We want to look at a sentence in the Bible, which you will find in the book of Esther Chapter 6.
King Ahasuerus had a sleepless night. He brought out the book of remembrance and read something in it that really tore his heart. At that time, his Prime Minister, Harman came in and the king said to him in verse 6, “What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honour?” This is the sentence we want to consider. This sentence presupposes that the King had been pleased by a particular man; so pleased was the king that he just wanted to honour this man.
When you honour somebody, you do not give him pittances. You give him something great; something of tremendous value. That was what king Ahasuerus had in mind. He did not actually know what to give. He thought about many things but every idea did not seem enough; he wanted something more. At that point, Harman came in and incidentally, Harman was an arch enemy of the man that the king was pleased with and he was the one who gave the suggestion that the king took.
If we bring this story to our Christian lives, let’s ask the question – “does the Lord want to honour you? Is he delighted in you? Have you pleased Him? These are important questions to ask yourself. Most of the time, Christians assume that they are all right with God. Christians assume that all they are doing is pleasing to God. But the truth of the matter is that most of the things that we do are not pleasing to God at all. Our predecessors in the scripture had their ways of worshipping the Lord. At that time, worshipping the Lord included burnt offerings and sacrifices and they thought that as long as they got the technique right; as long as they got the proper animal and killed it the proper way and burnt it the proper way, that would be pleasing in God’s sight. Unfortunately, they did not realise that God was not interested in the rigours of their worship.
They did not realise that there are some things, which may seem minor but are the things, which impress God. So the same today, we should examine ourselves. If we think that because we fast and pray, go to church regularly, sing praises and give food to the hungry, that we have pleased the Lord, we may be mistaken. If we look at Psalm 51, we see how David got it right. In verse 16, he said, “For thou hast no delight in sacrifice were I to give burnt offering that wouldst not be pleased.”
At that time, the worship of God involved offering of sacrifices. We can deduce that David must have committed an offence before the Lord. He understood that the Lord was not pleased with him and there was the urge for him to go to the house of the Lord to make sacrifices to atone. But he realised that offering sacrifices was not enough to please God. Therefore, he said in verse 16, “For thou hast no delight in sacrifices …” What we are talking about here is whether the Lord is delighted in you, or whether what you are doing delights or pleases God or not. There are a lot of people today who think that they are worshipping God but in the real sense they are not. They are more or less merely offering sacrifices to God every time they worship.
For instance, if a church meets for service and all they do is sing a hymn, read Catechism, take wafers for communion, light candles, burn incense, sprinkle water on themselves and within half an hour on the dot, it is all over and people go home. That is sacrifice; that is not worship. They are going through a particular motion and method and it is the same thing they do day after day. That was the point Paul was making when he said that if Christ was to be like one of those high priests, he would have to be coming over and over again making the same offering just like the high priests were doing but to no avail. Those who attend such churches would not know much about the Bible and to make up for that, when they see other churches that are growing, they decide to set up a Bible school.
In the real sense of it, if Christ is allowed to do what he should, such a church does not need a Bible school because every church basically is suppose to be a Bible school. I do not say every church should set up a Bible school, rather I say every church is suppose to be a Bible school. That is to say, a church is a place where you teach the word of God. Ideally, if every church is teaching the word of God, then there is no need to intellectualise it and set up a formal Bible school for qualifications.
The kingdom of God is not about qualifications, but about salvation. It is about people understanding clearly God’s condition for them to return to God in glory after their sojourn on earth. That is what the church is there for. There is no point in intellectualising it and giving people degrees, which will be useless when they get to the gates of heaven. So God does not delight in ritualistic worship or sacrifices. Jesus in fact emphasises the point when he said to the disciples “go and learn what this means – I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” (Matt 9:13) I desire to show mercy to those who repent than have them offering sacrifices in order to atone for what they have done wrong.
David understood this and so when he committed an offence, he did not seek to cover them, he said clearly, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Ps.66:18) Today, we Christians hide our sins; we try to cover our sins with sacrifices of praise. Bringing sacrifices of praise does not atone for our sins. What can atone for your sins? David made it absolutely clear in Psalm 51:17: “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O Lord, thou wilt not despise.” In other words, if you want the Lord to be delighted and pleased with you then be broken in your heart. Examine yourself properly and mark your papers when you come before the Lord. David said something to that effect. He said his sins are not hidden but were ever before him. That is what we ourselves must learn to do all the time, to be acceptable in God’s sight.
God cannot delight in you, if you have not repented of your sins. God cannot be pleased with you if in humility, you are not broken in your heart. And if the Lord is not pleased with you, He cannot think of honouring you. Let us get that sequence. The question at the beginning is: “What shall the king do to the man in whom he delights?” How will he honour such a man? So these questions, translated to yourself and the king translated to God will read: “What will God do to a man in whom He delights?” How will God honour a man in whom He is well pleased? We have in the Bible examples of such people in whom God was very well pleased. Notable among these is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus was born and he grew up like you and I. He went through all the trials prevalent in Palestine at that time, and for 30 years, God was watching him. God was watching his heart to see whether he would forget the reason why he came to earth. Praise God! Jesus walked according to the plan for which he was born. This is vital.
