Alfred Place Baptist Church

4:12-14 The Deliverance of God’s People

Esther 4:12-14 “When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’ Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’ So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.”

Haman the Agagite the prime minister hated Mordecai and all his fellow exiles from Jerusalem. He was so overwhelmed with rage that he determined to set in motion Jewish cleansing, completely wiping out these Jehovahists in the Persian Empire. A day at the end of the year was appointed to this end, the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and with the king’s approval messengers went out through the land for the people to be ready for the slaughter. The city of Susa was stunned by the royal edict.

1. THE INITIAL RESPONSE OF GOD’S PEOPLE TO A THREAT.

The first response is the one in the public square. The equivalent today would be letters to the newspapers, both local and national, the public phone-in, the petition, the approach to the government, the visit to the local Member of Parliament, the appeal to the European Court, or the United Nations, the Archbishop and the Pope speaking up and denouncing the planned atrocity. That is the first response, information, protest and the maximum emotional impact. So we are told that “When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no-one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it” (Esther 4:1&2). Mordecai had learned of all that was planned in the destruction of the people. He got the facts, and then he made this calculated response, tearing his clothes and covering his head, face and shoulders with white ash and going out into the city wailing loudly and bitterly at every crossroads and marketplace. It was a brave action, defying the king’s decree. Mordecai took his loud protest as far as the king’s gate. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. His action was the trigger for similar public demonstrations held in every province of the empire.

However, Mordecai’s public protest was focused on one person in particular, his adopted daughter Esther, the wife of Xerxes. It was intended by Mordecai to gain her attention in her luxury suite in the royal harem, surrounded by her servants and increasingly taking for granted this affluent lifestyle. It was there that some of her eunuchs and maids hurried to her, “For some reason your Mordecai is dressed in sackcloth and ashes and is wailing loudly outside the king’s gate.” Esther was distressed at the news; she hated the thought of ‘Daddy’ Mordecai wearing torn sackcloth and covered in ash and she sent a go-between named Hathach to find out the reason and supply him with proper clothes. Mordecai wouldn’t accept them, but having got hold of Esther in this way he explained everything to her via Hathach, “including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa” (vv.7&8). So first of all Mordecai gave to Esther the same information about the planned massacre that he had received. Then he also told her what she had to do, “go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people” (v.8).

That is Mordecai’s initial response. We would like to have read that he had gone to God three times a day and prayed to him, but there is no mention of that. There is a King in heaven who loves us and watches over us; nothing shall separate us from his love. What seem new dangers to us are all very familiar to him. “No trial will take you but such as is common to man, and God will with the trial make a way of escape. You will be able to bear it.” Our God sees the end from the beginning and that is our peace, that he is in control of it all. But Mordecai’s initial confidence was in civil protest and family connections, friends in high places. No doubt we can appeal to those things as long as they are in the context of personal dependence on the Lord.

A wonderful illustration of this was with Nehemiah the cup-bearer of Xerxes’ father here in Babylon thirty-nine years earlier. Nehemiah had dared to reveal his overwhelming sadness to the king, and when asked why was he so distressed he had informed the king of the plight of his people who had returned to Jerusalem. The king said to him, “I give you permission to go to Jerusalem and I will give you help for the journey.” One presumes that Mordecai was aware of that incident. He did not have such access to Xerxes but Esther, he imagined, did. Later the apostle Paul appealed to the Roman authorities for the rights of Christians to gather publicly for worship and evangelism, but you remember how the apostle bathed everything in prayer. But note the difference between Mordecai and Nehemiah. The first chapter of Nehemiah contains his magnificent prayer to God, and it is after such a time of private intercession that Nehemiah goes to his king with his grief. We are told that when the king said to him, “‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king . . .’” (Neh. 2:4&5). There is heart prayer before political appeal, and I say that we’d like to have seen something of that piety in Mordecai, but the people of God in Babylon were living in times of spiritual declension.

