Providence and Perseverance
Commentary for Study 4
Memory Verse 6:12-13
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.
I. Haman's Pride (6)
1. What did Haman's pride and racial hatred get him? What is the object lesson in that for you?
2. What did Mordecai's meekness, loyalty, and patience get him? What spiritual principle is involved? (Pro. 3:34)?
Esther 6:1-3 "That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. "What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?" the king asked. "Nothing has been done for him," his attendants answered."
* "That night" -In these verse are seemingly trivial events; but in fact they are God at work behind the scenes for his people. Esther was going to eat with the king later the next day (5:8). However, Haman was going to have Mordecai killed in the morning (5:14). So Esther, not knowing it, could not save Mordecai because of her timing. However, God could save Mordecai because he controls everything; and he does through seemingly trivial events.
* "the king could not sleep" -Most likely because the gallows were being built (5:14), although the Bible doesn't say so. What ever the reason it is clear that God did not want the king to sleep that night for only he had the power to over through Haman's plan.
* "so he ordered the book...to be read to him" -Many people try to read themselves to sleep when they have insomnia. Legal books would truly put someone to sleep. This too was part of God's plan. God moved the king to have the books read.
* "It was found there that..." -This to is to impossible to be an accident. In all the recordings in the book the reader just happen to open to the event where Mordecai saved the king, but was not repaid for his kindness. And this event happened five years earlier (compare 3:7 to 2:16).
This book is recorded by secular historians as well as the fact that the king made it a point to promptly repay those who were good loyal servants of the court.
Esther 6:4-5, "The king said, "Who is in the court?" Now 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. His attendants answered, "Haman is standing in the court." "Bring him in," the king ordered."
* This to is to remarkable to be an accident; the king wanting someone to give him an idea, Haman the night before deciding to hang Mordecai, Haman coming to the court very early just when the king couldn't sleep and when the king had the book read, and The king ordering Haman to come in. God was definitely working behind the scenes.
Esther 6:6 "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?"
* "for the man" -Again, the irony is evident: Just as Haman had withheld from the king the identity of the "certain people" (3:8), so now the king unintentionally keeps from Haman the identity of the "man the king delights to honor" (6)
* "Who...rather...than me?" -Haman's egotism exceeded his judgment. In his arrogance he was certain he himself must be the one the king wanted to honor.
Esther 6:7-9 "So he 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!'"
* "So he answered the king" -Haman's ego and self desires played right into God's plan. God work all these things out knowing what Haman would ask for and thus Mordecai would be saved.
Haman did not need money-he was fabulously wealthy and expected to gain even more wealth form the spoils of annihilated Jews. He did not need power-he was second only to the king in power. What he didn't have much of, and wanted so badly, was recognition from everyone.
Esther 6:10-11 ""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." 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!""
* "Go at once" -I can just imagines Haman's feelings, stomach, and thinking when the king said this.
* "Mordecai the Jew" -The king did not know that the edict to kill a certain group of people, was in fact the Jews.
The king obviously knew Mordecai was a Jew. Perhaps Mordecai had told him so.
* "He (Haman) robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback..." -Haman, according to his own recommendation, led Mordecai through the city, proclaiming him as the king's favorite. Thus through these remarkable events Haman had to cancel his plans to kill Mordecai. Coincidence, Bible believers know, is a term for providence, the hand of God working things together for good for those who are his.
Esther 6:12-14 "Afterward Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, "Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him--you will surely come to ruin!" While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared."
* "Since Mordecai... is of Jewish origin... you will surely come to ruin!" -Without realizing it, Haman's wife and advisers stated a central theme of the book-no enemy can possibly stand against God's chosen people. It was obvious even to Haman's closest friend that since Mordecai had won the king's favor, Haman's plot against the Jews was doomed to fail. Haman's ruin was imminent.
Romans 8:37-9:1 says, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I speak the truth in Christ--I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit--"
II. Esther's faith (7)
3. Evaluate the way Esther handled this situation. Would you have done it differently? How?
4. What can you learn from Esther about how to handle the situations (enemies) in your life that seem out to get you and yours?
5. What did she have going for her that you have going for you?
Esther 7:1-4 "So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, and as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, "Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted." Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life--this is my petition. And spare my people--this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king."
* "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty" -Again, Esther wisely prefaced her statement with humble expressions of respect for his royal sovereignty. Then she dropped the bombshell.
* "I would not have bothered the king" -There are six different translations and ideal on what this means from scholars.
1) Although the enemy could not countervails the king's damage
2) Because no such distress would justify disturbing the king (here in the NIV).
