God of the Gallows
I want to invite you to Esther chapter six, is where we’re going to be together today. Esther chapter six, where we’ll be reading the book of Esther. If you want to find it, all you have to do is open up to the middle of your Bible, that’s going to put you in somewhere in the Psalm. Psalms is the biggest book in the Bible, and you just flip back two books and you’ll find Esther chapter six. And today we’re going to be talking about the God of the gallows, which is kind of an ominous title, isn’t it? Anytime you refer to gallows, a little timid in its discussion, but it’s a perfect introduction to where I think we’re going to be. I told you a couple weeks ago, Esther 14:14,16, are probably the most popular verses in the Bible. This is where in verse 14 where Mordecai recognizes the Esther was put into her position for such a time as this. That God had kind of orchestrated some things to put her in a position to help spare her people. So that’s kind of the famous verses of this book.
And then verse 16 is where she says, “If I perish, I perish.” She’s willing to lay down her life and step into faith in the Lord. Beautiful verses in the Bible. But I would say out of all the chapters in the Bible, if someone went to one chapter to highlight this, this is where you get the theme idea expressed in the book of Esther, for me I think it’s chapter six. And the reason I think this chapter is so important is if I gave us a way to relate to this practically, there are times in your journey in your relationship with God, where you might feel sort of like the anomaly to what scripture says and not in a good way. What I mean is sometimes we read God’s word and we see God expressed in beautiful ways and God’s promise to God’s people, and we think, “Man, that is incredible. That is amazing how God communicates Himself and how He’s demonstrated Himself in history and the way He talks to His people.”
But we start to read those words on a page, it feels like it’s for them. It’s like, “I see God’s promises and I’m so glad God made those promises for those people, but I’m kind of like the forgotten child and all often, no man’s land.” And you to see God’s word and you want to think God’s word’s true, but then there’s how you feel. And how you feel doesn’t always relate to what you read. And you struggle between the feelings of where you are and what God’s truth says. And before long, you might start leaning into your feelings and you start believing your feelings over and above what God’s word says. And we have that struggle.
And chapter six is that perfect place where if you ever have experienced that in your Christian life, chapter six is your chapter in the book of Esther to encourage you along. Because I would think when you read this story, Mordecai and Esther would experience a similar struggle. You think about where they’re at in the circumstance of the story where it seems like all the chips are just falling against them. The Xerxes seems distant to the care of God’s people, the Jewish people under this Persian rule, and Haman certainly hates them. And Haman’s been able to write a law against them, and now all of them are going to die. And you think in that moment, how you might feel.
And Esther Mordecai, they could have stepped into that feeling. They could have thought… They could have sought, they could have just sat there. They could have just said, “Woe is me,” and did nothing with their life. They just got into that depressive state and they didn’t want to get out of bed. But rather than live that way, they chose to walk in faith. They came to that position of how they feel. You saw how Mordecai felt. He goes out into the city in the middle of the town square, and he’s just weeping and he’s welling and he’s fasting and he’s praying. And Esther’s doing the same thing in the state of this desperate feeling, but they choose still to walk by faith.
And in Esther chapter six is where through their story, we start to see this encouragement in the storm. And if you grab the notes this morning, this is the first blank in your notes, this is the encouragement that we’re going to find is; trust in God’s providence. This is what we find here, is this trusting in God’s Providence. It starts in chapter 6:1, it says, “During the 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. And it was found written what Mordecai had reported about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s Eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to a king or Ahasuerus,” which is also king Xerxes.
When I read this, initially when the story starts out, the king can’t sleep at night. And I don’t think this is any sort of surprise that king can’t sleep at night. I would think the majority of kings probably struggle to sleep at night because kings tend to have a lot on their shoulders. And then especially when I think about Xerxes, some of the things we talk about Xerxes, we say things like, history records that Xerxes may have had as many as a thousand plus women in his helm. And you think with that many women, there’s got to be a lot of kids running around too. I would expect it should probably say something like this, that rather than tell us that there’s nights Xerxes doesn’t sleep, it should tell us in victory if Xerxes ever got a night of sleep. You know how it goes? You think a thousand women in your helm, how many times in the middle of the night you’re going to get poked in the back and says, “I heard a noise. Can you go check it out?” Or “Little Johnny threw up again, someone’s got to take care of this.” You’re like, with that many people going on your kingdom you think this guy would be a pretty busy guy even in middle of the night.