Esther’s initial response was also salutary; she was quite overwhelmed with the difficulty and the dangers of talking to her husband. There was no pillow talk between this couple. She ashamedly has to send the message back to Mordecai that in fact she hasn’t seen her husband for a month, and the only way she could see him would be if he should deign to summon her into his presence. She is confessing how few the privileges marriage to King Xerxes have brought into her life; “I am no different from anyone else in the citadel, ‘All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned, the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold sceptre to him and spare his life’ (v.11).” She just sees the vast problems of attempting to use her tiny influence in this way, even for someone who was the recipient of Xerxes’ strange kind of love. “It is very difficult to me to approach the king,” she says, “I don’t know if I can do anything to help.” Maybe every Mr. Timorous and Mr. Doubting in the congregation responds like that initially, and maybe we all take it in turns to be one of those characters from Pilgrim’s Progress. That is why it is good for a minister to have elders, and for elders to have ministers, and for God to have put the solitary in families. That is why God has decreed that his household meets together every Sunday around his Word.

2. THE MORE CONSIDERED RESPONSE OF GOD’S PEOPLE TO A THREAT.

By now they’ve all had time to think a bit more, and to exercise their faith. Mordecai receives this message of the fears of Esther. He considers them and then he says to Hathach, “Tell this to the queen,” and these are his stirring words; “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (vv. 13&14). Mordecai is telling her, and he is also informing us when we are under any kind of threat, to face up to three verities (these are three helpful observations from Peter Bloomfield in his commentary on Esther).

1. Face the reality! This is a candid wake-up call be­cause Esther obviously assumes that her own life is not in danger so long as she doesn’t break palace protocols. She thinks that she would be immune from the death threat in Haman’s decree. So Mordecai tells her the truth. The reality is that there are no loopholes in the coming annihilation. Every Jew is on death row. There will be no exceptions. The edict is terrible in its thor­oughness, ‘to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews — young and old, women and little children — on a single day’. Don’t deceive yourself that it means all Jews except Esther! The laws of the Medes and Persians are set in concrete. There had been no escape clause for the previous queen, Vashti, even though the law she had broken wasn’t even made until after the event. So what hope will Esther have in breaking a law already in force? [You can run but you can’t hide!]

2. Don’t sit on the fence! Esther has to make a choice so Mordecai tells her, ‘If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from an­other place.’ How can he be so confident? Because he knows that God will stick to his oath. God has sworn that he will be at war with Amalek in every generation. God will blot out Amalek from under heaven. He will not let Amalek (Haman) blot out Israel. Mordecai is a growing man of faith, believing that God’s word is truth. So he knows that God will deliver the Jews from this present crisis, otherwise God has spoken falsely. God can use Esther, but he does not depend on her or anyone else. If she remains silent, she will be the only one to lose. God can raise up children for Abraham out of the very stones. So what will it be, Esther? Are you willing for God to deliver Israel through your faithfulness, or through someone else? Make up your mind.

3. Seize the moment! Look at the providential opportunities before you! ‘Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’ ‘Do you think it is merely coincidental that you, a Jew, became queen at the very time when Jews need help? Do you think it merely coincidental that your husband, the king, owes his life to a Jew, to me, your cousin?’ In other words Mordecai suggests that she stops looking only on the negative side. She must stop con­sidering only the risks involved. Esther needs to recognize the very real advantages she has. In God’s providence Esther is better placed than anyone on earth to meet the need of the moment” (Peter Bloomfield, Esther, Evangelical Press, 2002, pp. 75&76).

Let us remember that Esther is not Everywoman; she is not Mrs. Typical O.T. Christian. Through some dubious encouragement by Mordecai she has become the wife of the most powerful and ruthless man in the world, the Saddam Hussein of the fifth century before Christ. What were God’s reasons for permitting this folly? This God had spoken directly concerning the issue the Jews were facing, the issue was the centuries-long remorseless hatred of the Amalekites for the people of God. God had promised war in every generation. God would not allow faith-cleansing to wipe his people off the face of the earth, rather, God was going to blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. The seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. That is the direct teaching of Scripture on this battle with wickedness.

