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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Waiting for the Perfect and Poetic Justice of God
Text:Esther 7:1-10 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Justice

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

From the 1976 Psalter Hymnal:

321- O Day of Rest and Gladness         

206:1,2,8 - My Soul, Bless the Lord!

38 - The Lord’s My Shepherd

463 - He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought 

The NIV translates the king’s name in this passage as “Xerxes” while the ESV (and other translations) refer to the king as “Ahasuerus”.  Xerxes is the Greek transliteration of the Persian king’s name, while Ahasuerus is the Hebrew designation of the same Persian king. In this manuscript, the king’s name is referred to as “Xerxes/Ahasuerus” in an effort to make it easier for those who read from different translations.


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

updated 05/15/2022 
“Waiting for the Perfect and Poetic Justice of God”
Esther 7:1-10
As you are driving down the road have you ever been passed by someone who is really flying, not only driving fast, but recklessly as well? If you are like me, you think, “Why isn’t a cop around when you really want them to be!”  But, on rare occasions, a few miles down the road, who do you see pulled over to the side? That reckless speeder! And the highway patrol is ready to dole out what could be called “poetic justice.”  The person is getting what they deserve for their behavior.
There are many examples of poetic justice in the Bible: Jacob deceived Esau and Isaac, but he in turn was deceived by his Uncle Laban. Job lost everything he had, but in the end, he gained back double of what he lost. David, although promised the kingship, was initially pursued by Saul before finally being crowned the king of Israel.
But here in Esther chapter 7 God’s “poetic justice” reaches a high point – a literal high point!  Here we see Haman hanged on the very gallows he built for Mordecai. Not only does Haman get hanged on those very gallows but he makes a total fool out of himself in the process. When Esther exposed him as an adversary, a wicked, vile enemy of her people, the king left the room in a rage. Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg for his life.
He fell on the couch where Esther was reclining, but certainly he knew the law that historians point to, that no one could come within seven steps of any of the king’s concubines, much less within seven steps of the Queen. Yet as the king entered the room, enraged, there Haman was, falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
But things would get even worse for Haman. His face was covered, commonly done in the Mideast for anyone who was to be executed, and then, although he could not see the king’s eunuch, Harbona, he could hear his words, in verse 9 and 10: “Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the King, said, ‘A gallows seventy-five feet high stand by Haman's house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.’”
     The king said, ‘Hang him on it!’ So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's fury subsided.”
In an act of poetic justice, Haman built his own gallows. Or, as we might say today, he dug his own grave. That is part of what makes Esther such an interesting book. In the book of Esther, we see how God works behind the scenes to bring about His perfect and poetic justice. Even though the name of God is not mentioned one time in the book, the providence of God is written on every page. Because of God’s providential work, we see in this chapter where Haman receives poetic justice.
However, in your life and my life, is that how it goes? Do you always see God’s hand of providence on every page of your life?  Or instead of “poetic justice,” does God often seem silent as you suffer, and as you face injustice and hardship?  
That is what happened to Mordecai. Often it seemed as though God was silent. Admittedly, in this chapter, as well as in chapter 6, we see that God turned the tables on Haman. In the previous chapter we read where because the king could not sleep one night, the record of his reign was read to him, and that one seemingly insignificant act brought around a total turning of the tables and would lead to poetic justice. It was recorded there that Mordecai had spared the king’s life. He had exposed the plot of Teresh and Bigthana to assassinate the king. But before that sleepless night of King Xerxes/Ahasuerus, Mordecai must have wondered at many times, just as you might wonder at times, “Why does God seem silent when we suffer?” 
Consider how God seemed silent when the king promoted Haman. In the closing verses of chapter 2 Mordecai had exposed the plot to assassinate the king, so you might expect chapter 3 to begin with the king honoring Mordecai. But instead we read, “After these events, King Xerxes/Ahasuerus honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles” (Esther 3:1). At the time, from a human perspective, it would be logical to promote Mordecai. Yet God was not only silent but actually allowed Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to be promoted.
The same was true when Haman plotted the destruction of the Jews. Esther 3:5-6 describes how “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes/Ahasuerus.”
It was God’s people that Haman was plotting to destroy. From our view it would only make sense for the Lord to send down one sure, swift bolt of lightning to do away with Haman, or at least open the ground and swallow him up as happened to Dathan and Abiram, and many others in the Old Testament era. But instead, God was silent.
