Online Text Sermon - The Sudden Fall of Gods Enemies, Esther ch.7 v.10
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Sudden Fall of Gods Enemies|
|Text||Esther ch.7 v.10 |
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This book is called the book of Esther and Esther is the name of a woman, as far as I remember there are just 2 books in the Bible named after a woman; the other being the book of Ruth. Esther was a great woman of God. She was extremely beautiful and that was given to her as a gift from God so that she would become queen and be able to help her people the Jews in Old Testament times. She had lost her own parents and so she was living from childhood in the home of her relation, a sort of cousin, and his name is Mordecai, also a great man of God. And she was obedient to Mordecai even when she reached her maturity and even when she became queen. So great was her regard and respect for the man who had brought her up so well. Now the name Esther in Hebrew is Hadasar and the English translation of Hadasar is myrtle - a beautiful flower - a myrtle flower.
And here in this book of Esther we are introduced to, not only great and famous men of God, but also to a notorious enemy, whose name you would there have noticed: it is Haman. I have chosen this particular chapter and this particular text because here I believe is the climax of the book. Before this chapter what we discover is that Haman is getting more and more and more powerful and the Jews on the other hand, are getting more and more vunerable to destruction. And that's the way things are in this book ever until you come to these chapters that I have read, especially chapter 7. But in chapter 7 which is the climax, God turns the tables and ever after this chapter 7 Haman and his family go down and down and down. And the Jews go up and up and up.
Now let me tell you why you and I should be interested in what happened to the Jews all those many years ago. You know that the Saviour of the world is the Lord Jesus Christ and He was a Jew and the great wish and aim of Haman was to kill all the Jews. He wanted to destroy the entire race. We have words for that today we call it ethnic cleansing - the wiping out of a whole race of people or if you like, another word is genocide - the obliteration of a whole racial group. And Haman's ambition, as I say, was to cut off every last Jewish man, woman and child. Now this was a difficult task because Persia, where they were living, was a huge empire. I'm not able to compare it really with the empires of the modern world, but I imagine it must have been bigger in size than the United States of America. I imagine so because there were 127 provinces or countries. There were many, many languages spoken and the empire stretched, believe it or not, from India in the Far East, the East at any rate, right across the Ethiopia in Africa; so all that area belonged to the empire of the Persians. And if Haman had succeeded then the Lord Jesus could not have been born. That is why this is such a very important book. It shows how God intervenes not only to save the Jews, which was very important, but also to save the Jews so that Jesus could be born, and that He could finish His ministry and His work and die for His people - the whole world, including ourselves. So Haman's legal motive was not simply one which would have affected the Jewish nation, but it would have affected the destiny of the entire world, and of the church and of every one of us here in the room tonight.
But now, when we come to this chapter, as I say, we have the climax. Haman has been rising, rising, rising, right up to this chapter and then he begins to go down. It reminds us of a verse of scripture, in Deuteronomy 32,35: 'their feet shall slide in due time', meaning all the enemies of God. No matter how high they climb, and sometimes they climb very high, sooner or later God will cause their foot to slide and they shall be like a tree which collapses and they shall be overthrown. So then that 's why I want to look at this verse here in verse 10, this evening: They hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified (text).
1. THE PEOPLE OF GOD WILL HAVE ENEMIES IN THIS WORLD
Now the first thing we learn from this book of Esther is this: that the people of God will have enemies in this world and I daresay that you do not need me to tell you that. If you are, or become, a child of God you must expect enemies. It has always been true: God's people in every age, in every place, they have had enemies. And this Haman was the enemy at that time. He was a deadly enemy. He was very rich, absolutely unscrupulous. He didn't mind putting many thousands, indeed possibly millions, of persons to death. And he was very close to the king.