So when Mordecai says to Esther that she has come to her position of influence for such a time as this he is not merely appealing to providence. All of us are living at such a time as we live – for ourselves today it is the early years of the 21st century. Esther is different from us in cultural ways and so were her enemies who were an actual physical race of Amalekites biding their time but determined to wipe out Jehovahists. Mordecai was calling her to face up to her part in this battle. She must not think, “I have become a Persian now . . . I have been Babylonized . . . my first duty is not to some old Book but to my husband the King.” Face the reality of your relationship with the Lord. There will be no escape for you when it’s the day of the long knives. Esther is being summoned to act in the light of the living word of God. That is the core of Mordecai’s appeal.

God will save his people; there is no doubt about that. From one quarter or another deliverance will come. Wouldn’t it be a great honour for it to come through us? Think of the accomplishments of Athanasius back in the fourth century and the deliverance he brought to the church. He constantly declared truths which we take today as simple historic Christianity, the eternal Sonship of Christ, the direct creation of the world by God and the sole redeemer of sinners through God in Christ. All these truths were under attack by a heretic called Arius – the spiritual grandfather of the Jehovah’s Witnesses – and at that time God raised him up to speak a word to the church of deliverance from rationalism. So too in the 16th century God raised up Martin Luther to affirm that the Bible declares “Repent and turn from your sins,” not “Do acts of penitence for your sins,” and by our repentance from sin and faith in Christ alone we are justified, declared righteous in Christ. God raised him up in a dark day to declare those truths. He called the professing church back to true Christianity and when the Roman church refused point blank to change that obstinacy split the church and it still does. And you in our day, will you students stand in the university for the Bible and its message? Will you citizens stand in this town against all the pressures of inter-faith and ecumenical compromise and say that there is salvation in none but Christ, no other name under heaven given amongst men whereby men must be saved. Face the reality! Don’t sit on the fence! Seize the moment!

What was Esther’s response to Mordecai’s exhortation? You see it was two fold;

i] Firstly it was corporate. By Mordecai’s words she had again been made conscious of the people to whom she belonged, that she like them was under threat for their faith, and that she was united with them trusting in the living God alone. She had been awakened to the fact of her solidarity with this group of people facing destruction and she also needed help from this body, so she said to Mordecai, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do” (v.16).

Fasting is mentioned in the New Testament fifteen times. Jesus fasted, the apostles fasted and the early church fasted. It is an individual private duty but it can be done by members of the church at a set time. Jesus said, “When you fast . . .” as though taking it for granted that they would. In Babylon Daniel had fasted; he says, “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” (Dan. 10:3). I presume these Jews in Babylon a hundred years later knew of Daniel’s fasting. There is just one great purpose to fasting and that is to humble the soul. In fasting we deny self, we bring our body and its desires into subjection to the will of God, we stir up our devotion to God, we bear witness to the contrition of our hearts, and we put ourselves in mind of our weakness and utter unworthiness. Esther was fearful; she could see at first only the difficulties; she needed to fast to strengthen the single-mindedness of her actions in the next days; she must fast to feel her poverty of spirit and her greater need of God. “May this drive us all nearer God and away from all the charms of Babylon!” How can we say that there are not times in our own lives, individually and as a congregation when it is right to call for a time of fasting?

ii] Secondly, her response was that of an individual. She told Mordecai, “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (v.16). We don’t have to live, but we have to obey the Lord. We dare not forget that we are members of the one body, the one flock, and the one family of God. Are our lives supporting them? We mustn’t live just for ourselves; we always have the good of others in view. Sometimes love for our neighbour will lead to us to die for him. Brave men have done that in wars; a Christian should be prepared to lay down his life for his brothers. Esther was finally ready to go to the king uninvited, and if Xerxes were angry at her bold presumption and ordered her to be put to death, she’d accept that, because the cause of her God and his truth that she would champion was greater even than her own life.

