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Haman and his Gallows - Esther Part 3

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
July 15, 2021 7:00 am

Haman and his Gallows - Esther Part 3

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

Now, I want to begin this morning with a question.

Here's my question. As followers of Christ in the everyday ebb and flow of life, what is the toughest kind of problem that we face? You know, the kind of problem that most tempts us to act in ways that are un-Christlike.

Well, I can tell you what the answer is for me. For me, it's when people do really rotten stuff to me. You know, cheap stuff, ungodly stuff, unrighteous stuff, just treacherous, nasty, slimy stuff. You know what I'm talking about, right?

Yeah, I mean, my problem is, do I lower myself and go down to these people's level to pursue revenge and retaliation against them, or is there some better way, some higher way that the Lord wants me to handle all this? Well, this is what we're going to talk about today. Remember, we're in a four-part series on the book of Esther, and in part one, we talked about how God knows what He's doing. You knew what He was doing with Esther. He knows what He's doing with you and me. In part two, we talked about the centrality of obeying God as a follower of Christ.

And if you missed either one of those messages, I want to urge you to go to the bookstore and pick up the CD or go online and download it from our website and kind of catch up with us. But today in part three, we're going to talk about how God tells us as followers of Christ to react when people do rotten, awful stuff to us. So we're ready to start, but let's do a little background first.

Let's make sure we're all up to speed. There's some things we've seen so far in the book of Esther. Number one, we've seen that the book of Esther occurs during the reign of King Xerxes of Persia when the Persian Empire was the largest empire on the face of the earth and virtually every Jewish person alive lived in the Persian Empire. Number two, we saw how in God's mighty sovereignty, He knew ahead of time what was going to come against the Jewish people. And so ahead of time, He put into place a plan of deliverance for them by having the king, King Xerxes, fall in love with a young Jewish girl named Esther and make her his queen.

But he didn't know that she was Jewish. Number three, we saw that the trouble then began when Esther's foster father, a fellow named Mordecai, refused to bow down to the new prime minister, a fellow named Haman. Haman was so enraged by this that he set out to destroy not only Mordecai, but the entire Jewish people to annihilate them out of the Persian Empire. Number four, we saw that King Xerxes agreed to Haman's plan, unaware, of course, that the very queen herself was Jewish. And finally, number five, we saw that when Haman's plot became public, Queen Esther decided to risk her life and go in and see the king uninvited to plead for the life of her people.

So we're all up to speed. We're ready to go, except we need to go back real quickly to Esther chapter 2 and pick up one little fact that we skipped over, but that's going to play a very important part in the events we're going to look at today. Esther chapter 2 verse 21 says, Hold on to that.

We're coming back to it. So here we go, Esther chapter 5 verse 1. On the third day, that is the third day after Esther found out about Haman's plan, Esther put on her royal robes and went into the inner court of the king. And when the king saw her standing in the court, he was pleased with her and he extended to her the golden scepter, the golden wand that was in his hand. Now remember, Esther had told Mordecai that to approach the king uninvited meant certain death unless he took this golden wand, this golden scepter and extended it to you, which is exactly by God's grace what he did to Esther. Verse 3, Then the king asked, What is it, Queen Esther?

What is your request? Even up to half of the kingdom it will be given to you. And Esther replied, If it pleases the king, let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for you. Now let me summarize what happens next. The king and Haman show up to this banquet that the queen has for them, and the queen says to the king, Well, I'm not going to tell you tonight what I really want, but I got a second banquet I'm throwing for the two of you tomorrow night, and if you come to the second banquet, I'll tell you what I want then. You say, Well, Lon, why didn't you just tell him the first night?

I mean, they were there. What is she doing? Why does she want to have a second banquet?

Well, friends, how do I know? I don't have the slightest idea. Maybe she liked to cook.

I mean, who knows? I don't know why the woman wanted a second banquet. That's just what happened.

Okay? Now, verse 9, Then Haman went out that day happy and pleased in his heart. But when he passed Mordecai at the king's gate, and Mordecai didn't tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai.

Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. And he said to his wife, He said, I, he said to her, Am the only person Queen Esther invited to the banquet she gave. And what's more, she invited me again with the king tomorrow. But all of this gives me no satisfaction, he says to his wife, as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate.

