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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:The Providence Esther Was In, We Are, Too
Text:Esther 6:1-14 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Providence
 
Preached:2003-02-09
Added:2009-05-06
 

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 6:1-14

(Reading: Psalm 94)

 

The Providence Esther Was In, We Are, Too!

 

 

Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     They don’t get away with it!

          It all catches up with them.

              However much it seems like things are going their way - and in such a big way - they’ll have their day!

 

     And they know it!

          Oh, how they know it alright!

 

     It seems that the richer and more powerful you become the less happy you are within yourself.

          The world’s greatest dictators have been some of the most frustrated and anxious men inside.

              Despite all that wealth and luxury all around them they are fearful and insecure little people.

 

     How often didn’t their ends come  - and come so devastatingly - because those very weaknesses in their character had to come out?

          They over-reached themselves.

              Whether it was Napoleon Bonaparte or Adolf Hitler and so many other in the distant past.

     Or whether it’s so one of the many recent despots who have fallen in our world - or who soon will!

          And then the words of Proverbs 16 verse 18 come so true, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

 

     This is what has already been shown about Haman in chapter 5.

          There he is full of himself about being specially invited to these banquets alone with the King and the Queen, and at her own personal invitation!

 

     And it’s what has to come out again as this story continues in chapter 6.

          But not only in Haman.

 

     You see, I think we easily forget about the one who gave Haman every reason to believe that he was worthy of all that he thought he should have.

          Yes, I’m speaking about the king - Xerxes.

             

     How is this so?

          Well, let me ask you what you thought when you read in chapter 6 verse 1 that the king could not sleep.

              In fact, they are the words of our first point.

                   THE KING WHO COULDN’T SLEEP.

 

     Now, when we think about the reason why he couldn’t sleep we know it has something to do with the Lord.

          In fact, we could even say that this was a providential act of Gods’.

             

     That means that, on this occasion, God acts so that His work of setting up His Kingdom will continue.

          No foe can thwart Him.

              Indeed, He laughs at them, in the words of Psalm 2 verse 4, and He uses any opposition as part of that plan.

         

     As Herod and Pontius Pilate met together some 600 hundred years later, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to conspire against the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:27), so Xerxes and Haman are hand-in-glove in ruling their mighty empire and crushing any in their way.

          And Xerxes may not always be aware of the evil he’s doing, as Cyrus was when he condemned Daniel to the Lion’s Den with the edict about all his subject bowing down before him alone, but his selfishness is very clear!

 

     Because what does Xerxes turn his attention to when he cannot sleep?

          He gets his brag book read out to him.

              And that servant reading it to him knows it’s going to be a long night!

 

     The way we naturally think about this verse - that the Lord struck his conscience so that he couldn’t get to sleep and so he had to find out what he’d done wrong - doesn’t quite fit.

          What does tie in, though, is that in his insomnia he gets out what he loves to do - his favourite hobby if you like - and he plays at it.

              And a hobby can tell us a lot about what sort of person you are!

 

     So, what could tell us more about this man than hearing about his own great deeds?

          All those victories - politically and militarily.

              And what he’s gained out of those victories.

                   It was all here  - in the book of the annals.

 

     Ah, that’s a book we’ve heard about before, isn’t it?

          Indeed, it is.

              Back in chapter 2 verse 23 it’s been recorded in this book about how a plot to assassinate the king was foiled.

     That was definitely noteworthy.

          Another sign of his special status.

 

     It was when he got to that story, though, that he was suddenly struck by something.

          And it was exactly because of what he was like!

              Because he realised this man who had exposed that assassination plot hadn’t been rewarded.

     His name was in the book alright.

          But he deserved something much more in the public eye for doing such a vital service to the king!

 

     It would have been a serious oversight not to have rewarded Mordecai when it actually happened.

          It was the custom then, as it is now, to reward people when they have stopped traitors to their country.

              And those two caught plotting to kill Xerxes were in a position within the court of the king where they would be able to do it.

 

     So you imagine the scene.

          Two men who had had sleepless nights.

 

     There is the king, early in the morning, mulling over the best to reward this man.

          And then in comes Haman who, as soon as possible, wants the king’s permission to hang that very same man.

