Search

Home thoughts from abroad.wordpress.com

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Author

blogstephen216

Pastor of The King's Church Boston Spa.

Esther 7:8b-10: Downfall

“8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banqueting 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. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, ‘A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.’The king said, ‘Impale him on it!’ 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.” NIV

Let all who desire to be important and famous and powerful in this world take note. Things can change in a moment. It can all be over so quickly. That position you wanted, and thought would bring you happiness, proved as transient as a bubble in a bath tub. Haman was now yesterday’s man – not because he was dismissed, but because he was dead. He’d been a prominent guest at the party, but for him the party was over.

We’ve already seen that there is a foreshadowing of the cross in Haman being destroyed by his own instrument of destruction. He had the gallows built for Mordecai, but they were to be the death of him. ‘’The righteous is delivered from trouble, and it comes to the wicked instead’’ (Proverbs 11:8)

Note the last verse: ‘’So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided’’

There is a truth about the cross in the Bible, but it is deeply unpopular today. It is that Christ died as a ‘propitiation’. In other words, He took the wrath of God against sin upon Himself. Although many don’t like this idea, it is a precious thought to believers that in Jesus they are freed from the wrath and judgment of God.

PRAYER: Thank God for Jesus

Esther 7:3-8: What a farce!

“3 Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life – this is my petition. And spare my people – this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. 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.’King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he? Where is he – the man who has dared to do such a thing?’Esther said, ‘An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!’Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realising 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 banqueting 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.” NIV

This is surely one of the great lines in the book:

’The adversary and enemy! this vile Haman’’ (6).

Throughout the chapter the pantomime continues, and even descends into farce (8). You want to laugh, but if it is funny it is tragically so.

The sad truth is we reap what we sow.

‘’He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment. He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself: his violence comes down on his own head’’ (Psalm 7:14-16).

Haman is an embodiment of this principle.

‘Those that are most haughty and insolent when in power and prosperity, commonly, like Haman, are the most abject and poor-spirited when brought down. The day is coming when those that hate and persecute God’s chosen ones, would gladly be beholden to them. The king returns yet more angry against Haman. Those about him were ready to put his wrath into execution. How little can proud men be sure of the interest they think they have! The enemies of God’s church have often been thus taken in their own craftiness. The Lord is known by such judgments…Let the workers of iniquity tremble, turn to the Lord, and seek pardon through the blood of Jesus.’ Matthew Henry.

By the way, at this moment Xerxes must have realised that Esther was a Jew, and there is no record to indicate that he was perturbed by the news!

PRAYER: Lord, may we realise that our actions have consequences.

Esther 7:1-6: A further word about prayer

“So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the 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 favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life – this is my petition. And spare my people – this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. 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.[a]King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he? Where is he – the man who has dared to do such a thing?’Esther said, ‘An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!’Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.” NIV

Today, to reinforce the lesson about prayer, I want to add a further comment from the pen of Matthew Henry: ‘If the love of life causes earnest pleadings with those that can only kill the body, how fervent should our prayers be to Him, who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell! How should we pray for the salvation of our relatives, friends, and all around us! When we petition great men, we must be cautious not to give them offence; even just complaints must often be kept back. But when we approach the King of kings with reverence, we cannot ask or expect too much. Though nothing but wrath be our due, God is able and willing to do exceeding abundantly, even beyond all we can ask or think.’

I recently heard Andy Stanley say, on a different subject, that knowing is not the same as doing. You can know/believe certain things are true without it changing your life.

So…let us pray…

PRAYER: Lord, may I not rest content to merely think about prayer, or read about prayer, or listen to sermons about prayer. Help me to pray.

Esther 7:1-2: How generous!

Thank you Christel for yesterdays thought we are now returning to Esther…

“So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the 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.’ NIV

This is now the third time, according to the Biblical record, that the king has said essentially the same thing to Esther (verse 2; see also 5;3 and 6). His words were not to be taken literally, but it was a way of expressing the generosity of his heart towards his bride. He loved her and he was encouraging her to ask big because he was willing to give big.

Now take your Bible in your hand and work through it from beginning to end. What you will find is that God has made many more outrageously extravagant promises to His bride, His church. Here are not just three, but numerous and varied promises. He encourages His people to be bold in asking and repeats over and over His desire to give. What’s more, He offers more! Far more than this rich oriental King. He offers more; He has more. He has infinite resources and He is perfect in generosity. I wonder how often it is the case that we ‘have not’ because we ‘ask not’?

