By Johnny Tatum
The purpose of this Esther study is to understand that Holy Spirit grieves when our flesh convinces us to do/think something that seems good – but it is not – and He knows what it is going to do to us.
DONNING SACKCLOTH AND WAILING LOUDLY
1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly.
That would have been quite a spectacle!
2 He went as far as the king's gate, for no one was to enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth.
3 In each and every province where the command and decree of the king came there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing; and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.
4 Then Esther's maidens and her eunuchs came and told her, and the queen writhed in great anguish. And she sent garments to clothe Mordecai that he might remove his sackcloth from him, but he did not accept them.
Picture[Focusing On Mordecai (Representing Holy Spirit)]: This is the classic picture of grief — in this case, Holy Spirit is grieved.
Question:What Grieves Holy Spirit?
Holy Spirit grieves when we think we are doing the good and right thing, but in reality, it is in our own self-interest (trying to do good when actually we are following our flesh — our worst enemy). It will backfire on us since it is not in our best interest.
Question:Why Is It Good News When Holy Spirit Grieves?
Holy Spirit totally (utterly, completely) humbles Himself in deference to Messiah Jesus. In fact, Holy Spirit can be called the Spirit of Jesus. With that understanding, let us see why grieving Holy Spirit — Spirit of Jesus — is good news.
A Closer Look:
MESSIAH JESUS GRIEVES
There was an episode in Jesus of Nazareth's life when He grieved and good news came out of it — Lazarus of Bethany (brother of Mary and Martha) became sick and died…
Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, "See how He loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?" So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. (John 11:32-38)
The text says that when Jesus of Nazareth arrived at the tomb He was deeply moved within. Actually, it is much stronger than that; it means He was torn up inside — a picture of deep grief.
That verse intrigues me, because Jesus of Nazareth knew what He was going to do — He was going to call Lazarus out of the cave. However, it shows the level at which Jesus of Nazareth identified with the ones who loved Lazarus; they were grieving, so He was grieving.
Messiah Jesus saw what the flesh had done to the human race. The human race was not meant to have death, and when Messiah Jesus saw it, He grieved, even though He knew what He was going to do — to die for our sins.
Messiah Jesus grieving means He is about to do something
HOLY SPIRIT GRIEVES
We have seen that it is always our flesh — not Holy Spirit — who initiates the battle between our flesh and Holy Spirit. Paul says that The flesh fights against the Spirit, and then the Spirit fights. We have also seen that if we do not invoke Holy Spirit through prayer (asking), He does not fight. If we do not do anything, then by default, the flesh wins in that given battle.
One exception to that is when we grieve Holy Spirit. How do we grieve Him? When we are trying to do good, but really, we are following our own flesh (self-interest), which will backfire on us and will grieve Holy Spirit. Whenever Holy Spirit grieves, He starts moving whether we ask Him to or not. Why? Because Holy Spirit is not going to let our flesh really win. So it is good news when Holy Spirit grieves.
Notice:I do not mean that it is good for us to grieve Holy Spirit; however, ultimately—
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Grieving Holy Spirit is not good in itself, however, it does mean that He is going to act, and it could mean that a break-through (some kind of revelation) is coming.
In the book of Esther, grieving produced a revelation. Mordecai (represents Holy Spirit) knows the plot and everything about it.
Picture:Holy Spirit, obviously, knows everything that our flesh is doing, even when we have ourselves in a bad situation.
Holy Spirit grieving means He is about to do something
The goal of the book of Esther was for Mordecai to communicate information to King Ahasuerus. How would that be accomplished? Mordecai would give the information to Esther, and then Esther would give that information to the king.
Picture:When Holy Spirit has something (a revelation) for us to know, He tells the information to our spirit, and then our spirit communicates that information to our will — to our mind.
Mordecai goes to Esther, who is to go to the king.
5 Then Esther summoned Hathach from the king's eunuchs, whom the king had appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was.
6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai to the city square in front of the king's gate.
7 Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews.
Application:Why does he say The exact amount? To let us know that Holy Spirit knows exactly everything. Why? Because Holy Spirit, who communicates to our spirit, is the omniscient (all knowing) God and not some flunky (lackey) god.
8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict which had been issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show Esther and inform her, and to order her to go in to the king to implore his favor and to plead with him for her people.
Mordecai [through Hathach] tells Esther to communicate information — stop the destruction of the Jews — to the king.
Picture:Holy Spirit communicates with our new nature (spirit) and says Communicate to King Will (our will) that he stop this.
9 Hathach came back and related Mordecai's words to Esther.
10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai:
11 All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.
Esther is reluctant (offering resistance) to go to the king.
Picture:Our spirit waits until we are in the right mood to receive revelation from Holy Spirit.
Application:Consider having done a specific thing (or, a pattern) that is in your own self-interest. Holy Spirit knows that, even when you are oblivious to your fleshly desires, and He grieves. Inevitably, even though you may not realize what is going on, you are going to start grieving too. What happens? Your new nature is so attuned to Holy Spirit that it just bleeds over through osmosis. Times like that mean there is a revelation — not bad news; it could be wonderful news — coming. The grief comes from a delay, or from Holy Spirit grieving, and your spirit is waiting until you are in the mood (inclined) to receive the revelation.