Let me tell you about this king: his name is given here in the book as Ahasuerus. And we know him in history by the name Xerxes, Xerxes the First; a very strange man in many ways, quixotic sort of man. He went to war against Greece and lost, lost handsomely. And he is the king whom we meet in this book and his intention was to make sure that he was of course regarded almost as a god in the entire kingdom. But Haman ingratiated himself and became influential in the life of this king Ahasuarus. And he offered him great wealth to increase his kingly power on the condition that letters would be written, sealed with the king's ring, and dispatched around all the 127 provinces to kill, to destroy, to obliterate, to annihilate every single man, woman and child who was Jewish. That then was what he endeavoured to do.
Now this was a very strange type of hatred and we must ask ourselves: why ever should a man in his position, being wealthy and influential, why should he have this strange hatred for the people of God? And the answer is partly because he was annoyed at the fact that Mordecai would not bow down to him - you see that in the book - but, more still because he was an unspiritual man. And unspiritual people always resent believers. They always think the worst of the Lord's people. Those who are carnal are opposed to those who are spiritual and that was the trouble with this man, he was a carnal man, he was a worldly man. He didn't like the people of God and he didn't like the fact that they were different from other people. Indeed, this is the point he makes in his famous address to the king: Oh King, he says, There is a people living in your dominion who are different from all peoples and their laws are different from the laws of all other people and he was working towards the main point that he put to the king that Therefore oh King, let us put them all to death.
Now that has always been true in history; the children of this world do not love the people of God, but they resent them. They resent their spirituality: they resent the fact that they are men and women who are living for another world; they resent that fact that they go by this Book; they have a revelation from God; they have a desire to live a different kind of life. They're not screaming all the time about the pleasures of this world; rather they go patiently and calmly along in life and they're looking for the city of God. They're going patiently through life, uncomplaining, and they're so different from others. Now that is precisely why the world hates the people of God: they're different. You find this said many times, Jesus says: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you (John 15,18). And all through the Old Testament it 's the same: when Israel was in Egypt it was the same; when the Philistines were in power, it was the same; and when we come to the New Testament it was the same, the Jews who became believers, they were persecuted and put to death. The people stoned Stephen, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.In the early church Christians were thrown to the lions; they said, 'Christians to the lions'. It was the same indeed at the Reformation, many of Lord's people who were converted through the preaching and the reading of the Bible, they were burned to death by the world; because there is an enmity between the people of God and the people of this world. And it comes to a focus here very sharply in the case of this man Haman. As I say, he wanted to cut off every last man, woman and child from the face of the earth; all those who belonged to the race of the Jews, who were in Old Testament times, of course, the people of God. And in order to have a flourish,he added to this assignation and this great act of murder and genocide something rather poetical; he wanted to advertise his power. And so at the advice of his wife and his counsellors he had a huge gallows prepared 75 feet high. I've no idea how he intended to get the body of Mordecai, if he could have done so, all the way up 75 feet high, which is much higher than this room. I imagine he must have constructed it with a sort of windlass or a noose which would have been put round the neck, and then he would have done this and the corpse would have gone up and up and up, 75 feet high. And there he intended to leave it floating in the breeze so that everybody could see that this symbol of the Jewish nation was now extinguished and destroyed.
So you really have to understand the nature of this man Haman in spiritual terms. You have to realise that hatred for Christians and the people of God is in everyone's heart and you will feel it when you become a Christian. You feel you're no longer a part of this world. And many of you have felt it: you've felt unkindness and cruelty and bitterness and sharpness of attitude towards you, because you're a Christian. And when you talk to people about the fact that you're a Christian you feel the reaction at once, they don't like it. They'd rather you be anything but a Christian, rather that you were any sort of religion, have any sort of philosophy, be any sort of person at all. But when you tell them you're a child of God it creates this feeling of resentment and animosity. Well, the devil, of course, is the one who inspires the unconverted people to behave in this way. This is the devil at work in the hearts of the enemies of the people of God and the book of Esther is here to remind us that as long as we are in world we will taste more or less of this hatred, this persecution, more or less of this irrational cruelty. The Lord's people are always patient and kind and longsuffering and law abiding and loving and yet, for all that, the world will hate them and that is exactly the case with this man Haman. He wanted to destroy all the Jews and he wanted to hoist this dear good man of God, Mordecai, 75 feet up into the sky. So that for miles all round the city here, where the king lived, the people could see his own triumph over all the people of God.