From the day Jesus was conceived, he began the work for which he was sent, he never lost sight of it. While he was in the womb, John the Baptist in his mother’s womb bowed to him because Jesus communicated with John in spirit. As a boy, he was taken to the temple and not to amusement arcades or Disneyland. He was not spending his time watching TV or video games. From his youth, he knew that he was born to be the Saviour of the world. He set his mind on it and on it alone. He was probably rascally as a boy like other boys of his age but the power of the Holy Spirit was with him. When he was twelve and his parents took him to the house of God for a convention in Jerusalem, he took the Bible, opened the book of Isaiah and began to teach them. For us, what teaching and what do we encourage our 12 year-old children to think of? In Britain, the press asked a boy of 16 how many girlfriends he has. This boy is born to be the future king and yet the same press will condemn him in the future if he has so many of them, forgetting that they encouraged him years ago.
As a young boy, Jesus’ parents took him to the synagogue and after three days, when they found him, they reprimanded him and asked why he had left them. Jesus answered them, “do you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk. 2:49) The important thing is that even at that tender age, he knew who his ‘Father’ is and it means also that he was constantly in touch with his Father in heaven. Like he said later on, ‘my will is to do the will of my father who is in heaven?” (Mtt 12:50) In another part of the scripture when he was hungry and his disciples were prevailing upon him to eat, he declined and said, ““My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (Jn.4:34) In other words, he meant that he would rather go hungry and do the will of God. At thirty years old, he knew that spiritually, he is superior to John the Baptist. It is very difficult for a superior person to bow to an inferior person to be baptised by him but again Jesus knew that it was God’s provision that he should be baptised by John the Baptist.
At this time, God was watching whether Jesus would do as he was told or not. Please take note of ‘doing as he was told.’ In other words, this phrase is the meaning of the word ‘obedience’. You will discover that obedience is the key to delighting God. For you to please God, you must do as He tells you. For you and I, for a long time in our lives, we have not been obedient and so we have not been pleasing God. God is not intervening or interfering in our lives today. He does not come before us to shout, “Do as I say!” Rather, He is watching you like He watched Jesus. When Jesus went to John the Baptist and was baptised, the Holy Spirit came upon him and then the heavens opened and God spoke to him in Mathew 3:16-17, “And when Jesus was baptised, he went up immediately from the water and behold the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him and lo a voice from heaven saying, ‘this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.”
God was pleased with Jesus because he had done what he was told to do. God had been watching the behaviour of Jesus. He had listened to every conversation in which Jesus took part. He had seen the zeal with which Jesus was carrying out his work. He had observed the weeping and sympathy with which Jesus took care of the sick and the destitute. God had been the first witness to every prayer and supplication Jesus had made for the whole world.
Jesus did so well that God could not find fault with him and therefore He gave him the permission to bring Peter, James and John up to the mountain where he was transfigured by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mathew 17:2-3). Jesus was transfigured before them and his face shone like the sun and his garment became bright as light. This coincides with the description of Jesus in the book of Revelation. In other words, when Jesus went to that mountain, God granted him the opportunity to put on the garment as ‘Christ’. Remember his “Christhood” had been ‘man’ for 30 years. The time had not come for him to perform as the ‘Christ’, hence he needed the garment as ‘Christ’ on that mountain and he put it on.
Note that the transfiguration was very crucial for salvation. The day that JESUS put on ‘CHRIST”, was the day Jesus stopped being human and he became a completely divine spiritual being. He could have missed it all from the day he was born to the day he was baptised, if he did not please God, he would not have been filled with the Holy Spirit he got at baptism. If from the day he was baptised to the day of transfiguration, he did not go to the mountain many times fasting and praying, if he did not go out evangelising and saving souls, if he did not go about healing the sick and raising the dead, if he was a selfish person who only cared for wages and work all the time, there would have been no transfiguration and there would have been no resurrection, no ascension and he would have perished with us all! There would have been no Pentecost and the whole world would have been in chaos. Thank God for Jesus! From his birth to baptism to transfiguration he pleased God.
Mathew 17:3, “And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with him and Peter said to Jesus, “Lord it is well that we are here, if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one Moses and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking a bright cloud overshadowed them and came a voice that said, “This is my beloved son with whom I am pleased; listen to him.” As Jesus pleased God more, he got more accreditation from God. God commanded ‘listen to whatever he says.” Is the Lord pleased with you? You may say yes, but how do you know that the Lord is pleased with you?
