Submission and Obedience

Part 19

Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare

Enlarge The Place Of Your Tent - Esther 8:2; Isaiah 54:2-8

Last time we saw that:

It is this second move on Esther's part that is the subject of this article, so let's get started!

In review, recall that Esther had come through years of testing in which she was first called. She remained obedient through various temptations and difficulties that prepared her for being chosen and then proved to be faithful through five years of relative obscurity in the palace. During her testings and adverse circumstances, she learned submission and obedience in every facet of her person...to her father, Mordecai, then to King Ahasuerus, her husband, and primarily to God.

Often, because people are unwilling to become living sacrifices in their relationships with others, they forfeit finding the deeper, more intimate relationship they could have with God in His Holy Spirit. Jesus summed up the commandments in two:
" 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). Our relationship with God hinges on our relationships with people and our attitudes toward them.

God uses people to test and transform our attitudes and actions to Christ's likeness. As we obey God in our moment by moment living and working with people, our natural opinions and biases about them are transformed to spiritual love and acceptance with forgiveness...through submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Selfless Love for Others

Esther pursued God--that truth is implicit in her behavior and character. No matter what circumstances she was in at the harem or palace, she consistently 'found favor' with everyone. By the time she had been queen for five silent years, nothing was left in her character that could be used by the devil to subvert God's plan and purpose. She was at the place where EVERYTHING through and through was in submissive obedience to God and to others.

If you have problems with the truth of submission, consider this: Jesus said our obedience to the commands of God is commensurate with our love for Him. In learning to be submissive in obedience, we actually die more and more to our love for ourselves (the natural) and live in greater and greater love to God and those whom He loves: people (the spiritual). Submission and obedience to God and others is the demonstration of our love for them...and real love comes only from God...God IS love.

More Than Faithfulness?

Beyond being faithful, is there more? Most certainly, for we never 'arrive.' God is infinite, and He wants us to know more and more of His person. Before that can happen, our capacity to receive even more must increase, so God tests our faithfulness.

Consider Esther: After she spent five quiet years in the palace, she faithfully risked her life to go to Ahasuerus on behalf of the Jews. As a result, Ahasuerus entrusted her with Haman's wealth, which had to have been great. (Remember that was one of the things he bragged about to his wife and friends the night he had the gallows built.) Esther's boundary or capacity had expanded spiritually and socially through her obedience, and God filled it. He could trust her with the riches.

Our Bible reference from Isaiah points to enlarging the place of our tent. The onus for increasing our capacity to know God more intimately is on us. How can we do that? Through faithfulness in obedience!! In the spiritual dimension God increases our ongoing faithfulness through new testings that enlarge our faith and experience of God in dimensions we can reach no other way.

About the boy Jesus, Luke wrote, "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." The outcome of tested faithfulness is the gift of favor---new authority and giftings in the Spirit. Our first response to that entrustment always must be to bring our Mordecai, the Holy Spirit, into the throne room before God to give Him all the glory for who we are and for what God has given us.

God receives our praise and submission, and the Spirit within us increases in strength and glory as we're caught up in that glorious transaction that defies description. But here is the crux of Esther's action on a spiritual level:

Esther laid no claim to anything. By putting the new ground she had just gained under the dominion of the Holy Spirit, she came away from the transaction free, but filled!

Whether she thought of it at the time or not, the rest of Isaiah 54 speaks of restoration soon to come to the Jews from God's hand. Jointly Esther and Mordecai would be pivotal instruments in bringing the Jews' deliverance to pass, but Esther's submission and obedience had to precede it. (And, of course, Isaiah's prophecy applies, too, to what is still going to happen for Israel soon!)

Spirit warfare is a battle against the enemy and his hordes. The Holy Spirit leads and takes us where He is engaged in conflict with the forces of evil. But to be in the place where we are fully prepared for battle, we must go through the disciplines of Esther.

When the enemy has gained a foothold and then is defeated in Spirit warfare, the battle is not over. We must reclaim what the enemy stole from us...and that is the object of the next article.

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