But we also know about king Xerxes that he’s a selfish king. So he probably didn’t have to deal with any of these on his own. But what you’re seeing here is, as Xerxes is having the sleepless night, the story that began with Esther and Mordecai, really in particular chapter two, it’s coming full circle here. Here you have a king sleepless in the night and he wants a bedtime story. Little warm milk, someone pat his little belly and read him a bedtime story. And when the king picks his bedtime story, what story does the king pick? Well, the king picks his favorite stories, stories about him and how great he is. And so he has the record of his life, which has been recorded. And by the way, when kings had stories recorded about themselves, they never wrote about the bad stuff, they didn’t talk about their defeats in battle, they only wrote about the victories. No one was allowed to make the king unhappy. And so when he pulls out these records, it’s all of the great stories about great things that happened to the king.
And here the king has one of his favorite bedtime stories. And he opens up to a particular story that’s read to him that night and it’s about Mordecai. And he reads about Mordecai and how Mordecai spared the king’s life and how great now the glorious king gets to live. And then in verse three, the king asked the question, the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” And the king servant who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”
When you put at this story chronologically as it’s unfolded, chapter two, the end of chapter two is where it’s told that Mordecai spared the king’s life. Chapter six now, we see the king reflecting on this story and asking this question. It’s been a number of years since Mordecai has spared the king to the point that now the king is starting to ask the question, has any honor ever been bestowed upon Mordecai. Because some say maybe five, six years have passed in this story. And some people, when they would read this, they would say this is great that this has happened for Mordecai, but that’s as far as anything’s recognized. They might call this random luck. They might refer to this as coincidence or somehow the stars aligned, or maybe he got the best fortune cookie out of the group that went to dinner that night. But whatever it is, for Mordecai some people see this as coincidence.
But as we’ve looked at the story of Esther, we as God’s people should see this as something far more than just simply coincidence. Is it random luck that Esther rose to power under Xerxes the king of Persia? Is it random that Mordecai has spared the king’s life and never recognized for it? And five years later, it’s starting to be drawn to the king’s attention. Is it random luck that Haman writes a law against the Jewish people? And now in the story we’re going to find Haman is on his way to talk to the king about killing Mordecai. And it just so happens that when Haman is on his way to talk to the king about killing Mordecai, that it’s the same night that the king just so happens to have a sleepless night. And in that sleepless night, the king decides he needs a bedtime story. And out of all the stories that the king could have read to him, it happens to be the random story of Mordecai sparing the king’s life.
Is that coincidence or is that providence. God’s people, when we see these things working about, it becomes easy for us to recognize that it’s God behind these scenes orchestrating things by his sovereign hand to accomplish his goodwill for his glory to the benefit of his people. This is not random. This is a God who cares. And I love the way that Esther communicates this to us, because this is more realistic to the perspectives of our lives. When we’re living our lives, you may look back on your life and think, “Have I ever experienced the providence of God working in my life this way?” There’s no megaphone that comes down and says to you, “Look, this is the providence of God. Recognize this.” That’s not how this works. You can look back at your life and see that there’s some evidence where by the grace of God, the Lord just intervened in a way that didn’t seem natural to the circumstance, but it sure helped me with where I am and in my life in this moment. I am so thankful that God did that in the life of Esther.
We never have God verbally talked about in this book, but you see the evidence of God’s sovereignty, his providence taking place throughout it. This is not random that all of this has come to orchestrate to this particular moment where all of this would unfold the way that it has to spare God’s people. This is God’s hand behind all of the messiness of people and living their lives. And God’s still loving, compassionately, showing up to demonstrate his merciful hand being expressed in his goodness and to their benefit. I think in my life, I ask the question, I don’t know all the details of yours, but in mine, have I ever seen the providence of God show up in a way that in the moment it didn’t feel like God was there. In fact, it felt like God was distant. But now looking back on it, his hand was all over it.
I think about, when I moved to Utah, or first time I visited Utah, God put a burden and a desire in my heart to ultimately move back here. And it took a couple years, but the Lord was able to lead me here. Growing up as a child, I grew up very hateful against God and I grew up very poor. I grew up with a single mom in West Virginia. And moving to Utah, I realized when I got here, it’s strange to think that growing up poor that I would ever turn back and be like, “And God’s hand was all over that.”
