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1976 sermons as of January 19, 2022.
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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:God's Providential Protection of His People
Text:Esther 5:9-6:14 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Providence

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

I Love the Lord, the Fount of Life and Grace

Be Still My Soul

Wherefore Do the Nations Rage

Ye Children, Come, Give Ear to Me

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

Pastor Ted Gray
God’s Providential Protection of His People”
Esther 5:9-6:14
You have had that type of night, haven't you? You toss and you turn, you look at the clock and it’s still the early hours of the morning. But the blessing of sleep just doesn't come! That is the type of night that King Xerxes was having. As chapter 6 begins it simply tells us, That night the king could not sleep…
It was the same night that he had attended Esther's first banquet, along with Haman. From Esther 5:6 we know that they were drinking wine, but even having the wine and good food at Esther's banquet would not bring sleep to the king.
So he did what many of you students might be tempted to do when you read your history books. He ordered the book of the Chronicles, the record of his reign to be brought in and read to him. He probably thought that the reading of the history of his kingdom would certainly put him to sleep. And perhaps his eyelids were starting to close when verse 2 tells us, It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, to of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. Instead of putting him to sleep, that news really woke him up! In verse 3 he asks, “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?”
Persian kings were known for their elaborate display of thankfulness to those who had helped within their kingdom, especially if someone had spared their life as Mordecai had done. The historian, Herodotus, describes how Xerxes rewarded a man who saved the life of Xerxes’ brother by allowing him to be the governor of an entire province.
Because elaborate rewards were normally given, Xerxes was now wide awake asking what had been done for Mordecai. More than likely, he was drawing a complete blank. His life had been spared by Mordecai's action, yet what had been done?
His attendants answer his question by saying, “Nothing has been done for Mordecai,” and as they are speaking Haman enters the outer court of the palace. It was still in the wee hours of the morning. It would be unusual for anyone to enter the king’s palace at that time. No wonder the king asked, “Who is in the court?” His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”
Just as the king had been up all night unable to sleep, so had Haman, but for a far different reason. He had been up all night preparing the gallows, seventy-five feet high, on which to hang Mordecai. The gallows had been put in place and Haman was eager to put an end to the child of God who refused to bow before him.
Yet Haman's plans backfired completely upon him. All his scheming, and his edict to annihilate the Jewish people, led to his own death and the death of those 10 sons he bragged so much about, as well as the deaths of many others who had been ready to persecute God's people.
What does that teach us? It clearly teaches that God’s providence supersedes all human plans. As Psalm 33:10-11 puts it: The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.
And as the Lord frustrates the plans of the peoples, in this case the plans Haman had, the Lord uses many unique means. In this case he used a lack of sleep on the part of the King, even though he was well fed and had drank his wine. The Hebrew text says that sleep fled from him. Who made it flee? It was the providence of Almighty God.
God is Not Mocked
A second truth that we see unfold in this sixth chapter is a truth that the apostle Paul would write to the Galatian church about, in Galatians 6:7-8, where he warns: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Haman had sowed corruption, and corruption destroys. His corruption brought about his destruction. His corruption, just like your corruption and my corruption, was rooted in his heart. In verse 6 when the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” In the Hebrew text that phrase is in his heart Haman thought…
It is just as Jesus would later teach, in Matthew 15:19, “...Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Unless the evil that is within the human heart is repented of and turned from by God's sanctifying grace, it leads to eternal destruction, just as it did for Haman.
God’s Promise of Protection
As we read about the remarkable turn of events caused by the king's lack of sleep, we are also reminded that God is true to all His promises, including the protection of His people.
Haman had plotted to destroy God's people. Back in chapter 3:8 he described to the king how there was a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of the kingdom whose customs were different from that of other people. In verse 9 he said, “If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”
Esther 3 10-11 gives the king’s chilling response: So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
In that passage Haman is specifically identified as the enemy of the Jews. The Jews of the Old Testament were the people upon whom God had set His special love. He had promised to deliver them from their enemies, to provide for them, and to bless them by allowing them to be the human lineage leading up to the birth of the eternal Christ in human flesh at the fullness of time. As Romans 9:4-5 puts it, They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
It was the precious people of God that Haman plotted to annihilate. It was to be a complete annihilation on a mass scale. Esther 3:13 describes the specifics of Haman's edict to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews – young and old, women and little children – on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and plunder their goods.
God's people have always been the target of the evil one and those who follow him. Yet God has promised to protect His people. The promise was very clearly given way back in Genesis 12:2-3 where the Lord gave Abram this promise: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
With this in mind, we see how futile and foolish Haman's plot was. Apparently, his wife and his advisers came to understand what Haman missed. In the second part of verse 13 Haman's wife and his advisers 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!”
The New Testament would echo that truth with resounding force in the rhetorical question of Romans 8:31, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? And the answer: He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the One who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And that leads us to our first application this morning: We can be sure that the Lord is, and ever will be, victorious in the age-old battle of good and evil, God and Satan.
Victory in Jesus
The battle lines have been drawn for us in this passage. In chapter 5:14, on the advice of his wife and his advisers, Haman had gallows built, 75 feet high; he planned to hang Mordecai on it in the morning. We have already read how Haman was an Agagite, a descendent of King Agag and a life-long enemy of the Jews. Mordecai was a descendent of Saul, the first king of Israel, who had sinned by not destroying the Agagites as God had commanded him to do.