Well, I say it again, my dearly beloved friends, if we are Christians here, real Christians and not simply Christians in name only, if we have Christ in our hearts, don't be surprised when you come across this resistance to you from carnal men. It 's a sign of being an unconverted person when you dislike the people of God, when you feel malicious spite against them. It's a sign that you have not got grace when you dislike them because they are religious. You complain against them, you find fault with them; they shouldn't be different from others, why are they so different from others? Why do they keep the Sabbath day so strictly? Why are they so God-fearing? Why are they always praying and going to prayer meetings? And that 's the spirit of the world; they don't like it. They don't go to these things themselves, but they don't like you to go. They don't like you to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They try to make laws to make it hard for you to do that. They don't like you to punish your children, as the Bible says we must do, when they go astray and correct them. And the world tries to make laws to stop us doing that and to criminalize parental upbringing which involves some discipline; not too severe, but appropriate discipline, where necessary. And the world doesn't like that, doesn't want anything to do with the standards of God or to be reminded of God. And Mordecai and the Jewish people were a terrible reminder to Haman and all that were like him, that there is a God and that there is a holy God and a God of judgement, a God to whom we shall all give our account in the end. And, as I say, he was an enemy of God's people and you,dear friends, those of you who have Christ in your hearts, as many of you do, you mustn't be surprised when you feel the same bitterness and animosity towards you - it 's all part of being one of the people of God.
2. GOD COMMANDS US NEVER TO BE AFRAID OF OUR ENEMIES
Now, the second thing I come to is this: God commands us never to be afraid of our enemies. Now that 's easy to say, it 's not so easy to do. There is always this temptation for us all, and we all feel it, when we get these vibrations of hatred and unkindness, we feel it and we react to it. And there 's always the temptation that we become intimidated, that we are afraid. We don't like to be disliked, that's understandable. And we tend to back off and we tend to shy away and cower in the corner and sometimes we even have a sort of panic attack when we think that our enemies are going to be unkind to us and cruel in their treatment of us.
But the Bible, my dear friends, tells us never to be afraid of our enemies. Listen to the way Christ puts it: He said 'Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.' (Matthew 10,28). Now those are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ to His people in all ages. We have needed to know, in all ages, that lesson. We need to be fortified and strengthened and emboldened and given fresh courage, because we are timid people. The people of God are shy, they're nervous, they're a humble people, they're humbled continually by the sanctifying effects of God's spirit and Word upon their lives. They're a self effacing people. And we mustn't confuse humility with timidity, we are called upon to be humble, but never called upon to be timid. And sometimes one passes into the other and we lose our courage. You will have noticed that and Jesus said, 'Fear him', He means God; He doesn't mean the devil in any sense in that passage: 'Fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.'(Matthew 10,28). And for your profit I tell you the word hell there is not the word Hades, which means the place of the dead, it is the word Gehenna, which is the place of eternal fire , fire and brimstone. Gehenna is the word that is used there in Matthew 10,28. And so it 's very obvious that our Lord anticipates that in the course of history His people are always going to be on the receiving end of persecution and bitterness and cruelty and the unkindness of others. And our Lord says: fear not those who can do those things against you.
Now Paul the apostle puts it like this in Philippians 1, he says: 'And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.' (Philippians 1,28). In nothing terrified, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Ephesians 6,10), that 's the way the apostle Paul puts it. Now my very dear friends, the love of the Gospel of Christ was given to us, not least, in order to make the people of God bold and that 's why we honour Esther, this wonderful woman of God. She had a very difficult ministry in the royal court. She had no right to go into the immediate presence of the king, except she could risk it, and if she appeared before the king uninvited, the risk she ran was death. But if the king, in his gratuitous kindness lifted the golden sceptre to her, then she was allowed audience with the king and she risked her life.
