Monday, May 4, 2020

Esther Pt 5

Put your money where your mouth is. It’s called an idiom. It isn’t to be taken literally. It means, “Ok, you’ve told me what you can do. Do it. Prove you mean what you say.” A less dignified way of saying it is: put up or shut up.

Then there’s saber rattling which means making noise by clanging our swords together like we’re ready to fight. You’ve got pep rallies where we yell we’re the best. We promise a victory before we even take the field. And then, a boxer brags about how he’ll K.O. his opponent but hasn’t stepped into the ring yet. It’s called posturing – bragging of an outcome before the action begins.

The question is: can we back up our words by accomplishing what we say? We can promise anything. But can we deliver. When the battle begins, when the game starts, when the bell rings, will we do what we said we would do.

When we left Esther last week, she had decided she would go in before the King unannounced. And if she perished, she perished. She had asked for three days of prayer and fasting. During that time, she not only found her strength to do what she promised, but came up with a game plan for how she would ask the King to reverse what Haman had decreed against the Jews.

Esther 5:1-5 Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace in front of the king's rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace. When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. Then the king said to her, "What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be given to you." Esther said, "If it pleases the king, may the king and Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for him." Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly that we may do as Esther desires." So the king and Haman came to the banquet which Esther had prepared. 

This was the moment Esther’s commitment was put to the test. Everything was just words until she opened the door, walked into the inner court and stood before the king. At that moment, what she had said she would do was brought into action. She put her money where her mouth was.

Peter Lord said: What we believe we do. All else is religious talk.

God is not interested in our beliefs, our package of knowledge about things we’re convinced is true. In fact, the word belief isn’t in the Bible. What is used instead is the word Truth. Truth doesn’t care if we believe it or not, it remains true. Belief is based on opinion. Truth is established beyond our opinion. The word we’re challenged with is believe. It is our response to what is true. Believe is a word of choice, an action word, a verb. We don’t act from a collection of beliefs, we act in response to what we know is true.

The Bible says: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Not express your opinion about Him but act upon what you know is true – who He is and what He has done.

What we believe we do. All else is religious talk.

Esther has stepped into the action zone. What is she believing? That this moment is why she was made Queen in the first place. That she was the right person, in the right place, at the right time, able to do the right thing.

Esther 5:6-8 As they drank their wine at the banquet, the king said to Esther, "What is your petition, for it shall be granted to you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done." So Esther replied, "My petition and my request is: if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and do what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king says." 

Remember the old soap operas? They always left you hanging, teasing you with…tune in next time to see how this crisis turns out. It’s called a cliff-hanger. Who shot J.R.? The hero is hanging in mid-action. Will he make it or not? Books that do that are called page turners. You have to keep reading to see what’s next. 

1000 and One Arabian Nights tells of a King who, after discovering his wife has been regularly unfaithful, kills her and those with whom she betrayed him. His hate for her remains so strong that when he re-marries, he then kills each new wife after their wedding night. When two sisters are selected to be next, the younger of the two insists she be given in marriage before her elder sister. She devised a plot to end the king’s rage. Each evening she would tell a story, leaving it incomplete and promising to finish it the following night. The stories are so entertaining, and the king so eager to hear the end, that he puts off her execution night after night until he finally abandons his cruel plan, which took her 1001 nights.

To help Esther prepare the King for her request, she dangles another opportunity for the two men. Esther is drawing both the King and Haman into the intrigue of her story.

Now was she this cunning? During the three days of prayer and fasting, did someone suggest this as a method for how to approach the king? Or did God step into her heart and bring her into His plan?
Prov 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. 

In a natural sense it would seem Esther came up with a plan but, in reality, behind Esther’s plan was God directing her steps according to His purposes. Remember, when God is at work bringing about His good solution, He may use anything or anyone to accomplish that work. 

Esther 5:9-14 Then Haman went out that day glad and pleased of heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate and that he did not stand up or tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai. Haman controlled himself, however, went to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh. Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman also said, "Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king. "Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate." Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, "Have a gallows fifty cubits high made and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go joyfully with the king to the banquet." And the advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made. 

Here is a profound moment in the story. It’s very natural and raw. Haman cannot stand Mordecai. In spite of all the good he has going for him, being second to the King, having a supportive (though conniving) wife, having eleven sons and the respect and honor from everyone else in town, he is miserable because of one man.

We can identify with that. How many negative comments does it take to ruin a hundred positive ones? One. One comment is enough to ruin a good day. If we have or have had someone in our life we wanted to please more than anyone else, everyone else’s opinion, though encouraging, didn’t matter as much as that one person’s comment. That person was the measuring stick by which we decided if we were good enough. And though they were usually incapable of the encouragement we sought, we still thought, someday we could do something that might change their mind.

That was Mordecai to Haman. Mordecai was Haman’s sour taste in his mouth. So, the best solution was to hang Mordecai. Simply get rid of him and everything would be fine. Watch how God steps in. And notice God’s sense of humor in doing so.

Esther 6:1-13 During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. It was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. The king said, "What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" Then the king's servants who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him." So the king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace in order to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows which he had prepared for him. The king's servants said to him, "Behold, Haman is standing in the court." And the king said, "Let him come in." So Haman came in and the king said to him, "What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?" And Haman said to himself, "Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?" Then Haman said to the king, "For the man whom the king desires to honor, let them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been placed; and let the robe and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble princes and let them array the man whom the king desires to honor and lead him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, 'Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.'" Then the king said to Haman, "Take quickly the robes and the horse as you have said, and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king's gate; do not fall short in anything of all that you have said." So Haman took the robe and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, "Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor." Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried home, mourning, with his head covered. 

This is what we call poetic justice. Instead of the favor Haman expected for himself, he had to show it to Mordecai. That’s a pride buster.

Pride is one of the more debilitating attitudes of man. It originates in the heart and spreads out to the life. 

Jesus said: Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. 

Pride is listed as one of the seven things God considers abominations: Prov 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. 

Each of these abominations damage the lives of others. So, in each, God takes vengeance against the ones who commit such actions. 

Prov 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; assuredly, he will not be unpunished. 

But Haman’s pride wasn’t just a personal matter against Mordecai, he set his ultimate intention on destroying the people of God. God will not let this go unpunished. Remember there is a promise associated with the Jews: 

Gen 12:1-3 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. 

Even his wife knew this: Esther 6:13 Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him." 

What Zeresh said was profound. How did she know this? History? Insight? Or was she just giving Gods’ editorial input as He placed a divine context on the story.

It’s not unusual that men have expressed something so profound that in saying it, they, themselves, didn’t even know the implications. On one occasion, to try and deal with the boldness of the disciples after the Resurrection and Pentecost:

Act 5:34-39 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God." 

Ever think about times we might disagree with God’s plans or deliberately go against God’s plans. What are the consequences in doing so? 

  • Pulling out from under the umbrella of His protection.
  • Rejecting what’s best for something far inferior.
  • Grouping ourselves within the camp of the godless.
  • Joining the mob of those who resist God being God.
  • Declaring ourselves superior to God’s judgement.
  • Making ourselves God over our own lives.

You’ll remember this from: Isa 14:12-17 How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?' 

Who is this about? Because Jesus said: Luke 10:18 I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning, we believe Isaiah is telling us about Satan’s rebellion against God and being cast out of Heaven. 

But it broadly describes the attitude of anyone whose pride drives them to reject God’s best and choose to become their own God. Casting out refers to there being consequences of their actions.

Can you imagine the outcome for someone like Haman? He has committed himself to become the enemy of God’s people. If God would so strip Satan an angel of light of his former glory because of pride, what would He do to Haman? He, too, made the earth of Persia tremble and would not allow the prisoners to go home and by his actions challenged God’s right to rule.

Like Satan, God may permit rebellion for a season but there is a day of reckoning. For Haman, his comes next week.

But speaking of pride, we need to realize how damaging it is to stand against God, and how strong the consequences are.

Chuck Swindoll once said, “I once accepted a speaking engagement among Christians involved in a Twelve Step program. As I talked with the attendees and pondered what to say, I finally decided on the ironic title, "Why I Wish I Was an Alcoholic." It occurred to me that what recovering alcoholics confess every day—personal failure and the daily need for grace and help from friends –this represent high hurdles for those of us who take pride in our independence and self-sufficiency.” Admitting we need help is the first step to recovery. It is humiliating to stand in front of others and say, “I’m not as strong as I think I am.” Deciding we are strong enough to handle things on our own is evidence of pride and the first step back into slavery.

The captain on the bridge of a large naval vessel saw a light ahead on a collision course. He signaled, "Alter your course ten degrees south." The reply came back, "Alter your course ten degrees north." The captain then signaled, "Alter your course ten degrees south. I am a captain." The reply: "Alter your course 10 degrees north. I am a seaman third-class." The furious captain signaled, "Alter your course ten degrees south. I am a battleship." The reply: "Alter your course ten degrees north. I am a lighthouse."

Who’s the greater of the two? The one driving the boat or the one commanding the waters over which the boat must travel? 

Pride fights against God’s right to rule. We compete with Him to control our own lives. Our greatest challenge is to deny those urges of pride and let God be God. Whenever we fight Him over that title, we will lose. There can be no other Gods before Him. Not even us.


  1.  Faith requires trust.
  2. Trust requires surrender.
  3. Pride is the inhibitor of trust. 
  4.  I will not trust someone I feel superior to.
  5. When I fight against God’s right to rule, I am assuming I know better than He does in determining what’s best in my life.
  6. Humbling means acknowledging I need the Lord.

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