There are some people who live their lives as secret disciples. They prefer to keep their faith private.
Eventually, though, there will come a day when every person has to step forward and declare what they believe. Today on Truth for Life, we'll find out what happened when Queen Esther revealed her true identity to the king. Alistair Begg is continuing a series called A Study in Esther. Well, let's start at verse 14 of chapter 6. The conversation is taking place between his wife—that's the wife of Haman—and some of his friends.
They're essentially telling him that he's pretty well on his own now. And 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 feast with Queen Esther. And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you.
And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom it shall be fulfilled. Then Queen Esther answered, If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we've been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated.
If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our reflection is not to be compared with the loss to the king. Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this? And Esther said, A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman. Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. And the king arose in his wrath from wine-drinking and went into the palace garden. But Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was.
And the king said, Will he even assault the queen in my presence in my own house? As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house fifty cubits high. And the king said, Hang him on that.
So they hanged him, and on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated. Thanks be to God for his word. Father, we bow before you a great and good God, thanking you that you have made yourself known to us the wonder of your ways and your dealings in your Word. And as we continue our study here in this book from so long ago, our prayer is that you will make yourself known to us, help us to see ourselves and to see our Savior, and to turn to him in repentance and in faith. For it's in his name we pray.
Amen. Some of you will remember that I told you before that radar was invented by a Scotsman, a man by the name of Robert Watson Watt. He was later knighted for his work in the military, and the invention of radar was a wartime invention, and he received, as a reward, some $140,000, which was the largest sum ever awarded for a wartime invention.
Subsequently, when he was driving in Canada, he was caught for speeding in a radar trap. And acknowledging the irony of what was represented in that, he wrote a little verse about it, which goes as follows. Pity Sir Robert Watson Watt Strange target of his radar plot And thus, with others I could mention A victim of his own invention Now, I begin there because that provides an apt summary of what happens here in chapter 7 to Haman. Far more significant, far more devastating, but nevertheless, Haman is essentially hoisted on his own petard. You will recall, I hope, that at the end of chapter 5, Haman had been pleased at the suggestion of his wife and friends to take Mordecai out. If he was such a nuisance to him, let's be done with Mordecai.
Let's kill him. And so, if you allow your eye to scan the text, then you will find in verse 14 of chapter 5 that this idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made. And so, at the end of chapter 5, he has the gallows made. And now, at the end of chapter 7, we read the words, So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.
Now, what a difference a day makes! Haman would have been well served by paying attention to the wisdom of Solomon, and captured for us largely in the book of Proverbs—a book that tells us that real wisdom is found in the fear of the Lord, in understanding who God is, what God desires, what God has done, what he has accomplished in making a way for sinful men and women who have no interest in him to be reconciled to him. It is in this discovery of God and in this rightful sense of fear of God that wisdom is to be found.
And outside of it, no matter how clever an individual may be, that which is their enjoyment does not fit within this category. So Haman would have done well to pay attention to the opening verses of Proverbs chapter 7, which read as follows, Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring. And let another praise you, and not your own mouth, a stranger, and not your own lips.
And, of course, we know now that Haman failed on both counts. We've seen that he is unbelievably proud, and as a result of that, he is presumptuous. He presumes upon time, he presumes upon his place and status and so on. He should have paid attention to Solomon when he wrote, Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. It's a proverbial statement, of course. Doesn't mean categorically every time you dig a pit you will fall into it, but it is not uncommon, especially if you dig a pit for someone else that you don't actually end up in there, or once you start something rolling that may be to the detriment of others, it may actually collapse on you.
Some of you have proved that. You decided, with a significant lack of wisdom, that you would try and make sure that somebody in office number four did not get the promotion that you felt was unbelievably and most necessarily designed for you. So you started the ball rolling, and you ended up rolling yourself right out of the company, unwittingly.
You dug a pit for one of your colleagues, and you fell into it. That's the wisdom of Solomon, and it is so far removed from Haman's thinking that it's quite incredible, isn't it? He had got the ball rolling for the murder of Mordecai. He never imagined for a moment that what he was actually doing would result in his own death. And as far as not praising yourself is concerned, well, he obviously had never read that part or paid any attention to it at all. As we saw back in chapter 5, when it comes to blowing his own trumpet, he's pretty well without parallel, isn't he? Except, I suppose, maybe I'm as good as him.
I don't know. Verse 11 of chapter 5, he gathers his friends, his family around him, and he recounted to them, remember, number one, the splendor of his riches, two, the number of his sons, three, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, four, how he had advanced him above all the officials and the servants of the king, and five, how the queen had included him expressly in a special little tête-à-tête at a feast that had been designed for she and her husband, and to which feast only he, Haman, had been invited. It's really quite pathetic. You just see him there with a big trumpet, and he's just blowing it to his own glory and his own—just blowing, blowing away to his heart content. He doesn't realize that he's playing taps for his own funeral.
That's what he's actually doing. He's about to discover the truth that Eliphaz conveys in Job chapter 5, when, in responding to the circumstances of Job, he points out something that is true—namely, that God catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end. And God catches the wise in their own craftiness.
You ever heard somebody who said, You know what? You're too clever for your own good. Well, Haman was very crafty, caught.
He was really wily. He was coming to a fast end. And Eliphaz goes on to say, These individuals meet with darkness in the daytime, and they grope at noonday as in the night.
Darkness in the daytime, groping in the noon hour as if it were midnight. Graphic picture. Very helpful.
Keep it in mind. Tracing the line through this chapter, which is fairly straightforward, is something that each of us is able to do. You may have read ahead and decided that you have the layout of it. The way that I have sought to summarize it is in just three headings. First of all, I wrote down in my notes, Esther spills the beans. Esther spills the beans. As she does, she spills quite a few beans here—about herself and her identity, about what's going on.
Things that have been secret up until this point are now finally made clear. Now, I think some of us have already decided that Esther is just really a kind of dumb blonde, or a dumb brunette, or just really good-looking and therefore she couldn't possibly have much of a brain, right? That the whole thing about her is just simply that she's a bit of a stunner. And as a result of that, she's able to play on her prettiness, and there isn't much more could be said for her.
Of course, if we have been tempted to think in those terms, then that idea should have been laid to rest before now but must definitely be axed as a result of reading chapter 7. Because here we discover that although she has a pretty face, she is also pretty shrewd. She's pretty shrewd. From the beginning of chapter 5, when she puts on her royal robes and goes in to see the king, and from the moment that we read at the beginning of chapter 5 that she found favor in the sight of the king, she has now become a representation of, again, the words of Solomon, Proverbs 25 15, which reads, With patience a ruler may be persuaded, And a soft tongue will break a bone. With patience a ruler may be persuaded. Now, if you think about this, those of us who are impatient by nature have been dying to get to the end of chapter 7. I mean, we've been longing for the death of Haman. The hanging of Haman has been, like, hanging over us now for weeks.
Some of you have even said to me, Could you speed it up, please? I'm sick of Haman. Somebody said to me this morning—I met him in between the first and second service—he said, Oh, what a great day it is!
I said, Why is that? He said, Haman gets hanged today. I'm not sure that we're supposed to think that way just about poor old Haman, but nevertheless, those of us who are impatient, we're saying, You know, what in the world is Esther doing? Can't you speed the jolly process up here? Why, I'd like to have a feast. Okay? What? Well, I think I'd like to have another feast. Okay, all right, fine. Well, what she's actually been doing is very skillful, isn't it?
There's method in this. Because what she has managed to do is she's cornered her king by getting him to acknowledge publicly on three separate occasions that he's going to give her what she wishes, that he's going to grant her her request. You know, just in case, you know, he said the first time, Well, whatever you like, I'll give you—and then he changed his mind—she doesn't jump on that one. Even when he asks her the second time in the feast, she doesn't jump on that one. And she waits until we come back to this feast.
And now, here we go. She embodies the truth of Ecclesiastes 3, that there is a time to be silent, and there is a time to speak. Now, there's a lesson from her silence as well. She doesn't just go blustering in, the way some of us go into circumstances.
No, she's very, very careful. And now, it's Queen Esther's moment. I think you should note that three times in the opening three verses or so, she's referred to as Queen Esther.
One says Esther, but on three occasions, Queen Esther, Queen Esther, Queen Esther. Obviously, the writer wants us to understand that, having gone in wearing her royal robes, she is making it really clear to the king that she's his queen, that she's, if you like, his number-one queen, that she's the one who had received the great accolades and who was preferred and loved beyond all the others. So her relationship to the king really matters. Of course it does, and in particular in relationship to what she's about to disclose. Her moment has come.
She's passive, if I have found favor in your sight. Verse 3, and if it pleased the king, here we go, Let my life be granted me for my wish, And the life of my people for my request. There you have it.
It's done. Read, the commentator says, This is Esther's moment. This is the moment when she takes seriously Mordecai's challenge to her.
What was Mordecai's challenge to her? Well, back in chapter 4, remember, in the dialogue that is taking place between them, as Haytech is going back and forth relaying the information that Mordecai has provided, and then as Esther has responded, Mordecai then sends word to Esther, tell her, Do not think to yourself—this is verse 12 of Esther 4—Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows but that you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? In other words, he says, It's time for you to step up, Esther. So she has donned her royal robe, she's gone into the presence of the king, she's gone through feast number one, then there has been chapter 6, where she's been doing nothing at all, apparently, and then in chapter 7, she's back in action again, proving the fact that God is at work when she works, and he's also at work when she isn't working. You can't say that the whole thing falls because God needs Esther so badly that if Esther doesn't do what she do, nothing will take place.
That would be to pay far too much—give far too much prominence to the notice of our human responsibility. But nor can we say that God is going to do whatever he wants to do. It doesn't matter if there's an Esther or not, because that would pay far too much attention to the notion of divine sovereignty, as if sovereignty happened apart from the agency of human engagement. It is a great mystery, isn't it?
Of course it is. She's done a masterful job of concealing herself, she must have done. We're not talking about concealing herself for a couple of weeks here or three or four months. We're talking about concealing herself for some four and a half years. That must have involved incredible compromises on her part—not necessarily things that would be commendable in the sight of God. She was a child of Judaism.
Therefore, she had the law of Moses to contend with. Therefore, presumably she didn't. That wouldn't be right. Frankly, that was wrong. Was it right for her to be wrong? No, it was wrong for her to be wrong.
Well, did her being wrong jeopardize the fulfillment of the plan of God? No. Well, then, does that legitimize us doing wrong things? No. Well, what? Think.
She takes her stand with the people of God unreservedly. Some of us haven't really done that. Am I gonna just say this in passing? Some of us are still trying the kind of secret discipleship thing—slip in here on a Sunday and then evaporate Monday through Saturday.
Identify as long as there are people around us who share our convictions, but as soon as we go back into the workplace or back into the home environment or the college or whatever it is or into the lab, back we go into secret mode. There's gonna come a time where we have to step forward. And this is her moment. She purposefully uses the words of the edict, doesn't she? I'm asking for my life. I'm asking for the lives of my people.
They're my people. You can imagine Ahazuerus looking at her and going, Are you kidding me? I've been married to a Jewish girl all this time, and I never knew? Boy, you did a good job.
You're good. Yeah, she says, We've been sold, I and my people. And she uses the language from the edict to be destroyed, to be killed, to be annihilated. We have been sold. Think about Haman sitting at the table now. He's just having a glass of wine, and things are not going particularly well. But the little phrase, We have been sold, he just feels the spotlight begin to turn on him.
Haman knew that he'd been the one who'd sold them down the river. And the skill in this, as she spills the beans, is that she can't get them all over the place. She needs to do this in such a way that the spotlight is turned on Haman without actually implicating the king.
Because when the king says, Who is he and where is he? she might justifiably have said, Do you have a mirror? That wouldn't be smart. That wouldn't be shrewd. She's not just pretty.
She's clever. She couldn't simply appeal to the king on the basis of his sense of right and wrong, because he didn't have much of a sense of right and wrong. She couldn't appeal to the king and say, You know, killing people like this, destroying and annihilating big groups of people is not a good idea. You know, genocide is wrong. She couldn't go to him with that.
Why? Because he didn't believe it was wrong. He didn't care about it. Before we finish, I'm gonna show you what a bad man he really was. The only way she could really appeal to him was on the strength of his own self-interest. I wouldn't have come to you, said, if it just involved slavery, but because it involved my death, and I'm your favorite queen, I don't think you want to lose the group.
Because if you lose the group, you lose me. And I have found favor in your side, haven't I? She'd given him the eye, you know?
Eh? And he's not above that, is he? No, he's susceptible.
We all are. And Haman had conned him. Conned him into arranging for the killing of his favorite queen. Well, you might say he should have been paying more attention. There is no question that he should have been paying more attention. He was a bit of a vacillator.
His approach to government was sort of hands-off. He was then able to say, Oh, I didn't realize what I did. But he's confronted now. Who is he?
Where is he who has done this? And Esther said—here's some more of the beans—and Esther said, A foe and enemy—oh, come on, Esther—this wicked Haman. Boom! Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. That was Esther's big moment, her big reveal. We'll hear the rest of the message tomorrow. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. This study in Esther is a remarkable story of God's providence.
We're finding out how God is intricately involved even in the seemingly insignificant coincidences of our lives. If you've missed any of the messages in this series, you can catch up online. All of Alistair's teaching can be heard or watched for free through our mobile app or on our website at truthforlife.org. If you'd like to own the entire series on the book of Esther or give it to a friend, it's available to purchase on a USB. Fifteen sermons.
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I'm Bob Lapine. Just when you think the evil villain will win in the book of Esther, there is an unbelievable twist in the plot. Join us tomorrow to find out how God is at work in the doubts, darkness, disappointments, and delays of life. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
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