Courage triumphs when we are vindicated by God! – Esther 6
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 12, 2013 AM
Over the years, I have learned to listen more intently to what people say because the words they use reflect what they truly believe about themselves and others. Recently, I listened to a speech given by a national political figure and began to count the number of times he used the terms “I” and “me.” In a 20 to 30 minute speech, he referred to himself over 20 times and for the people and nation he is supposed to serve, he only offhandedly referred to them twice. What do you think this politician’s speech says about himself? We truly live in the “me first” generation. Interestingly today we celebrate mothers who often do not have that kind of luxury.
Haman was a “me first” kind of guy. Again, how he came to power or into the King Xerxes’ circle we are not told, but we can speculate that it was probably due to the fact he was very wealthy. Remember, Haman was not Persian but rather an Agagite. He was more than likely descended from the royal family of the Amalekites, the bitterest enemies of the Jews, as Agag was one of the titles of the Amalekite kings. He or his parents were brought to Persia as captives taken in war like Esther and Mordecai were. Esther and Mordecai display this for us this morning that courage triumphs when we are vindicated by God! Let’s discover how…
The Scottish poet Robert Burns penned the phrase that “the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.”Steinbeck later borrowed it for the title of his short story, “Of Mice and Men.” Haman and his plans prove the same concept as does Burn’s poem. However, we discover that courage triumphs when we are vindicated by God. In fact, we find that…
I. Those who live under God’s vindication, realize life is not about “me”! (Vv. 1-9)
1. When Haman told his wife and friends what had transpired, they advised him to build a gallows 75 feet high on which to hang his enemy. He did so without delay. No doubt Haman slept soundly, secure in his plans to bring about the demise of Mordecai and in what he thought was his elevated status. In contrast, Xerxes was restless. Seeking reprieve from his insomnia, he requested his servants read to him from the official court chronicles. They read to him about the occasion Mordecai had exposed a plot to assassinate the king (Esther 2:21-23). “‘What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?’ the king asked. ‘Nothing has been done for him,’ his attendants answered.” Discovering that Mordecai never had received an appropriate reward, Xerxes determined to rectify the oversight the next morning. The King wants to know who was in attendance in the King’s court at the time, and rather deliciously, “Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.” Is God’s timing perfect or what? The King orders Haman be brought before him, and you never refused the Persian King. “When Haman entered, the king asked him, ‘What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?’ Now Haman thought to himself, ‘Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?’” (After all, for Haman, it was all about “me”!) The King seeks Haman’s counsel without identifying who was to be rewarded. Ironically, Haman thought he would receive the honor. There are those who always think life revolves around them, because of education, wealth, prestige, or power. See how men’s pride deceives them. So Haman arrogantly answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’” Haman would soon learn that those who live under God’s vindication realize life is not about “me”!
EXAMPLE: My mom used to remind us, “Life is not about you.” Her life exemplified it. We live in a day and age where many believe that everything in life is supposed to be about them. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day studied the Old Testament with great diligence. They believed that if one could comprehend the words of the text, he would gain a share in the world to come. God’s word began to be all about them. Similarly, many people today think worship is all about them rather than a means leading to the knowledge of God and godliness. Jesus told them bluntly, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:39-44 NIV) Translation: It’s not all about you. Nor was what was about to occur all about Haman. It was all about God being glorified. In fact, we discover that those who live under God’s vindication realize life is not about “me”!
We live in a microwave theological age. We want deep theology in sixty seconds or less. Yet, the deep truths of God are most often learned over a lifetime of failures and successes. While shows like Revenge cater to our sinful desire to get even, the Bible teaches us something quite different, namely, that vengeance is God’s alone. Curiously, did you know that both Don Corleone of The God Father and Kahn, from Star Trek’s The Wrath of Kahn, have the same phase in common, that, “Revenge is a dish best served cold”? No one is certain where the phrase comes from, but Haman would have liked it. He will soon learn, however, that…
II. God’s people will always be vindicated! (Vv. 10-14)
1. Haman greedily suggested the honoree be dressed in the king’s garment, placed on the king’s horse, and paraded through the king’s city while a member of the king’s court proclaimed the individual’s praises. Haman concludes that he himself is the favorite intended, and therefore prescribes the highest expressions of honor that could, for once, be bestowed upon a subject. His proud heart presently suggested his own tribute. “Go at once,” the King, commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.” Betrayed by his conceit, Haman was forced personally to lead Mordecai throughout the city of Susa! Can you imagine how Haman felt? “So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’” Humiliated by the sudden reversal in his fortune, “Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.” A deeper mortification he could not have experienced than that of being obliged, by the king’s command, publicly to show the highest honor to the very individual whose execution he was just about to propose to him. The covering of his head is a token of deep confusion and mourning. Haman’s wife and friends offer little consolation and tell him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” Wow! What had started out as a great day for Haman, had now turned into a real bummer of an afternoon! However, before he could ponder on such a pronouncement, “While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.” There, at the banquet, matters would only grow worse! Haman would soon learn the truth his wife and his advisers told him, God’s people will always be vindicated!
EXAMPLE: If someone were to judge my mother’s life as one of achievement, they might come away thinking she did not accomplish much. Only a seventh grade education, never earned more than minimum wage, and lived in poverty most of her life. Yet, she worked very hard as a single mother, raise three ornery kids into adulthood, and just turned 92 years old. If we were to judge Jesus’ life at the moment of His death on the cross, we would have to conclude it a failure. However, if we were to wait three days and then view the empty tomb we would come away with a far greater knowledge of who He is! God reminds us that, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV) We can never judge how God is working in our lives when we are in the moment. Esther and Mordecai knew this to be true, remember Mordecai had told Esther, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Haman’s arrogance and his eventual downfall teach us that God’s people will always be vindicated!
Those who live under God’s vindication, realize life is not about “me”! God’s people will always be vindicated!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.