Esther

 

PSALM 33:10-22 NIV  The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.

From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on the earth- he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

"In HIM our hearts rejoice, for we trust in HIS holy name."

Our hearts can only truly rejoice when we trust in HIS holy name. It is only then, that we know HIS exceeding great power. Only when we need HIM and believe HIM, do we see HIM work out HIS own purposes.

At times we may look at another's position or ability and think that they are successfully accomplishing their own pursuits. However, it may be that their very position or ability is "predestinated according to the purpose of HIM who worketh all things after the counsel of HIS own will". A wonderful example of this is shown us in the life of a lady by the name of Esther. Of the vast Persian Empire of 127 provinces, it was written;

ESTHER 2:17  And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

How Esther arrived at this honored position is a Cinderella story. King Ahasuerus was furious with his queen, Vashti, therefore a beauty pageant was to be held throughout all the land to find a replacement. Esther was, of course, entered and eventually won and became queen instead of Vashti.

A necessary note is that through it all she obtained kindness (ESTHER 2:9), and she obtained favor (ESTHER 2:15), and she obtained grace and favor (ESTHER 2:17). She may have been similar to many other women of the Empire, but HIS grace made her special. Thus she was able to beat out all the competition and become queen. That, however, was not the end GOD had prepared her for. No, HE gave her to be queen for HIS own purpose, and that story is even more fascinating than how she became queen.

We begin with the purpose of Satan in overthrowing GOD's people. The Adversary always had his man opposing GOD's man, and so it was with the story of Haman and Mordecai. Mordecai was Queen Esther's uncle, who both were Jews. It was Mordecai who just happened to overhear of a plot on the king's life and told it to his niece Esther. The assassins were found out and hanged on a tree, but Mordecai's good deed for the time being seemed forgotten.

Then we are introduced to Haman, the Jews enemy.

ESTHER 3:1,2,5,6  After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him.

But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence... And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

Behind the curtain, and hidden from view, Satan's desire was always to cut off the Red Thread, the line of descent from Eve through David even to the Redeemer Himself. It was his purpose to prevent, or at least hinder the coming of the promised Messiah. He was not only willing to destroy the seed, but a whole people if necessary to thwart GOD's redemptive plan for mankind. His pawn here was Haman who thought he was doing his own will, just as Satan thought he was doing his. But both would only show the manifold wisdom of GOD.

ESTHER 3:8-10  And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.

If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy.

The Jews enemy, and so he was the enemy of GOD.

ESTHER 3:13-14  And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.

On a single day all of the Jews were to be rounded up and killed.

ESTHER 4:1  When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry.

Not only would Mordecai be killed to Haman's pleasure, but also all of Mordecai's people. All this because Mordecai "bowed not, nor did him reverence". Mordecai "cried with a loud and a bitter cry".

Esther heard of Mordecai's cry and sent her attendant, Hatach to see what was wrong.

ESTHER 4:6-11  So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate. And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them.

Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people. And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.

Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai; All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

Sure, Esther wanted to help her uncle as well as all the rest of her people, but there was an obstacle in her path. If anyone appeared before the king not being summoned, they were to be killed on the spot. That is, "except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre". And even if the king allowed her to live long enough to speak, could she persuade him against his top man Haman? Dare she risk all she had gained as queen on such a dangerous venture?

ESTHER 4:12-14  And they told to Mordecai Esther's words. Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Mordecai reminded her that she herself was a Jew and she and her family was also subject to this slaughter. But he believed even if she didn't make intercession to the king for her people, "deliverance would arise...from another place". Yet why else would GOD have placed her in such a unique position "for such a time as this"?

ESTHER 4:15-16  Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

To have such faith as hers; "if I perish, I perish". She must have already realized GOD's grace which had brought her to the king's house. Now perhaps she was realizing HIS unfolding purpose for her. That's no doubt the only way she could have decided to make a committed stand against this powerful man Haman.

If the king allowed her to speak, her plan for winning judgment against Haman was elaborate. I expect that as GOD worked within her to devise and develop the plan, her confidence in carrying it out grew.

ESTHER 5:2-8  And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said.

So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is; If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.

To sight it would appear that Esther had missed a perfect opportunity to confront Haman. Yet where sight rules there is no faith, and where faith rules, sight doesn't. She invited the two of them to another banquet where she promised to make her petition known. What was Haman to think of all this? Surely he must be highly favored by the queen. Why else would she invite only him to set with her and the king. He knew not that she was a Jew herself, and more dangerously, he knew not that she was Mordecai's niece.

ESTHER 5:9-14  Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.

Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king.

Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.

Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.

What a grand plan Haman's wife and friends had given him. Hang Mordecai from a seventy five-foot tall gallows before the banquet tomorrow! Yet tomorrow is when Esther is to plead her case before the king. Yes, but tonight, this night GOD was already at work.

ESTHER 6:1-3  On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.

Isn't that something?! The king couldn't sleep. Why couldn't he sleep? Why did he decide to read the book of records? Why was the record of Mordecai's good deed read that night of all nights? Because GOD "worketh all things after the counsel of HIS own will!"

And not only did all this happen just a few hours before Esther's banquet, but look who just happened to drop by at that very moment.

ESTHER 6:4-9  And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows he had prepared for him. And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court.

And the king said, Let him come in. So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?

And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: and let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.

Ever see anyone stick their foot in their mouth as big as Haman just did. Perhaps he thought in his heart that this was the sign that the king would grant his request to hang Mordecai. How do you suppose he will feel when he realizes the great honor he designed for himself would be given to his hated enemy, by his own hand?!

ESTHER 6:10-14  Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.

Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus it shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.

And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.

"While they were yet talking with him!" What incredible timing GOD has. I'm sure Haman is beginning to realize that even his plans are being over-ruled and surely something horrible is about to befall him.

ESTHER 7:1-10  So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.

Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.

Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so? And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.

Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.

And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.

Isn't GOD amazing?! And there is a lesson here for us today. What one sows, he reaps. What goes around, comes around. The goodness of Mordecai in warning the king eventually turned into his own salvation while the evil of Haman consumed him.

The king put Mordecai in Haman's place and reversed the order to have the Jews killed. Once again, with all the odds stacked against HIM, HIS good and acceptable and perfect will is accomplished.

Let us have the confidence that as we pursue GOD's purpose for our lives, we can be assured that behind the scenes GOD is at work.