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The Unseen Hand of God (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2023 3:00 am

The Unseen Hand of God (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 10, 2023 3:00 am

Sometimes a major tragedy is described as “a disaster of biblical proportions,” implying that the event was so huge, God must have been involved. But discover how God’s at work even in the tiny details. That’s our focus on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Music playing in the background Music playing in the background This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made. On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the Chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigtana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold and who had sought to lay hands on King Aswaris. And the king said, What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?

The king's young men who attended him said, Nothing has been done for him. And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king's young men told him, Haman is there standing in the court.

And the king said, Let him come in. So Haman came in, and the king said to him, What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor? And Haman said to himself, Whom would the king delight to honor more than me? And Haman said to the king, For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor. Then the king said to Haman, Hurry, take the robes and the horse as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king's gate.

Leave out nothing that you have mentioned. So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor. Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. And Haman told his wife Zerush and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zerush said to him, If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is one of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him. While they were yet talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.

So the king and Haman went in to the feast with Queen Esther. And we leave the story there for now. Let's pray together. Thank you, Father, for the reminder this morning that the part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to help us to understand the Bible. So we pray for that help now.

In Jesus' name. Amen. Well, we say to one another, Don't we the early bird catches the worm? There's great advantages in getting up early in the morning. Those of us who were here early this morning or up early, I had the benefit of seeing that wonderful sunrise.

Others will only be able to know about it because we're telling you now. And it would appear that Haman worked on a very similar principle. He was up early in the morning so that he might be promptly in the court of the king. After all, his wife and his friends had given him such a good suggestion the previous evening, Why not build a gallows and kill Mordecai the Jew?

He's such a nuisance to you. And then once you've killed him, then you can go to the second banquet feast that Esther has prepared. And that really, then, was the strategy in the morning with which Haman had awakened. Little did he know what was waiting for him. It's a reminder of what Solomon says in Proverbs 10. The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. The hope of the righteous will bring joy to them, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. Now, it's not just Solomon that says that. We find it all the way through the Bible. In fact, the book of Psalms opens with a very similar theme, doesn't it? Blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the ungodly or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scoffers. And then the psalmist says, This is what this man will be like, a tree planted by the rivers of water, and his life will prosper.

And then he says, But the wicked are not so, because they're like the chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. There's a sort of prevailing notion amongst contemporary America that death is the great equalizer—that, you know, no matter what you've really believed or what your convictions have been or what you've done or what you haven't done, don't worry about it, because all bets are off as long as you die. And when you die, it'll all be evened out.

The Bible says, No. No, the expectation of the wicked should only be that of destruction. It is the righteous that look forward to discovering that in God's presence there is fullness of joy and at his right hand there are pleasures forevermore. That's what makes everything so unbelievably solemn. Now, in this sixth chapter, we are arguably at the most ironically comic section of the entire Bible—not just the entire Old Testament. This is a comic, tragic picture.

I think Shakespeare probably knew this passage and borrowed from it in the way he introduced many of the scenes that we find in Shakespeare's plays, usually his sad plays, his tragedies. And it confirms what we have noticed—namely, that the book of Esther is a book of wonders without any obvious miracles. There's nothing that you come to and you go, Well, that's a dramatic thing. You don't have the crossing of the Red Sea.

You don't have some dramatic intervention. Everything ticks along fairly steadily, and in these little bits and pieces, decisions and so on, it becomes increasingly obvious to the reader that behind all of this coincidental activity there is a higher hand, that beyond the throne of Ahasuerus there is, as we often sing, a higher throne than all this world has known. And I hope that you have been fastening on the fact, as I've been trying to, that even the most casual events that take place in our world are actually connected to God's purpose for his people from all of eternity. The things that are apparently inconsequential are appointed by him and directed by him in order to achieve his purposes—even the sinful activities of those who are involved. So, for example, when we think about the role of these two characters who are mentioned here again—Big Thanna, most unfortunate name, and Teresh.

Maybe there was a small Thanna as well as a big Thanna, but anyway, I don't recommend that as a name. But when we're reminded of them here in chapter 6, it takes us back to the end of chapter 2 and what had taken place there. Here were two individuals whose job was to ensure the custody and safety of King Ahasuerus. They decided that they would subvert that and that they would assassinate the king.

