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Esther 5-7, the Quiet Hand of God – West Palm Beach Church of Christ


The decree has been made by Haman that all the Jewish people will be destroyed, killed, and annihilated in one day at the end of the year (3:13). Mordecai found out about this decree and told Esther that this is her moment to do something. You are not in the palace by accident and maybe God put you there so that you could save the people from destruction. Now Esther has not been summoned by the king. There is one law for anyone who decides to come into the king’s presence without being called: death. The only way to avoid death is if the king extends his gold scepter. Esther seems to be out of favor with the king because he has not called for her for a month. But she is going to put her life into God’s hands and go before the king to beg for the life of her people. The Jewish people are fasting for three days as she prepares to make her request. Open your copies of God’s word to Esther 5 and we will see the quiet hand of God working in these dark circumstances.

Preparing For Deliverance (5:1-14)

We are told it is now the third day. The third day not only marks the end of the people fasting for their lives, but also is used as a metaphor throughout the scriptures for the time of deliverance. Abraham goes to offer his son on the third day (Genesis 22:4). Jacob escapes from Laban on the third day (Genesis 31:22). Jonah is three days and nights in the belly of the great fish as deliverance from drowning (Jonah 1:17). Hosea proclaims that God’s rescue of the people will come on the third day (Hosea 6:2). So we are left with a foreshadowing hope of deliverance to come. Esther puts on her royal robes and enters the inner court.

When the king saw Queen Esther standing in his court, she again wins favor in the king’s sight. It is the same word used when Joseph gained favor with Potiphar (Genesis 39:4) and the keeper of the prison (Genesis 39:21). Esther finds favor with the king and he extends his gold scepter toward her. She walks up and touches the scepter, a sign of acceptance and thanks for the king’s favor. For Esther to come in without being summoned indicated to the king that there was something that she wanted. So he asks her to tell him her request. He even says, “It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” The point is not that he would really give her half of his kingdom. The point is that you go ahead and make any request and I will give it to you for you have found favor in my eyes. But it is interesting with this request that she does not just blurt out the problem and the decree that has been given regarded the annihilation of the Jews. Instead, she wants to seek more of the king’s favor and simply asks the king to come to a banquet that she is preparing. But she does not merely invite the king. She also wants Haman to come to. So she is working a plan that we are waiting to see unfold.

So the king and Haman go to Queen Esther’s banquet. But the king is not naive to think that the only purpose of her risking her life to see him was so that he could be invited to a feast. So the king asks Esther again what she wants and he will grant it (5:6). Esther says that if she has found favor in his eyes, then let us have another banquet tomorrow. Then at tomorrow’s feast she says she will make her request to the king (5:7-8).

Haman leaves the banquet absolutely thrilled. He has been invited twice to this exclusive banquet. No one else has been there but him and the king. But when Haman sees Mordecai, he is filled with wrath because Mordecai still did not stand up or tremble before him. But he restrains himself and does nothing to Mordecai. So Haman tells all of his friends and his wife about what a great day he had and how this is going to happen again tomorrow. He tells them how the king honored him above all the other officials and servants. But look at verse 13. None of this satisfies him because he sees Mordecai the Jew sitting the gate every time. His wife has a solution. Build a pole 75 feet high and have the king impale Mordecai on it. Then go to the banquet and enjoy yourself. Haman loves this advice and goes about having the pole constructed. This will be an execution for the whole city to see, which is the purpose of having a pole so tall.

But I want us to see one more thing before we leave this chapter. Does this sound familiar that Haman can have no joy because of his circumstances because of this one person? This has a parallel to King Ahab who is so upset that he cannot have a vineyard. So his wife’s plan is to kill the man who owns the vineyard. Here we see Haman’s wife with the same advice. Just kill the man causing you trouble and then you can be happy. How sad is it that we cannot be happy when things are going well in our lives but there is this one little problem that ruins everything? We cannot see all our blessings and all our good in our lives because we are focused on this one thing that is not going the way that we want. How sad that we do this! Look at what you have! Stop looking at what you do not have. But Haman cannot and so another evil plan is hatched. Not only does Haman desire the extermination of all the Jews but he is going to get Haman killed tomorrow. A hopeless situation appears to be even more hopeless.

The Quiet Hand of God (6:1-14)

As we come to chapter 6, it just so happens that the king is unable to sleep. There is no better way to get sleepy than to have a servant read you the book of memorable deeds regarding the empire. So he is going to listen to all the great things he has done during his reign. It turns out that in the record we have the work of Mordecai, who saved the king from assassination from his two personal guards. The king asks what honor or recognition was given to Mordecai. The answer is that nothing had been done for him (6:3).

No sooner has this answer been given that Haman walks in with his plan to have Mordecai impaled. So the king asks what should be done for the man that the king delights to honor (6:6). Haman, in his arrogance, thinks that there is no doubt that the king is talking about him. So he says that the king should have the royal robe brought, put on this individual, have him ride on the king’s horse in the square of the city, with the one pulling the horse proclaiming, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” The king loves the idea and tells Haman to go do all this for Mordecai (6:10). Rather than getting Mordecai impaled, Haman has Mordecai honored by his own words.