So his wife said, Well, I got some advice for you. Have a gallows built overnight tonight, 75 feet high. You say, My gosh, why was it so high? Well, so that the whole city could see the hanging. And in the morning, I asked the king to have Mordecai hanged on it, then go with the king to the banquet and be happy. And this advice delighted Haman. So he had the gallows built. Now let's stop here and say that at this moment in time, Haman looked utterly invincible. I mean, he had power, he had the clout, he had the inside influence with the king, his determination was unflappable. Just like the people who often are mistreating us sometimes look like that they are utterly invincible. But friends, even though things look very bleak for the Jews right at this moment, let's never forget what our good friend Yogi Berra said, What did he say?

It ain't over till it's over. That's right, because suddenly, into this hopeless looking situation comes the hand of Almighty God. Watch this chapter six, verse one. That night, that is the night between banquet number one and banquet number two, the king couldn't sleep. Maybe it was the hammering on the gallows over at Haman's house that kept him up.

I don't know. So he ordered the Book of the Chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. And just by God's amazing sovereignty, it was found recorded there. The section they read to him, it was found recorded how Mordecai had exposed the two officers who had conspired to assassinate the king. Remember what we read back in chapter two?

Okay. So the king asked, What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this, for saving my life? And his servants answered, Well, nothing's been done for him.

King, you never told us to do anything. So when Haman entered the next morning... Now remember why Haman's there. Haman's there to get permission to hang Mordecai. Remember.

Okay. When Haman entered the next morning, the king asked him, What should be done for the man whom the king delights to honor? And Haman thought to himself, Well, whom would the king delight to honor more than me? And so every fantasy that Haman has ever had, he brings out and he drops on the king. He says, Oh, king, you need to get your royal robes, the ones you yourself have worn, and you need to get your crown, and you need to get your horse and put this man, the robes on him and the crown on him and put him on your own horse. And then you need to have some high official leading through the city announcing, This is the man that the king is happy to honor, being certain, of course, that all this was going to be done for him.

Verse 10. So the king said to Haman, Go at once and get my robe and my horse and do everything you've just suggested for Mordecai the Jew. How funny is this? So Haman did this, leading Mordecai personally. Do you understand what happened here? Haman had to lead the horse through the city announcing, This is what's done for the man whom the king delights to honor.

Haman rushed home with his head covered in grief. Is this hysterical or what? It is. Oh, my gosh. You guys don't think this is hysterical? What's wrong with you?

I think this is absolutely hysterical. Okay, good. Hey, but you know what? Hold on. Things are about to go from bad to worse for old Haman. Verse 14, Chapter six. Then the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to banquet number two that Esther had prepared. And as they were at the second banquet, the king asked again, Queen Esther, What is your request? Then the queen answered, If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases the king, please grant me my life and spare my people.

For I and my people have been marked for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. Then King Xerxes asked her, Where is the man who would dare do something like this? Well, where was he? He's sitting there at dinner.

Yeah. And so Esther said, The adversary and the enemy is this wicked man, Haman, sitting right over there. Then Haman became terrified before the king and the queen. Now we have to remember, up to this very moment, Xerxes did not know Queen Esther was Jewish.

What's worse for him? Haman didn't know it either. Well, the king left the room, the Bible says, to go out and walk around his garden and just ponder this and think, What is going on here? While he was out, Haman turned to Esther to beg for his life.

Verse eight, Chapter seven. And just as the king was returning, Haman was falling on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining to beg for mercy. Then the king exclaimed, Will this man even molest the queen while she's with me in my own house?

Man, oh, man of Shevitz, boy, things are just going from bad to worse for this guy, and God is seeing to it. Then one of the king's servants said, Behold, there's a gallows king, 75 feet high, standing outside Haman's house. He had it built last night for Mordecai, who, oh, by the way, was the man who spoke up and saved your life.

You remember that fellow? And then the king said, Hang Haman on it. So one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Esther 7, verse 10. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. You say, Lon, what's the bottom line here?

What's the point? The point is, and I want us all to see this, that God took Haman's evil scheme and He turned it right back on Haman's own head. Do we all see that? Okay, good. Now, that's as far as we're going to go in our passage, because it's time now to ask our most important question. And everybody knows what it is, so all of you folks out at Loudoun and Prince William and Bethesda and down in the edge and around the world on the Internet here at Tysons, are we ready? We're ready. All right, here we go now. Come on, one, two, three. Yeah. You say, Lon, so what? You say, You're right.

This is a really cool story and God bless Mordecai. But what difference does any of this make to me? 75 foot gallows, who cares? What differences make to me? Well, it makes a lot of difference.