You may remember that in preparation for this momentous entry of queen Esther into the presence of the king to plead for her people the Jews, that she fasted and prayed and indeed, all the Jews everywhere had three days of fasting and prayer. They neither ate nor drank, all the Jewish communities, the people of God, all over the world at that time they had this special self-discipline and they cried out to God in their plight and in their emergency. And this bold and beloved woman of God risked everything going into the presence of the king, boldly, and pleading favours from him which were to lead to the deliverance of the whole of the Jewish race, many millions of people. And then, we see how Mordecai is a great inspiration also of courage, when he risked his life similarly and he did so, and he led in the foreground, showing the people how they should conduct themselves: boldly, in the face of this terrible opposition.
Well, my dear friends the Lord's people are called upon to be bold in this life. Humble yes, but timid no, and we mustn't confuse the one with other. You can be as humble as you like, but you are never commanded to be afraid and it 's so easy for the one to be interpreted as the other. It is no sin to be courageous, no sin to be bold, no sin to be brave for God. We have many examples of brave men and women in scripture and they're an example to us, not least these persons in this book, but also Daniel and his three friends facing lions and burning fiery furnaces. And then you come to the apostles of Christ in the early chapters of the Acts and you see how they were courageous, very wonderful. Peter had been cowering before the resurrection of Christ, he was unable even to confess Christ, but denied Him three times. But when the Holy Spirit came down upon him, what boldness he had. Do you remember those words in Acts 4? when the Jewishleaders looked at Peter and John and they were astonished at their boldness? They were ignorant and unlearned men, as far as the Rabbinical teachers were concerned, and yet they had this tremendous boldness in the law. And they realised that this had come to them because they were so well acquainted with Christ and that is the secret of the success of Esther and Mordecai and all who have been bold and brave for Christ. It is this being much in the presence of the Lord in prayer, much walking with Christ, much talking with Christ, much studying His word, much talking about His works, His ways, His truths, His laws, His Gospel,- these doctrines make a person strong in the faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And our Lord commands us so to be.
Now may I make this application: we today in Great Britain are very much in need of the kind of courage which was shown by Esther and by Mordecai. Why do we need it? Well, because today almost everyone is against Christianity, almost everyone. We live in a strange day today, a day when people don't even pretend to be respectable. Usually unconverted people like to be thought at least decent, but today there 's not even an attempt to appear decent. People parade their irreligion, they parade their atheism, they parade their sins and their vile and filthy private lives. And they're not ashamed of it. But they splash it across the headlines. And they hate God and Christianity and Bibles, and Sabbaths, and churches, and Christians, and everything that our forefathers loved and cherished and promoted. So I say we'll never survive in the modern climate if we don't learn some lessons from Esther and Mordecai; about how we must seek some boldness and courage from God to live our lives in this twenty-first century.
Now you may say to me, what in particular is the form in which our boldness will express itself? Well, I give you one or two particulars. For one thing, my friends, we must be bold to confess Jesus Christ as Lord before men. Our Lord's own words, you will remember them, went like this: 'Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven' (Matthew 10,32) and then He said 'But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven' (Matthew 10,33). He will say about us then 'I never knew you: depart from me.' (Matthew 7,23). Our Lord is plain speaking. Our Lord tells us straight as it is. Now we need boldness to do that, it 's not easy, no one pretends it 's easy; not I, nor anyone else here. It 's very hard not to be ashamed of Christ today, it 's very hard not to apologise for being a church-goer, or child in the Sabbath school, or from a Christian home. It 's very hard not to say, I'm sorry but my people go to church. They're very funny people you know, different from most other parents in this school, it 's very hard for me to say this to you, but my parents are very religious, and I'm ashamed. Never say such a thing, never be ashamed of a Christian father or a Christian mother, but seek strength to tell the truth without fear.
And we need also to be bold and to be brave for this reason: that today people in high places are denying every single item of truth in the Bible. Every single doctrine of the Bible is under attack today. Now that 's very strange. If you were to go back 50 years, when I was a younger fellow, it wouldn't be the case. Most people in society would praise the Bible, they wouldn't read it, but at least they'd praise it. Most people would say, 'the church is a good place to go, and Sunday School is a good place to go, and ministers do a good job'; they wouldn't be there in church themselves, you understand, but they would have the decency to say, 'it 's a good thing to be there, though I don't go myself'. Not so anymore. People scorn the idea of God as the Creator. They don't like it. They resent it; 'There is no Creator,' they say. 'The world is billions of years old, a great accident happened, and somehow all this wonderful world, in which we live in today, came into being out of nothing by an accident' they say. And they don't like it that we say 'no, no., 'In the beginning God created..' (Genesis 1,1).
Well, I say, you have to be bold and courageous and you don't have to apologise for the teaching of the Word of God. You need to have some of this courage that Mordecai and Esther had in their day to resist the powers of enmity; the spirit of Haman, which stalks our streets everywhere today. And they certainly don't like it if you say: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who came into the world, born of the virgin, lived a sinless life, did His miracles, died for us on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, is coming to judge the world at the end of history. They say: we don't like that; that 's the creed and they simply hate it. So I say my very dear friends if we're to get through our life in this generation we will need to have some of this conviction here.
We are truly being bombarded by anti-Christian thought at every level, through the radio, through the television no doubt, by newspapers, by magazines, in the classroom, in the lecture theatre, on the street, wherever you go. There 's anti-Christian influence continually pulsating in the minds of everybody. And you, and I, if we mean to get to heaven, you must refuse it all, you must walk through it all, you must reject it all, you must scorn everything which scorns God and His truth and that's what Mordecai did. And that 's what this dear beloved woman, Esther, did. What a hero he was, and what a heroine she was and what an example they are therefore to us: never to be afraid of those who hate the things of God.
Now let me put this question to you, every one of you: are you given to confessing Christ? Every one of us, from time to time, finds himself and herself in the company of unconverted people, we have unconverted friends and neighbours and relations, we all do, that's the way we all are in this world. The world is not a heaven on earth by any means and there are unconverted people in our families and in our circle of friends and neighbours. Now what do you do when they sneer at your faith and your Christian confession and profession. What do you do? Do you back of with apology? Do you become defensive, or keep silent? Of course, we're never called upon to be rude, or forward. But with all courtesy we can say to people: 'Excuse me, before you say so much as to bring yourself into disgrace, will you not allow me to remind you that Jesus Christ and His truth are from God and if you believe these things you will be saved, and if not you will perish. And your blood will be on your own head'. We need, you see, to have this courage and to face man.
3. THE ENEMIES OF GOD WILL FALL SOONER OR LATER
Now, thirdly then let me come to say this: this book shows us, the book of Esther, this book shows us that no matter how high the enemies of God may climb, they will all fall down sooner or later. And I believe that this is intended by God to be the lesson, or one of the principal lessons of this book. You watch the course of this man Haman; and up he goes, higher and higher and higher and then God begins to interrupt his plans. One of the most fascinating verses in the whole book, almost in the whole Bible is in chapter 6 and verse 1, did you notice it? 'On that night, we're told, could not the king Ahasuerus sleep.' (Esther 6,1). The king could not sleep. Well, that seems to be a matter of no great importance, we often get that don't we, we don't get to sleep very quickly at night. Well, you might say that 's of no importance, but it was of great importance, it was a world shaking event. For this reason: that king Ahasuerus was thinking, he was letting thoughts go through his mind as we do when we can't sleep. And God brought to his remembrance the case of someone who had saved him his life, whose name was Mordecai. So he called for the records and the scrolls and his wise men and he said 'What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?' (Esther 6,3). There was this conspiracy of two of his councillors to kill him and Mordecai detected it, disclosed it, and saved the king's life. Had anything been done for this man? And it led to that most ironical passage in this chapter here, chapter 6, most ironical passage, in which in comes Haman and he says to the king, he 's going to speak to the king, and the king says to him 'What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?' (Esther 6,6) And of course, Haman, being full of himself he thought that the king was referring to him, but in fact he was referring to his enemy. And Mordecai was now to be honoured by Haman, what an irony! What a humiliation! And as Haman ran in front of the chariot, and Mordecai was after him in the chariot, Haman had to shout in the full hearing of all the people, 'Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.' (Esther 6,11).
Well, you see, God was beginning to turn the tables on him. And God turns the tables sooner or later on every one of those who is a hater of Jesus Christ and a hater of His people. And my excellent friends we have to be patient, we mustn't take the law into our own hands, ever. We mustn't avenge ourselves; we must wait the Lord's time, always. Because the Lord has already appointed a time in which those who hate his people will slide and fall, as Haman did. And it didn't take too long, did it? It happened very soon, because not very long after this Haman found himself in great difficulties before the king. He fell from the bed where Esther was, to plead for his life; and the upshot was, where Haman had intended Mordecai to be, Haman was himself.
Well, isn't it so very like Adolf Hitler? It really was a re-run in the Second World War of exactly what Adolf Hitler did, he wanted to kill every single Jew - do the children know that? 1939-1945 he set up that terrible concentration camp called Auschwitz and others to, and there were trains all over Europe collecting Jews, men, women and children. And the upshot was he killed six million Jews, put them through the gas chambers and in other ways, shot them, one and a quarter million were little babies, like the children still in their prams. He murdered the whole lot and he wanted to kill every single Jew. But the point I hurry onto is this: in 1945 he was defeated and he shot himself in his bunker in Berlin, in Germany, and within three years the State of Israel was set up. The very thing he tried to stop, God brought into being. And that 's just an illustration of what He does, time and time and time again. 'Thine enemies, Oh Lord, shall perish and those that hate thee shall be as the chaff before the wind' [based on (Psalm 35,5)]. Oh, my dear friends, the Christian is the subject of the special love of God. There is a defence about the Lord's people 'Touch not mine anointed" says God, and do my prophets no harm.' (1 Chronicles 16,22). And all who put out their hand to touch the people of God they will pay handsomely for it, before they're done. Haman teaches us this. He's not the only one, of course, many another one did to.
You may know the case of a Roman emperor who tried to do great harm to the Christians, his name was Julian the Apostate. He wasn't so much an active persecutor but he tried to spread Heathen philosophy all through the world and to destroy Christian doctrine. But he came to his end and as he was dying on the field of battle he did this: he shook his fist to Jesus Christ in heaven, he said, 'Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!'- he knew Christ had won and he had lost. And indeed he once said to a Christian, 'What 's your carpenter doing now?' he said, referring disparagingly to the Lord Jesus Christ. 'What's your carpenter doing now?', said this emperor to the Christian. 'Sire, said the Christian to the emperor, 'He 's making a coffin for the emperor.' And that 's what happened, the carpenter in heaven, if we may respectfully use the phrase, 'the carpenter of heaven' was making a coffin for the emperor and Christ is making coffins for all that hate Him, and they'll all be shown their exits and their departures will come speedily.
Or maybe you know the case of Cardinal Wolsey in England, at the time of Henry VIII. Another man who had no love for Bibles, no love for the people of God, and he rose higher and higher and higher and higher, until he fell out with the king and his crash was like a tree falling. And when he was disgraced, you know very well from Shakespeare, what Cardinal Wolsey said, he said: 'Had I but served my God as faithfully as I have served my king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs,' and then he added, 'it is my just deserts.' He knew he was wrong; he put God second and himself first and he did not love the people of God as he should have done. Time and time and time again, the same thing happens.
My friend, my time is up now, but I say to you: make sure that God is on your side and the way to do that is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
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