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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:The Vindication Esther Was In, We Are, Too!
Text:Esther 7:1-10 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Death Defeated
 
Preached:2003-02-16
Added:2009-05-29
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


ESTHER 7:1-10

(Reading: Proverbs 16:1-18; Galatians 6:1-10)

 

The Vindication Esther Was In, We Are, Too!

 

 

Congregation...

 

     Things are moving along very quickly now in this book of Esther.

          Especially for Haman.

 

     Now, that was something he wouldn’t have liked.

          As a manipulative man, he was used to planning his selfish agenda in advance.

              He had never been taken by surprise before.

 

     But the events of chapter 6 had thrown him.

          He had entered the king’s court expecting to have Mordecai hanging high by day’s end.

              And he ended up with his head hanging low - in shame - after leading Mordecai around the city streets in a royal tribute for what that Jew had once done!

 

     He had barely arrived home after all that, and told his humiliating and fateful story, and he was whisked off.

          Off to the second special banquet with the King and the Queen.

 

     Haman must have wondered whether it wasn’t a bad dream - some awful nightmare.

          And perhaps after the first day of the banquet he may have started to think that’s what it might’ve been.

              On the second day they’re into the wine.

 

     But he couldn’t be sure.

          In fact, even before that terrible day he was really quite insecure.

 

     Then there’s the story from Esther’s side.

          And this is a completely different side.

               In fact, her side puts Haman completely off-side with none other than the LORD God Himself!

 

     In the words of the first part to chapter 7 we note that Esther is... REALISING GOD’S LEADING BY WHAT HE DOES.

          And hadn’t the LORD been obviously working?

              The events of chapter 6 were far from a bad dream for the queen.

     For here God’s working was coming together.

          This was exactly why she was here!

              Her Uncle Mordecai’s words were prophetically true.

                   He was the one who said to her in chapter 4 verse 14, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

 

     Esther, who had been brought up in God’s covenant community, knew her history well enough, and especially her own Lord well enough, to see this as part of His plan.

          In faith she had dared to approach the king to make that request.

              The request she was now working out, with God’s guidance, to bring His people out of what seemed nothing less than the ultimate holocaust.

 

     Of course, in God’s redeeming process such annihilation couldn’t be.

          The promise of the Messiah was irrevocable.

              There was no way that could change.

     It was God’s own Word.

          Christ had to come, and come through David’s own line.

 

     So what Esther would have been wondering, I’m sure, is how the LORD would be using this for that purpose.

          What was the covenant God working out here?

              And how would that make His promise come that much more closer?

 

     Well, what was most crucial was timing.

          And in the world of the middle-east especially so.

              You went out of your way to create the best possible situation in which to raise your point.

     In fact, on the very best occasions the one you were asking the request of would first ask you.

          It was all about timing.

 

     We can see that in verse 2.

          For not only does Xerxes ask Esther what it is she desires, but he does it by addressing her with the title of ‘Queen’.

              Something quite personal.

     Because he is the King.

          And now he is receiving her as one who to him has the most valued position any woman then could have.

 

     But Xerxes is the one about to get shocked!

          For what Esther does ask of him would have caught him completely on the hop!

              In the words of verse 3, “Then Esther answered, ‘If I have found favour with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life - this is my petition.

                   “And spare my people - this is my petition.’”

 

     Well, if Xerxes had waited with baited breath for this moment, he certainly couldn’t have been more surprised by it.

          The queen had taken the king literally.

              And it’s there in all the gory details.

     As Esther goes on in verse 4, “For I am my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation.

          “If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”

 

     Now, when something terrible is going on in our world, it can seem like a million miles away.

          We read about it in the paper, and we see the awful pictures on TV.

              But it doesn’t really hit us does it?

     Until, that is, you personally meet one of those devastated by it.

          Then you cannot avoid it.

              Because then it’s right there in front of you.

                  

     And then you cannot help but become involved.

          I mean, that’s a person you know!

              Perhaps a close friend!

 

     By saying that her people were about to be sold for destruction, slaughter and annihilation, Esther was only using the language of the king’s edict in chapter 3 verse 13.