         

     Isn’t this some coincidence?

          Well, no, this is certainly not coincidence.

              But it definitely is providence!

                   The words of Proverbs 21 verse 1 are so true, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

 

     And in this scene it shows God has a sense of poetic justice as well.

          Because the king is looking for an advisor.

              Who better then than Haman, his right-hand man?

 

     But also the Haman he knew as a man so full of himself that he had little room for anyone else.

          He was a man who would know what to give to really reward someone - especially himself!

 

     He did, too!

          And so Haman confirmed the kind of reward Xerxes would have given Mordecai anyway.

         

     In the process, though, hasn’t this really brought out the essential emptiness of those rich and powerful who don’t have God?

          Because Xerxes couldn’t sleep, despite all the sedatives and other help which he just had to snap his finger to have.

              And Haman was so superstitious, which so many of those people are.

 

     Now you may be wondering where I get this bit from in the text.

          How can we tell Haman fears that there’s something else?

    

     Well, it’s near the end of the chapter.

          After everything has come crashing down on his head, what do his wife and friends say?

 

     Look at the last part of verse 13.

          Do we read there about his wife and advisors encouraging him to look on the bright side?

              Are they telling him, “Haman, it’s just a one-off thing - it’s only your pride hurting - get over it!”

 

     In fact, given Haman’s ruthlessness, what they say, and what he believes with them, shows how much he doesn’t have peace.

          Because they say to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him - you will surely come to ruin!”

 

     You see, congregation, this first aspect, THE KING WHO COULDN’T SLEEP, is really all that the world ends up with if they don’t have God!

          And the only message they have is despair!

 

     Do you remember the last days of King Saul?

          In his wretchedness we read, in 1st Samuel 28, how he sought out the witch at Endor.

              But he already knew it was too late!

 

     Friend, perhaps life has promised you a lot.

          Things are going well for you.

              You’ve got a good income, everything’s on a slide.

 

     A slide only goes down-hill, though.

          And what about when you hit the bottom?

              You won’t be able to say before the Lord, “Oh, the devil made me do it!”

 

     Besides someone has already tried that excuse.

          Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were promised by Satan in Genesis 3 verse 5 that they’d even become like gods, if they but ate the forbidden fruit.

              A shred of good that did them when they had to front up before the Lord!

                   Because what did they have then?

 

     And what do you have now?

          Well, without Jesus Christ, your end will be like Haman’s.

              Then you’ll realise that all along you knew it would come to that.

                   But then it’s too late.

 

     This is what we learn from THE KING WHO COULDN’T SLEEP.

          There’s also another king in this chapter, though.

              A king, who, while not actually mentioned here, or anywhere else in Esther for that matter, is yet most definitely there.

 

     He’s the king who was there when other kings also couldn’t sleep.

          Whether it was Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2 verse 1, or Darius in Daniel 6 verse 18.

                   He is THE KING WHO WOULDN’T SLEEP.

 

     Congregation, as much as a previous American President made speeches pointing out how a modern-day middle-eastern autocrat was a vital part of an axis of evil set against the free world, that is nothing compared with what’s happening in this text.

          For this is a key link in the chain that draws all of history - God’s saving Story! - together!

              And it’s what’s happening here that will determine the future of the Church in this world and for all eternity.

    

     We have seen in chapter 4 how the Lord’s Spirit worked through one of His own to mediate for His own.

          Now it is the LORD God Himself who will remove all doubt as to who is saving His own.

              In a completely unexpected and ordinarily unanticipated way, He’s going to work out His way.

    

     The enemy acknowledge this.

          In verse 13 they recognise the special standing of God’s people.

              They realise how this is a special race - a race which has survived so many races who have opposed them.

     Ezekiel 38 tells about the kind of judgment that comes upon those attacking God’s people.

          It concludes in verse 23, “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations.

              “Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

 

     But, especially, what a comfort for His people!

          Their God is right there, and in a time and at a place, when all did seem humanly lost!

 

     Imagine how Mordecai would have taken this sudden change?

          He would have been as surprised as Haman.

              And, yet, didn’t he himself say to Esther in chapter 4 verse 14 that deliverance would arise for God’s people?

 

     Mordecai’s patience and faithfulness is rewarded.

          I mean, what if he had knelt down to Haman?

              It would have been quite different then!

 

     So, Mordecai is rewarded in this high way.

          But also there’s a reward in a much higher way still.

              In the words of the Lord in 1 Samuel 2 verse 30, “Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained.”

 

     We can see the difference with how Mordecai and Haman behave.

          While Haman’s promotion went straight to his head, of Mordecai it simply says in verse 12, “Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.”

              The Lord’s servant goes back to serving, not being served.

 

     Congregation, this story is a great comfort to the saints - then and now.

          The LORD keeps His own.

              He preserves for Himself a faithful remnant through whom He works out His will for man.

             

     And He’s doing that night and day!

          He’s THE KING WHO WOULDN’T SLEEP.

              He’s busy caring all the time for His own, and He’s also busy all the time fighting those who are against His own.

 

     Take verse 4, for example.

          There we read how Haman has entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai.

              He already had the gallows built even!

     Everything was worked out.

          Nothing could go wrong!

              Except that this is so terribly wrong!

 

     And that’s where we not only see the LORD God here as the Saviour of His people but also as the Judge of all people.

          As Proverbs 16 verse 4 confirms, “The LORD works out everything for his own ends - even the wicked for the day of disaster.”

 

     This is what Jesus meant all those centuries later when He said, in Mark 10 verse 31, and elsewhere, “many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

          Because they really have asked for it!

              Like Pharaoh hardened his heart against Moses and the Israelites, they have been hardening their hearts against the gospel message and especially against those who obey that Word.

 

     Let’s be clear on that.

          The Christian religion is no unfair or harsh religion.

              The gospel comes to us all.

                   And we to whom it has savingly come can only testify how absolutely fair and loving God is!

 

     The judgment in the text means the public humiliation of Haman.

          And how that hurt!

 

     For the people in the city of Susa would have known well enough of Haman’s hatred for the Jew, Mordecai.

          Don’t tell me that it wouldn’t have got round very quickly why he had those gallows suddenly put up!

             

     To the Jews there this would have been even more patent.

          They had already been in mourning because of the king’s edict to annihilate all of their race.

              Now one of their leaders, Mordecai, was going to be killed even earlier.

 

     So what they saw on the city streets would have been a sight for sore eyes!

          This was exactly what they didn’t expect!

              God has acted!

 

     Then you wonder, don’t you, what’s the Lord going to do next?

          Because You know that He’s not going to stop.

              He’s THE KING WHO WOULDN’T SLEEP!

 

     Isn’t it great hearing these stories of our past?

          The Church of the Old Covenant gives us so much encouragement as the Church of the New Covenant.

             

     And whether as one of God’s people, or even as one of the enemy, there’s something special about the Church and her Leader.

          You can see that in a world today which persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ more than ever before.

              And while it’s great to hear about exciting rescue stories of the saints around the world the fact is that many are dying - every day!

 

     The comfort is there, though.

          For us who are out of physical harm’s way, and for those who suffer so much harm.

              Because the ultimate rescue has been done!

     The purpose for which God’s people of old had to be kept, has been fulfilled.

          The Saviour has come.

              And He has devastatingly won!

 

     So, come what may, we are going to be with the Lord for His everlasting day.

          In the new Garden of Eden, the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21, where it won’t be possible to sin any more, we will enjoy in the fullest possible way the peace we’ve been given in a small way today.

              For, as Jonathan Edwards said, “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.

     “To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.

          “Father and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance.

              “These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun.

     “These are but streams.

          But God is the ocean.”

              Amen.

 

    

PRAYER:

Let’s pray...

     O LORD God, You have planned all things from way before our time began.

          And in Your knowing everything beforehand, You still planned to save for Yourself a special people.

              Special not by who they are or what they have done.

                   But special because of Your love through Your Son.

     It was this line to Your Son, the Messiah, that the Old Testament tells us about.

          And now it’s the line which has included us, too, as the Gospel has gone out through the world.

              Oh, how we thank and praise You for that!

                   In Jesus’ precious Name, we pray, 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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