3) For then our plight would not be such as to injure the king's interests
4) though even then there would be incalculable damage to the king that no amount of money would begin to cover
5) The enemy could not compensate for the king's loss
6) all the money Haman might pour into the treasure could not compensate for the loss of Jewish productivity and taxes over the years.
Esther 7:5-6, "King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, "Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?" Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman." Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen."
* Esther's plan worked out as she had prayed and fasted.
Esther 7:7-8 "The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, "Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?" As soon as the word left the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face."
* "The king got up in a rage" -This has been the king's typical response in many such circumstances.
* "left his wine and went out into the palace garden" -There are five possible reasons for this.
1) He needed time to think.
2) He went out to control his anger. This is unlikely, since his pattern on other occasions was to give it full vent.
3) He was trying to think of a way to execute Haman legally. This is also unlikely, since Xerxes' word was law.
4) He was trying to figure a way to save Esther and her people-a tough task, considering that the annihilation edict was irrevocable.
5) He was struggling with conflicting feelings. He was forced to choose between his "fair-haired boy" and his queen.
* "Haman realizing that the king had already decided his fate" -This suggests that number 5 is also unlikely.
* "Just as...Haman was falling" -God's timing again.
* "they covered his face" -Other being at the banquet at the same time was common. i.e. servers, guards, etc.
Esther 7:9-10 "Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, "A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman's house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king." The king said, "Hang him on it!" So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's fury subsided."
* "Then Harbona" -Haman probably told him this as Haman was waiting for the court. This to is circumstances to great to be passed off as a coincidence.
* "Then the king's fury subsided" -Even the king's fury worked into God's plan to save Mordecai.
III. The Proposal (8)
6. Why couldn't Xerxes (Ahasurerus) just reverse the annihilation edict? (Is. 1:19, 3:10, 12:8-9)?
7. What situation, relationship, or personal problem in your life seems impossible to change? Is there a spiritual principle which can help you deal with the problem, even though you cannot change it?
Esther 8:17 "In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them."
* "many people of other nationalities became Jews" -This was a great upsurge of the nation of Israel, the Jews, the people of God. The key word being "MANY". These new converts did not know much of the ways of the Jews. How did these new Gentile/Jews come to understand the way of God? They had to be taught which obviously wasn't an easy task for the scattered Jews in Persia.
I believe the Jews dealt with the great surge of new converts just like the first Jewish/Christians did when Gentiles accepted Christ. There too, the new converts were many, and they too did not know much of the ways of the Jews. How then did the Jewish/Christians (aka Messianic Jews) deal with the problem? In the first church case a special letter went out to the new Gentile Christians (Acts 15:23-29) for them to follow. The stricter Jewish/Christians (aka Messianic Jews) had not been following these ways, but it was deemed necessary and good by the apostles for the Gentiles Christians to not go by all the rules and ways of the Jewish Christians.
Likewise I believe it in all likely that this is what took place when "these many people of other nationalities became Jews" in Esther's day. They were weaned. I believe that the pure nature of this letter is evidence of this. That nature being, God's name is not used, prayer is not mentioned, etc. What is conveyed however is that God works for his people continually behind the scenes. I will further expound on this thought in chapter 9.
IV. God's Deliverance (9-10)
8. Haman and many of his supporters who hated the Jews were from Amalekite roots. Their hatred was based on defeats at the hands of the Jews reported in Ex. 17:8-16 and 1 Samuel 15. Compare this defeat of the Amalekites with the other two. Why do the Jews seem intent this time to "take no prisoners" and "take no plunder"? What spiritual principle can you draw from this for your own life?
9. What event in your life has turned your sorrow into joy? How would it be appropriate to celebrate that event?
10. What enemy do you need relief from right now? How do you see God working for your good in that situation?
Esther 9:20-22 "Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor."
* "Mordecai recorded these events and he sent letters to all the Jews" -Mordecai records was either this book or writings that became this book. (See notes below on chapter 10.) He sent this to all the Jews, even the new converts.
Mordecai recorded these events so that the new converts would understand all that took place before the battle and celebration. In so doing, Mordecai gave these new converts (see above notes on chapter 9) facts to base their new faith in. Thus he used language that they would understand. In essence Mordecai gave them milk not meat, as Apostle Paul would latter say.
Esther 10:1-3 "King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. "
* The book of Esther is about the mystery of election. The elect people found deliverance from an impossible situation because they were faithful to their election calling. Faithful Mordecai gained prestige and power in both the Jewish and Persian communities because of his faithful commitment to his people and to his God. Israel learned from Esther and Mordecai that God can work silently through the affairs even of a foreign government to reward his righteous servants and to achieve his election purposes.