Esther-God Behind the Scenes: Chapters 5-7
This morning we move the the climactic point of the Book of Esther, if you haven’t already, turn the Esther 5 in your Bibles, I believe it is page 522 in the pew Bibles.
Let me briefly set the scene for you, Esther, Mordecai and all of the Jews in Susa, had just spent 3 days of fasting and praying, fasting that included both giving up food and also water. It was during that time, and for Mordecai the days leading up to those 3 days, that God transformed their hearts into hearts that were ready to be used by Him.
Please keep in mind as we look at the first few verses of chapter 5, that it was against the law for Esther to approach the thrown of the king unsummoned, to do so meant death, unless the king had compassion and held out the golden scepter. Next Slides
1 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” 5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. 6 And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 7 Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”
Now let me ask you a question, what do the first 4 words of verse 1 say about Esther’s state physically?
Esther came to the king when she was physically at her weakest state.
This brings us to a very important lesson:Next Slides
It is at our weakest points when we are most Dependent on the Power of God to Sustain us.
Do you know what one of the most common lies told by the believer is? In fact chances are everyone in this room, including me, has told this lie at least once. Do you know what it is?
A common lie believers tell.
God Never Gives Us More Than We Can Handle.
Don’t think for one second that Esther wasn’t in over her head when she approached an irrational king when she was physically at her weakest. God had most definitely given her more than she could handle. Which was exactly where he wanted her. Esther was in a position where she was completely dependent on the Sovereign God.
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you will experience times you are in over your head, because God wants you to depend on Him. When we are at are weakest, God is at His best, then when great things happen, He gets the glory.
These are some of the greatest stories in Scripture. Stories like:
Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, only to end up in the 2nd highest position in the most powerful nation in the world.
The Parting of the Red Sea
The Walls of Jericho falling down.
Gideon and his weaponless army of 300 against an army of over 137,000 soldiers fully armed.
Do I need to go on? How about:
David and Goliath
Elijah on Mount Carmel against the 400 prophets of Baal.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.
Daniel in the lions Den.
As I think back over my life, the greatest victories I have been a part of are the times I was given more than I could handle and had to completely rely on God. Now that doesn’t mean I loved those moments when I was in the midst of them, but looking back I cherish those times.
By the way, I believe this lie comes from a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13. Next Slide
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
The promise isn’t that God won’t give us more than we can handle. The promise is that with every temptation we face, God also gives us the ability to say No, He promises a way of escape.
Esther was in over her head. Let’s see what happens next.
2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
Here we see once again: Next Slides
Esther Obtains Favor from the King.
As we have learned while moving through the books of Ezra and Esther, God is in control even of pagan rulers of this world. Here He moves the heart of King Xerxes to have compassion on Esther.
Let me take a moment to give you a brief behind the scenes look at what is taking place here.
King Xerxes understands that Esther would have never put her life on the line and approach the king, if it hadn’t been incredibly important to her. Moved with compassion he held out his golden scepter.
Now I don’t want you to miss what happens next, because it is very significant. Look at verse 4. Next Slide
4 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.”
Any English teachers here this morning? What is the verb tense Esther uses when she talks about the preparation of the meal?
I have prepared for the king.
She uses past tense, in other words the feast had already been prepared.
I don’t know about you, but I get the impression that she knew before she approached the King that he would hold out the golden scepter to her. She already had the feast prepared. I believe that the reason she obtained favor from the king is because at some point in time over the past 3 days of humble fasting and praying, of seeking the face and favor of God, that Esther had also: Next Slides
Esther Obtained Favor from the Sovereign God.
Do you remember last week when we determined that:
Repentant Hearts Always Move the Heart of God.
Whenever the Heart of God Moves, the Hand of God Follows.
I believe that is exactly what took place here in chapter 5.
As we read on we find out that the king excitedly agreed to the feast. At some point in time after the feast, the king once again seeks to find out what was on the heart of the queen.
Now I am not sure what exactly happened here, but somewhere between inviting the king and Haman to the feast and the time of the feast, Esther determined that now was not the perfect time to tell the king what was on her heart. Here is what I believe took place.
Now please note, this is Canadiology, I am reading between the lines here, but I believe it is very likely what took place.
I believe that as soon as the king said Yes to the feast, that Esther went right back into prayer mode. She wanted to speak the words of God in the perfect timing of God and at some point in time God impressed on her heart that today was not the day to reveal her heart to the king. As a result, she asked to king and Haman to come back the next day to a second feast.
You see God still had some behind the scenes work to do. So here we see Esther requesting a second feast also, and I believe Esther expected, the king said Yes to the second feast as well.
Now Haman leaves the first feast bouncing off the wall excited. As we have already seen, Haman was pretty full of himself and as he leaves the palace he sees Mordecai sitting in the king’s gate and once again Mordecai does not bow before him. He is filled with rage. He runs home, calls his wife and best friends and brags to them about the feast, his riches, his kids, his status in the kingdom and how he was so important that even the queen had prepared a private feast for just he, the king and her, and to top everything else off, she was doing it a second time tomorrow. But despite all that, he couldn’t get past the fact that Mordecai didn’t bow before him.