But coming to Utah and starting a church in Utah, for my wife and I to be successful here, it took years of just living on rice and beans. And for me didn’t feel like much of a struggle because I still live better than how it was growing up. But I realized in looking back from my life that God had prepared me even as a child, to be able to endure and have some grit because of how He raised me and the what it took for me to come to know the Lord. Just the continued compassion and grace of God, just over and over, peppering my life as I grew up and how hard-hearted I was, and moving to Utah and wanting to talk to people about the Lord. It’s not always easy, but the tenderness of Jesus in my life, God’s hand was all over that.
And as I even think about just our story as God’s written it together as his community, we had the desire of building a church building in our city and seeing our city haves it’s first church building that would just be here as a light that would outlive the people that were a part of it. And we had the economic crash in ’08 and we were a small church with no money, but this building came available. And we spent some time even as a church coming around this building and praying, that God would just make a way for us to get a place like this, which was a big stretch for us at the time. And then it sat vacant for two and a half years. And then about the two and a half years of us praying and thinking, “We’re about done, this is impossible.” All of a sudden the bank that owned the building calls me and says, “Someone made an offer, but we know you guys have desired this building for so long, but we would just feel bad if we sold it.”
When does a bank talk about their feelings? “We would feel bad if we did it. So we want to help you get this, if you can pay what the other group has offered to pay.” And I just remember on this phone thinking, “Oh, well, we have no money. This is not happening.” And I just said back to the bank, “We have no money, unless you guys carry the loan for us, there’s just no way that we’ll ever afford this.” and the bank says, “Okay, we’ll do that.” It’s crazy to think.
You step into a situation that just seems impossible, but you look to the Lord because you know God is great, and God loves you, and God is for you. And God desires his people just to lean into him, and just to trust in him. And the providence of God just works in all that. And I was going to pepper in this with the story of the time I met my wife. Even meeting her as a young kid, hating the Lord and just coming to him. I remember I went to a Christian camp up and I saw my wife for the first time on a stage doing a skit. And she was looking peanut butter out the armpit of another girl in the middle of this skit. It was love at… I was going to share that story, but I decided I’ll just leave that there, cliffhanger, you don’t know how that ends, but God’s providence and how He works all those things together, it’s weird, but He does it.
And that’s the story of Esther, chapter six, these first three verses, some people may look at this and think, “Man, he had great fortune,” but it’s more than fortune. It’s much more than fortunate. It’s under appreciative of the Lord to not take the time to recognize that even in your own life, how God brings that together and what has you here today. And so for us though, in the middle of these moments, it’s important to recognize it’s not always easy to trust in the providence of God, because what I’m an expert in trust in is and me. Because what I tend to want to default to as a person is to live life for my glory. And trusting in God’s providence requires faith. But here’s a part that I’m thankful and trusting in this providence is, when it comes to the idea of faith and this Christian walk, that God doesn’t ask us to have a faith built on ignorance.
There’s been plenty of evidence even just for our lives today to still say when I cannot see the next step in front of me, just to lean fully into the Lord, because the evidence of God’s goodness has already been demonstrated for God’s people throughout time. And the most specific place we have to look at as God’s people is, the hand of God made known on the cross That God would pursue us in that particular way, that the King of kings as Philippians chapter two would tell us, would become nothing, taking on the form of a servant for you and for me, in verse five. If I ever question the next step in my life and whether or not I should trust in God, the evidence of God for me to be able to put my faith in that moment is to look back at the hand of God in what he’s already done in my life and for my life by dying for me on the cross.
And so our prayer in this moment is easy. It becomes this, “God, I see what you say, I see the truth of your word. And then there’s how I feel in this moment, but God, give me the strength to step into this by faith. God, let me lean fully into you, and Lord hold me and guide me through it.”
So not only in verse three do we begin to see this unfolding, but then it starts to tell us in these next verses, how that looks. And so the next point in your blank would be this, experience God’s plan. It comes to this place when you step by faith, you start to then experience God’s plan, which also involves his power and his protection. But you could also put that in the blank as well, but I can give you that big enough a spot. So experiencing God’s plan. And this is how it happens. That Ephesians 3:20, gives us a reminder of this promise. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.
