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Sermons

God's Purposes Will Be Accomplished
Esther 7
 
Good Morning 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!  Once again we can praise and worship God today!

We're continuing our series on the Old Testament Book of Esther. Our scripture comes from Esther Chapter Seven 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.

In Chapter Six, the King couldn't sleep so he sent for the book of records of the chronicles, and one of the items read to the King was when Mordecai  saved the King from being assassinated by exposing the plan to the King through Queen Esther.  Realizing Mordecai had never been rewarded, he asked who was in the court; Haman was there to ask the King for permission to hang Mordecai.  The King asked Haman how the King could best honor a man.  Thinking the King meant to honor Haman, he suggested dressing the man in the king's robes, placing the king's crown on his head with one of the king's nobles leading him through the streets on the king's horse declaring:  “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor.”  Unfortunately for Haman, the King was honoring Mordecai and Haman was the noble chosen to execute the plan.  After finishing the task, Haman went home, told his wife and friends what had happened and they said since Mordecai was from the seed of the Jews, Haman would not prevail against him.  Then the King's chamberlains arrived to take Haman to the banquet.

Now reading from Esther Chapter Seven:
1 So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.

2 And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.

3 Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:

4 For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.

5 Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?

6 And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

7 And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.

8 Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.

9 And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon.

10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.

Please bow your heads and join with me as we pray “The Lord's Prayer.”

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever.
Amen.

Galatians 6:7 says:  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”  Haman is about to reap what he has sowed.  

At the beginning of Chapter Seven, the King and Haman are attending the second banquet that Queen Esther has prepared for them.  The King again asks Queen Esther for her request, again stating he will grant it up to half of the kingdom.
This time Queen Esther is ready to answer.  Reading from The Living Bible in verse 3:
“If I have won your favor, O King, and if it please Your Majesty, save my life and the lives of my people.”

Esther explains to the King how desperate her situation is; had she and her people been sold as slaves, she wouldn't bother the King.  She could handle being a slave, but she and her people are facing death-annihilation.  

At this point the King asks who would dare to presume to do so.  Esther said in verse 6, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”

Can you picture Haman's reaction when he learns that the Queen is a Jew?  Even though he had suffered a setback with regard to Mordecai, he thought the Jews were still at his mercy. 

Very quickly, Haman has gone from thinking he was the queen’s favorite, having been invited to two banquets where he was the only person other than the King to receive an invitation, to learning that he is her bitter enemy. 

He had heard the promises that the King had made to Esther concerning the fulfillment of her request, and he knew how strongly the king felt about her. It's no surprise that Haman was terrified before the king and queen.

Thomas Swope explains the situation in his sermon, “Having A Bad Day.”  

“The king was so angry that his queen should be treated in this way by one whom he had trusted that he arose from the table at which he was reclining and sought refuge in the palace garden. But he was also angry that Haman had plotted against the Jews and had not made the fact clear to him.  The king clearly saw no harm in the Jews. Perhaps he was now considering what he ought to do, or perhaps he was simply seeking to control his seething rage.  Either way, his mind was soon made up.

Meanwhile Haman, who knew the king well, had no doubt what he would do. The king had the power of instant life and death  so Haman did the only thing open to him; he rose from his place to plead for his life before the queen. The irony is clear. The man who hated the Jews because they would not humble themselves before him, and sought their destruction, must now humble himself before a Jewess for his very life.

Had he been thinking rationally he would have followed the king out. Such was court etiquette that to remain alone with the queen was an act of folly. But he was not thinking rationally. Thus in the situation in which he found himself, Esther appeared to be his only hope and he determined to make his plea for mercy."  

Reading from The Living Bible verses 8-10:  "In despair he fell upon the couch where Queen Esther was reclining, just as the king returned from the palace garden.  'Will he even rape the queen right here in the palace, before my very eyes?' the king roared. Instantly the death veil was placed over Haman’s face.  Then Harbona, one of the king’s aides, said, 'Sir, Haman has just ordered a 75-foot gallows constructed, to hang Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination! It stands in Haman’s courtyard.'  'Hang Haman on it,' the king ordered.  So they did, and the king’s wrath was pacified.”

