern in the nation of Israel. Weeping- morning- denying food & doing no work.

In 1 Kings 21; Isa. 58, Jer. 3:5, Ezra 8:21, etc. there is corporate fasting. The verses uses terms like to call a fast or to proclaim a fast- The OT also uses terms like to sanctify a fast ) like in the book of Joel. Lev. 16:29-31 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. Notice that phrase afflict your soul. Fasting is making affliction of the soul. It is also a means of spiritual discipline because it deals with our flesh- our fallen, unredeemed physical bodies. It is a way to train ourselves to delay gratification. In a culture that trains us to want it all and to want it now this is a difficult thing for so many people. We are a lazy, selfish and undisciplined people. And our children are worse than we are. We have raised 20 and 30 year-old babies and rebellious brats. And the idea of denying themselves is completely foreign. And the idea of spiritual discipline on almost any level is also foreign in the church. But we should be careful not to assume that corporate fasting was simply a thing we find in the OT and that there is no place for it today. But that is not true. We could look at the churches in Scotland in the 1500s and in American up through the 1700s that followed the Biblical example of calling for a solemn assembly for the sole purpose of fasting and prayer. The solemn assembly could be called in the OT and in the NT for times when the church witnesses a spiritual falling away- for repentance from sin- for receiving the righteous judgment of God- for leaders and for tragic or extraordinary acts of God. This is a time when there is no normal work- a time when all the people meet together is selfdenial & afflict to seek the answer, grace & movement of God. It is a time of fasting and prayer. It is a time of corporate repentance. It is a time of setting aside the things of the world, of setting aside self, selfish desires, laziness and cold, dead tradition that poses as religious to get serious about our desperate need for God. Not just the hand of God in our lives but the face of God manifesting His presence in our hearts. Hearing from God and having His presence in our life is more important than eating or drinking. It is more important to hear from God then it is to eat or drink. If we gained nothing else out of fasting we would at least begin to develop the discipline of denying ourselves an denying the appetites of the flesh. We would come to understand that we do not have to feed every desire that arises- this is especially good for us who have addictions and escapist tendencies. And the amazing thing is that sometimes God responds. How many revivals have been birthed through prayer & fasting? How many souls saved? How many sins defeated? How many addictions over come?