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While We Sleep, God Is At Work
Greetings to the followers of Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team and to all who are listening to or reading this message via Facebook and our Website! What a privilege to be able to praise and worship God today!
We're continuing our series on the Old Testament Book of Esther. Our scripture comes from Esther Chapter Six and you can be turning there in your Bibles.
If you missed the previous weeks' messages from Esther, you can read or listen to them at Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team's website: www.VoicesOfHope.faith. You can also find Pastor T's sermons and daily messages there.
As a brief summary, King Ahasuerus had hosted a celebration for all his princes and nobles in the provinces of his kingdom. Following that celebration, the King hosted a seven day celebration for the servants of his Palace in Shushan.
On the last day of this celebration the King sent for his Queen, Vashti, to show her beauty to those present. Queen Vashti refused to come and this infuriated the King. In those days, one did not refuse an order from the King. So the King, acting on the advice from his advisers, approved for them to issue a royal commandment throughout the Kingdom that Vashti no longer be the Queen and he would give her royal estate unto another that was better than she.
In Chapter Two, we're introduced to Mordecai, from the tribe of Benjamin, and Esther, the daughter of Mordecai's uncle. When Esther's parents died, Mordecai raised Esther as his own daughter.
At the beginning of Chapter Two we see that some time has passed, the wrath of King Ahasuerus has subsided; he is remembering Vashti and what was decreed against her. It's time to select a new queen.
Instead of choosing a queen from the seven most important families in Persia as was usually done,
King Ahasuerus' personal servants suggested that the king should order people throughout his empire to find beautiful young virgins from which the king would select his new queen. This idea pleased the king and he issued the order.
With 400 ladies to choose from, Esther (acting on instructions from Mordecai not to reveal that she was a Jew) was chosen as the new Queen and a celebration was held.
At the close of Chapter Two, Mordecai learned of an attempt to assassinate the King. Mordecai told this to Queen Esther who then told the King and gave credit to Mordecai. Upon investigation of this information, the King found this to be true and the would-be assassins were put to death.
Chapter Three begins with “after these events” and we're introduced to Haman, the Agagite, who had received a promotion from the King. His promotion placed Haman as second only to the King. The King had issued a command that the officials and servants would bow down before Haman in reverence, as they did for the King. But Mordecai refused to do so and the reason he gave for not doing so was that he was a Jew.
This filled Haman with rage. He devised a wicked plan to do away with not only Mordecai, but all of the Jews throughout the kingdom. He even convinced the King to issue a decree for this action.
Chapter Three ends with king Ahasuerus and Haman sitting down to drink; while the city Shushan was perplexed.
In Chapter Four, after learning of the King's decree, Mordecai tore his clothes, put on clothes made of sack cloth, put on ashes, went to the city to the entrance of the king's gate and cried bitterly. Throughout the provinces of the kingdom there was mourning, weeping and fasting.
Queen Esther learned of this and inquired the reason for Mordecai's behavior through her attendant, Hatach, Mordecai told Hatach all that the King had decreed, which called for the destruction of the Jews; Mordecai sent a copy of the decree to Esther requesting that she plead with the King for her people.
Esther responded that according to law, anyone who went into the king’s inner court without his summons was doomed to die unless the king held out his gold scepter; the king had not called for her to come to him in more than a month.
Mordecai replied that Esther shouldn't think she would be spared because she was the Queen. If she kept quiet, deliverance and relief for the Jews would come from some other place, but she and her relatives would die. Then Mordecai said: “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Esther requested Mordecai and all the Jews fast and pray for the next three days, as she and her attendants would also do. Then Esther would approach the King. If she died, so be it.
In Chapter Five, Esther dressed in her royal finery and went to the inner court of the Palace to see the King; delighted to see her, the King held out the gold septre and allowed her to enter. He then asked for her request, saying he would grant it up to half of the Kingdom. Esther requested he and Haman attend a banquet she had prepared for them, which they did.
At the banquet, the King again asked Esther for her request; she asked that he and Haman attend a banquet that she would prepare for them the next day and then she would reveal her request.
Haman was so proud to have been the only man other than the King to attend the Queen's banquet. Upon leaving, he passed Mordecai who still didn't pay reverence to him. At home, Haman called his wife and friends and explained that his riches, his children, his promotions all meant nothing so long as Mordecai refused to bow down to him. His wife and friends suggested Haman have a gallows built and the next day request the King allow Haman to have Mordecai hanged. Then Haman could go enjoy the second banquet. Haman liked this idea and ordered the gallows built.
Now reading from Esther Chapter Six:
1 On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
2 And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
3 And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.
4 And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
5 And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.
6 So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?
7 And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour,
8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head:
9 And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
10 Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.
11 Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
12 And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.
13 And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.
14 And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Please bow your heads with me as we pray:
We're dealing with a pandemic that none of us expected a year ago and while we don't have past experiences to fall back on, we have Your Word and Your Promise that You will never leave us or forsake us. You're always with us.
Open our hearts to learn from the events in the Book of Esther that You are always working to accomplish Your plan. When we are uncertain about what we should do, show us Your ways. When we don’t know which way to turn, teach us your paths. In everything we do, I pray that You'll guide us. Help us remember that our hope is found in You from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep.
In Jesus' name,
The story is told of a man shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. He built a hut for protection from the elements so he could keep the few items he had salvaged from the wreck. For weeks he lived in this little hut.
Prayerfully, he scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship, but nothing. Then one evening, when he returned from a search for food, he was terrified to find his little hut in flames! He tried to put the fire out, but it was too late. Everything he had in this world was gone up in smoke. He went to sleep that night listening to the pounding of the surf, amazed at his misfortune.
The next morning, he awoke to find a ship anchored at the shore! It was the first ship he had seen in all the weeks he had been marooned. Still trying to believe his eyes, he heard footsteps, and then heard the captain’s voice: “We saw your smoke signal, and came to rescue you!”
Things are not always what they seem!
In previous chapters of Esther, we've seen events that could cause us to think evil is winning. But we will see in this chapter, as we've seen in previous ones, God is always in control, working to see His will accomplished.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
At the beginning of Chapter Six, the King is unable to sleep and he's asked for “the book of records of the chronicles,” which you and I would think of as a sort of history of the Persian Empire.
Remember at the end of Chapter Two, Mordecai learned of a plot to assassinate the King and brought it to Queen Esther's attention; she told the King and credited Mordecai with the information. At that time, nothing was done to reward Mordecai.
Now the King is reading about this; realizing that Mordecai had not been rewarded, the King wants to rectify the situation. Looking for suggestions as to what kind of reward should be given, he asks who is in the court. Haman has come to the court to seek the King's approval to have Mordecai hanged. The officials report that Haman is there and the King tells them to bring Haman in. The King asks Haman what should be done for the man the King wants to honor? Notice the King doesn't mention the honoree's name.
Haman, thinking there could be no one other than himself that the King would want to honor, suggests the following from The New Living Translation: “Bring out some of the royal robes the king himself has worn, and the king’s own horse, and the royal crown, and instruct one of the king’s most noble princes to robe the man and to lead him through the streets on the king’s own horse, shouting before him, ‘This is the way the king honors those who truly please him.' “Excellent!” the king said to Haman. “Hurry and take these robes and my horse, and do just as you have said—to Mordecai the Jew, who works at the Chancellery. Follow every detail you have suggested.’”
Can you imagine the shock Haman felt hearing this? He came to ask permission to have Mordecai hanged and now the King is honoring him. Not only that, but “one of the king’s most noble princes” is to be Haman! Haman must lead Mordecai, sitting on the King's horse, wearing the King's robes and crown, through the streets shouting to all, “this is the way the king honors those who truly please him.” He must have been seething inside and humiliated at what he must do because the King ordered it. Instead of displaying Mordecai hanging on the gallows, Haman was now displaying Mordecai as a king’s favorite. After completing this humiliating task, Haman went home.
Reading again from the New Living Translation: “When Haman told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends what had happened, his wise advisers and his wife said, “Since Mordecai—this man who has humiliated you—is of Jewish birth, you will never succeed in your plans against him. It will be fatal to continue opposing him. While they were still talking, the king’s eunuchs arrived and quickly took Haman to the banquet Esther had prepared.”
We said in an earlier message that God's name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther. However, in each chapter we've seen that it wasn't luck, chance or coincidence, but God's hand guiding events that led up to this time.
• It wasn't good luck that Esther was chosen as queen.
• It wasn't good luck that caused Mordecai to overhear the plot to assassinate the King.
• It wasn’t bad luck that he wasn’t rewarded then.
• It wasn’t by chance that Esther prepared a banquet and then delayed her request.
• It wasn’t a coincidence that Haman happened to be in the court at that particular time of the day.
• It wasn't good luck that caused the King not to reveal the name of the man to be honored.
Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Isaiah 55:9 says: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Remember, God has a plan and purpose for our lives. Satan also has a plan for our lives. Satan's plan is to stop us from achieving God’s intended purpose for our lives. We have a choice and I pray we choose wisely; Jesus is the answer.
The Bible tells us in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
If you have never trusted Jesus in salvation, He stands ready to forgive, save, and restore. There’s no better time than now to repent, turn to God and respond to His grace.
You can sincerely pray this prayer, or one of your own.
Father God, I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins and on the third day You, God, raised Him from the dead. I believe that with my heart, and I confess with my mouth that from now on you're my Lord. Please forgive me and wash me now of my sins, come into my heart and fill me with your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
If you’ve known God but walked away from His call on your life to do your own thing, then it’s time to stop in your tracks and repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. Tomorrow may be too late.
May you be blessed in Jesus' Name.