We've commented about previous chapters that it looks like evil is winning; but as we see here, Satan's plan for disrupting God's plan didn't succeed and Satan never will.  However, I Peter 5:8 tells us to “Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart.”  It seems that Satan found one of these victims in Haman, turning him into a persecutor of the Jews because of Mordecai's behavior.

Throughout these chapters, we've seen that Haman had clearly won the respect of the King.  Haman was promoted to a position second only to the King.  We read that Haman had many children, much riches and because of the King's command, had apparently received the respect and reverence from all except Mordecai.  Yet Haman chose to fixate on that one thing and it brought about his downfall and death.  

Haman had a choice, just as we all do; he could have ignored Mordecai's behavior, but apparently Haman's pride kept him from doing so.  Instead of counting his blessings, Haman only focused on the one thing he didn't have.

Unfortunately, this is something that actually happens all the time, even in churches.  People allow things like jealousy, bitterness, envy and ill will toward others to build up which, left unresolved, can poison themselves.  

Psalm 7:15-16 says:  “He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.  His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.”

Brian Atwood covers this in his sermon, “Spiritual Symptoms You Should Never Ignore.”  
"Do you have a co-worker, a neighbor, or a family member that you have fantasies of them having hardship or trouble because they don’t jump when you snap your fingers? Something is wrong with our heart when we engage in this type of thinking, especially if we actually do things or fail to do things that would cause them hurt.

It can be as subtle as not speaking to someone or acknowledging their presence because we’re harboring some bad feelings about them in our hearts.

What should we do when this symptom appears? Jesus said something profoundly simple about this,

'…if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.'


Forgiveness was the most important lesson best-selling author Tony Hillerman learned as a kid on his first job. His story goes…

'I was 14 when Mr. Ingram knocked on our farmhouse door in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma (population 38). The old sharecropper lived about a mile down the road and needed help moving an alfalfa field. It was the first time I was actually paid for work – about 12 cents and hour, not bad when you consider it was 1939 and we were still mired in the Great Depression.

'Mr. Ingram liked the job I did and ended up hiring me to dig postholes. I even helped to deliver a calf. One day he found an old truck that was stuck in the soft, sandy soil of the melon patch. It was loaded up with melons that someone had tried to steal before their truck got bogged down.

'Mr. Ingram explained that the truck’s owner would be returning soon, and he wanted me to watch and learn. It wasn’t long before a local guy with a terrible reputation for fighting and stealing showed up with his two full-grown sons. They looked really angry.

'Calmly Mr. Ingram said, ‘Well, I see you was wantin’ to buy some watermelons.’

'There was a long silence before the man answered, ‘Yeah, I guess so. What are you wantin’ for ‘em?’

'Twenty-five cents each.'

'Well, I guess that would be fair enough if you help me get my truck out of here.'

Hillerman continues, 'It turned out to be our biggest sale of the summer, and a nasty, perhaps violent incident had been avoided. After they left, Mr. Ingram smiled and said to me, ‘Son, if you don’t forgive your enemies, you’re going to run out of friends.’ (What I Learned on My Paper Route, Daniel Levine, Reader’s Digest, March 2002.)

Instead of wishing trouble for someone we are to forgive him or her. Any real or imagined hurt or affront we know or believe them to have directed toward us, like Haman’s anger against Mordecai for not bowing to him, is to be handled by Christ followers in the same manner that our Father in heaven handles our sins – forgiveness.

A lot of people ignore symptoms of spiritual problems and they mistakenly think that by ignoring them their condition will get better on its own. Not true. God is constantly communicating to us – through circumstances, through the Bible, by the Holy Spirit, and by Christ followers in the church – that we need to deal with spiritual problems in our lives.

God is telling us that He loves us and wants to help us effectively deal with our problems; however, we need to work with God. We need to let Him diagnose our spiritual condition and then work with Him to heal our hurts, habits and hangups.”

Summarizing what we've just said, we can learn several things from Haman's life.
1.  Pride goes before a fall.
2.  We reap what we sow.
3.  Revenge belongs to God, not us.
4.  As God has forgiven us, we should forgive others. 
5.  God's purpose and plan will be fulfilled.

God places us where we need to be in order to fulfill our mission in life.  God can take our circumstances and orchestrate an ending that is just as dramatic and life-saving as He did for Esther.  He is no respecter of persons and He will use our lives to bless us and bring glory to Himself.

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.

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.

Amen!