You remember our brave Saviour, that how at the end of his life he was heading for the cruel cross, for being forsaken by his Father, for the darkness and anathema, for being made sin for us – the sinless holy Child of God. Do you remember how he asked three of his closest friends to pray with him? He took them into the Garden of Gethsemane and went a stone’s throw across the garden where he himself engaged in intercession, but all the time in the background there were these three young men whose murmuring prayers he hoped would go on and on for an hour. Peter would pray, and then John would pray, and then James would pray, and then Peter would pray again, and then John, and then James, and so on. They would also be watching for the sight of any soldiers with torches coming through the olive trees to arrest him so that he could focus exclusively on his heavenly Father. That was Jesus’ request, to be supported by his friends’ prayers, though they let him down and slept. When we are concerned we say to our friends, “Pray for us.”

Then Jesus himself went to God and asked if there was any possibility of another cup instead of the cross of shame. Could this death be set aside for another kind of decease? That is what he prayed, but then he added these words of faith, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” If there is another cup, fine, but if not I accept your will. “If I perish, I perish.” Corporate prayer and personal prayer both have their place.

3. GOD’S ANSWER TO THEIR FASTING.

There are two ways in which one sees the divine answer;

i] In giving wisdom to Esther. The third day after issuing this plea to Mordecai for him and his friends to fast for her plight Esther put on her royal robes and calmly walked to the inner court of the palace. Hitherto this young girl’s life had consisted of beauty treatments and the royal bed, but now she is characterized by a new independence of action; she is no longer under the shadow of her uncle. She dresses suitably; there is no indication at all that she had been fasting. The king could see her across the hall on the other side of the entrance. What Xerxes saw pleased him and he held out towards her the golden scepter for her to approach him. She came into the king’s hall and walked right up to him and touched the tip of the scepter. It was all wonderfully encouraging. She had conquered her fears by a new understanding of her calling. Through her fasting she was drawn away from luxurious Babylon. When she came to the king he welcomed her and asked what was her request. She could have anything she wanted, he said, up to half of his kingdom. It was over-ripe, royal, cliché language. It was all a bit rich coming from a husband who hadn’t bothered to see her for thirty days.

Now we would expect her answer to be that the king should change his mind about the edict to kill all the Jews. Not at all; not a hint of that. Rather, she invites the king and Haman to come to a banquet she had prepared for them that evening. How unexpected! Then during that banquet the king presses her again and asks her, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted” (Esther 5:6). He wants to know why she risked coming to see him in the king’s hall. What is on her mind? “Another banquet tomorrow,” is Esther’s request. What a risky business this is. Vashti had said ‘No’ to the king and we know what happened to her, while Esther says, ‘Wait and see.’ Why does she reply like that? We would all like to know the reason for the two delays in making a request to the king for her people’s deliverance from death. Was it that she was conscious that she and her husband barely knew one another, and that she had hidden from the king the fact that she was a Jew – such a dangerous thing to do? Was she wanting to use these banquets as an opportunity of winning deeper affection from the king? She appeals to the king’s curiosity in tantalizing him with the request for another banquet, and she got away with it. Maybe when people are expecting from us big requests for a change of direction in their lives we can surprise them with a request to come for a meal, and come again later. Let them learn more about us and know us before they hear what God wants from them. Let new Christian sons and daughters say to their parents, “We are going to prepare the evening meal tonight and wash up afterwards; it will be a treat for you and Dad.” Let them show such imaginative kindnesses many times before they talk of the change of life the gospel requires of their family, but that talk must come at the best time.