          Being sold referred to Haman’s offer of ten thousand talents of silver.

 

     Through her carefully worded request to the king Esther emphasises how wicked this thing is that doesn’t just condemn her people to slavery but to something even worse - total decimation!

          And the king would feel it!

 

     It is at this point that the alternative reading in the footnote of the N.I.V. is to be preferred.

          This ties in with the whole approach of Esther so far.

              To say, as we read there, that that amount of money in no way can compensate for the loss of a whole people - a race which includes her - is good psychology.

 

     The king’s curiosity, aroused by her opening words in verse 3, was really stirred up!

          What in the world was going on?

              And who could be harming his closest interest in such a devastating way?

 

     Verse 5 shows this with his curt response.

          It says, “King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he?’

              “‘Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?’”

 

     In this way we come to the second part of chapter 7.

          From... REALISING GOD’S LEADING FOR WHAT IT IS - and how didn’t He work everything out for this time? - there comes NAMING GOD’S ENEMY FOR WHO HE IS.

 

     Xerxes is angry.

          He demands to know who has the audacity to do such a thing!

 

     And while we know who that particular evil man is, doesn’t this sound quite hypocritical coming from Xerxes?

          We know that “Evil men triumph when good men do nothing,” but we should add in Xerxes’ case, “And evil runs rampant when bad people do it together!”

              Because we know the role of Xerxes in what’s happened so far.

                   It has served his selfish interests well.

 

     So, to get to this point that Xerxes becomes angry about it can only show God’s sovereignty in all this.

          He’s working everything out, even using the wicked themselves, to bring about the salvation of His people.

              In the words of J.C.Ryle, “The wickedest enemies of God are only axes and saws and hammers in His hands, and are ignorantly His instruments for doing His work in the world.”

 

     Congregation, the LORD, in the same way, would use the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman Governor all those centuries later to bring about the penultimate rescue for His people.

          The apostle Peter declared that in his sermon at Pentecost.

              In Acts 2 verses 22 till 24, he said, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.

     “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

          “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

 

     The apostle was a brave man to say it like that then.

          And Esther was very courageous to declare like she did to Xerxes.

              For in verse 5 she spells it out, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”

 

     But before we straight away turn to Haman consider the three describing words she uses before the name.

          She really spelt out, before getting to the name, exactly how much of a traitor to the king and an enemy to the Jews and how completely selfish this man is!

              The name coming after being described as “adversary”, “enemy”, and “vile”, had as sure a death sentence on him as any other man in human history!

 

     If anyone’s face ever dropped as low as Haman’s that moment it would be hitting the floor!

          And that’s precisely where Haman would have felt he was!

 

     You see, the king was convinced.

          The language is quite clear that he sees what this is all about.

              He would have felt that deception, and he would be humiliated.

                   And very angry!

         

     He’s in a rage!

          And as people do in that mood he walks away.

 

     Haman doesn’t dare rush after him.

          As verse 7 says, he realises the king has already decided his fate.

               But his evil cunning hangs in there.

     And how selfish it stays.

          He pleads for his own life.

 

     There’s no hint of an explanation.

          Nor either is there any sorrow for what he’s done.

               He doesn’t even regret it as Judas did when he said, in Matthew 27 verse 4, “I have sinned for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

 

     From what we know, Esther didn’t say anything to him.

          She knew there was nothing she could do for him.

              It was all in the hands of the king.

 

     And so desperate did Haman become that he broke the clear rules of the court.

          For a man who knew how much the harem of the king was his exclusive private property, he really risked everything by falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.

             

     The couch Esther reclined on was probably one of gold and silver as mentioned in chapter 1 verse 6.

          The Orientals didn’t sit at a table as we now do.

              They reclined as our Lord Jesus and His disciples did at the Last Supper.

 

     But in the debauchery we met at the beginning of this book, we know that it was sometimes used for more than that.

          And that’s what Xerxes thinks when he comes back.

 

     While he may be quite mistaken about that, it’s no surprise now that he imagines the worst about Haman.

          And that’s the signal for his servants.

              They who are always in attendance knew what to do.

     Quickly Haman’s face is covered up.

