Welcome to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. Today Alistair is teaching from the book of Esther, where everyone seems to be plotting and scheming, either for good or for evil.
We'll see today how God takes the plans of men and women, even in the small details, and folds them into his perfect plan. Alistair is teaching from chapter 6. Now, all I would like to do this morning is follow the storyline. So let's notice, first of all, that the king couldn't sleep. The king couldn't sleep. Secondly, we're told that the king sought advice. He sought advice.
We know this. He has done this from the very beginning. He, in a moment of pique, banishes his queen Vashti. He then doesn't sure what to do. His advisers come up with the beauty pageant, and so it goes on from there.
You can rehearse it all yourself. And so it's not surprised to us that when he discovers that nothing has been done, his first response is to say, Well, who is in the court that can actually help me with this kind of thing? That seems to be the inference, doesn't it? And the king said, Who is in the court? Two questions in a row. What has been done? Nothing. Who's in the court? Now we're told, Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king. Look.
Look what he says. And Haman is there standing in the court, verse 5, and the king said, Let him come in. So Haman came in. And the king said to him, Look at how he asked the question, What should be done for the man whom the king delights to honor? If he'd said, What should be done to Mordecai, Haman would have said, I'm glad you asked. I couldn't get up fast enough this morning, because I'll tell you what should be done to Mordecai.
He should be hanged on the gallows that we have prepared. Once again, we see that God's purpose is brought about by those whose only view is to fulfill their own purpose. Do you get that? The purpose of God is brought about by those who are only seeking to fulfill their own purpose. You see, when you read this story, it becomes apparent that God had a plan for the deliverance of his people, even though the enemies had a plan for the destruction of the people.
Isn't that right? Isn't that what we see in the unseen hand of God? That the longer we read this book, the more we realize that the activity of God is unmistakable in this, and that God has a plan for his people that he has sought to execute long before this particular threat to the welfare of his people has unfolded. It's a remarkable thought, isn't it? And it helps us so that we don't think somehow or another that God looks over the parapet of heaven, as it were, and says to himself, Dear, dear, what am I going to do now? This thing is going to get completely out of control.
No, it's not. Nothing is out of control, and nothing will be out of control. The hymn writer puts it, O loving wisdom of our God, when all was sin and shame, a second Adam to the fight and to the rescue came. God planned that. What should be done for the man whom the king delights to honor? The king couldn't sleep.
The king asked advice. Thirdly, we're told of Haman's miscalculation. And what a miscalculation it is. Notice how it begins. And Haman said to himself, Haman said to himself, a man wise in his own eyes, there's more hope for a fool.
That's what we saw last time. And so Haman is proud, and he's presumptuous. When you're proud and somebody says, you know, what should be done for the man that the king wants to honor, and you think there's nobody in the world that he would want to honor more than me, you're going to immediately assume that this must be some special package that he's put together for you. And that's exactly what he thinks. And so he outlines a plan for the exaltation of the man, not with anyone else in mind other than himself.
And it's there in verses, what, 7, 8, and 9. We needn't rehearse it again, but it's quite remarkable, isn't it? He takes it right down to the details. Not only is he going to be dressed properly, he's going to ride a royal steed that is marked by the insignia of a royal crown, but he's going to have somebody walk in front, into the square, announcing the fact. If anybody would like to know the kind of thing that the king does for those that he honors, here's an illustration of it right now. And here we gotta hurry up.
Verse 10. Then the king said to Haman, hurry! Hurry! Well, Haman had woken up hurrying. He was in a hurry when he woke up. He'd be in a hurry when he went to his bed.
So no problem for him to hurry now. And if you ever imagine, you know, we talk about somebody's jaw dropping, you know. This is the great jaw dropping of the Bible, as far as I'm concerned. And it's made all the more ironic by the way in which the king doesn't use Mordecai's name until deep into the instruction. Do you see that?
Hurry! Take the robes—got the robes—and the horse, lovely horse, as you have said—good idea, Haman—and do so to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king's gate. Are you kidding me? I know Mordecai the Jew. Of course, never pays homage to me, never stands up when I walk by. Mordecai the Jew? How do you think that felt for Haman?
If he called his wife on his cell phone, he said, hey, you're never gonna believe this. Why, what are you doing? Well, I'm walking through the public square. Actually, if you're out shopping, you might even see me. What are you walking through the public square for? Well, I've got Mordecai on a horse.
Why do you have Mordecai on a horse? He's supposed to be on the gallows. No, no, there's been a big change. A big, big change. It's gone all pear-shaped.
I mean, the thing is a mess. I mean, hang on a minute. I've got to shout again. This is what is done for the man who—I'll get back to you in a minute. Hang on. Oh, watch the horse. Would you watch the horse, please?
Yeah, you know what? We'll talk when we get home. Bye. Thanks. We're good.
Done. He didn't get up early in the morning to honor Mordecai. He got up early in the morning to hang Mordecai. Do you think they talked to one another during this little episode? What a parade. What a picture. What a performance. If I was Mordecai, I don't know if I could have kept quiet.
Right? No, shout it again, Haman. I love it when you do that. Go ahead. No. No, go do that thing about, What does the king give to the one he wants to honor? I love that.
