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Controversial basketball coach, Bobby Knight, of the Texas Tech Red
Raider men's team has announced that he will not accept his quarter million
dollar salary. Following his team's 74-68 loss to Baylor, the coach told
the school to keep his salary. Knight said he did not feel he had done
a good job and neither had the team. In a news conference the Monday after
the game Knight said, "I just feel like I had a product, and it broke.
You shouldn't have to pay for it."
The Red Raiders finished the season with a record of 16-11. They were
10-1 before they began play in the Big 12. The team faltered in the second
half of the season going 6-10 against league opponents, including a 2-8
record in games decided by nine or fewer points. Reflecting on the season,
Knight said, "You heard me talk after games all season long about missed
opportunities..." In other words, they came to crucial times in the game-crunch
times, and they choked. (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Crunch times are defining moments. Esther 4:14 was a defining moment
for Esther-something her cousin Mordecai reminded her of. "For if you remain
silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from
another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows
whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"
Up until this point, Esther's was a Cinderella story. After 70 years
of exile, God's people were free to leave the land of their captors and
return to Jerusalem. 50,000 Jews returned with Governor Zerubbabel's blessing
to aid Ezra & Nehemiah in rebuilding the walls and the faith of the
city. For whatever reason, like the majority of Jews in Persia and Babylon,
Mordecai & Esther chose not to return.
The book of Esther begins with a drunken king summoning his wife to
dress in her royal attire and parade her beauty before his friends. Queen
Vashti refused to leave her guests she was entertaining and become a part
of the King's debauchery. As I read the story, I think the King was out
of line and his advisors should have told him so. But then again, I'm reading
it from the perspective of our culture, not his. The advisors told him
to issue a decree banishing the queen from his presence and for him to
find a better woman to be queen. That's exactly what the King did. He sent
out a letter that included these words, "every man should be master in
his own house." I don't know what those words remind you of, but when I
read those words I flash back to black and white images of Jackie Gleason
proclaiming that he is the king of his castle.
The King also began a search for the most beautiful, young woman in
his kingdom to become the queen. If they had TV in those days, I'm sure
the quest for a new queen would have been a great reality TV series, don't
you think? Do you think the nation would have tuned in to see "Who wants
to marry a King?"
Mordecai heard about he search and brought his cousin to vie for the
King's affection. (He'd been raising her since his uncle and aunt died.)
She was careful to follow her cousin's advise and did not reveal her heritage
to anyone. She went through the twelve months of preparation to see the
King, just like the other women, but unlike the others, she was not sent
away the next day to the concubine quarters-Esther became the queen.
Even after becoming queen, she did not reveal to anyone that she was
a Jew or that Mordecai raised her, but she did stay in casual contact with
her cousin. When Mordecai discovered a plot against the King's life, he
told Esther and Esther told the King using Mordecai as the source of the
information. The king foiled their plot and hung them on the gallows.
So all is well, right? Not exactly. The King promoted Haman to an exalted
position and commanded all the servants to bow and pay homage to Haman
whenever he walked by. Something Mordecai was unwilling to do on religious
grounds. Haman's anger was so great against Mordecai that he wanted him
and all his kind killed. He had the King's ear and was able to convince
him to sign the decree for the eradication of the Jews.
When Mordecai heard about the decree he was heartbroken. As was customary
in his religion, he dressed in sackcloth and ashes and lamented in front
of the King's gate. His cry was echoed throughout the kingdom as the news
spread about the massacre that was to come. When Esther's servants told
her about seeing Mordecai lamenting, she sent garments to him for him to
put on, but when he refused, she sent someone to find out what was wrong
with him. Here's what happened: I'm reading from the New Living Translation
of Esther 4:7-14 "Mordecai told him the whole story and told him how much
money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction
of the Jews.  Mordecai gave Hathach a copy of the decree issued in Susa
that called for the death of all Jews, and he asked Hathach to show it
to Esther. He also asked Hathach to explain it to her and to urge her to
go to the king to beg for mercy and plead for her people.  So Hathach
returned to Esther with Mordecai's message.
 Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai:
 'The whole world knows that anyone who appears before the king in
his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king
holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come
to him in more than a month.'  So Hathach gave Esther's message to
 Mordecai sent back this reply to Esther: 'Don't think for a moment
that you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed.
 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will
arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What's
more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just
such a time as this?'"
Esther had learned a lesson from the last Queen-you come when the King
calls, and you don't come at any other time. She was in a real pinch. She
could remain silent and allow the slaughter to commence and hide behind
her robe and crown, or she could risk saying something in a hostile environment
to provide a means of salvation for her people, but if she did so, she
would be risking her own life. In other words, it was crunch time.
What will she do? What will happen to her people? Will she speak up?
Or will she remain silent. Her decision will have real consequences for
OK, it is time for a gut check this morning. What would you do? Take
a look at this video about a place where people face these kinds of questions
Last summer I interviewed one of our missionaries to China who is very
familiar with it's church. She told me about a Christian friend of hers
who was attending the "three self" church. Three self stands for Self governing,
self supporting and self propagating-it is the official church, the government-controlled
church in China. Unfortunately, the pastors of these churches are usually
not Christians and are placed in the position so they can identify Christians
in the congregation and report their activities to the government, resulting
in persecution that includes getting fired from their jobs or even jail
According to the missionary, the pastor identified her friend as a true
believer and was beginning to report her to the authorities. It looked
like she was about to come under persecution, so they began to pray for
God's intervention. Soon after they began praying, the pastor was fired
and then turned to the woman she was trying to destroy for help. What should
she do? Should she take a chance that the ex-pastor was sincere? Or should
she remain silent? Could this just be a ploy to get firm evidence of her
faith, or did the ex-pastor really want to know about walking with the
Today, the ex-pastor is walking with the Lord, with the other believers
in the underground church in China- a church that is growing daily. According
to the Commission Magazine, one Christian woman in Northern China wrote
the teachers of an evangelism class that she took that she could not return
to take the second part of the course. She reported that in the ten months
that followed the first class she led over 4000 people to Christ and helped
establish 60 churches. (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
One woman faced persecution, but because of the prayers of a Missionary,
was able to bring her enemy to faith in Christ. Another woman received
training and is watching God save souls and establish churches in an unprecedented
way. Whether the result is one person or thousands the truth remains, when
it came to crunch time, both of them delivered.
Tonight we'll continue in our study of Esther to see what she did at
crunch time. The consequences most of us face for speaking are not as dire,
yet there are consequences for going public with our faith. How are you
handling crunch time?