Well his wife and friends had a brilliant idea. He had already gotten the kings approval to kill all the Jews, well why couldn’t he just take care of Mordecai the next day. They suggested he build gallows 75 feet high, high enough to be seen from just about everywhere in Susa, and that he have Mordecai hanged on those gallows the next day. We learn in verse 14 that the idea pleased him so he had the gallows built.
That brings us to chapter 6. Next Slide
1 On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Persians were meticulous when it came to keeping records. They had been keeping records since, at least, the reign of King Cyrus. That means they had at least 86 years of records to choose from, yet with all of those records to choose from, what records does verse 2 tell us he just happened to have read to him? Next Slide
2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”
So with 86 years of records to choose from, these were the records that we read to him. By the way, it is important to note that the event mentioned in these verses took place 5 years earlier. It wasn’t like this event was picked because it was fresh on the king’s mind.
Do you recall what I have said multiple times about God’s timing as we have gone through the Book of Esther?
We may not always like or appreciate God’s timing, but God’s timing is always perfect. Next Slides
God’s Timing isn’t always convenient, but it is Always Perfect.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I felt that Mordecai wasn’t immediately rewarded because, not only was it not God’s perfect timing, but also because Mordecai’s heart was not right before God. Well now, not only was Mordecai’s heart right before God, it was also God’s perfect timing. And as a result, now we see God move.
So here is the scenario. I am guessing that neither King Xerxes of Haman slept that night. Xerxes, because God had something special he wanted him to see. For Haman, I am guessing he could’t sleep because he was excited about what tomorrow held for him. Not only did he get to go to another feast with just he, the king and the queen, on top of that he was going to see his arch enemy Mordecai hang from 75 foot high gallows. Tomorrow was going to be a huge day for Haman! It was also going to be a big day for Mordecai!
So here we are in the kings chambers, he has just spent a sleepless night in which God, the Supreme Ruler of all of the universe, the God Who’s timing is always perfect, that God has ordained that something very specific be read to him.
By the way, I have entitled the remainder of chapter 6: Next Slides
So You Think You’ve Had a Bad Day!
Let’s look at what happens next: Next Slide
4 And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.”
I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but the Book of Esther seems to be filled with an awful lot of coincidences, things just happen to take place at just the right time. Here, Scripture indicates that the second the reading is completed, Haman walks into the outer court adjacent to the kings chambers.
Xerxes summons Haman into his chambers, Haman enters filled with excitement and anticipation, he is just getting ready to ask for the kings approval to hang Mordecai in the gallows that had just been completed when the king beats him to the punch with his own question.
Haman, I’ve got someone I would really like to honor, if you were me, what would you do to honor this man?
Of course Haman is convinced the king is talking about him, and why shouldn’t he? After all, the day before he had been invited to a special feast with just he, the king and the queen, and the same things was taking place today! I mean who else could it be? So he thinks to himself, Let’s see, what honor would I want to receive from the king? Let’s see what Scripture says next: Next Slides
7 And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’ ”
At this point in time Haman’s chest kinda shoots forward as he anticipates the king honoring him, and I imagine his plan is that the moment the king finishes, he is going to say to the king:
Hey, before you do this for me, would it be ok with you if I had my enemy Mordecai hanged?
Then the king speaks: Next Slides
10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
I imagine Haman’s mouth dropped open at that point. Instead of the king honoring him, the king was going to honor the hated Mordecai! On top of that but Haman was going to be the instrument the king used to bring honor to Mordecai. He had to get the robes, the crown, the horse and Scripture seems to indicate that he had to help Mordecai all dressed and ready. Then Haman had to lead him through the square of the city and loudly proclaim; “Thus shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
We go on to read: Next Slides
12 Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” 14 While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.
By the way, generally this type of mourning is reserved for the death of a loved one or friend, this is how devastated Haman was, and his supportive wife and friends graciously let him know he was basically toast!
At this point he is probably thinking; “Well at least I still get to go to a feast with the king and queen, this day can end on a positive note.”
Haman’s Day Went From Bad to Worse!
About that…let’s read on Next Slides
2 And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request.
As far as we know Haman has no idea up to this point in time that Queen Esther is a Jew, I am picturing his mind is going a little crazy right now!
“Surely the queen is not a Jew!?” He thinks. But in looking at the rest of chapter 7, we find out she is, in fact, a Jew. When the king finds out he has been duped by Haman, he is furious. For a brief time he leaves the room and walks out into the garden, we aren’t really told why, but while he is gone, Haman begins to beg for his life to Queen Esther. Evidently he tripped and fell on to the couch that Esther was reclined on, right about that time the king re-enters the room. Let’s just say that for Haman, the timing of his return was less than perfect. His anger reaches a fever pitch when we get to verse 9: Next Slide
9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.”
And now you know why God had Esther delay telling the king what it was that concerned her.
In God’s perfect plan, and in God’s perfect timing, He wanted Haman hung on his own gallows.
So as we close this morning, what are the keys for us to remember?
1. It is at our weakest points when we are most Dependent on the Power of God to Sustain us.
2. God does permit, and sometimes even puts us into situations that are more than we can handle. But the key is they are more than we can handle on our own. Those times take place to bring us to the point of complete reliance on Him.
3. God’s timing isn’t always convenient, but it is always perfect. We need to trust that He is sovereign and alway in control, even when we may not see His Hand in ways we would like to.
Let’s close in prayer.