          For the king doesn’t look upon the face of death.

              And even if that sentence hasn’t been made he’s doomed to die.

 

     One of the servants also knows that now is the point to say something to the king.

          While Haman’s relationship to the king was close, it wasn’t relevant information.

              But, now, with the tables changed, there was no love lost for Haman.

                   In the words of a third part to chapter 7, we come to SEEING GOD’S JUSTICE THROUGH HOW HE IS.

 

     The king’s over-dependence on Haman shows up again with the revelation of what was common knowledge amongst the palace servants.

          Because Harbona simply tells his king what they all know: “A gallows twenty-three metres high stands by Haman’s house.

              “He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”

 

     That did it for the king.

          The restless night he had two nights ago was still fresh in his memory.

              And to think Haman had planned all along to kill the man who had saved him!

 

     Justice was very quick.

          “Hang him on it!” Xerxes declares.

 

     There was no court case under this system.

          Haman didn’t get a trial by a jury of his peers.

              There were no other witnesses called.

     Esther had described him for what he was.

          Harbona told of how he had planned to kill Mordecai before the date set by the decree to exterminate the Jews.

 

     But what Haman had planned for someone else - and he an innocent man - fell on his own head.

          As the old English expression goes he was ‘hoist with his own petard.’

             

     And how even more apt is this expression when you know that a ‘petard’ was originally a small bomb made of a box filled with powder.

          Yes, it blew up in his own face!

              God’s sense of justice is clearly shown for His people.

                   As He says in Psalm 7 verse 16 about the evil man, “The trouble he causes recoils on him; his violence comes down on his own head.”

         

     So, congregation, if the king’s fury subsides after this dastardly man is condemned to death, imagine how God must be angry with what opposes him in this world.

          And He’s preparing all their eventual ends.

 

     Let me illustrate this by how the Jews still remember this event.

          For when the Jews read out the story of Esther in their synagogues, at the feast of Purim, it is done in a very dramatic way.

              The reader really acts out what’s happening, adjusting his voice and gestures to fit in with what’s happening in the passage.

                   When he comes to the name of Haman the whole congregation cry out, ‘May his name be blotted out!’, ‘May the name of the wicked rot!’ or ‘Let the name of the ungodly perish.’

 

     At the same time, in some places, the boys in the congregation make a lot of noise with their hands and with wooden mallets, or pieces of wood and stone.

          For on those pieces of wood or stone they have written Haman’s name.

              And when they hit those pieces together that name becomes obliterated.

 

     This is exactly what’s happening in this world to the wicked.

          God is condemning them by their own actions.

              They’re digging their own graves deeper all the time.

 

     And we’d be doing the same, too.

          Because we really deserve nothing different than Haman.

               The same for Esther.

 

     But God, in His sovereign grace, chose us for something completely different.

          For while we may often show the wrong side of this life, we know in our hearts whose side we’re on.

                            

     And that’s why the Church is placed on this earth.

          She is to witness to the nations about the God who is over all this earth.

              Which could well mean she holds a mirror up to reflect back to this world what she’s really like.

 

     They don’t like that.

          The devil will be trying what he can to stop that.

              But in the end only God can win.

     And we must wait.

          Wait like Esther.

              Esther who trusted in the LORD to guide her and open up the way for her to serve Him.

 

     This way the Haman’s fate is a great encouragement for us today.

          In a time when believers are persecuted more than ever before in the developing world and when they have become such a negligible force in the developed world, we need to see that everyone will be held to account.

              In the words of Galatians 6 the verses 7 and 8, “A man reaps what he sows.”

                   “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

 

     And then verse 8 there from the apostle Paul really encourages us.

          As he writes, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

 

     We certainly see this in Esther’s story.

          But let’s also show it to the Lord in our own personal stories.

              Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray...

     O God of all; You the God who sees all and before whom all must one day give an account.

          We thank You that for us that Day holds no fear - only relief.

              Then we will be with You for all eternity.

     For our story is completely wrapped up in Your Story.

          And we’ll be singing Your song.

              The song we pray so much You’ll help us to sing in our lives now.

                   Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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