After he does this for Mordecai, Haman rushes home and covers his head in grief over what he had to do.  Nothing could have been more deplorable for Haman to do than this. Haman tells his wife all that just happened. Listen to what his wife says about all of this. “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him — you will surely come to ruin!” Notice the key point she makes: you cannot stand against the people of God. You will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him. No one can stop or change what is going to happen, not even the most powerful king in the empire or in the world. This even foreshadows the words of Pilate’s wife who tells him to have nothing to do with this righteous person because she had suffered much because of a dream she had (cf. Matthew 27:19). But there is no time to reverse course at this point. The king’s eunuchs arrive to take Haman to today’s banquet.

When God Reverses (7:1-10)

Chapter 7 places us at the feast with the king and Haman. So the king now asks Queen Esther again what her request is. Now she finally reveals her request. Esther asks that her life be spared and the lives of her people be spared because she and her people have been sold to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated. The king is outraged by this news and demands to know who the man is who has done such a thing. Esther responds that an adversary has done this. An enemy has done this horrible deed. This vile Haman is the one who did this! Can you see the color just go out of Haman’s body as Esther says this?

The king gets up in a rage and steps into his garden. Haman now must scramble to figure out what he is going to do. If he runs out to the king, he is likely doomed. If he runs away, he is certainly doomed. His only hope is to plead to the queen for his life. But as Haman begins pleading with the queen, he falls on the couch where Esther was. At this moment the king returns from the garden only to see Haman in what looks like he has assaulted his queen. The guards immediately cover Haman’s face and take him away. Verse 9 proclaims the great reversal. One of the eunuchs tells the king that a pole reaching 75 feet high was built by Haman’s house to impale Mordecai. The king commands for Haman to be hung on that very pole. The king took the signet ring that he had given to Haman and now gives it to Mordecai (8:2). Mordecai is also appointed over Haman’s estate (8:2).

Application

What I want us to see in this text is the quiet, moving hand of God. Mordecai was sentenced to death. But instead of death, he is raised to life and his enemy is destroyed. The signet ring is taken from Haman and given to Mordecai. The enemy is made to proclaim the greatness of Mordecai. All through these chapters we see what appeared to be hopelessness and doom be reversed into hope and greatness.

It looked like all hope was lost for Mordecai. But did you see the quiet hand of God moving throughout the events? Through a simple series of common events, God rescued Mordecai and had Haman impaled on his own pole. Two simple feasts given by Esther, a sleepless night by a king, an arrogant and vengeful Haman all worked together for the rescue of Mordecai. Simple, seemingly insignificant events began working together for the rescue of Mordecai.

Do you see that same thing happening with Jesus for our rescue? We were under the sentence of death. We were the ones under the penalty of death with no light and no hope. But God sends his Son. He is hung on the cross and he is not going to come down so that he can save us. Darkness appears to be swallowing up the light when Jesus dies on the cross. The two on the road to Emmaus thing that all hope was lost. They thought that he was the one who would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). It looked like everything had failed. But on the third day Jesus rose from the dead. The rejected stone became the chief cornerstone. Isaiah prophesied, “When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring and shall prolong his days” (Isaiah 53:10). Now you can look at all the events in Jesus’ life and see that it was all pointing to God’s great reversal. The quiet hand of God was moving as Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tried, convicted, crucified, and resurrected. It was all God moving the pieces to accomplish his will.

Friends, we can also live courageously because we see the quiet hand of God. We see the reversal happen in the life of Esther. She goes from the bottom to the top by God’s power and plan. We can see the reversal happen in the life of Mordecai. He goes from sentenced to death to given life by God’s power and plan. We can see the reversal happen in the life of Haman. He goes from the top to the bottom. He goes from second in charge to impaled on a pole by God’s power and plan. We see the reversal in the life of Jesus. He humbled himself, gives himself to death, and God raises him up and exalts him to the highest place. Do you believe that God can reverse your life as well? Do you see that God reverses fortunes and changes the condition of those who belong to him? Let me end by bringing this idea into the New Testament so you can see how God is working to reverse your life also. Turn to Ephesians 2.

The first great reversal for your life is found in the first ten verses of Ephesians 2. You were dead. But God who is rich in mercy has made you alive and saved you by grace. This is game changing reversal that has occurred. We were doomed and dead and now we have hope and life. But there is a second great reversal that is declared in this text. Look at verse 10. You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them. You are God’s work. You are God’s creation. You have been made to do good works as God’s workmanship. You have been made by God for a particular purpose.

You may say, “I don’t see the reversal.” Look back to verses 1-3. What was your life? Your life was following the ways of the world. Your life was following the ruler of this world. Your life was gratifying the cravings of our flesh. Your life was following your desires and your thoughts. Your life was a life of self-destruction and ruin. But God reverses this if you will come to him. You were not created for self-destruction. You were created to be God’s handiwork. You were made for his purpose. Your life has not only reversed its spiritual condition when you belong to Jesus, but you life also reverses its purpose now. Your life does not have to be waste. Your life does not have to be futile. Your life does not have to stay damaged and wrecked. God wants you to let him change you as someone who does good works for him, bearing his image in the world around us. God is not done changing people. God is not done reversing conditions. God is still at work in our lives if we will simply look for the quiet, invisible hand of God.



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