As we consider the promises of God, let’s determine to be like Esther in these verses. If possible, be clear and specific in asking. Don’t be vague. Don’t beat about the bush. Have a definite aim and go for it. I have a feeling that often, even if we get the words wrong, God still gives what He wants to give; He provides what He knows we need most.

‘’Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened’’ (Matthew 7:7,8).

‘’Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition. With thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’’ (Philippians 4:6,7).

Ephesians 6:10-11: The good news about ‘Blue Monday’

Today we are taking a break from the ‘Esther’ series, and I’m sharing a guest post from my daughter Christel Thompson. Thank you Christel for today’s relevant contribution:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6 v 10-11

I think all of us can probably relate to that “Monday morning feeling”, no more especially than in January. In fact, we now even recognise “Blue Monday” here in the UK; the third Monday in January, deemed to be the most depressing day of the year, as we await our next pay cheque post Christmas, review our failing New Years resolutions, and push through the darkness and cold. In fact, I imagine for some, the whole of 2020 felt a little bit like “Blue Monday”. Every day came with more bad news, new challenges to adapt to, and it became increasingly hard to get up in the morning, however light it was outside.

As we move into 2021, we have the good news of the vaccine to work with, but many of the “blues” of 2020 haven’t gone away. There is hope though.

John chapter 1 and verse 5 tells us that, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Adversity doesn’t discriminate. Especially as followers of Christ, Jesus tells us that, “In this world you will have trouble”. But we are not alone. God has given us the best possible toolkit in the world; his full armour, to help us get through.

The reality is that this year will bring more isolation, more deaths, more mental health issues and more unemployment. This is out of our control, but what is in our control is our ability to use the tools God has given us to face these trials. God gives us his word, his Holy Spirit, and 24/7 FaceTime with him. If you think your Christmas was small this year, or that you got no presents, read that last sentence back. Or let me do it for you: God gives us his word, his Holy Spirit, and 24/7 FaceTime with him. For free, might I add. Sounds better than the latest smart phone to me!

So whatever is in store this 2021 (and I really do hope it’s many blessings for you all!) whether it’s dark clouds or even clear blue skies; make sure to put on your FULL armour. Not a bit of prayer and skip the bible reading. The FULL armour. It’s come from God. Who wouldn’t want the full armour of God? God who is in control. And remember that after warning us against troubles, Jesus also said “Take heart, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).

Esther 6:12-14: Never a discouraging word

12 Afterwards Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His advisors 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!’ 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.” NIV

What a contrast is drawn between the quiet equanimity of Mordecai, who just returned to his normal life after being so feted (12a), and Haman, for whom the world had caved in (12b,13). Everything that mattered most to him had slipped through his fingers. There is surely dramatic irony in the last sentence of (14) as Haman is ‘’hurried’’ away to a banquet, but we sense he is being escorted to his doom – especially in the light of verse 13. He is not in control. The brakes have failed and the car is hurtling downhill to the cliff edge. There is nothing he can do.

I was thinking about the idyllic domestic scene painted in the song, ‘home on the range.’ Home is the place ‘where never is heard a discouraging word.’ This was not Haman’s experience!! He didn’t receive a sympathetic, ‘There, there now’ from his wife and advisors. Rather, they articulated a key theological truth about the role of Israel in God’s purposes (13). Throughout their long history, the Jews have repeatedly been abused, opposed and persecuted, but God’s Word to Abraham remains ever true:

‘’I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse…’’ (Genesis 12:3)

Esther 6:6-11: Pride before a fall

 “When Haman entered, the king asked him, ‘What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?’Now Haman thought to himself, ‘Who is there that the king would rather honour than me?’ So he answered the king, ‘For the man the king delights to honour, let 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 honour, 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 honour!”’10 ‘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.’11 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 honour!’NIV

‘’God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’’ (James 4:6 – quoting Proverbs 3:34)

This story amply illustrates the Bible principle that pride precedes a fall.

