Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART VII | Justice Revealed | Esther 7
October 18, 2020 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Unseen God: Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Esther 7
Christopher Rich – October 18, 2020
Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther
PART VII | | Justice Revealed | Esther 7
Introduction | When will it all come out?
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series walking the through the book of Esther called UNSEEN GOD: Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther. Thank you for joining us!
When there is injustice happening and more pain and death on the horizon we want it exposed and dealt with. When we are the ones who are suffering we want vindication AND we want Justice served. When we have opportunities for our voices to be used to effect real change we need to respond with courage and boldness. When we realize how powerless and helpless we are then we cry out for someone to stand up for us.
Recap- The self-centered king of Persia has dismissed his bride the queen launched a massive war, taken all the eligible young women in the nation for himself (not once but twice) made Esther (a Jewish minority, orphan, exile) his new queen. Dodged an assignation attempt (thanks to the heads up from Mordechai) promoted the sinister Haman to second in command. Haman is disrespected by Mordechai leading to Haman’s genocidal plot to become the Persian Hitler complete with a set date for the “final solution” to be literally executed eliminating all Jews in Persia… and effectively ending the potential for God’s promise to send a savior TO the nations FROM the nation of Israel. This is real pain, real injustice, causing real mourning and lament. Mordechai is responding the truth of the situation with true lament. Esther struggles but processes through a journey of compliance and conformity leading to conviction and courage. She is not as safe as she thinks she is, but God is more active than we realize. Mordecai has confidence that God will deliver and raise up relief, but Esther has been placed in this role and season for a reason. She is resolved to risk her life now to help her people rather than stand by and wait for things to get worse. The Jews in Susa fast with her and for her. Now it’s go time. She fasts, plans, prepares an risks her life. She is reward with favor. The king asks what she wants (I’ll give you half the kingdom) and she throws a feast in his honor (with Haman!) and says… “I’ll tell you” tomorrow at another feast. Haman, goes from high to low when he sees Mordecai fail to honor him after the feast. He throws a pity party at home, recounts his awesomeness but says it’s worthless if Mordecai is alive. His wife and “friends” plan to hang Mordecai before lunch the next day. He agrees to the plan, and the scene is set. But then there is a sleepless night where the king is reminded that Mordecai saved him years ago and was never honored. In an ironically comic scene Haman is asked what a man should receive when he’s honored by the king and he goes big! Kings Robes, Kings Whip, Kings crown all while being treated like royalty by royalty. It ends up being all for… Mordecai and Haman has to make it so. He desires honor but ends up humiliated as he runs home to whine to his wife and advisors who being to let him know the tide has turned and his defeat is likely.
PART I | Injustice Revealed, Justice Demanded | Esther 7:1-6
Esther 7:1-6 |So the king and Haman went into the feast with Queen Esther 2 And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” 5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” 6 And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
Haman has just been at home mourning is morning and now has been taken into the presence of the King and Queen at the feast Esther has prepared. This is a slow feast with good food and drink, maybe even some entertainment. Haman might be calming down a bit with the feast and wine not knowing what is about to happen. The King has been plied with food and drink again, he’s given out a parade this AM, he’s in a giving mood and now he’s ready to hear what the Queen’s request is doubling down on the “Half my Kingdom” rhetoric. Go time! As we see this speech given by Esther to the King, in the presence of Hamen, we are getting a bit of a play book for what effective activism looks to address systemic injustice.
She Appeals Appropriately - Begins with the King – King “if I’ve found favor” and “if it pleases you” O KING (one who has the greatest power and authority in our nation) She is making sure to appeal to the person who has the ability to affect change. Mordecai’s protest and the national movement is both important and necessary to raise awareness of the scale and scope of the issue at hand (Genocide) but an appeal needs to be made directly to the people in power or with the power to bring relief. In this Esther is acting as an effective advocate. This is different that mediation. Mediator bring two parties together. Impartial, dispassionate working to form some sort of compromise and/or achieve peace. Advocate – Impassioned with empathy to bring a voice to the voiceless for the purposes of injustice being revealed and justice be restored. She is not impartial she has a specific action she wants to see accomplished.
She’s Clear - What does she want? Life for her and her people. When does she want it? Now! Not even life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Just life without the promise of genocide and annihilation. She’s not asking for the American Dream but to be spare the Persian Nightmare. Just give me the opportunity to keep breathing and let me be an advocate for my people who also need relief from fear. She not vague about what the stakes are and she makes what she is seeking plain to understand and respond to.
She is Bold. “we have been Sold” She doesn’t sugar coat the issue with PC buzzwords, but she also isn’t speaking with great hyperbole to somehow minimize the gravity of the situation. She details the injustice and reveals her identity as one for whom injustice is coming. This cause is personal to her as it directly impacts her. She is now shamelessly and purposely tying her identity to those who stand condemned so that her destiny and theirs are now intertwined. By “Sold” she is referencing to the money promised or paid back in Chapter 3 being clear there was bribery involved with getting this policy through and that the outcome of it isn’t just a small amount of suffering but extermination of her people. When you are in the pursuit of justice it is critically necessary to do the work of being bold and clear about the severity of the injustice that needs to be addressed to bring the proper urgency to effect change.
