The Difference One Can Make

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Esther 4


I.         In studying Proverbs, I came across one verse that stood out to me - Proverbs 28:2

            A.        When a country is given over to sin, they tend to go through rulers rapidly

                        1.         Israel exemplifies this. There are periods where the northern kingdom when through four or five kings while the southern kingdom only had one on the throne.

                        2.         One king of Israel, Zimri, only lasted seven days! - I Kings 16:15-19

                        3.         God told of a time when things would get so bad that people would be offered the kingship just because they had something few others had – clothes – and it would be turned down - Isaiah 3:1-7

            B.        But what is fascinating is the contrast in Proverbs

                        1.         A wicked land is contrasted with a single, knowledgeable and understanding man.

                        2.         A country full of wicked people will throw society into chaos.

                        3.         One wise man can give the country stability

            C.        Sometimes we don’t appreciate the difference one person can make.

II.        When one man made a difference

            A.        Moses - Exodus 32:1-14

                        1.         It was only a few months since Israel was freed from slavery by the mighty hand of God.

                        2.         Moses had gone up Mt. Sinai to receive the law. He was gone less than 40 days when the people began to design an idolatrous religion

                        3.         If it wasn’t for Moses’ pleading, the people would have been destroyed - Psalm 106:19-23

            B.        Phinehas - Numbers 25:1-9

                        1.         The children of Israel began to commit sexual sins with the people of the land they were traveling through

                        2.         God sent a plague to ravage the people. Moses commanded that those who led the people into worshiping Baal, a fertility god, to be hanged.

                        3.         And right in the midst of all this, a man comes by showing off his latest conquest, right in front of everyone and then takes her to his tent for sex.

                        4.         If it wasn’t for Phinehas’ intervention, it would have been worse - Psalm 106:24-31

            C.        Elijah - I Kings 18:21-40

                        1.         Idolatry was so rampant in Israel that Elijah was convinced that he was the only worshiper of God left.

                        2.         Yet he faced down King Ahab, demonstrated God’s power, and turned the heart of the people for a time back to God

            D.        Esther - Esther 4:1-16

                        1.         Because of his hatred for one man, Haman arranged to have the entire Jewish population wiped out

                        2.         But one woman, who “just happened” to be in the right place, revealed the evil man, and managed to get a counter law enacted to stop the carnage.

            E.        Nehemiah - Nehemiah 6:15-16

                        1.         Just one man, a servant to served drinks to the king, got the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt in a mere 52 days

III.       But there were times that one man to stand for truth could not be found

            A.        If just one man could have been found, Judah would not have been destroyed - Jeremiah 5:1-4

            B.        How evil runs unchecked when the godly disappear - Psalm 12

            C.        People don’t pay attention - Isaiah 57:1

            D.        Oh, the true woe of the situation! - Micah 7:1-6

            E.        Just one man, to stem the tide, to stand where the wall was breached - Ezekiel 22:28-31

IV.      God is on the side of the righteous, and we are powerful!

            A.        God defends - Psalm 5:11-12

            B.        Even when things were down, David found strength in God - I Samuel 30:6

            C.        No fear - Psalm 3:4-6

            D.        Confidence - Psalm 16:8

            E.        Strength - Psalm 18:1-3

            F.        Exuberance - Psalm 18:29-35

V.        If we are not careful, we can let ourselves be overwhelmed

            A.        It is easy to think that our efforts don’t make much difference, that we are spinning our wheels, or that we have little to show for our efforts.

            B.        Why bother? What good does it do to try?

                        1.         Have you tried to lead a song and made a mess of it?

                        2.         Gave a short talk, and it was a flop?

                        3.         Remember Jesus’ first lesson in his home synagogue? - Luke 4:28-30

            C.        Apathy, worldliness, pessimism, and strife can take all the enthusiasm right out of you.

            D.        But you can make a difference!

                        1.         You can be a harvester of souls - Matthew 9:37-38

                        2.         You can be a righteous man whose prayers make a change - James 5:16-20

            E.        Don’t give up - Galatians 6:9

            F.        Because just one man can make all the difference in the world.

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