Holding Forth the Sceptre
(Esther 4:11) All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. King Ahasuerus of the Medes and Persians ruled his domain as a virtual potentate (one endowed with independent power). His authority was final. The power of life and death was in his hand. No man or woman (not even his wife, Esther, who is the speaker in our text) could approach the king in his inner court unless personally called by him. Nothing but the holding forth of the royal sceptre could save an unworthy approacher. Our heavenly King is not a virtual potentate, He IS “...the blessed and only Potentate...” (1TI 6:15) Whose holiness forbids the access of a sinful creature, for He is “...of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity...” (HAB 1:13). “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (PSA 5:4-5). To fallen man in an unredeemed state, He says, in essence, “...Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (EXO 33:20 c/w DEU 5:24-26). But what if one is personally called of the King? Then, there is hope of audience and life. Those who are called (and, as in our featured text, ONLY those who are called) effectually by the voice of the Son of God are accepted by the King. By the power of His voice (JOH 5:25), He speaks life into those who were foreknown and predestinated unto eternal glory, for “...whom he did predestinate, them he also called...” (ROM 8:28-30). They were by nature “...dead in trespasses and sins” (EPH 2:1) and unable to do anything about their helpless state, and therefore the call was not to obedience but to life itself. Of His own will, God “...called us unto eternal glory by Christ Jesus...” (1PE 5:10), by the same power that called Lazarus forth from physical death (JOH 11:43 c/w JOH 12:17): the voice of the King of kings, not that of an ordinary man. The recipient is equally as passive, and the result is equally as sure: “...they that hear SHALL live” (JOH 5:25). To such as have been thus called to life by King Jesus has His royal sceptre been held forth. That sceptre is the sceptre of righteousness (HEB 1:8) which is in the hand of Him whose obedience ALONE made many righteous (ROM 5:19). He “...BY HIMSELF purged our sins...” (HEB 1:3), God making “...him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2CO 5:21). The called are saved by the King's mercy, not through any righteousness of their own (TIT 3:5). God's election of sinners to salvation and life is “...not of works, but of him that calleth....So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (ROM 9:11-16). The sinner's will has no more part in his being called than do his works. The called are made and declared righteous on the basis of Christ's righteousness. God “...hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2TI 1:9). If the King calls not men thus, they are not welcome in His presence. Jesus said that if any “...climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and robber” (JOH 10:1). To those who are not chosen by the King's choice so as to be savingly called to life by the King's voice but only outwardly called by the gospel, they may presume to come before Him. But they shall be “...bound and cast into outer darkness, for many are called, but few are chosen” (MAT 22:11-14). Many are those who were called with an outward call who are not saved by a saving choice and called to life effectually by the King's voice. The sceptre is not held out to them. They may call Jesus “Lord” but He never knew them (MAT 7:21-23). Let humble sinners have hope: “...the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed...” (REV 5:5) for them, being made a curse for them (GAL 3:13). To those who know that their sins condemn them and that their own righteousnesses are inadequate filthy rags (ISA 64:6), to those who mourn over sin and hunger after righteousness, being poor in spirit----the sceptre of righteousness has been held forth. The King has called you, you are alive, you are saved, you are welcome, and the broken, contrite spirit which trusts Him for mercy is the evidence. Therefore, let the “...partakers of the heavenly calling...” (HEB 3:1) “...come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (HEB 4:16), “...having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus...” (HEB 10:19). The heavenly King's beloved wife (REV 19:7-9) need not fear to approach Him now in prayer or service nor in person in the resurrection on the day of judgment.