But the Lord used that unique means of a lack of sleep, and the reading of the history books, to bring about a complete change, a stunning reversal of events, as Haman would be hung on the very gallows that he made for Mordecai.
The Lord God Almighty will be victorious. His reign, His rule, His will cannot be thwarted. Those who try will be thoroughly defeated, if not in this life, then in the life to come. Haman serves as an example of the futility of those who oppose God plan and purpose, his protection for his people.
The Psalmist describes how the Lord laughs at those who would oppose him and his people. Psalm 2:
...The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, My holy hill.” (Psalm 2:2-6).
The word “terrify,” as used by the psalmist for those who oppose the Lord, certainly describes the heart of Haman as his own wife and his own advisers tell him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!”
Trust in God’s Providence Quells Worry
A second application is that worry has no place in the life of those who trust God’s providence. Did you notice what Mordecai did after that ride through the city, when Haman, thoroughly humiliated, had to announce to all the people, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”
After that unique ride, verse 12 says Mordecai returned to the king's gate. He did not bask in pride as Haman would have done. Instead he went back to his place at the city gate to wait upon the Lord, trusting that God's providence would yet deliver His people.
From his reaction we see that those who trust in the providence of God have no reason to worry. Yes, we are to make plans. There is wisdom in Ecclesiastes 11:6, In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. We are not to be idle like those in the Thessalonian church who expected the Lord to return in their lifetime. They quit their jobs and the apostle had to remind them, The man who does not work, shall not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
But even though we plan, and work, and diversify as Ecclesiastes 11:6 tells us to do, we have no place for worry. The same God who watched over and delivered Esther and Mordecai from Haman and his cruel edict, is the God who watches over you and me.
Because of that watchful eye of our heavenly Father, Jesus spoke words of great comfort, words that all of us who believe in God's providence should certainly take to heart. He said:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:25-26).
The Heidelberg Catechism, in question and answer 28, gives us the proper response to the knowledge of God's providence. It asks, “How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?”
Answer: “We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from His love. All creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they can neither move nor be moved.”
Living by Faith, Not by Sight
Third application: When we have that proper understanding of the providence of God then we are enabled to live by faith, not by sight. When we have that proper understanding of the providence of God, we realize that the events that we see around us are not necessarily as they appear.
We see so much evil in our world today and it is so very strong. The nations of the world seem poised against the truths of Christianity. The hostility of the world is directed toward the Lord and His people. And if we just looked at what goes on in the world we might well think that the evil one and his cohorts have the upper hand. But 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, ..we walk by faith, not by sight.
We realize the truth of the hymn writer, that this is our Father's world and that “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” (This My Father’s World, Maltbie B Babcock). Mordecai perhaps had that same assurance as he sat at the city gate. Esther, Mordecai and God's people of that day, would realize that the events around them were not as they appeared. They would come to realize that Haman and his evil plot would not prevail. The tables would be turned. God's people would be spared.
And throughout the history of this fallen world we celebrate that same truth, the truth that since God reigns supreme in heaven, even when events look terribly bad in this fallen world we can walk by faith, and not by sight. We see that things are not as they appear even, or especially, when we look at the greatest event in all of history.
The eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was led out to Mount Calvary and crucified. He had been betrayed with a kiss, condemned as guilty although He was innocent. He had been mocked with a crown of thorns, spit upon, blindfolded and struck repeatedly in the face.  “Prophecy!” His accusers demanded. “Who is the one who struck You?”
As He hung crucified between two thieves on Mount Calvary it certainly seemed as though the devil had won, as though all those who hate God's people were victorious. Jesus Christ was crucified. But in actuality, just the opposite had happened. Matthew 27:50-51 describes how after Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit... the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
By His death the Lord Jesus Christ defeated the devil and brought reconciliation between sinners like us and our heavenly Father. When the Lord Jesus Christ died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom, which represents the opening of the Most Holy Place for all who believe in Jesus to enter in. By His death and by His resurrection Jesus sealed the devil's doom and opened heaven’s gate to all who by God's grace believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with a saving faith.
Do you believe that? Is your faith this morning placed in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation? If so, then you can rest secure knowing that your true citizenship is in heaven and that its gates are open wide for you because of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And as you wait for that glorious day when you will see Jesus face to face, you can rest assured that the God who redeemed you is providentially watching over you even in the hardest trials, persecutions and heartaches of this life.
In all the problems, tribulation, and trials of life, may these truths encourage us and sustain us, as we realize again that God is always at work behind the scenes, today, just as He was back in the days of Esther and Mordecai. Amen.
                                                          - bulletin outline -
“Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot
stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!”  – Esther 6:13
                                    “God’s Providential Protection of His People”
                                                               Esther 5:9-6:14
I.  This passage clearly teaches:
     1) God’s providence supersedes all human plans (Psalm 33:10-11), as He uses many unique
         means to accomplish His purposes (6:1-2)
      2) God is not mocked; we reap what we sow (6-10; Galatians 6:7-8)        
     3) God is true to all His promises, including the protection of His people (13b; Genesis 12:2-3)
II. Applications:
    1) We can be sure that the Lord is victorious in the age-old battle of good and evil,
         God and Satan (5:14; 6:13b; Psalm 2:1-12)
    2) Worry has no place in the life of those who trust God’s providence (12a; Mathew 6:25-34;
         Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 28)
    3) We are to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) for things are not as they appear
        (6-10; Matthew 27:32-54)



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

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