Summary: Esther and Mordecai act on their own initiative to bring about the salvatin of the Jews, but God is present in the background bringing things together.
For those who weren’t here last week or whose memories are like mine and you can’t remember what happened two days ago, let alone last week, let me recap.
King Xerxes, king of Persia, has banished his first queen and a search has been made throughout his kingdom for beautiful young girls from whom the king might find a new queen to take her place. Esther, a young Jewish girl has been chosen. She’s beautiful both on the outside and the inside. Her adoptive father, who’s also her cousin, Mordecai, has thwarted an assassination attempt on the king, though he wasn’t rewarded.
Instead the king has promoted a man named Haman who, we discover, is a natural enemy of Mordecai going back many generations. Haman is self important, self promoting and intoxicated by his success. He expects everyone to bow down to him, but Mordecai refuses. So Haman decides to take his revenge, not only on Mordecai, but on his entire race. He arranges for the king to sign an edict that sentences every Jew in the kingdom to be killed on a certain day at the end of the year.
Mordecai contacts Esther to ask her to intervene with the king and she reluctantly agrees. And that brings us to this week’s final instalment.
Haman thinks he’s the ant’s pants. He’s the most important person in the kingdom, apart from the king himself. He thinks nothing can get in his way. But as we well know, pride comes before a fall. And in God’s economy those who seek to destroy others, often end up destroying themselves. Listen to what Psalm 7:14-16 has to say about such people: "See how they conceive evil, and are pregnant with mischief, and bring forth lies. 15They make a pit, digging it out, and fall into the hole that they have made. 16Their mischief returns upon their own heads, and on their own heads their violence descends."
Haman’s pride means he underestimates both Mordecai and especially Esther and in the end he’s caught out by a set of forces that conspire to defeat him.
Esther takes a risk
Esther knows that to appear before the king without being summoned risks punishment by death. But this is a situation that warrants the risk. And she’s a woman of faith. So she dresses in her royal clothes and stands in the inner court where Xerxes can see her. Her faith and courage are rewarded. Xerxes sees her and holds out his golden sceptre as his invitation for her to enter. He offers to give her whatever she asks. But then an interesting thing happens. She doesn’t make her request. She simply invites him and Haman to come to dinner that night.
So why didn’t she tell the king her message straight off? Why delay any longer when she’s obviously won the favour of the king?
There are a number of possible reasons. One is that she’s thought this through and decided it wasn’t yet the right time. Haman was the king’s new favourite, so Xerxes may have thought she was just responding to a bit of Palace gossip and committing treason in the process accusing the Prime Minister of such a crime.
She may also have thought that this wasn’t the right place. To accuse the Prime Minister of a crime before all the court servants and other people present was to risk the king going into damage control mode and simply dismissing her complaint. Far better to do it with only Haman present. Catch him off guard and who knows what he might say or do that would confirm his guilt. And in fact that’s exactly what happens, isn’t it?
But there’s another reason why she puts it off, though she doesn’t realise it. That’s because God still had something to arrange before the time would be right. Esther seems to have done all the arranging, but God has something else to do as well.
In any event she invites the king and Haman to join her the same day for a banquet that she’s prepared for them. The king sends for Haman and he hurries to join them.
Don’t you just love Haman? As a character in the story that is. He’s just so self-absorbed he doesn’t have a clue what’s about to happen to him. He leaves Esther’s first banquet in high spirits because he’s receiving this special attention from the king and queen. Then he sees Mordecai and his mood is ruined. He’s in such a rage he goes home and arranges to have a great gallows built to hang Mordecai from, never thinking that anything could go wrong. But his false confidence is about to let him down.
You see, not only does divine sovereignty play a part in his downfall, his own pride will play a part as well.