In 2Pet 1: 16-17, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but we were eye witnesses of his majesty. For when he received honour and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory: “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” For we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” The scripture shows us that there is only one way to know if God is pleased with you – there must be a pronouncement from heaven by the majestic glory of God. The voice is not human and no imagination of any eye. It was a voice that came from heaven. Have you ever heard such a voice? When was the last time you heard His voice? Is that voice still speaking to you?
If you have not heard that voice, there is only one conclusion that you can make. Your ways have not pleased God. Anytime that you please God, bet on it, God will talk to you and you will receive accreditation from Him. You must be with Jesus on the ‘mountain.’ Learn to be humble, for then you will be filled with good things from God. Just as Mary said in the Magnificat, “the proud he sends away empty-handed and the humble he fills with good things” (Lk. 1:53). You cannot please God if you disobey instructions just as the Lord said, ‘listen to him.’ Peter said in verse 19, “and we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shinning in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your ears.” There are people in the Bible who thought God was pleased with them but God was not. They were worshippers like you and I.
In 1Cor 10, Paul tells us that our fathers, after leaving Egypt the land of slavery, were all baptised into Moses. They all ate the same supernatural food and drank from the supernatural Rock. God led them by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The ‘Rock’ is Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these are warnings for us not to desire evil as they did. Only few of them got to the Promised Land. Brothers and sisters, do not be confused by all religious activities going on today. You may be the greatest gospel singer and it may mean nothing to God. You may be speaking in tongues and prophesying or you may be healing the sick and yet it amounts to nothing before God. The truth is that God is not pleased with most of the Pentecostal and Orthodox churches today. Each of us desires some evil in our hearts and we do not only desire it, we actually do it. Now, if God is not delighted in us how can He be concerned with honouring us?
Jer. 31:20, “Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.” If the Lord is delighted with you, anytime you enter the church or go on your knees in prayer, He suspends every other thing and wants to listen to you. But if you are the type that does not want to listen to God, then the Lord too does not want to know. In the above verse, there is hope for you and I. God is merciful because of Jesus. He is making that promise today that though often He speaks against you or I, He does remember us.
God’s heart yearns for us and He will surely have mercy on us. This is His saving grace. Even though He is not pleased with me, He has made a covenant between Him and I, that He will always have mercy on me. Some of you may have sons or daughters that you are at loggerheads with and some may even have left home, yet truly your heart yearns for them and you do remember them. Are you not ready to have mercy on them? Like a father, God tends and cares for us. That is why Jesus condemns nobody.
Many Pentecostals assume that each time they pray or fast God answers. Check your facts right in Amos 5:21, “I hate, I despise your feasts and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me burnt offering and cereal offerings, I will not accept them and the peace offerings of your fainted beasts, I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs and the melody of your harps, I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Some people think I am critical of churches. I hasten to correct this fact. I was not born a critic. But I was born a teacher to teach what is in the Holy Bible. The above scriptures are prophetic utterances through Prophet Amos from God that, people who do not care about justice can come to church, play the organ very well, sing beautifully, play the violin, heal the sick, roll on the floor, yet He would not listen. They can even weep at solemn assemblies, He will not listen. What He requires is that they seek justice and impose righteousness in their countries.
Like Joseph, you may have been sent to this land to provide for the people just like Joseph provided for his people. You like Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses have been sent abroad on exile for you to learn so that you can go back to develop your homeland. Some people are so selfish that they let everybody else do the work, except them. They only offer to help with prayers but as soon as the breakthrough comes, they want to reap fruits of the work. If you will not let justice roll down like waters then what is the purpose of your solemn assembly? If you will not go and see that righteousness reigns in your land, what is the use of your offering?
We must all fear the word of God. A Church is a school where the word of God is taught. Jesus Christ taught wherever he went. In Psalm 111:2, “Great are the words of the Lord, studied by all those who have pleasure in them. Full of honour and majesty is his work and his righteousness endures for ever.” In other words, the way God works is so great and anybody who delights in His words and takes time to study them will seek the way God does His things and do likewise. If you do not delight in God or His works, how do you expect God to be delighted in you; to delight in God is to obey Him.
1Sam 15:13: Saul did not deserve to be made king but God made him. God gave him certain instructions, which he must carry out. He did some and left some undone and God was angry. God sent Prophet Samuel to him and asked him whether he had carried out the assignment. Saul lied and he began to make stupid excuses just like some today make excuses for not obeying the law of the Lord. Samuel said to him, “because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king. Behold to obey is better than sacrifice and to harken than the fat of rams.” Many people today are bread and butter Christians. They come to church to ask God to do things for them and when God gives specific instructions concerning them or the church, they do not carry it out. Rebellion is as the sin of divination and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Many Christians today are very stubborn and this is worse than worshipping idols. Stubbornness put the Jews in conflict with God. The Bible described them as stiff-nicked people. If you reject the voice of the Lord, He will reject you also. As far as God is concerned, disobedience and stubbornness are greater than adultery. If the Lord says, “go”, then go. There must be no compromise. May God Almighty enable us.
Apostle Ayo Omideyi