“God’s Surprising Sovereignty”
Haman the Agagite and
Mordecai the Jew were enemies
- as were their race of people.
Haman the Agagite has been promoted over all the nobles in the land.
Mordecai the Jew simply worked at the king’s gate
- but refused to bow down to Haman
Haman the Agagite tricked the king into passing into law an edict that cannot be revoked or changed.
The edict stated that on a given day all the citizens of Persia were to ‘destroy, kill and annihilate’ the people in the land who (in Haman the Agagite’s words) did not obey the king.
The king did not care to know that these so-called trouble makes were the Jews.
And he did not know that his own wife, Esther was a Jew.
At Mordecai the Jew’s request,
and after three days of fasting and prayer,
Esther approached the king to make a plea for her life and the lives of all her people.
She invited the king and Haman the Agagite to a banquet that evening.
As the wine was served after the meal the king asked Esther her petition.
In the appropriate custom as to how to approach such a serious matter she invited the king and Haman the Agagite to a second banquet the next day.
Haman the Agagite was swollen with pride to be invited twice to a private banquet with the king and queen.
However once again his pride was mortally wounded by Mordecai’s presence at the palace gate
and his continued refusal to pay Haman the honor he felt belonged to his exalted position.
At his wife’s suggestion, Haman the Agagite had a gallows built 75 feet high.
His plan was to ask the king first thing in the morning to have Mordecai hanged.
However, God had different plans.
That very night the king could not sleep and had his chronicles read to him.
He discovered that Mordecai, the Jew had saved his life by uncovering a plot to assassinate the king.
He decided that Mordecai should be honored and looked for someone to give him advice.
There was Haman, waiting in the early dawn for an audience with the king.
“Haman, what is an appropriate way to honor a man whom the king desires to honor?”
The king asked - but he did not tell Haman who this person was.
Haman, certain he was the one the king desired to honor listed off the greatest honor he could imagine.
Then, in a great reversal, the king asked Haman to bestow this honor on Mordecai, the Jew!
Haman returned home completely humiliated and now his wife predicted that Mordecai, the Jew would yet be the cause of Haman’s complete demise.
We pick up the story as a somewhat less enthusiastic Haman is being ushered out of his house and hastened to the palace for the second banquet with the king and queen.
! /Esther 7:1 – 10 Read/
In the end – God wins!
At the right moment, Esther worked her king into anger against the evil she had revealed.
Meeting his anger she then pointed her finger revealing to the king his most trusted advisor, Haman was the evil one.
Haman’s downward spiral continued as he pleaded with the queen for his life.
The king used this scene, which can be interpreted as sexual advances on the queen, as the excuse for the execution of Haman.
In great irony, the instrument of death prepared by Haman is now used by the king to destroy Haman himself.
At the end of this chapter, we, the listener, begin to clap and cheer.
The suspense has been relieved.
Evil has been dealt a literal death blow.
When all is said and done – God triumphs.
When kings have done their utmost,
When evil has had its day,
God remains enthroned as Lord of all.
Yet we are still surprised.
God’s grace surprises us.
The hardened heart of our loved one, whom we have prayed for, suddenly melts before the love of Christ.
And we had just about despaired.
Peter, the leader of the church, is in jail.
The church has gathered for an all-night prayer meeting.
When the servant girl reports that Peter is knocking at the door, we do not believe.
When we finally check for ourselves we are surprised.
When we read of the crucifixion account of Jesus of Nazareth, something is missing in our emotions – for we have read the Sunday, Easter story many times.
We know the ending.
But the first disciples,
living through the darkest days of history
did not know.
When the resurrection dawned upon them, to say they were surprised sounds like an understatement – they were astonished!
Why are we surprised?
God does *NOT* always act that way!!
*Turn to Acts 12.*
A number of years ago, before I was a pastor, I preached a sermon on the deliverance of Peter from jail (Acts 12).
I focused on the astonishment of the praying church.
I asked: “why pray if when your prayers are answered you
Is that praying with faith?”
But somehow I am no longer in agreement with that position.
I do not believe that we can make demands upon God.
Here is one of the great paradoxes of the Bible.
God does not always answer prayer with miraculous deliverance as with Peter, nor do we always see justice win.
*Read Acts 12:1-4.*
In the first verse it would not look like God answered prayer for John.
His brother was killed /“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.
He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
When he saw this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.”/
Why did God not spare James’ life?
Was the church caught off guard so that they did not pray enough for James therefore he died?
The surprising sovereignty of God is that He chose
and in His choosing He allowed James to die
yet He miraculously rescued Peter – at the last moment
from the clutches of Herod’s plan to execute him also.
I love to read the conversion story of Saul whose name changed to Paul and he became the first Christian missionary.
But back up a few pages of Scripture and we see:
a great worker of the church,
a great saint,
and a great preacher,
he is on his knees in a pit,
crying out to God
while stones are pummeling the very life out of his body and angry taunts and jeers and insults are being hurled at him.
In God’s surprising sovereignty he chose:
to give Paul – who was an enemy of the church – a successful ministry
and for Stephen’s life to be cut off when it seems he was just at the beginning of a potentially very great ministry.
When I examine the Scriptures further I discover a small word written into the prayers of many saints.
It is the word ‘perhaps’.