It’s saying, “Look, when you trust in the Lord, when you follow after God, whatever you think imaginable that God can do, it is far beyond that.” And so in verse four, then it starts to describe how that lays out. It says, “So the king said, “Who is in the courtyard?” Now, Haman had just entered the outer courtyard of the king’s palace in order to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the wooden gallows which he had prepared before him.” Remember how chapter five ended? Haman and Xerxes were invited to a dinner party put on by queen Esther. Xerxes obviously should be invited, he’s the king, but Haman was invited. And he thought he was just the most privileged human being in all the kingdom. And he walks away in chapter five, thinking he’s just so great. But then as he’s leaving, he sees Mordecai once again. And Mordecai just makes him so angry because Mordecai wouldn’t bow to Haman.
And so Mordecai, even in all these great things that have happened in his life, he still finds no joy because… Excuse me. Haman finds no joy because of what Mordecai has done to him. He won’t bow to him. And so he’s just eaten by this anger to the point that he goes and builds these gallows. And now after he’s built these gallows to kill Mordecai upon, Haman goes to the king in order to talk to the king about it. And in verse four, it says this, that he goes to speak to the king. And the way the Hebrew text was written it says it like this, he’s not going into the king to ask the king whether or not he can kill Mordecai. I mean, he’s already written a law that says he can kill the Jews, but he’s going in not to ask the king if he can kill Mordecai, but rather he is saying, “Look.. ” He wants to tell the king, he’s going to say to the king, “Look, I know I wrote these laws, but we’re going to just get a little bit of a headstart here. I’m going to go ahead and kill Mordecai.” He’s not there to ask the king. He’s there to declare to the king that’s what’s going to take place.
And then in verse five it says, “So the king servant said to him, behold, Haman is standing in the court courtyard. And the king said, have him come in.”
This is interesting I think, in the story. Remember the king is up in the middle of the night. It doesn’t tell us morning has arrived yet. And Haman is so anxious about getting his killing done, I guess, early in the morning that he shows up to the courtyard to talk to the king before anyone else gets there. He just wants to make sure he’s the first in line because he realizes later in the day, he’s already been invited to another dinner party with Esther and the king again. So he wants to care of his business early and get back to that. So he enters the courtyard before the sun’s even up. And he’s there to declare to the king how he’s going to spend the early morning of the day. Maybe he’s even going to say the king, “I might be a little late, I’ve got some business to care for, and this is what I’m going to do. So just expect me maybe 15, 30 minutes past when this dinner party is supposed to start.” That’s what he shows up for.
But in verse six, Haman then came in and the king said to him, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?”
Whenever you enter in the king’s presence, even if you have something that you want to say to the king, out of respect for the king, it’s always important to let the king go first. And so the king gets to share what he desires before you get to share what you desire. And the king asks this question, “When there’s someone I want to honor, what do I do with that?” And you got to think, in Haman’s state of mind in this moment, Haman left the dinner party yesterday, thinking he’s the thing this kingdom’s ever had. And so when king Xerxes asked this question, Haman’s thinking, “Oh, I know who this guy’s talking about. I mean, the celebration of my glory is not over yet?” And so Haman thinks this the king wants to ask him about what’s good to honor him. In fact, it tells you that much at the end of verse six, “And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?”
Can I tell you some of the worst decisions we make as human beings are built on pride? And this is exactly where Haman is. And you can just see how the chips are about to fall.
And then in verse seven to nine, Haman just wants to open up his mouth to show us just how good he is about thinking of his own glory. And he starts to describe for the king what he feels like the answer would be to honor this mysterious person that he thinks is obviously himself. So he says in verse seven, “Therefore Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king desires to honor, have them bring a royal robe in which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal turban has been placed. Then order them to hand the robe and the horse over to one of the king’s noble officials, and have them dress the man whom the king desires to honor, and lead him on horseback through the city square and proclaim before him. “So it shall be done for the man whom the king desires to honor.”
He’s just thinking, “Man, what would be the best thing that could happen in anyone’s life that they would talk about for the rest of their life and everyone around them would continue to bring this up as the pinnacle moment of all of life.” And this is what he comes up with, wearing the king clothes, on the best of the king’s horses and he gets paraded through the street. And all of the leadership of the kingdom declares how great this guy is, that would be phenomenal.” And that exposes what Haman desires in his pride.
And then verse 10 happens. And in an instant, he goes from a place of pride to a place of incredible humility. And this was how the king responds. He says, “Then the king said to Haman, “Quickly, take the robe and the horse just as you have said, and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king’s gate; do not fail to do anything of all that you have said.” So Haman took the robe and the horse, and dressed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “So it shall be done for the man whom the king desires to honor.”