Do it again. Well, I can't imagine what Haman was saying. The king can't sleep. The king asks for advice. Haman's dreadful miscalculation, and finally Haman's fall, is predicted. Verse 12. Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate.
I'm sure there's more in that than we have time to deal with right now. There's a sense of which the sort of humility and normalcy of the existence of Mordecai is established just in that single sentence. Then Mordecai went back to the king's gate. In other words, he didn't do what Haman had done, obviously. You know, Haman, when he came from banquet number one, couldn't wait to get home to blow his trumpet, to tell everybody, you know, how significant he was, that he was the key guy for the king, that he was the only person that Esther had invited to the feast, and so on. His whole head could hardly get in his bedroom for the size of his head.
Mordecai is paraded through the town, an unsought parade, an unsought enthronement, an unsought journey on a horse. And then he just went back and sat down where he'd always sat. There's something about routine, isn't there? There's something about just faithfulness. There's something about just doing what we do.
Doesn't seem like much. I do the funeral of elderly grandparents, and they always tell me—the kids and the grandchildren always tell me, you know, he always did this. He was always there. He used to sit here. This is where his Bible was. Mordecai went back to the king's gate. How different for Haman, who's hurrying again. He hurried to his house. Of course he hurried to his house. He didn't want anyone to see him. He covered his face, like an arrested person trying to shield themselves from the gaze of the television cameras.
He's a picture of mourning and disappointment and pain. And now he goes back to the same group of friends, to his wife Zerush and his friends, and he told them everything that had happened. Well, they've changed their tune pretty quickly, haven't they? End of chapter 5.
Whoa! I'll tell you what to do. Let's just build a gallows and hang the guy. He comes back and tells them this, and they say, Well, don't look at us.
We don't know what to do. In fact, the purposes of God will be fulfilled for his people. We've understood that. We've learned that along the way. And if this is Mordecai the Jew before whom you have begun to fall, frankly, your destiny is written.
Well, that's really the end of it. Let me just make one or two observations before we sing a final hymn. First of all, let us learn to trust God in the matter of his timing and his delays. Let us learn to trust God in the matter of his timing and of his delays.
All of God's delays, said Derek Kidner in his little commentary on the Psalms, are the maturings either of the time or the maturings of the man or the woman. So, for example, before, says the Psalmist, Psalm 119, 67, Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep your word. I used to be able just to do my thing and wander any way I wanted. But when you in your providence brought affliction, disappointment, pain, heartache, bereavement, bankruptcy into my life, before I was afflicted I just went anywhere I wanted. But now I pay attention to your word. Do you want it back as it was before?
No. Trust God in the matter of timing and details. Secondly, don't let's miss his hand in the details.
In the details. Some of us do not enjoy God in the way that we might, because we've got some kind of expectation that is neither realistic nor biblical nor any other thing. If God was really God, and he really loved me and really blessed me, then this would happen, and that would happen, and the next thing happened. Hey, listen! Did you sleep through the night? Did he awaken you today? Is your double circulatory system at work right now creating oxygenated and deoxygenated blood? Do you have renal function? Do you have neurological function? Can you blink your eyes? Can you say hello? Can you kiss your wife? Can you hug your kids?
What else do you want? Don't miss God in the tiny things! In the tiny things! The reason that some of us live impoverished lives is because we have decided what it would be really like if God were to step forward at the time that we've decided and to do what we believe is right for us to receive if it is going to be a representation of our status and our standing. Thirdly, let us, in light of this truth, bring all our doubts and all our fears and all our disappointments—whether it's our children or our future, our employment, or our lack of it, or whatever it is—just bring it all underneath this overarching truth. Which is, as we began the entire series, to keep reminding ourselves of the fact that God has an ultimate purpose, that Paul says in Ephesians 1 has been set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him, things in heaven, and things on the earth. For from him and for him and to him are all things. That changes the Sunday. It changes a Monday.
It changes the way we view things. I was sure that the verse was there, but I had to go and check. The verse I had in mind was Romans chapter 5, where Paul having outlined the condition of man and the provision of God in the condition of man is in being in rebellion against God.
In Romans chapter 5, for a while we were still weak. Here's the phrase, at the right time. At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. God is not in a hurry.
He's never late. But here's the issue. Let me end where I began. The righteous have every reason to look joyfully forward, even through tears, pain, disappointment, and regret. The expectations of the wicked have no such joy to look forward to. Haman unwillingly declared Mordecai's honor.
He wasn't happy about it. And the Bible says that on that day, when every knee will bow before Jesus Christ and declare him to be Lord, some will bow unwillingly. Some will bow rejoicing in their understanding of Jesus. Others will bow with great cries of anguish. We sing it in our hymn, don't we? A shout of joy, a cry of anguish, as Christ returns and every knee bows low. Can I say to you, can I urge upon you this fact, that you and I will stand before God, we will bow before Christ, either with great joy in the reality, in its fullness of having discovered him to be a savior and a friend, or we will cry out in anguish before him?
