In many books or movies just when you think the evil villain is a villain, there's an unbelievable plot twist. Well, in the same way, today on Truth for Life, we'll find out how Haman, the prideful enemy of the Jews, became hopelessly ensnared in his own wicked scheme. Alistair Begg is teaching from chapter 7 in the book of 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.
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. We have been sold.
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? But she's not gonna do that. 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 and said, If it just involves slavery, but because it involves my death, and I'm your favorite queen, I don't think you wanna 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. So, Esther spills the beans. Secondly, the king explodes. There's a kind of volcanic eruption that comes from the king here. He is enraged. He rose in his wrath. You don't have the picture of him simply saying, Excuse me, I'm going for a little walk in the garden.
No! He just is like, and he disappears out into the garden. And it's just that stillness after the eruption, you know, it's just the table Haman has left, looking at Esther and Esther at Haman. Why does he go out into the garden?
Forget the garden for a minute. Why is Haman even there? Because remember, Haman had told his wife and his friends, Yes, you know what? Queen Esther has invited no one except me to go to the feast.
I was at the first one, and I'm going to be at the second one. And his assumption is that he's invited, again, because of how significant he is. Because he's so stuck on himself. He can't imagine that there would be any other reason for him to be there than so that he could rub shoulders with the king and the queen. Now he finds that there is a very important reason for him to be there, so that he might be confronted, so that he might be exposed, so that his sins might find him out, so that he might realize that his goose is cooked, and that the king might realize it too. It's interesting, and I haven't really thought it out, but the continued reference on wine drinking and the impact of it—it comes again and again, doesn't it? It's at the beginning of chapter 7, on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, and then again in verse 7, and the king arose in his wrath from the wine drink and went into the palace garden.
The idea that wine is a strong drink, and it is raging, and there is great danger that is represented in the imbibing of such is set against the fact that wine is given by God to gladden the heart of man. And so there is little that is able to gladden the heart of the king here in relationship to what he's enjoying, and he goes out into the palace garden, erupting in his anger. Now, there's all kinds of thoughts, aren't there, that run through our minds as to what he's doing out in the garden. I don't think he's out in the garden trying to figure out what he's supposed to do. Haman has already figured out what's going to happen to him, because he saw—verse 7 says—he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. He knew in that instant, I'm a dead man.
Because he knew what this king was like. So if the king hasn't gone out into the garden to say, Well, what should I do now? What is he doing out in the garden? I think he's out in the garden.
This is a conjecture on my part. You can—your sensible people—figure it out. He's out in the garden on the horns of a dilemma. Because he had signed Haman's edict into law. He had backed it with his royal signature. He was as much responsible for the potential demise of his queen and the death of the Jewish people, their eradication, as Haman himself—in many ways, more so. So what is he now going to do? Is he now going to kill his prime minister for a plot that he, the king, had actually approved? And how is that going to play in the newspaper? Ahasuerus ordered the assassination today of Prime Minister Haman, for a plot to annihilate the Jews, which has been published throughout the entire kingdom and is anticipated in some eight months' time.
The people are gone. Well, what's up with the king? Well, I don't know whether he resolved it out there, but I think he got his answer when he came back.
When he came back, he was provided with a way of justifying in his mind the hanging of Haman without having to hang it on the fact of this edict. Because you have to determine what's going on here as he comes back into the palace, and he finds Haman falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, Will he even assault the queen in my presence in my own house?
Well, let me ask you. Is this just his rage simply befuddling his brain, and he actually thinks that's what's happening? Or does he know that it isn't happening, but it fits for it to appear to be happening?
Because no king is ever worth his soul going to tolerate that kind of thing happening to his queen while he's out in the garden. But then we would have to credit Haman with some peculiar, gutsy move, wouldn't we? Saying to himself, Well, he's gonna kill me anyway, so I might as well rape his wife. Is that really what we think is happening here?
I don't think so. Haman's toast. Haman's terrified. Haman can hardly stand up. Haman has fallen before the queen. That verb is important.
Because that's the verb that his wife used at the end of the previous context, remember, when, at the end of chapter 6, Zerish and all his friends, he told them everything that had happened to him. And his wise men and his wife Zerish said to him, If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you have already begun to fall. And now he falls.
Irony is everywhere, isn't it? He was gonna kill Mordecai because he wouldn't fall before him. And now he falls before the queen, begging for his life. You can think this out. I mean, it's not a main thing and a plain thing. But I think that this incident, whether it was real or imagined in the king's mind, gave him a perfect excuse for the elimination of Haman. And his people around him obviously got the development of thought so clearly, because it says, As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. That's my final point. Point one, Esther spills the beans.
Point two, the king explodes. Point three, it's curtains for Haman. It's curtains for Haman.
I use that phrase because of what we read there. And they covered Haman's face. It's customary in the Roman world, in the Greek world, and clearly in the Persian world too, that when a sentence of death was issued, that the person on the receiving end of it had their face covered. Well, do you remember what we read in Job chapter 5, about the fact that the wily will come to a swift end?
And do you remember what it then said? They meet with darkness in the daytime. And now Haman meets with darkness in the daytime.
They cover his face. The judgment of God falls on Haman. And Harbonah says, Well, you know, he built gallows for the hanging of Mordecai, whom he refers to as the one who saved the life of the king, whose word saved the king.
There's nothing left out here, is there? He doesn't just say, Well, what about the gallows for Mordecai? No, for Mordecai, whose word saved the king. In other words, he's saying to the king, Do you realize that Haman was going to kill the man who saved your life? And the king said, Hang him on that. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.
It's a sorry, sad, salutary end to a life, isn't it? Haman had a mom and dad. They brought him up. They had dreams and hopes for him. Maybe he'll become the prime minister one day.
And he did. Or did that matter now? You see, the only hope that we ought to have for our children, for our grandchildren, is not that they become the prime minister, but that they love God with all their heart and all their mind and all their soul and all their strength. That the accolades of an alien world that says, This is prestige, this is success, this is significance, hold no currency in the bank of heaven.
It's not that they're marginal. It is that they are ultimately irrelevant. And what you have here in this unfolding drama is this great distinction between those who have hope in God alone—because the people of God are moving, as we sang in our song—and ultimately they realize that their rest is not in Jerusalem, their rest is not in the promised land, but their rest is in God alone. I rest in God alone.
As opposed to, I rest in myself, in my ego, in my desires, in my longings, in my significance. I mean, Haman could justifiably have been buried with Frank Sinatra singing, I did it my way, because he did do it his way, and he came to a sorry end. Well, he's gone, but the edict is still here, so we're not finished. How are we gonna handle the edict? What is going to happen to the people of God?
To that we will come, but let me give you a couple of pointers by way of application, and I will be done. Number one—and we say this almost week by week now, but it is worth repeating—we recognize that God is at work in events over which—let's just use Esther—over which Esther has absolutely no control. For example, the insomnia of the king. She couldn't control the insomnia of the king.
And yet, the insomnia of the king is absolutely crucial in the development of the storyline. So God is at work in the things over which he has no control, and he's also at work in the way in which she exercises her wisdom and her skill and her obedience and so on—things over which she does have control. Reminding us that God may purpose to use human agents. He can work without them, work without us.
And even when he does use us, success does not depend upon the agents, nor upon what they do. Now, think about it, for example, in relationship to telling other people about Jesus or preaching sermons like this. I suppose God could have said, I'll preach myself.
We could all just sit quietly and wait. But he said, no, I'm going to give to the church pastors and teachers, you go ahead and preach. You study the Bible, and then you go tell these people.
Make sure you make clear between them the difference between life and death and heaven and hell and faith and the lack of faith. And so we do. For thirty years, in the same spot. Loving it out, slogging it out, doing it. And at the end of every single Sunday, what do we all know? That nothing in terms of heart-life transformation is ever achieved apart from the work of the living God. Because he is the only one who softens hard hearts and opens darkened eyes. Well, does that mean there's a waste of your time doing what you're doing?
No! Because he has chosen to use human agencies even though success is not dependent upon the agency. So in other words, it humbles us, but it also helps us. We ought to recognize, too, that the idea of God being veiled throughout this story should be a help to all of us. Because frankly, that's where we live our lives, isn't it? I don't know many of you that have had a particular crossing of the Red Sea or a dramatic miracle or a huge vision that has changed you or a revelation.
No! You're just going to work tomorrow. You're just going back to do what you do tomorrow. And largely, God is unseen. So it's a great encouragement to realize that the unseen God is at work in the darkness, in the doubts, in the disappointments, and in the delays. We need also to keep in mind that there is a higher throne than all the thrones of the Ahazuerus' of this world, and that God is appointing everything to its end. And finally, we need to learn, too, that the activities of the Hamans of this world that seem to be so successful and so uninhibited will send us in the wrong direction unless we learn to read our Bibles properly. For your homework, let me assign Psalm 73, where the psalmist says, I almost fell off my horse when I began to think about how successful wicked people are. I almost drove my car off the road when I realized how it is that people who are so apparently opposed to God, opposed to his Word, opposed to anything that is morally right, seem to do so well. They seem to do well financially, they seem to do well physically, they always look good, they have the right purses, they travel in the right way, they use the right moisturizer—everything!
They're just magnificent people! And look at me! I'm trying to do this God thing, this Jesus thing, and it's gone!
Something's deeply up. That's what the psalmist is saying. If I had said, I will speak thus, I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
He says, I wouldn't have been thinking properly, but when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task. Here we go. Until I went into the sanctuary of God, and then I discerned therein, truly you set them in slippery places, you make them fall to ruin, how they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terror. In other words, justice will be served. It won't be served at the thrones and the courts of the Ahazueruses of this world.
Persia is long gone. The emperors of our world and the emperors of our world are just a footnote in history. But Jesus Christ is King. He's the one who's in charge of the great reversals. He turns us from darkness to light, from sadness to joy, from death to life. God achieves his purposes through the preservation of his people here in Persia and all the way through, and ultimately in the provision of his Son as a Savior, the gift of salvation to the world for all who will believe. Ultimately, this morning, we are divided, as I often say to you, not by gender, not by race, not by intellect, not by social status.
None of those things. But only by one thing. Either we are without hope and without God in the world, which is our natural state, or we have been born anew, born from above, to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And that distinction matters in this world, and trust me, it matters in the next world too. That's why I continue to say to you, today, if you hear God's voice, do not harden your heart. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg urging each one of us to choose Christ as our Savior and our King.
Alistair returns in just a minute. As we've been learning, God is working out his eternal purposes even in the doubts, in the darkness, the disappointments, and the delays of life. But when you're in the midst of these struggles, it can be hard to trust a God you don't know. At Truth for Life, we want everyone to know God and to rest in his word. That's why it's our mission to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance. We do that through this daily program. We also do that by making Alistair's entire teaching library of more than 2,500 messages available online for free and through the Truth for Life mobile app. This unlimited access is something that's made possible because of the generous donations that come from listeners like you. So if you're not listening online today, visit truthforlife.org. You can scroll through the sermon menu to select a series or a message and get started listening.
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Request the book when you give online at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair with a closing prayer. Father, thank you for the Bible, and thank you for the privilege of thinking these things through together for now and having it to take to our homes and ponder it further. Grant that that which is of yourself may be brought home to us with conviction that shows us who we are and who Jesus is, that that which is unclear and confusing may be lost sight of anything that is wrong, that it may be banished from our recollection, so that we might affirm again that beyond the voice of a mere man we actually listen to you, the living God, and the only reason we know you is because you've chosen to disclose yourself and how humbled we are to think that you, the one who made the entire universe, would come and speak to us in such a manner. Hear our prayers, O God. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God our Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one today and forevermore. Amen.
I'm Bob Lapine. In the book of Esther, once Haman is removed, it might seem like we have an easy, happy ending to the story, but actually the plot thickens. Tomorrow we'll find out why God's people remained in peril. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-15 05:57:08 / 2023-03-15 06:05:50 / 9