You think how incredible this is? Haman goes from planning to kill Mordecai, to leading a parade for Mordecai. You think about, in this moment, that Mordecai and all of the Jews feel like they’re in this place of doomsday and everything’s over. And now all of a sudden, not only is, Haman, seeing him as the one who is going to deliver the death of the Jews, to going to be the one to celebrate his very enemy and having to lead him through the streets on a one-man parade. You cannot make up any better plan than this. If you took Mordecai and Esther and you said, “Imagine for yourselves the greatest thing that God could do.” I don’t think they could even top the idea of what just happened in these verses, where the enemy who has just built this gallow… I could imagine in the city, you could see this gallow from anywhere. It’s 75 feet tall. Anybody could brag about it.
You see all this construction going on at Haman’s house. People passing by, “What in the world are you building? And why in the world does it need to be so tall?” And he gets to respond to the people, “Oh, this is where I’m going to hang Mordecai tomorrow. You should come and see what it’s about.” This man’s hatred runs that deep. And he shows up to the king before the sun even comes up thinking that this is the last moments, I’ll just wipe my hands clean, and then I’ll go to the dinner party with Esther later in the day. And now all of a sudden, all of a sudden, he’s the one picked by the king to lead Mordecai through the streets and declaring the goodness of what Mordecai has done on behalf of the king. Trusting in the providence of God.
Guys, this story is just to remind us that God is for His people, that what He can do on your behalf is far greater than anything that you can imagine on your own, and far better than anything you can achieve in your own strain. Now, I’m not saying follow after God because every vindictive idea that you might have will be executed. That is not what I’m saying. But what I am saying is God’s plan is far better, far better than yours.
We see a story like this when you think about all the wrong that’s been done in your life. You could say, “Well I find it a bit unbelievable that God will do this for me, just as He done it for Mordecai and Esther. And I would just say, “Guys, what do you think eternity is? This is just a small picture of the goodness of God made known in this world, but it’s intended to illustrate the greater hand of God as his people are in his presence for all of eternity. When you see God face to face and you bring before God all the wrong that’s ever been done against you in your life, what you’re seeing in the life of Mordecai Esther in this moment is but a shadow of all the goodness that will come in the presence of God in eternity. This is to help us see the evidence of how his glory will work out in our lives. God is much better at working things out than we are. And how many times do we have to learn this lesson before we learn that when we have the struggle of feeling, that we continue to walk by faith?
And there is only one thing that stops us from experiencing that journey. It’s pride. Pride. The opportunity we have to trust in ourselves over and above him, it’s pride.
I think it’s just worth asking the question, how do I know? When it comes to God’s sovereign hand, his providence and what I desire, how do I know that I’m not walking in my pride rather than trusting in him? Because Esther and Mordecai could have done the same thing. Even from a place of desperation they could have done the same thing. How do I know I’m not walking in pride? If I just use Haman for a moment as an example, just the last few verses of chapter five, it exposed to us ways Haman struggled with his pride. Pride will keep you from the providence of God.
And the number one way that we know that we struggle with pride is one, is if we struggle with anger. If we struggle with anger, in verse nine, it expresses that to you in chapter five, when Haman after eating with Esther, he walks out of this dinner party. It describes his posture as one that’s just elated and filled with happiness. And then all of a sudden he turns and sees Mordecai, and he instantly goes to that place of rage. He allows anger to eat him up to the point that he wants to kill somebody.
And I know we can sometimes justify or soften our anger by saying, “Look, I look at Haman and he has gone far beyond anything that I would ever do in my life.” But reality is, Jesus has told us if we’ve had anger in our heart, that is the root of murder. It is the root of killing. Anger becomes evidence, is that you don’t lack the ability sometimes to kill, it may just be that you just lack the opportunity. And what I mean by that is, look, anyone in Haman’s position, you think if you struggle with anger, Haman doesn’t have to live by the law. Haman lives above the law. He’s demonstrating this by how he’s conducting himself. And when you have no accountability in life, eventually what those emotions that can control you, they just get more drastic and more drastic and more drastic. And an evidence of your struggling with pride is struggling with anger. Because the idea of anger is about putting yourself flirts and making a bully move in order to accomplish what you desire. It’s all about you.