Now, let me ask you a question. Do you think that Big Thanna and Teresh sat down one morning and said, Let's fulfill the eternal counsels of God from all of eternity? Let's do something that will set forward the purposes that God has had from all of eternity. No, they didn't do that. They said, Let's kill the king. They were solely responsible for the idea. They were solely culpable for their wicked intentions. So what a mystery it is that God brings about events in the fulfillment of his purpose through the freedom and the sins of men and women. You see, you have immediately gone wrong if you read your Bible and read the events of life in terms of a duality in the universe where you have God on the one side and the devil on the other, and every time something good happens to you, it happens as a result of God won one, and every time something bad happens to you, it means the devil won one.

No, not for a moment. And the book of Esther is making that clear. 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. Now, keep in mind that the king was unaware of Haman's plot. And he couldn't sleep on that night. That's important. On that night, the king could not sleep.

Think about it. It wouldn't have mattered if he couldn't sleep the following night. If he was going to be awake, this was the night to be awake, because this was the night where Haman couldn't wait to get up in the morning to come to the king, who presently can't sleep, to make sure that Mordecai is hanged on the gallows. On that night, the king couldn't sleep.

God is at work in the tiny details. And of all that he might have done, given that he couldn't sleep, look what he chooses to do. He gave orders not to bring one of his harem. He had plenty of girls available to him to help him get back to sleep or amuse him in the night.

If old King Cole was a merry old soul and could call for his pipe in the middle of the night, then this fella had plenty of options as to what he might do, either to induce sleep or, having decided that he wasn't going to sleep, to enjoy being awake. But of all the choices that he makes, he says, why don't you bring the book of the Chronicles, the things that record the minute book, as it were, of his kingdom? For whatever reason, either as a means of encouragement or because he wants to catch up on events which he has not paid particular attention to.

And so they bring the book. What are the chances of them bringing this book and of reading this part, the part about Mordecai? Because think about it. Mordecai is asleep. I mean, I assume he's asleep.

He's not mentioned. During the night you're supposed to sleep. And Mordecai is the one who should be awake. If anybody should be awake, it should be the one with the thread of death hanging over his head, the one who, when he awakens in the morning, is going to be hanged on a gallows seventy-five cubits high. He's the fellow who shouldn't be able to sleep. But apparently he's sound asleep, because he's unaware of his doom. He's unaware of the fact. And furthermore, Mordecai had no means of intervening to save himself.

He didn't know what awaited him, and if he'd known, he couldn't have fixed it. So how does God plan on fixing it? He's going to use a pagan king. He's going to use the sleeplessness of a pagan king, who, when he wakes up, says, Bring the book. And when they read the book, they read from the section that contains the part about Mordecai, who had been the one responsible for intervening when Ahasuerus the insomniac was going to get clobbered by Bigthana and Teresh. And so the king says, What honor or distinction has been given to Mordecai the Jew? What did we do for him? Now, behind that, of course, is the whole Persian gesture, whereby the authority and the magnificence of a Persian king would be seen not simply in his entourage or his palace or his enthronement, but would be seen in the spirit of generosity with which he rewarded those who'd been good to him. And so he says, What did we do for Mordecai?

And you'll notice what the answer is. They said to him, We haven't done anything for Mordecai. The king's young men who attended him said, Nothing has been done for him.

Now, here's just a thought in passing. We're never told what Mordecai thought at the end of chapter two, after he'd done what he'd done. He had prevented the assassination of the king, but he hadn't been honored. Do you think he felt hard done by? I wonder, did he say to his wife, You know, you'd think he'd at least get a note.

I mean, I wasn't looking for a gift certificate or anything, but you know, the king was going to be assassinated. I tipped him the nod through Esther, and I've never heard a word from him. And eventually, time had gone by. It's some four years, almost five years, since the events of chapter two. He's been overlooked.

The thing that he did that was so significant, nobody apparently cares about it, not least of all the king who was the beneficiary of what he did. Well, we've been overlooked too, haven't we? Or we've said to ourselves, You know, I deserve better than this. Why am I not getting what I deserve?

If anybody had just even a plausible perspective on what I've done, they would say something, but nothing has been said. We have to learn to do what is right because it is right, whether we're honored or whether we're not honored, whether remembered or whether we're never remembered. Because the fact of the matter is that one day all the scales will be reset. One day honor will be given where honor is due. One day the cups of cold water that no one has paid attention to, the kindnesses that no one has apparently received with a spirit of thankfulness—all of that will be settled.

But no, we just need to learn to do what is right. And God's timing is always perfect, because God is never in a hurry. There's a lot of hurry up in chapter 6, but it's not the hurry up of God. It's the hurry up of humanity. God is never in a hurry. As for God, his way is perfect. I wonder, do you believe that?

Not when the band is playing and the sun is shining, but when that which we've done, which we think is deserving of honor and acclaim, is largely, if not entirely, ignored. 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 a 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. Right? Okay. I should really have an organ playing up here behind me, but that was—no, I shouldn't. I shouldn't.

That was just foolishness. So I imagine Haman gets up in the morning. He says to his wife, You know, I want to get an early start, as early as possible.

Please, don't do eggs. I'll just get an orange juice on my way out the door, because I want to get as-where-as before anything else happens. I want to make sure that I get to him so that I can tell him, Let's get Mordecai hanged on the gallows, then we'll have a wonderful evening at the feast. Well, little does he know, as he makes his way there to the outer court of the king, that the king is also wanting to talk about what is to be done to Mordecai. So they are both wanting to do something to Mordecai.

It's remarkable, isn't it? If the king hadn't been kept from sleep, if the book had not been read, if the conspiracy within the book had not been referenced, then Mordecai would have been on his way to the gallows. If the king had asked the question he then asked differently, then Mordecai would have been a dead man. 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 to the man? He doesn't say, What should be done to Mordecai? If he had said, What should be done to Mordecai? Remember, it's Mordecai that he has on his mind. He's asked, What has been done for Mordecai? They said, Nothing's been done for Mordecai. He said, And we need to do something for Mordecai.

Who's in the court? Haman's in the court. Bring him in. Haman, what should be done for the man whom the king delights to honor? If he'd said, What has 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. 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? 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. Now, this should be no surprise to us. Goldsworthy, in his gospel-centered hermeneutics, has a wonderful sentence or two that I wrote down years ago.

This is what he says. History is not the story of God's trial of something good that failed, thus requiring him to come up with an emergency package as an afterthought. God's ultimate creation plan was not Adam and Eve in Eden but Christ in the gospel. God's ultimate creation plan was not Adam and Eve but Christ in the gospel. Remember Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener? 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 gonna 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? You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg, and we're leaving things with a little bit of a cliffhanger here. We'll hear the rest of this message on Monday. I hope you're finding these lessons about God's providence and sovereignty as encouraging as I am. And if you've missed any part of this study in Esther, if you'd like to re-listen or share the teaching with a friend, you can listen to or watch any of these messages online at truthforlife.org. You can even download the complete series for free. Simply use the search feature to find a study in Esther, or if you'd prefer, you can purchase the series on a convenient USB drive at our cost of just $5.

You'll find that in the online store, truthforlife.org slash store. Now, along with Alistair's messages, we recommend books to help you learn more about God's word. And if you'd like to make your celebration of Easter more meaningful for your whole family, we've got a study you can enjoy together.

It's a book called Darkest Night, Brightest Day. It's a 14-day family devotional that'll walk you and your school-aged children or grandchildren through the events leading up to and following Easter. In the first week, you trace Jesus' journey from Palm Sunday through Good Friday.

In the second week, you begin with the empty tomb and cover post-resurrection lessons, like how Jesus responded to Thomas's doubts or Peter's denial, or what the Great Commission is and our role in it. Each daily reading is followed by a few questions that will prompt additional discussion. Request your copy of Darkest Night, Brightest Day today when you give a donation at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. If you'd prefer to mail your donation along with your request for the book, Right to Truth for Life at Post Office Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our zip code is 44139. I'm Bob Lapine. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you're able to worship together with your local church this weekend. Join us Monday for the conclusion of today's message when we'll see how God can turn even the best laid plans upside down to fulfill His purposes. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-10 05:07:54 / 2023-03-10 05:17:03 / 9

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