ii] In humiliating Haman. From this moment onwards a new darkness begins to take over the life of Haman. While Esther is starting to take the initiative, the initiative is being taken away from Haman and increasingly this evil man is being marginalized. The king orders him, “Come to a feast; ‘Bring Haman at once,’ the king said, ‘so that we may do what Esther asks’” (v.5). Here is Haman having to cancel his plans to please the king’s new wife. Then again as he leaves the feast in the palace that night happy and in high spirits the first person his eyes see outside the door is his nemesis Mordecai sitting down, refusing to stand up and show any respect to him as he goes by. He is filled with rage again. Then he gathers his family around him and boasts of the new favour he has in the eyes of the king and queen, but also of his rage at Mordecai’s insolence. His wife tells him what to do, “‘Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy.’ This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the gallows built.” (v.14). It would have been one of the highest structures in Susa; this ghastly gibbet went up and was noticed everywhere. “What is that new building?” “A gallows.” A gallows indeed, soon to be bearing a swaying body that would be seen from all over the city. That is how this perplexing chapter ends, with the words “he had the gallows built” (v.14). What is happening? God seems to be silent. Is there any hope for Mordecai and the people of God? Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious? I tell you, the wicked carry upon them the weapons of their own destruction.

Here is a proud man, boasting of his wealth, his family, his royal decorations, and his promotion in the special honours given to him by the king. Now there is this invitation to go with the king to a special banquet organized by the queen – just the three of them! No one else in the empire had such accomplishments as Haman, and he was preoccupied with these things – “I thank my gods that I am better than other men.” But we are warned in the word of God that Jehovah the only Lord of heaven and earth resists the proud. What a common and invidious sin is pride. Wasn’t it pride that brought one of the greatest of the seraphim, Lucifer, down from heaven to hell? “Pride delights in comparisons. It takes special pleas­ure in unique honours or supposed superiority. Roy Plomley, the originator and first presenter of the BBC’s Desert Island Discs programme, offered his guests a conducted tour of Broadcasting House if they had not visited it before. He took them to see the library index, an impressive sight, for it con­tained the catalogue of a million discs, with each item listed by title, composer and artist. On one occasion he took the oper­atic tenor Nicolai Gedda to see the index. He had made his first record within a fortnight of his debut, at Stockholm Op­era House, and he was delighted to see how thick was the bunch of index cards bearing his name. He then ran to the drawer containing the cards of his great rival, the Italian Franco Corelli, and measured his cards against Corelli’s. ‘I’m thicker than Franco!’ he shouted happily. Such is the character of human pride. The Greek word for ‘pride’ means ‘one who shows himself above other people’. In the Shipibos language of Peru, ‘pride’ is translated as, ‘I outrank others’” (Derek Prime, Unspoken Lessons About the Unseen God; Welwyn Commentary Series on the Book of Esther, Evangelical Press, 2001, p.93). In twenty four hours proud Haman was to be plunged from the most prestigious post in the world under Xerxes to a public hanging.

Who is Haman opposing? Not the people of God but the God of his people, the only true and mighty God the Creator of the universe. What can this God do? With God all things are possible. He can send sleeplessness into the bed of this vile king. God can poke the king and wake him up, and instead of counting sheep, or sending for warm milk, or for the court story-teller, or for a harpist to play sweet music to him he summons a book to be read to him. A Thousand and One Nights? No. A volume of the deeds of the giants and maidens in days of old? No. The records of his kingdom written by his civil servants are to be brought and read to him at 5 o’clock in the morning. There are 127 provinces and he is the master of them all but he’s not the master of ten minutes’ sleep. Maybe it would send us to sleep, but the king will read of his government. Which of the provinces will he read about, and which period in their history?

Xerxes was wakened up because God intended to direct him to hear of an incident a year or so ago when a Jew called Mordecai exposed a plot to assassinate him and saved his life. The king hears of Mordecai’s intervention, and further Xerxes discovers that Mordecai received no recognition for this action. “What, no honour and no dignity bestowed on him for saving my life? That must be rectified forthwith.” It would have been a million to one chance to have stumbled across this old incident on that night by luck. Our God, who works all things together for our good, can work providentially through any event, great or small, through the insomnia of our enemies, the directing of their minds to take up a certain book and read what it has to say, their anger, the sheer timing of all these events and the actions of men doing their jobs. Nothing is too small and nothing is too insignificant for God to oversee for the good of his people and the downfall of his enemies. This is what the Puritan Richard Sibbes says, “Nothing so high that is above his providence; nothing so low that is beneath it; nothing so large that is bounded by it; nothing so confused that God can order it; nothing so bad that he can draw good out of it; nothing so wisely plotted that God can disappoint it.”