The Bible says so. So would you not, will you not, come bow before him now? Bow before him in right of his love and of his kindness. Because here is a king who is stripped in order that we might be robbed. Here is a king who is wounded in order that we might be healed, who is forsaken in order that we might be forgiven. Here is a king who wears a crown of thorns so that we can wear a crown that will never perish or fade away.
Is this not good news? Are you gonna live in your rags forever? The rags of your religious orthodoxy, the rags of your good works, the rags of your, while I'm not as bad as you are to see our next-door neighbor, the rags of whatever it might be? Or the rags of your sinful sadness, clutching them to yourself with no hope for today and only fear for tomorrow, and the love of God towards you in Jesus would draw you to himself?
That's what this is all about at the end of the day. Can I ask you, have you ever exchanged your rags for a robe? You may today. You just say, Jesus, look, I've been wearing this stuff and resting in this stuff, and I'm giving it to you. Now I know you promised me a robe. I don't deserve a robe.
But I'll take it if you're giving it. You ever done that? That's what it means to be converted. That's what it means to be saved. That's what it means to be born again.
That's what it means to become a Christian. Well, I leave it with you. But I have one final thought. The focus here is all on these people, right? We've got Mordecai, we've got Haman, we've got King Aswares, we've got various people.
So the camera angle is in really narrow. Meanwhile, life is going on in the community, right? People are getting up, they're going to their work, they're meeting each other for the equivalent of coffee, they're talking about the news, and somebody says to his friend, Do you think anybody knows what's going on in this kingdom? The friend said, What are you talking about? He said, Well, I read the newspaper.
It seems like total chaos to me. I mean, take the king, for example. It's not a few months since the headline in the local newspaper—in fact, it was throughout the entire kingdom—it said, We're going to annihilate the entire population of the Jews.
But did you see the little article on page two yesterday? His friend says, No. What was that? Well, Mordecai, you know, the wee guy that sits at the king's gate, apparently he was riding all around the place on the king's horse, dressed up, and the horse had a crown on. His friend says, What's that all about?
Oh, and let me tell you something else. Haman—you know, the guy with the big head and the big mouth? Haman, he was leading him around. Apparently, Mordecai is the new man. Mordecai is exalted. But wait a minute, I thought you said the Jews were to be annihilated. Yeah, that's right.
And Mordecai the Jew is exalted. Does anybody know what's going on around here? So the guy says, Well, you know what? I'm gonna tell you something. That king is a vacillator.
One minute he says this, the next minute he says that. I don't know if he even has a plan. I don't even know if the plan is workable. I don't even know if he's competent for the job. I don't know what is gonna happen to us in this place.
Got a real contemporary ring to it, doesn't it? What is the answer? The answer is right here in the book of Esther. To acknowledge that God knows exactly what he's doing. He exalts who he chooses to exalt.
He uses the freedoms, the foolishness, the sins of our feeble humanity in order to bring about his plan from all of eternity so that all things may be united in heaven and under heaven, on the earth and under the earth. I wonder, do you believe that? Do you believe that in a way that you just believe it for yourself?
In your own car, in your own bedroom, just trust in God? I hope so. And I hope if you don't, that God in his mercy will spare you for another day so that if you hear his voice, you won't harden your heart. That is an impassioned plea from Alistair Begg urging each one of us to trust in God while we still can. You're listening to Truth for Life.
Alistair, we'll be back in just a moment to close today's program. It is a lot easier to trust a best friend than to trust a stranger, to trust someone we know intimately rather than a person who we only know through their resume. The same is true with God. The more we know him, the easier it becomes to trust him. That's why we teach the Bible every day here at Truth for Life. Our prayer is that God's spirit will work through the daily teaching you hear on this program to deepen his relationship with all who listen and to strengthen Bible teaching churches all around the world. In addition to teaching from the Bible, we also carefully select books to help you dive deeper into a particular topic. The book we're recommending to you today is perfect for you and your children to read together in anticipation of Easter. This is a two-week devotional.
It's called Darkest Night, Brightest Day. This book walks your entire family through the events of Jesus' last days on earth, from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem all the way through the crucifixion, his ascension into heaven, and the events of Pentecost. You'll enjoy reading these short, colorfully illustrated stories together.
And by the way, the stories are taken directly from Scripture. There are a few questions at the end of each day's reading that will prompt your school-aged children to think about the lessons learned from Jesus' death and resurrection. Now, we're only offering this family Easter devotional for a few more days. You can request your copy of the book Darkest Night, Brightest Day today when you give a donation.
To support the teaching you hear on Truth for Life, go to truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. Now, here's Alistair to close today with prayer. O God, our Father, look upon us. In your grace and kindness we pray you know us. Grant to us the enabling of the Holy Spirit so that our hard hearts may be softened and our dull eyes may be able to see. And help us to bow down underneath your sovereign rule, acknowledging you to be a good God, entirely reliable, even through our sadness and our disappointment, our shortcomings, and our rebellions. For we pray in your Son's name. Amen.
I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. There are some people who prefer to live as secret disciples. Eventually, though, there's a day that comes when every person has to step forward and declare their faith. Tomorrow we'll hear what happened at Queen Esther's big reveal. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
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