She is Shrewd. As bold and clear as she is there is a lot she doesn’t say. She says there was bribery but doesn’t say who was bribed. She doesn’t call out the king for his offensives or even lump him in with the guilty, doesn’t tell him about all his failures that contributed to this, which would be pretty easy to do since he gave Haman the power. She realizes (wisely) that to defeat a powerful enemy you need a more powerful ally. Xerxes is not perfect and in fact wouldn’t be a guy I’d let near my daughters but in this case in a falling world and an unjust and broken government he’s the best chance to see evil undone. Not all actors in a righteous cause are themselves righteous, but God uses even the unrighteous for His Purposes.
She is Focused- There is so much wrong with Persia morally and politically. Costly endless foreign wars, highly sexualized culture with rampant human trafficking, highly consumeristic and numbed by constant feasting and entertainment, spiritually bankrupt, toxic views and practices on marriage and family, all under unsteady and corrupt political leadership. I mean where do you begin? She has only one issue here, the one she sees as the most present threat to her, her people, and the empire. What do we do with the end of verse 4 where she goes out of her way to say if it was slavery than she wouldn’t have even brought it up?
A couple of things: First, there are some Hebrew text that show the words “Destroy” in the edict actually sounds the same as the word for “enslave” (like air/heir) So it’s possible that Haman used intentionally misleading language to get his edict past the king (wait? A misleading politician trying to get a bad idea passed?) She’s bringing this to his attention so he has a deeper understanding of the depth of injustice.
Second, Slavery and suffering are terrible, it robs people of human dignity causing generational level trauma. Many may say it is a fate worse than death. Yet there is an opportunity to still have hope to survive or even overcome. Death and destruction are final, ending life and legacies, snuffing out hope of overcoming. If we’re going to be people are passionately for Justice (and I believe that we should be) than we need to begin with the simple ingredient to human flourishing being against human perishing.
The outcome of effective advocacy is to move those with power and influence from injustice to justice. Here speech at this time has moved the King in a new and different way. We know the King was aware of Mordecai’s protesting, (The Jew at the Gate in chapter 5) perhaps he didn’t know why? Or maybe he assumed that being honored by the king would be enough to satisfy Mordecai, when in fact he went right back to protesting after the parade. Regardless, the king was clearly comfortable with making a pretty penny on some human trafficking (it’s basically one of his core values!) but wasn’t ready to go full Hitler. In fact, he was really ok with some suffering for others out there, especially if he was going to profit from it, but not for it to impact him personally. The Kings previous awareness, understanding, or empathy were insufficient, but now his awareness of the injustice has given him a bit of righteous anger. He wants answers!
Who is responsible, who needs to be confronted? While it seems a bit like faux outrage since he clearly authorized it Esther doesn’t try to shame him, or highlight his guilt by association (and authority). Esther stays laser focused on who is really driving the evil, the enemy Haman! The king’s stamp is on the edict but it’s Haman’s hand that wrote it. Here goal isn’t to just raise awareness or spread blame around she wants effective action to alleviate suffering now. She’s not trying to win a debate; she’s trying to advance progress towards greater justice! The king is woke, and Haman is worried.
PART III |Evil Exposed, Justice Served | Esther 7:7-10
Esther 7:7-10 | 7 And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. 8 And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. 9 Then
Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.
Evil Doomed - The king is betrayed, he’s seething, and in a rare moment he reacts by taking a minute to walk among the flowers. This might be out of character, but it’s used by God to bring “justice”. Haman stayed with the Queen because if he leaves than he seems guilty right? This was not culturally acceptable at all for a man to be alone with the Queen like this this. In fact there was a known regulation that man (eunuch or male advisor) in the court was to remain 7 steps (Socially Distant) from the Queen at all times.