Let's talk about it. You know, when I was a student at UNC Chapel Hill, I took up judo and I learned that judo is based on a very interesting principle. The essential principle of judo is that you use your enemy's own momentum against them.

In other words, you let your enemy provide the inertia and then you use that very inertia to flip them. Now, the Bible tells us that God loves to do this very same thing, that God loves to perform spiritual judo, if you will, on people who seek to hurt his sheep. He loves to let these people provide all the ungodly momentum and all the evil inertia. And then God loves to flip flop their actions, just like he did with Haman. The Bible is full of examples of this.

Let's look at a few. Like Joseph's brothers who sold him into slavery to keep him from ruling over them. And God flip flopped their betrayal and used it to accomplish that very thing. Like in the case of Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea where Pharaoh had them trapped and was going to drown them in the Red Sea. But God flip flopped that and drowned Pharaoh's army in the very Red Sea that he was planning to drown Moses and the Israelites in. Like Daniel's political enemies who used his prayer life to get him thrown in the lion's den. But God flip flopped that and saved Daniel out of the lion's den and then had King Nebuchadnezzar throw all the enemies in. And finally, how about the Jews of Jerusalem, Acts chapter 21, who plotted and schemed to get the apostle Paul thrown in jail.

Why? So they could shut him up. So he'd stop preaching the gospel.

And when they got him in jail, they went, okay, man, we're never seeing that guy again. Well, what did God do? God flip flopped that and ended up using that to send Paul to Rome where he got a chance to share the gospel with the Emperor Nero himself and all his elite Praetorian guard. The point is that God loves to turn the schemes of the schemers back on their own heads. Listen to what the Bible says. Psalm 7 verse 15. He who digs the hole and scoops it out will fall into the very pit he has made. His mischief will return on his own head and his violence will descend on his own forehead. Psalm 9 verse 16. The wicked will be ensnared by the schemes of his own hands and his foot will be caught in the very net that he is hidden for somebody else. Proverbs chapter 5 verse 22. His own sins will capture the wicked and he will be ensnared by the cords of his own wrongdoing. And finally, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Proverbs 26, 27. He who digs the pit will fall in it and he who tries to roll a stone on somebody else, that stone will roll back on him. Now folks, this is simply a part of the way that God is. It's just part of who God is.

And God doing this for his children is as predictable and as dependable as any law of Newtonian physics. Now, let's talk about us. Huh? Let's bring all of this forward and talk about you and me. Let's say that just about every follower of Jesus Christ that I've ever met has had or does have a Haman in their life. Maybe it's a relative or a teacher. Maybe it's a co-worker or a neighbor. Maybe it's an ex-boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend or an ex-husband or an ex-wife or your supervisor at work or somebody at school. People who are just out to get us.

People who just don't like us and people who enjoy hurting us. And they will use to hurt us. They'll use gossip. They'll use lies. They'll use betrayal. They'll use backbiting.

They'll use deceit and scheming and every kind of mean and nasty behavior known to man. Almost every one of us has somebody like this in our life. Hey, one of my worst was a guy named Roger. When I was a student in seminary, I worked for three years for giant food as a cashier. And Roger was my manager. And for the three years I was there, he made my life a living nightmare. For example, if I would ask for Saturday night off so that I could take Brenda out for dinner and a movie, he would purposely schedule me 4 p.m. to midnight on purpose.

And he found hundreds of other ways to make my life miserable there at giant food. And so I went to him one day and I said, Roger, I said, have I done something wrong? Have I offended you in some way? I mean, is there something I need to apologize for and try to make right? And he said to me, no. He said, I just don't like you. He said, and the only thing you can apologize for is being you. Well, that's kind of tough to fix that.

I mean, how do you fix that? And so this man was smart, though. He had a strategy.

His strategy was I can't fire this kid because of the union unless he does something horrible. But I can make his life so miserable that he'll want to quit. Well, I would like to say that thanks to the grace of God for the three years I was there, Roger never made me quit. But I got to tell you this.

Nobody I have ever met has tried harder to make my life miserable than Roger did. Now, this kind of person, I think, represents a real challenge for us as followers of Christ, because our natural inclination, our fleshly inclination is to retaliate against these people, to beat these people at their own games, to go down and mud wrestle with these people. But friends, as followers of Christ, when we do this, we cheapen ourselves and we damage our reputation and we bring dishonor to the name of Christ. You know what I love to say?

The only thing that happens when we mud wrestle with people is that everybody gets mud on them. You say, well, OK, Lon, so what then am I supposed to do? Well, God tells us in the Bible how He wants us to handle this. He says Romans 12 17, Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Now, listen, the Bible is not talking here about exercising our legal rights when someone has done something criminal or illegal against us using the judicial system of America. That's not what God's talking about. He's talking about taking personal revenge. Verse 19, Never take your own personal revenge, the Bible says, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord. So, Paul says, if your enemy is hungry, feed him.

If he's thirsty, give him something to drink. For by doing this you will be heaping up burning coals on his head. You say, I don't get that.

What does that mean? Well, it means that as a follower of Christ that we don't need to lower or cheapen or demean ourselves by stooping down to these other people's evil level. We don't need to go down and mud wrestle with them. We can turn them over to the Lord in the sure and certain confidence that by doing that God will repay.

That's what he said. I will repay. And that God will pour burning coals on their heads.

You and I don't have to do a thing. And how can we be so sure this is going to happen? Well, because friends, God has promised us this. In Psalm 9, God promised he would catch these people in their own nets. In Proverbs 5, God promised that he would ensnare these people in the cords of their own wrongdoing. In Psalm 7, God promised that their mischief would return on their own head. And in Proverbs 26, God promised that the stone that they're trying to roll on you is going to end up rolling back on them. Folks, these are the solemn promises of God and you can take them to the bank.

I love what A. W. Tozer said. He said, and I quote, Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense and he will have no other. But let him live defenselessly before the Lord and he will have as his defender no less than the living God himself. You say, well, Lon, so is God asking me just to let these people get away with what they've done to me and what they're doing to me? No, friends, that's not what God is asking you. What God is asking you and me is for us to keep ourselves clean.

What God is asking us is to keep our personal testimony unsullied and for us to let him handle whatever payback is due these people. Now it takes longer to do it this way because we want these people paid back now. In fact, if it was really up to us, we would have liked to see them paid back yesterday. Right?

Yes. God doesn't always pay people back as fast as we want. But friends, God always does it. And you know what? I've learned when God decides it's time for payback.

You saw what he did to Haman. He moves quick. He moves fast.

He moves decisively. It is scary how fast God moves when God's ready. Well, we need to wait for that. But I promise you, if God says he will repay, he will repay. And let me just say in closing that the problem with carrying anger and retaliatory thoughts against these people who have hurt us is that it puts us in prison. It puts us in bondage. I mean, we walk around all day long just chewing on these people in our hearts and in our minds.

You know, we're just like, get your rug, your rug. And every time we think of them, every time we see them, every time somebody mentions their name, folks, we're in bondage. And part of the reason God wants us to turn them over to him and turn the payback over to him is not only will he do a much better job than you, and not only will he righteously decide what ought to be paid back and what ought not to be paid back, but even more than that, friends, he'll liberate you from being in bondage to this person and what they've done to you and set you free so you can look at them, talk about them, think about them, and go, you know what, they're not my problem. I gave them to God. They're God's problem. God will deal with them. I'm going on with my life here.

I'm free. I'm free of them. Friends, listen, God knows what he's doing here. I promise you, if you do it God's way when all the dust settles and God has moved like he did on Haman in judgment, you'll be able to stand there and say, I didn't do anything. I'm completely clean.

I didn't lift a finger against this person. You know, God did it and I have nothing to do with it. Do it God's way.

I promise you, for every reason, you'll be glad you did. Let's pray. With our heads bowed and our eyes closed, I want to give you just a moment, if you need to, to turn some people over to the Lord.

So you take this quiet moment and you do that. Lord Jesus, you know that when we're hurt, when people treat us rotten, it's very easy for us to strike back. And even if we don't strike back, it's very easy for us to want to strike back and to cherish and nourish that bitterness in our heart. Lord Jesus, thanks for giving us a better way of handling this. Now if you hadn't made us the promises you've made us and if you weren't the just Almighty God of the universe, then this approach would be stupid that we've talked about today. But in light of the fact you are that just God and you have made us those promises, our approach is healthy and it also allows us to keep our personal testimony unsullied for Christ. And so Lord Jesus, help us turn some people over to you today and leave them with you in the sure and certain confidence that they're not going to get away with anything and when you're ready to move, it will be scary how you do it. Free us today, Lord. Liberate us from these folks and from what they've done to us by the power of Christ in our life. And we pray these things in Jesus' name and what did God's people say? Amen. In Jesus' name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-11 10:14:26 / 2023-06-11 10:25:00 / 11

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