Number two is that you tend to devalue people. And it’s easy to get to in a place of anger. All that you want and what you desire becomes most important. And you see people as a tool to be leveraged in order to accomplish what it is that you want with your life. And rather than treat people as if they’re image bearers of God. Whenever they’ve wronged you, what comes out? Do you begin to instantly devalue them? Treating people with disrespect, devaluing another human being is a struggle of pride. That’s in verse 14. You see that in chapter five with Haman.
And then in verse 13, you see this, there’s this lack of thankfulness. Haman describes at the end of the chapter, all these great things that happen in his life, but because he still doesn’t have one thing, Mordecai bowing to him, it destroys his joy in every anything. He has no thankfulness in his life. All he can think about is what he wants. Humble people tend to be thankful people. Proud people tend to be entitled people.
And if we don’t want to walk a life like Haman, ask the question, how do we avoid it? I think the answer is simple, it comes from humility.
Humility recognizes that you’re not in authority, but rather that you are under authority. But being under that authority in the Lord, it doesn’t make you a coward. When you put yourself under the authority of God and you march to his beat in your life rather than your own, part of walking that path is to find your identity in him. And when you find your identity in him, it doesn’t mean that you’re worthless. It just means you think of yourself less because you recognize how great God is. And that in that position that you have beneath him, that God Himself is the one that elevates you. It gives you worth, value, meaning, a purpose in this life.
And so humble people can walk in the Lord with incredible confidence because of the value they have in Jesus. That’s why in these moments, Esther and Mordecai, when life seems like it’s going against them, that they continue to move forward because they see God’s hand all over them and trusted in his providence, that God has put them in a position that God has a plan for their lives, that the Lord hasn’t given up his love on them. That even in the mess, even when they rejected God, even when Esther spent the night with the king, even when Esther denied Judaism, even when Esther ate food that wasn’t kosher according to Jewish custom, God never stopped loving her. And in that place of humility before him, she continues to move forward.
Pride is the greatest obstacle for people from pursuing what God desires in their lives. It’s the struggle, “Is it me first or is it the Lord?” Pride could have prevented Esther and Mordecai. Even God’s people can struggle with pride. In fact, if I just had to point out maybe one area that I find common in God’s people and nobody here, because you guys are perfect, we’re talking about other churches, all right? But I think sometimes God’s people struggle with a fear of failure. And I think it comes from a place of pride. And what I mean is, we see what Jesus desires for us in life in this place of holiness, and sometimes we mistake the place of holiness with trying to step out and pursue the Lord and not make mistakes. “I don’t want to make a mistake. That might look bad and I don’t want to look bad. And if I look bad, it’ll make me look bad.” And then we struggle with pride.
So because of that, we never take risks in the Lord. We never trust in God in that way. And we mask it for holiness, but it’s not really holiness. It’s just never really doing anything that has any risk to follow after God to begin with. Pride keeps us from continuing to experience His providence actively in our lives. Not that God’s providence is restricted by us, but what I mean is experientially having walked with that hand, as we by faith trust in him. We’re more confident in trusting in our abilities rather than in God’s providence and our pride becomes that struggle.
Point number three; the encouragement for you is to find gospel peace. When you trust in the providence of God, what we find in our lives is this place of gospel peace. And I realize in saying that, the timeline that we’re in with Esther, Jesus has not fully come yet, and Jesus has not given his life yet. So the gospel is the death barrel and resurrection of Jesus. But we’re continuing to see in the book of Esther, how God is orchestrating his plan among his people in order to bring the Messiah who will ultimately deliver, which inevitably brings us peace.
In verse 12 and 13 it says this, “Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate while Haman hurried home mourning, with his head covered. And Haman informed Zeresh his wife and all his friends of 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 prevail over him, but will certainly fall before him.” That’s encouraging news, isn’t it?
And I realize in reading verse 12 and 13, when I talk about gospel peace and you read verse 12 and 13, you say this is not peaceful. But all of this story of the life of Haman in chapter six is exactly what none of us should do. It’s intended to encourage us to do the exact opposite. And in this story, what we’re looking for then is not what Haman has. If you build a life of pride, you make life about self, you don’t trust in the Lord, inevitably you find yourself with no hope and you end up bankrupt. We don’t want that. We want the opposite of that. And that is to discover gospel peace.