Haman is really spinning out He’s not pursuing repentance he’s pursuing…. (2 Cor 7) talks about Godly grief (oh I have sinned, I am wrong, I need help and healing, have mercy on me) that leads to repentance and life. It contrasts it with worldly grief (just upset that he’s caught and there are consequences) it says the motivation for him begging the Queen for his life is not guilt over his actions but fear of the consequences. He saw the king was “determining him harm” Here we see Haman’s last grasp to attempt to save himself
Justice Served - The King returns to a scene where Haman is caught “too close” to the Queen and he is enraged! You’ve betrayed me and now you’re seeking to harm the Queen in front of me in my own house! His face is covered (which was a sign of guiltin that culture) You’re done talking. Your fate is sealed. Esther doesn’t clear up that he was just asking for his life. She realizes the existential threat Haman represents to her and her people, the evil he’s capable of so if the king is going to have him killed so be it. She doesn’t offer a “it’s not what it looks like, go easy on Haman” The reality is he’s falsely accused but he’s not innocent by any stretch. Haman is like a kid that got a spanking when he didn’t do anything but got away with something else before. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where or how justice comes, just that it is served. We can desire vindication, but we don’t seek vengeance. Rom 12:19 | Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Courage is Contagious - Harbona Speaks Up - He was one of Queen Vashti’s eunuchs back in chapter 2 (7 years ago) He’s been around the royal palace and served two different queens (like a stoic secret service agent) He’s not an advisor but an assistant but here he speaks up without being asked. Fear is contagious, but so is courage! Boldness can encourage others to be bold! Esther has spoken up about injustice she’s been vulnerable about the threat she’s and her people are under and her boldness inspires others to join the cause. When you’re bold, you can inspire others. But now that Haman’s been exposed you see he doesn’t have the support that he thinks he does. See all the compulsory honor that has been commanded has not given him anyone’s heart or allegiance. Harbona, immediately piles on Haman and offers the means of his destruction. In doing so it shows what he really thought about Haman (but was afraid to say when Haman was in power/favor) AND it shows him how he sees Mordecai. Mordecai is the one “whose word saved the king”. He’s a hero, who you just honored in the AM with a parade, but Haman was plotting to kill him.
Haman is Hanged- The king’s wrath is abated. When God has decreed justice, it will be served. Like Haman, Satan is a defeated enemy as Jesus declared on the Cross “It is Finished”, yet we will still experience his last grasps at power and destruction. The agent of evil and the author of death has been defeated by the shadow evil and specter of death still remain and need to be stamped out. There is a real victory realized AND there is real work remaining to bring life and flourishing to God’s people. This is not unlike the time we’re in now. We are assured that God has acted on the cross and resurrection to defeat evil and death AND we can be encouraged in our efforts to work towards life “on earth as it is in Heaven”. When we’ve been under the smoke cloud of injustice when you cannot breath and your choking on the injustice and evil of the world you just want it to rain (reign) justice and righteousness so the sky clears the sun can be seen a deep cleansing breath can be had and hope can be renewed. Only when Justice is served will we be satisfied.
Amos 5:24 | But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
PART IV | Jesus Our Advocate |
Our God isn’t unaware or aloof to injustice. Our God is a God of action, righting what is wrong bringing justice and peace where there is evil and suffering. We are not forgotten! One day God will answer our question, "How long, o Lord," with "The time of injustice is at an end." Until then remember what is true:
In sin we’ve already been sold as slaves, In Christ we are purchased for freedom.
1 Cor 6:19-20 | You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Gal 5:1 | For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
When you’ve been sold by someone that implies rejection, worthlessness and that you’re going to be used.
When you’ve been bought by some it implies you’re desire, valuable, and that you’ll be cherished. Know you’ve been purchased not for slavery but for freedom to live a life that brings God glory and you joy. That means do not walk in condemnation or willingly put yourself in bondage you’ve been set free from.
Hebrews 9:24 | For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
1 Tim 2 :5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Jesus is our mediator that stands between us and God seeking to bring us together. Because of our sin and God’s holiness we cannot come to God. We need someone to come between us and God to bring us together! Yes we need that mediator… but the truth is we need more than a neutral party to move us to a compromise. God will not compromise with sine and evil that robs us of life and joy. That is Good news!
1 John 2:1-2 | My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus is our Impassioned Advocate - We need an advocate! In our sin, we are as helpless as the Jews in Persia but we are also as guilty and deserving of the Kings wrath as Haman. We have sinned we are going to sin That’s bad news.. but there is good news! We do not need our sin to define us or condemn us. In our sin (guilt) not in our innocence, we have Jesus Christ (savior-king of God’s people) who is righteous (sinless/blameless and perfect) who is THE RIGHTEOUS as our advocate before the Father in the throne room of God. What better advocate could you have? Even still at best he’s advocating for mercy when Justice still needs to be served. More than just His advocacy for us in our sin, we have Jesus atonement absorbing wrath for our sin. Sin deserves and demands justice (the wrath of the King) on the cross Jesus was the propitiation (wrath absorber) Jesus endured an absorbed God’s wrath for us so when we are in Christ there is no wrath left for us) Jesus goes to the cross takes our sin, suffers death in our place, declares “it is finished” “Then the wrath of the king abated.”
Because of Jesus work for us we can work to reveal Injustice knowing justice will reign and peace will be restored as we continue to Trust Jesus
More in Unseen God: Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther
November 22, 2020Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART IX | Restoration Seen | Esther 9-10
November 15, 2020Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART VIII | The Last Word | Esther 8
October 11, 2020Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART VI | Vindication Given | Esther 6