So, by the time normal business resumed at daybreak in the royal palace his prime minister Haman was waiting there promptly to attend to the king’s wishes. Why is he there so early? Esther chapter five and verse fourteen, “ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged.” That’s what was on Haman’s mind, but the king, however, on that very morning had just one thought on his mind, the most suitable honour to bestow on Mordecai. “I’ll ask Haman,” he thought. This is the beginning of the humiliation of Haman because he thinks the king is speaking about him when Xerxes asks, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?” (Esther 6:6). Haman pauses . . . his mind dizzy with the delight of all this . . . and then he says, “I’ll tell you how such a man should be honoured, ‘Have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honour, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him. This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!’” (vv. 8&9) Haman is so enamoured by Xerxes’ phrase, “the man the king delights to honour” that he repeats it three times. Haman wanted to dress up in the king’s clothes. He wanted to ride on the king’s horse bearing the king’s crest! He wanted a king’s herald to go before him trumpeting his coming! How childish! Even a teenager wouldn’t want that. What infantile desire to get public kudos and adulation – just like the leader of North Korea today or the leaders of the countries of eastern Europe a few years ago.

“Great idea,” said the king, ‘now you go ahead and do this to . . . Mordecai! Honour the Jew who sits at the king’s gate!” No anti-semitism there. “Now don’t neglect anything you have recommended;” – that is his parting shot hurled at broken Haman as he walks out of the king’s presence his tail between his legs. God resists the proud, and was there any humbling such as that which Haman knew? His worst nightmare had turned into reality. He was forced to grit his teeth and walk through all the streets of Susa in front of Mordecai on the king’s own crested stallion and dressed in the king’s clothing while Haman cried over and over again, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!” From every vantage point Haman was taunted by the sight of the 75 feet high gallows the workmen had just set up. They passed by posters announcing the pogrom at the end of the year, while all the ordinary people of Susa knew that Mordecai and his friends had recently been consigned to living on death row! Not any longer! What a charade to parade the leading Jew of the city around on horseback as one greatly honoured by the king. What good news of the delivering power of God. “We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psa. 124:7&8).

When the whole city was circumnavigated in this fashion and Mordecai helped down from his horse Haman could finally rush home covered in grief to pour out to his wife and friends all that had happened on this dreadful day. Alas for Haman there was no sympathy amongst his family. Zeresh his wife in fact turned the knife saying, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him – you will surely come to ruin!” (v.13). She and the family and his advisers were all starting to jump ship; they wanted some clear blue water between Haman and themselves. He was going down, and they didn’t want to be sucked in with the undertow.

How much God loves his people. No weapon forged against them shall prosper. Zechariah chapter two and verse eight, “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: . . . whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.” We value our eyesight; we’d go to great lenths to protect it from injury. The pupil of the eye is the tenderest part of the body and so it tells us how tender is the love of God for us. If you punched my shoulder or pinched my arm or kicked my leg I’d feel none of the pain that I would if you pushed your fingernail into my eye. So here is the Almighty God who has the whole earth in his hand and he says, “whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye.” He protects his people with an immeasurable love. To what lengths God will go to in order to save us and take us to glory with him. So we can sing;

“Thee at all times will I bless,
Having Thee I all possess;
How can I bereaved be
Since I cannot part from Thee?”

But for you who do not fear God remember that everything is working against you. The air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat are all witnesses against you. Your clock, your bed, your computer, your newspapers, your clothes, your videos, your books are all in league against you. The heavens above you cry to the earth beneath your feet, and the earth cries back to the heavens for justice on account of your sins. For you there is nothing co-operating for your good; everything is set for your doom. Oh that God would bring you into peace with himself. Oh that you had Christ as your Saviour and then God would add everything else to your life. Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added unto you.

4th March 2007 GEOFF THOMAS