As Haman went to the king with his plot, we might think that God would intervene by using King Xerxes/Ahasuerus. We might think, “After the king hears this plot, he will realize that Haman is not worthy to be promoted. Surely the king will react.” But here again God remained silent as the king took off his signet ring – representing all the vast power and military might of the Medes and Persians – and gave the ring to Haman. He gave him “carte blanche to do whatever he wished to do with God’s people. And through it all God was silent.     
In a similar way, at the end of chapter 5, we find Haman building gallows. Not just any gallows but gallows seventy-five feet high. The height of the gallows makes it clear that Haman didn't just want to hang Mordecai. He wanted to make a spectacle out of him. He wanted all the citizens of Susa to know about, and to witness, the hanging of Mordecai. And it seemed at that point that God was again silent.
This seeming silence of God in the midst of our troubles has perplexed God’s people throughout the ages. Many of the Psalms express the feeling of the Psalmist that God has rejected His people and seems silent amid their troubles. In Psalm 74:1 Asaph asks, “Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does Your anger smolder against the sheep of Your pasture?” 
Or consider how Habakkuk felt. He begins his prophecy with these questions: “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen? Or cry out to You, “Violence!” but You do not save? Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.” (Hab. 1:2-3)
And if we are honest, we will admit that the silence of God in our lives can also be perplexing and frustrating. We face tremendous obstacles, maybe not a Haman who wants to literally hang us, but each one faces their own gallows, those tall and imposing problems that loom over us and threaten to undo us, along with the sin that torments our soul.  And so often it seems, that no matter how fervently we pray, or seek God’s face and wisdom, He remains silent. How then are we to respond to the seeming silence of our Sovereign God?
God’s Timeless Grace for Every Thorn
When God seems silent, we need to remember, first, that He is not bound by time. We see the events in our lives like so many snapshots on a Facebook page. But God sees the whole scope of the pictures of our lives. He ordained the number of days for us to live and He knows the experiences and challenges we face. The Lord sees the whole progression of your life and mine, beginning to end. He knows how everything will turn out, even what will cause our death. He knows our obituary long before it is written. And often He simply says to us, through His Word, “Wait for Lord. Be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14). And as you wait on the Lord, realize that God will give grace for every circumstance, even when He seems to be silent.
It is hard for us to comprehend just how dangerous and stressful the situation was which Esther faced as described in verse 3 and 4. Admittedly, the king had promised her up to half the kingdom, but that was a manner of speaking. She knew full well that Haman was the king’s right-hand man; he was the king’s confidant. King Xerxes/Ahasuerus and Haman had a history together, and in that history, Xerxes/Ahasuerus had always given Haman whatever he desired, even his signet ring to carry out the edict against the Jews. 
Consequently, as Esther revealed the plot against her and her people, she had no assurance that the king would side with her. Would he believe her? Or would he stick up for Haman? She certainly knew what he had done with Queen Vashti, her predecessor whom the King removed from office in a fit of anger. And he could do the same for her. He could allow Haman to take her life as the first of many Jewish lives to be annihilated.
Yet God gave her grace for the moment. Did you notice how calmly, politely, and yet succinctly she spelled out the situation to the king? She said, in verse 3 and 4, “If I have found favor 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 request. For I and 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.”
She presented the perilous situation she was in with tactful wisdom because God gave her grace and wisdom for the thorny situation she faced. And that is always the case. God doesn’t always take troubles from our lives, but He always gives sufficient grace to deal with whatever situation we face. The promise of 2 Corinthians 12:9 is given to everyone who has saving faith in Christ alone. God promised, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” That was true for Mordecai, for Esther, and for God’s people in every era of time.
Some of you may have read this poem before. It was written by a soldier who received massive and permanent injuries during the Civil War. Due to those injuries, the man lived as a crippled invalid the rest of his life, perplexed and wrestling with God’s purpose for all his problems. He wondered how God could be silent as his life was shattered, forever changed by war. As the crippled soldier’s years drew to a close, he wrote this poem:
I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
You see, God gave grace for every thorn of the soldier. He did the same for Mordecai and Esther so long ago. He did the same for the Apostle Paul and everyone else who has saving faith in Him alone. And God promises the same for you and for me. He promises grace for every thorn in your life and mine. His promise is not to always remove the thorn, but rather that His grace will be sufficient.
God Will Right All Wrongs
A second application: God will right all wrongs, just as He did with Haman. We don’t always see that. How many Christians, many kneeling before their captors in orange jumpsuits, have been beheaded by ISIS? How many Christians are persecuted and martyred every day around the world? And there does not seem to be any consequence for the actions of the persecutors. They go from one brutality to another, each more cruel and heinous than before.