And so let me illustrate here in this story, the opportunity of the gospel where it should fall in our lives. And there is a common mistake Haman is making here and a common mistake I think people in general make in terms of their relationship with God. And that is, it’s written, if you want to, 2nd Corinthians 7:10, we mistake worldly sorrow for Godly repentance. We easily mistake worldly sorrow for Godly repentance. So when I read this story, what I see as a man in worldly sorrow. And unfortunately what we do not find is a man in Godly repentance.
And what I mean between those two things is that worldly sorrow is where you feel bad for the things that you’ve done. Matter of fact, part of you feeling bad might be driven by the fact that you’ve been caught and found out. It’s like Haman in this moment, the king doesn’t entirely know everything that he needs to know that Haman’s about wants to kill all these Jews and Mordecai is a Jew and all that, how it’s going to go his way. The king Xerxes doesn’t know that yet, but Haman recognizes how all this is going to fall. His wife recognizes how all this is going to fall. And so what does Haman feel? He feels bad. He got found out.
It’s like when we do stupid stuff, and then gets exposed in front of people, we can feel bad, because we did dumb things. And then we could feel bad about how it affected other people. I don’t like how it hurt you, but none of that’s Godly repentance. I think it’s okay to feel bad, you have a moral compass. I thank the Lord that you’ve got a moral compass, but worldly repentance is to recognize that before I ever sin against another human being, I have always violated first the nature of God, I have always committed offense against the Lord.
Wanting to kill Mordecai, that anger, that was wrong. Haman feels bad about that, but before he brought an offense against Mordecai, he ultimately brought an offense against God because God is life and God is the giver of life. And God made Mordecai in the image of God. And for Haman to desire to kill Mordecai is to first come against the creator who made Mordecai in his image. Worldly sorrow and godly repentance they can be interconnected, but they are not the same. There needs to come to this place before God where we acknowledge, “But Lord, in all of it, I have first offended you.” And it’s not until we come to the Lord this way to seek reconciliation through the cross that we find that gospel peace. To understand anytime we’ve done anything wrong in this world, it’s always first been an offense against our creator.
But here’s the beauty of that, god doesn’t want you to walk in guilt, and God doesn’t want you to live in shame. God wants to make you a new creature in him. All things have passed, behold, all things have become new. That’s what it says, 2nd Corinthians 5:17. That’s God’s hope for you, not to bind you in that, to make you feel bad the rest of your life. God has no interest in that. God wants to free you from that so you can walk in the newness of life and identity in him. That’s where we find gospel peace. That is the hope of what Jesus has done to deliver us and set us free. That’s why it’s so much more important to find godly repentance over worldly sorrow because there is no escape in worldly sorrow, there is no ultimate forgiveness in it.
You can just walk the rest of your life feeling bad about the things you’ve done, but in Jesus, he’s paid for that on the cross to say free.
Unfortunately, if you look at the story, and Haman never finds it because in verse 14 it says this, “And while they were still talking with him, the King’s eunuchs arrived and quickly brought Haman to the banquet with Esther, which Esther had prepared. He just sat in the worldly sorrow, and never found freedom in the Lord.
Let me close with this story. FeldKirch, Austria, this beautiful little towns, it’s far west in Austria as you can go. But in 1799, Napoleon brought his army just over the hill, looking into this town. The towns people spotted Napoleon and his army just over the heights above them, preparing for battle against them. And they were curious as to how they should respond. They were concerned I should say, not curious about how they should respond, should respond, and they’re debating between themselves, “Should we turn and fight or should we raise the white flag? What do we do?” And then the towns people decided, “Napoleon is just above us about to descend on us and destroy us, but tomorrow is Easter. And what we’re going to do before we do anything is we’re just going to worship.”
That morning, they went to the church. Imagine this is probably the church even pictured here. I don’t know that for sure. But they went to the church and as the services were supposed to start, as the sun began to come up, they’re celebrating Easter sunrise. They ring the bells of the church and they start to worship. And the story goes, before the service was over Napoleon’s army broke camp and decided to leave. And the reason they decided to leave is because when they heard the bells, they assumed that the Austrian army had showed up in the darkness of night and was prepared to defend the city.
I don’t say all this to say to you, “Look, if you follow God, every battle that you have in your life, God’s magically going to work it out the way that you want him to work it out.” But I’d say all this to say, it’s important to recognize in our lives, no matter where we are, that we just need to ring the bell. God’s providence is far greater than anything that you can accomplish in your own power. And God loves you and God is for you, and God will work it all out for His glory and your good. If we His people would just surrender pride and walk in Him to see what the Lord will do.