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Ahasuerus and Esther Part 4
Esther 5-6
 
Hello followers of Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team and to all who are reading this message via Facebook and our Website!  What a wonderful time to worship our marvelous God! 

We’re continuing our series on Couples in the Bible with King Ahasuerus and Esther, Part 4. Our scriptures come from the Old Testament Book of Esther, Chapters Five and Six. 

If you missed the past weeks’ messages, you could read them at Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team's website:  www.VoicesOfHope.faith. 

As a brief summary, in Esther Chapter One, 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.  This refusal was seen as not only an affront to the King, but to all men and could have repercussions from wives throughout the Kingdom.  If the Queen didn't have to obey the King, then other wives would no longer obey their husbands. 

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 her.  The commandment also stated that all husbands would receive proper respect from their wives. 

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
 

In those days, the kings of Persia usually married from the seven most important families in Persia.  But that wasn't God's choice for the new queen; God wanted Esther, a Jew, to become queen. 

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.  

The historian, Josephus, wrote that there were 400 ladies the king could choose from, and Esther was one of these.  Mordecai instructed Esther not to reveal her nationality and family background.  Apparently, it wouldn't have been favorable for her to do so during those times and circumstances. 

The ladies were brought to the palace in Shushan to live and given beauty treatments for 12 months. Then each in turn was brought before the king in the evening and the next morning was sent to another house for women.  They wouldn't see the King again unless he sent for her.  No one, not even the Queen, could approach the king without being summoned.  Esther 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. 

Now reading from Esther Chapter Five:
1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. 

2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

 

3 Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. 

4 And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. 

5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 

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

7 Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is; 

8 If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said. 

9 Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. 

10 Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. 

11 And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. 

12 Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. 

13 Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate. 

14 Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made. 

And continuing with Chapter 6:
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. 

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote what has become a very famous prayer, “The Serenity Prayer.”   I learned there is a long version in addition to the short version that many of us are familiar with. It seems appropriate to pray the long version now.  Please bow your heads with me as we pray: 

“God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will; 

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him Forever and ever in the next.” 

In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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 these chapters, 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 Five we see Queen Esther dressing in her royal robes and pausing at the inner court of the palace before the King.  

One of the many things I admire about Queen Esther is that she used her head in her preparation to approach the King.  

Esther didn't rush in demanding to see the King, she didn't cry or threaten the King, she didn't tell him to choose her over Haman.  No, dressed in her regal finery, Esther exhibited calmness, patience and wisdom.  She waited for the King to either allow her to enter or refuse her entry.  Verse two tells us that Esther obtained favor from the King.  

This wasn't the first time that Esther had found favor with the King.  I think back to Chapter 2:17 which says: “And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” 

When the King saw Queen Esther standing there, he held out his scepter, granting her entrance.  Esther didn't rush in; she first touched the top of the scepter, a sign of respect, honor and submission.  Only then did she approach the King.  The King asked Esther for her request, telling her he would grant it, up to half of the kingdom.  

Wow, what an opportunity to ask the King to spare the lives of her people!  But Esther exhibited patience and humbly asked if he and Haman would attend a banquet that she had prepared for them. 

The King was delighted to do this and sent immediately for Haman.  At the banquet, the King asked Esther what she really desired from him.  Yet a second opportunity to beg for the lives of her people.  Instead, Esther asked if the King and Haman would come to a banquet that she would prepare the next day and she would then explain her request to the King. 

Now, Haman was beside himself with joy!  He was the only person other than the King that the Queen had invited to her banquet, not once, but twice. 

However, as Haman left the Palace, he passed Mordecai, who still didn't bow or show reverence to Haman.  Haman was once again filled with indignation at Mordecai's refusal to honor him. 

When Haman arrived home, he called together his friends and his wife and boasted about his riches, his many children, his promotion and especially about being the only person invited twice to a banquet prepared by the Queen for the King and himself.  Yet, he explained, none of this meant anything as long as Mordecai refused to honor him.  

Chapter Five ends with Haman's wife and friends suggesting that Haman have a gallows built 50 cubits high.  The next day Haman could ask the King to have Mordecai hanged; then Haman could go enjoy the banquet.  The suggestion pleased Haman and he had the gallows made. 

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.” 

Can we again see God's hand in all of this?  Esther was wisely waiting upon the Lord for the right time, the right place and the right words to present her request to the King.  She wasn't allowing herself to be distracted by all that was going on in the background.  Esther wasn't motivated by revenge; she was motivated by reason.  Would his offer still be good the next day or was it an impulsive offer?  Esther wanted to gain the King's trust.  Esther's mission was to save the lives of her people and she was staying focused on doing God's will in His timing.  

There are four things we are learning from the Book of Esther.

1.  God has a plan for our lives.
2.  Satan has a plan for our lives.
3.  We have a choice.
4.  God has the answer. 

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.  

What has God got scheduled for each of us?  Life can be hard, difficult times happen and pain can't be avoided. We can’t control life, but we can yield control to God.  When life doesn’t make sense, I pray that we turn to God, not away from Him.  We have a choice and I pray we choose wisely; Jesus is the answer. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” 

If there is a need in your life, Jesus is the answer. If you have never trusted Him 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.

No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, because of God's grace you can be saved.
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10 & 13:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

It's that simple.

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!