And it seems as though God is silent. Yet on the last day, the great Day of Judgment, God will correct all wrongs. He will payback evil doers for all the evil they have done – unless they have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus alone for salvation. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about that. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7: “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels.”
We don’t always see the poetic justice of God played out in our world, the way Esther and Mordecai did as Haman was hanged. In fact, that is a rarity. Yet the day is most assuredly coming when the Lord will correct all wrongs and bring His righteous judgment on all those who have not repented of their sins and placed their faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
Esther and Emmaus
As we see Esther put her life on the line to spare the Jews, the Scripture also calls us to look beyond. We are to look beyond the time frame of the Medes and Persians to the Roman Empire. The Jewish leaders brought an innocent man to Pilate. They had charged Him with blasphemy, but Pilate could find no basis for a charge against Him.  
Esther was a fallible queen. She was a sinner saved by grace just like you and just like me. Yet her life, as one who delivered God's people, foreshadows and points to the life of Jesus Christ, the ultimate Redeemer, Deliverer, and Protector of His people. And He is perfect, spotless and sinless.
Yet although He was, and is, and always will be innocent – perfect, holy, righteous in every regard – He was unlawfully crucified. And His heavenly Father seemed silent. It seemed that way to those who mocked Him. They called out, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” “…He saved others; He cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.” (Matthew 27:40, 42).
It also seemed as though God was silent to those who wept and grieved, the disciples and Mary and the others with them. But it didn't only seem as though God was silent to those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It seemed that way to Jesus, too. His last words included that agonizing cry recorded in Matthew 27:46: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’”
But it was a rhetorical question. The eternal Christ knew He would be forsaken by His Father. The justice of God demands that the penalty for sin be paid. The perfect justice of the perfectly righteous God required that the curse of your sin and mine be borne. God would not be just if there was not a perfect payment for your sins and mine.
None of us could pay. Only someone perfect could bear the curse of your sin and mine. Only someone without even a shadow of sin, not even a minute trace of sin, would qualify to pay the penalty. The only One who fits that description is God Himself. Thus, to pay the penalty for your sins and mine, the eternal Christ took on human flesh. He did so with the express intent of paying the penalty for sin so that God would be, in the words of Romans 3:26, both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Haman’s death was poetic justice. He deserved exactly what he received. The death of Jesus was perfect justice, even though the innocent, righteous holy Son of God was declared guilty. It was perfect justice – not that Jesus deserved the cross – but that the perfectly just God would allow Himself to be crucified. By doing so He satisfied His own righteous requirement that the penalty for sin must be paid. And He paid the penalty, one hundred percent. Completely.
On the road to Emmaus, after His resurrection, Jesus explained to some disciples “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Yes, even Esther, without any mention of God’s name in the entire book, is pointing us to Christ. He is the only ultimate and perfect Redeemer, Protector and Deliverer of His people. 
Do you confess Him as your Redeemer from sin? Your Savior? Your Lord?  If so, you know of a deliverance far greater than the one that Esther brought about, by God’s providence, for the Jews of her day. 
Even when God seems silent you can be assured that the One who redeemed you from sin is also the One who has spoken to you in His Word. You can be assured that He is not a silent God at all, but instead inspired sixty-six books to be written for your instruction, edification and salvation. As John 20:31 puts it: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
May that describe your faith and mine, this day and always! Amen.
Sermon Outline:
So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. 
Then the king’s fury subsided. - Esther 7:10
             “Waiting for the Perfect and Poetic Justice of God”
                                               Esther 7:1-10
I. In chapter 7 we see God’s “poetic justice” as Haman is hanged on the 
    gallows he had made for Mordecai (10). However, instead of “poetic
    justice,” it often seems as though God is silent when we suffer. The
    same was true for Mordecai. Consider how God was silent when:
      1) The king promoted Haman (Esther 2:21-3:2)
      2) Haman plotted the destruction of the Jews and the king went along
           along with it (Esther 3:5-11)
      3) Haman built the gallows (Esther 5:14)
II.  Applications: 
      1) When God seems silent, remember that God is not bound by time.
           At the right time He will respond, and in the meantime He will
           give grace for every circumstance (3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:9)
      2) God will right all wrongs, just as He did with Haman (10), if not in
           this life, then at the last day (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)
      3) Esther put her life on the line to spare the Jews (3-4). Her actions
          are a shadow pointing to Jesus Christ who sacrificed His life and
          shed His blood to eternally save and secure those who have saving
          faith in Him alone (Matthew 26:28)




* 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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