12 They related Esther's words to Mordecai.
13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther.
Mordecai goes to Esther, who is to go to the king.
Picture:Holy Spirit goes to our spirit, who is to go to our will. Obviously, our spirit is not afraid to go to our will.
Application:Our spirit is like the intermediary between Holy Spirit and our will.
Picture:The time comes when we are in the [right] mood to receive the revelation from our spirit.
So Mordecai speaks to Esther…
"Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews."
14 "For if you remain silent at this time,
I would expect him to say We will all die if you remain silent.
relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish.
It does not mean that you will perish at this time; it means that life will go on — you will live on and you will die someday — then somebody will come up someday and will deliver your people, the Jews.
And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"
Meaning Even if you do not do this, it will still happen.
Application:What do we do if we think Maybe I have been seeking my own SELF-interest and following what I thought were good things — not bad things — but now I am not so sure that it was good, and maybe it was a fleshly desire that is going to backfire on me?
The answer is in the next verse…
15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai,
16 "Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.
Picture:Does three days ring a bell? The crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Messiah Jesus = three days.
I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish."
Esther asks her people to act out death-to-self for three days.
Picture:This is saying Make real for me the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus; and Holy Spirit springs into action.
Application:How do we make the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus real in our lives? Through death-to-self at the Cross.
Application For Our Mind:
DEATH-TO-SELF AT THE CROSS
Has Holy Spirit convinced you that you have really blown it? In your spirit, you know it — perhaps a big thing, or a lot of little things, or a pattern in your life — is not good or right. You do not want to try to undo it or you will make it worse.
[Obviously, if you have wronged somebody and you have the resources/ability to make it right, then you should right the wrong. However, here we are talking about something that is between you and the Lord God.] If it is a pattern of your flesh, of your own behavior, then you do not want to try to undo it! We do not want to get into Holy Spirit's business — He will undo it for us.
How do we have death-to-self? Put the pattern, or the thing(s), you have done where it belongs — on the Cross. How? We do what corresponds to Esther wanting her people to act out death-to-self for three days. We might say something like the following:
That is death-to-self and Holy Spirit stops grieving.
GRIEVING HOLY SPIRIT
On the surface, Ephesians 4:22-30 appears to be a whole series of commands—
22 Put off the old self.
23 Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.
24 Put on the new self.
25 Lay aside falsehood, speak truth.
26 Do not sin.
27 Do not give the devil an opportunity.
28 Do not steal.
29 Do not let unwholesome words come out of your mouth.
30 Do not grieve Holy Spirit.
Though there appears to be a whole series of commands, there is actually only one command in the whole passage. The concept is contained in two phrases, as follows:
Put off the old self (verse 22), and
Put on the new self (verse 24).
That is the only command, and the other things that follow are all consequences of doing that.
Question:How Do We Put Off The Old Self?
Putting on the new self is accepting the new nature as the real me.
When you do what comes before the word thereby — disavow the old self and accept your identity of the new self — then what comes after the word thereby (verse 25) will just follow. What will follow?
And then— Thus,
If you put on the new nature, you are not grieving Him. Alternatively, if you accept the old nature as being good, then you are grieving Holy Spirit.
A GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT
Let us go back to Esther 4:14. Again, this is Mordecai speaking to Esther. The situation is Mordecai knows the exposed plot, he has gone through the grieving process, and now he wants Esther to convince the king [by his will] to renounce the plot. Mordecai tells Esther…
"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place." (Esther 4:14)
We have seen what the flesh does and what grieves Holy Spirit. Grieving the Spirit is our trying to do good things in our flesh — our following the advice of our flesh — that seems good, but actually, is in our own selfish, self-interest that will backfire and will grieve Holy Spirit.
Good News:Even when we grieve Holy Spirit, He springs back into action.
It could be that you have had a whole Bible study for nothing — it has become a burden to you — if so, forget it because God will take care of it anyway!
Father God, thank You for the book of Esther that clearly presents our lives in Messiah Jesus. We understand that apart from Him, our Redeemer, we would have no choice but to be lead by our fallen bodies, including our fallen brains. Instead, because of what Messiah has done for us, Holy Spirit has given us a new nature (spirit) that is, ultimately, being lead by You.
How grateful we are for the Person of Holy Spirit, who is the Father of our new nature. Without His intervention in our lives, we would always follow our own flesh, who comes veiled as our friend, but in reality, is our worst enemy.
Inevitably, when we do not listen to Holy Spirit, confusion sets in, distractions occur, and we do not know what to do next. However, even then You have provided a way out for us so that when that occurs, Holy Spirit grieves, and that makes Him spring into action on our behalf. Thank You for demonstrating Your great love for us in this way.
Father God, help us to put off the old man and put on the new man. There is nothing better for us than to be able to activate this death-to-self. We know it is all for your honor and glory and for our good.
Thank You for this understanding of Your good news through Your Son, Messiah Jesus, our Lord. In His precious name we pray. Amen.
Next: Esther 4-6: GOING TO THE KING
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