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Studies In Intercession from the Book of Esther
"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14
In the last lesson, we saw the search for a Queen. In this lesson we trace the attack of the enemy and the importance of one person standing in the gap.
Position Of The Attack - The Gates
During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. NIV
This may have arisen out of revenge for Queen Vashti, but we need to notice the promotion to Mordecai who now is sitting in the King's Gate.
The gates of the city were not only used as places of entry but places where important business was transacted. For example, in order for Boaz to marry Ruth, he had to bring her before the ten Elders of the City at the gate. (Ruth 4:1-12). Lot seems to have had a similar position in Sodom, as evidenced in Genesis 19:1 and 19:9.
Because of their central location, gates were often spoken of in the Bible as symbols of power and authority. Let me share an example. God promised Abraham that his descendants would possess the gates of their enemies in Gen 22:17, where He said, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (KJV).
The gates of the city were also places where responsibility was exercised. Eli was sitting at gate when he heard news of ark capture and death of his family (1 Samuel 4:18). Gates control exit and entrance, and so Satan tried to control gates (of mind?). Nehemiah had to repair gates to keep city free from attack (Nehemiah 3). There are times where the "keeping of the gate" may involve the reproving others (Isa 29:21).
The word of the Lord should also be proclaimed in the gate. (Jeremiah 7:2) If this is not done, the glory of God may leave (as it did through the East Gate of Jerusalem where idolatry was practiced (Ezekiel 10:19).
One of the roles an intercessor may fill is as a keeper of the gate. In this role, he or she may exercise God's authority over their city, protect from enemy attack, proclaim God's word over the city, and raise up a standard of holiness. If the Intercessor exercises his ministry (like Peter & John) he can bring relief in any city to the sick at the gates waiting for help, as we see in Acts 3 where a crippled man begged at the city gates and was healed by the power of God.
We can also draw a lesson about the value of corporate intercession from the gates. The King's Gate was the corporate gathering place for royal servants. (Esther 3:2-3). This shows the value of corporate intercession to God.
We can also draw some lessons about those intercessors who "watch the gates" from this passage. First, those who wore sackcloth were not allowed to enter the gate. Esther 4:2 says, "But he went only as far as the king's gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it." NIV This shows the value of praise and joy in entering the royal presence of God. Esther has to send one of her servants to him in chapter 4, showing that the Gate was also, a real place of intercession for those in need.
Esther herself had to wait before the gate for some time until the Kind granted her entrance, showing intercession can be lengthy. We see this in Esther 5:1, which says, "On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance." NIV
People Involved In The Plot
Mordecai discovered a plot to assassinate the King Xerxes. Mordecai could do nothing himself, but warned the Queen of the plot. She passed it on in this name (v.22). Likewise, the intercessor cannot do much himself, but through access to the throne in Christ. (Note the atmosphere of enquiry by "a court", so that Heaven is based on justice and the Intercessor enters this atmosphere as in Job chapters 1 and 2). We must use this privilege of Christ's name when we come before the Heavenly King in intercession. Jesus demonstrates this in John 14:13-14 where He said, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (NIV) Jesus said in John 16:24, "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (NIV)
There are many new testament verses that support this, including: John 15:16, John 17:11, Acts 3:16, Acts 4:30, Philippians 2:9, Colossians 3:17 and James 5:14
The two conspirators were hung on a tree (common in Persia. Heroditus) and the matter recorded, but nothing was done for Mordecai at the time. This brings us to the next important point: patience in intercession.
Patience Of The Intercessor
All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king. NIV
There is a record kept and the Intercessor must patiently wait. I can best illustrate this by letting the bible speak for itself on this topic:
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate hose who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
After intercession, we may have to wait until such time as God reveals that He will answer our prayer. This demands waiting God and is a mark of the mature intercessor. Daniel had this experience, recorded in Dan 9:2, Dan 10:1-2, Dan 10:11-13 and Dan 10:21.
God can open gates and doors through prayer, and we should expect this to happen by waiting at the gates, like Rhoda in Acts 12:13-14 "Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, 'Peter is at the door!'"
Christ promised His church that they can go right to the gate of death and Hell and prevail in Matthew 16:18, where He said, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
God has given us His authority as intercessors. We must watch (to see what He is doing) and then exercise that authority in accordance with His will and His plans.