‘Haman hated Mordecai so much that he got up very early to ask for his enemy’s death. And Haman loved Haman so much that he could not imagine the king honouring anyone but himself! The proud man has a mirror in which he sees himself; the humble man has a window through which he sees others (Rom.12:10; Phil.2:3-4). Haman’s pride destroyed him (Prov.16:18; 18:12)…What a humiliating experience! Haman had to dress Mordecai in robes he wanted to wear, put him on the horse he wanted to ride, and then led him-a Jew-through the busiest part of the city!’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’,pp.275,276.

The Bible holds humility before our gaze as a virtue to be cultivated. It is called for in many passages. For example:

‘’Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up’’ (James 4:10). In a similar vein:

‘’Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time’’ (1 Peter 5:6).

In the New Testament, Jesus is portrayed as the great example of humility (Philippians 2:1-11), and we are called to emulate Him. That means it must be possible in the power of the Spirit, even if we find it difficult – and we certainly do!

Marlena Graves’ book, ‘The way up is down’, was in Christianity Today’s list of the top books of 2020. It is a heart-searching book, and is ruthless in extending and applying the Biblical call to humble service. Here is a quote from the first chapter:

‘Hearing the call to renounce our wills in each new circumstance so God’s will can be done in and through every part of us is the call to selflessness. It’s not a one-time deal. It requires daily repentance and conversion to the ways of God. We’ll constantly have to examine ourselves and decide whether we really want to go Jesus’ way and surrender all control of the outcomes to God.’

As Marlena emphasises, the battle for humility is constant, but it’s one worth fighting. Who wants to end up being a Haman?

Someone once pointed out that In God’s orchard, the branches which bear the most fruit hang lowest.

Esther 6:1-11: Perfect timing

“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 honour and recognition has Mordecai received for this?’ the king asked.‘Nothing has been done for him,’ his attendants answered.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 impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.His attendants answered, ‘Haman is standing in the court.’‘Bring him in,’ the king ordered.When Haman entered, the king asked him, ‘What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?’Now Haman thought to himself, ‘Who is there that the king would rather honour than me?’ So he answered the king, ‘For the man the king delights to honour, let 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 honour, 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 honour!”’10 ‘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.’11 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 honour!’ NIV

There is nothing we enjoy more than seeing the villain get his, or her, comeuppance. The book of Esther is masterful story-telling, and this sixth chapter makes for delicious reading.

Many years ago, Alex Haley’s book, ‘Roots’, created something of a sensation. Eventually it was serialised, and just before it was shown on television, there was a lot of publicity surrounding it. Haley was interviewed and asked about the secret of its success. He replied, ‘I don’t really know, but I do remember something my grandma used to say: ‘’You never know when the Lord’s going to come, but He’s always on time!’’ ‘

Not only does this sixth chapter show that we shouldn’t despise the day of small things; it also illustrates the perfection of God’s timing. The book of Esther is full of what many would call ‘coincidences’, but believers would want to say they are ‘God-incidences.’ There may be days when we cry out, ‘How long O Lord?’ We may be sure that the Lord will always be on time. But His movements will be according to His own timetable and not ours. It may look to us like He is cutting it very fine indeed!

Warren Wiersbe makes the point that ‘providence means ‘to see beforehand’. He writes, ‘If any chapter in the book of Esther reveals the providence of God, it is this one… God is working on your behalf today, so trust Him (Rom.8:28).’ ‘With the Word’, p.275.

PRAYER: I confess to you Lord that I do not always understand your timing, but please help me to trust where I do not see.

Esther 6:1-5: A very small hinge

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 honour and recognition has Mordecai received for this?’ the king asked.‘Nothing has been done for him,’ his attendants answered.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 impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.His attendants answered, ‘Haman is standing in the court.’‘Bring him in,’ the king ordered.”NIV

Significant events may turn on small hinges. In this case it was a king’s sleepless night; it was a previous overlooking of Mordecai in the ‘honours list; and it was Haman ‘just happening’ to be in court at the crucial moment.  In the church today, many people are wowed by the big and spectacular. I’m not saying God is not in such. He may well be. But my point is that he is also in the small, the ordinary, the commonplace – so much so that we often fail to see Him there. Especially do we fail to see Him in little situations and (those we deem to be) little people.

We may often over-look the faithful godly. But God sees them. He knows their deeds; and in His own time He will rewards.

‘God’s delays are not necessarily His denials.’

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: