“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.” — Esther 6:13
The account of Haman and his plot against the Jews reminds me of a t-shirt my fellow travelers and I saw while visiting Israel several years ago. It was emblazoned with the words “Civilizations, Nations, and Empires that Have Tried to Destroy the Jewish People,” followed by two columns with the headings “Nation” on the left and “Status” on the right. Below the headings was the following list:
· Ancient Egypt – Gone
· Philistines – Gone
· Assyrian Empire – Gone
· Babylonian Empire – Gone
· Persian Empire – Gone
· Greek Empire – Gone
· Roman Empire – Gone
· Byzantine Empire – Gone
· Crusaders – Gone
· Spanish Empire – Gone
· Nazi Germany – Gone
· Soviet Union – Gone
· Iran – ???
Under the list was the caption, “The Jewish people: the smallest of nations but with a Friend in the highest of places! So… BE NICE!”
If we were to insert names of national leaders into this chart, Pharaoh would represent “Ancient Egypt,” Hitler would represent “Nazi Germany,” and Haman, in our text today, would certainly represent the “Persian Empire.” This man’s hatred of the Jewish people precipitated a national crisis as he conspired to have them all destroyed. Thankfully, the Jews had — and still have — a Friend who is all-powerful. The events in these chapters may appear to be coincidental, but they are evidence that God is always at work, providentially arranging events and timing for His purposes. Not only was Haman’s evil plot against God’s people averted, but he paid for his wicked scheme with his life.
Just as God protected the Jews of Haman’s day, those of us who have been saved through Jesus’ Blood (Jew and Gentile alike) can be assured that He will fight for us. Today, if you are engaged in a spiritual battle, God is on your side. You can quote our focus verse and say to the enemy, “Thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.” When we are serving God, triumph is not a matter of if, but when. No matter how dire our situation may seem, He will win the victory every time.
Chapters 5 and 6 of Esther can be divided into three sections, with each segment involving one of the principal characters in the narrative. Verses 1-8 of chapter 5 deal with the intercession of Esther; verses 9-14 concern the pride of Haman; and chapter 6 describes the reward of Mordecai.
The three-day fast of the Jews requested by Esther (described in verses 15-16 of chapter 4) had taken place, and in the beginning of today’s text, Esther made her approach to the king. Since the king had not extended an invitation to her, she took this action at the risk of her life. It was especially courageous given the king’s treatment of his former queen, Vashti (see Esther 1:19,21). However, the king not only accepted Esther’s presence, but he said her request would be granted up to “half of the kingdom,” a statement Bible scholars indicate was more of a proverbial expression than a literal offer.
Esther did not immediately voice her ultimate request, but instead invited the king to a banquet. No reason is given for her delay, but she likely desired to win the king’s confidence. In addition, she wanted Haman to be present, an indicator that she had already formulated a plan to expose Haman’s plot.
At the banquet, King Ahasuerus repeated his offer to grant Esther’s desire up to half the kingdom. Again, she delayed, merely inviting the king and Haman to a second dinner the following night. Her statement that if they came, “I will do tomorrow as the king hath said,” seemingly was a promise that she would make her true desire known at that time.
Verses 9-14 of chapter 5 concern Haman’s plan to hang Mordecai. Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman had infuriated him, and he complained bitterly to his friends and wife. They advised him to build a gallows and then speak to the king about executing Mordecai. Their obvious assumption was that the king, who had already agreed to the destruction of the Jewish people, would have no objection. The extraordinary height of the gallows (approximately seventy-five feet) possibly indicated that Haman wanted to make an example to the people with this execution.
The events in chapter 6 mark a transition in the book, in which the tide of events that previously had been against the Jews began to reverse. God’s providence is clearly seen in the fact that the portion of royal records read to the king to combat his sleeplessness was a report of Mordecai’s disclosure of an assassination plot against the king (see Esther 2:21-23).
Learning that Mordecai had never been rewarded for this deed of integrity, the king asked who was present in the court among his advisors. In an indicator of God’s timing, Haman had just arrived to request the execution of Mordecai. When the king asked him for a recommendation regarding what should be done for a man the king wished to honor, Haman assumed the recipient would be himself and suggested a lengthy list of tributes. The resulting “turning of the tables” must have been exceedingly humiliating to Haman. Instead of executing Mordecai, he was forced to parade the man he despised through the streets and exalt him.
II. The deliverance of the Jews
A. The frustration of the plot
2. The reception of Esther (5:1-8)
a. The appearance of Esther before the king (5:1-4)
b. The request of Esther to the king (5:5-8)
3. The humiliation of Haman (5:9 — 6:14)
a. The plan of Haman to hang Mordecai (5:9-14)
b. The king’s debt to Mordecai (6:1-3)
c. The honoring of Mordecai by the king through Haman (6:4-11)
d. The sorrow of Haman (6:12-14)
The events that occur in our lives are always under God’s sovereign control, and He is more than able to deliver.