Esther 3:7-15 Haman's Wicked Plot Against The Jews - verse by verse sermon
Our text this morning is found in Esther 3: 7-15,
In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. 8 Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not to the king's profit to tolerate them. 9 If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king's business, that they may put it into the king's treasuries.” 10 So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. 11 And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”
12 Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king's satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring. 13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. 15 The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.
Our text can be divided up into the following points:
Haman casts lots to destroy the Jews
Haman comes to present his plan to the king
The king grants approval for Haman to carry out the plot
A letter is sent out to all the provinces
The reaction to this news
Haman Casts Lots To Destroy The Jews
Read with me verse 7, “In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”
I once read an article that was describing the chaos that often happens in a New York emergency room. On the cover of the article there was a doctor sitting outside the ER getting some fresh air. He sat there looking exhausted with his elbows up on his knees with his hands coming up and covering his face. He looked tired. He needed a few moments alone to collect his thoughts and his composure.
The reporter interviewed this doctor about the stress that he experienced while working in the ER. He said that he never knew what he might experience on a shift within the ER. He said that you always experience something new and unexpected. You might encounter an individual who had drowned, who had been in a car wreck, who had been shot, who had overdosed, or who had experienced some tragedy while working. The list of things he encountered went on and on. By the way, this article was written before COVID19 which was something that I’m sure he never dreamed of dealing with.
At the end of the article the doctor said that this was his fifth year in the ER and he finally felt as though he would probably be able to handle any situation that he might encounter. He had come to believe that he had experienced enough things in the last five years that he would know the right thing to do, at the right time, for whoever might be brought into the ER for help. He said that after five years he could no begin to relax and know that everything would be fine on his shift.
I bring up this story because we discover in Esther 3:7 that Esther has now been queen for five years. If Esther’s experience was similar to the ER doctor in that story she would just be starting to feel comfortable with her new role as queen. She would just be getting comfortable with all of the changes that had been thrust upon her through all of these events that we have discussed. She may have just gotten to the point to where she would wake up in the morning and feel confident that she was experienced and capable enough to handle anything that might arise during that day.
But it was at this time when something happened that no one expected. Esther is about to be thrust into another overwhelming situation. Haman the Agagite became angry at Mordecai and he was about to implement an evil plan to destroy all of the Jews.
Our text opens with Mordecai casting lots to see when he should carry out this plan against the Jews. Haman first casts lots to see what day this evil plot should be carried out and it fell upon the 13th day. After that he cast lots again to determine what month it should be carried out. The Lots fell upon the twelfth month.
Haman is confident that luck and fortune are on his side as he is throwing the Pur to decide these dates. He is oblivious to the providence, wisdom, and the sovereignty of God that is behind everything that happens. Haman is not aware of Proverbs 16:33 which states, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Because Haman is not aware of these things he is confident that the date the Pur have fallen upon are the dates that the Jewish people will be destroyed.
Instead, God is controlling all of these details. It is the LORD that is picking the exact dates so that His sovereign will is going to be carried out. The lots fall upon the last month of the year which will provide all the time that will be needed for Haman’s plot to be thwarted. During this time we will see in the coming weeks that during this time His people will be turning to Him, seeking His face, and inquiring of the LORD. The LORD is using all of these things for good.
Haman PresentsHis Plan To The King
Look with me at Esther 3:8-9, “Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, ‘There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not to the king's profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king's business, that they may put it into the king's treasuries.’”
After determining the date that this evil plot is to be carried out Haman quickly goes to King Ahasuerus and attempts to persuade him to authorize a plot against the Jews. Notice how Haman tries to avoid any specific language:
“There is a certain people”, what people? (nameless threat)
“Their laws are different from any other people”, what is the difference? God’s laws are good for any nation and a nation is blessed by a righteous and God fearing people.
“They don’t keep the kings laws”, which laws? (lawless rebels) We have already seen how King Ahasuerus responded to Vashti who broke one of the kings laws. This accusation is sure to invoke a response from the king.
The king does not ask any probing questions. He does not appear to be the least bit cautious about allowing Haman to destroy a certain group of people within his kingdom. King Ahasuerus seems so flippant about how this power is used against others. He does not investigate any of these accusations as he had done when there was a threat made against his life by two of his guards in Esther 2:23, “When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.”
As many of you know I have come to really appreciate and enjoy Puritan books. One of the reasons I have come to like them so much is because one day I discovered that they were nothing like what I had been told when I was growing up. I remember when I was in the sixth grade learning about the Puritans in Mrs. McCool’s class. The curriculum that we were studying made the Puritans seem like really weird people. Because of this I thought they were till only a few years ago when I was reading a book called, ‘Spurgeon: The Last of the Puritans’. At the end of the book there was an entire chapter on the Puritans and as I read about them I was shocked that they did not sound anything like what I had previously been told. As a result, I began to read more about the Puritans and getting to know them for myself. Because of this they have become my favorite authors.
Like King Ahasuerus, we can so easily be manipulated into believing something about others that is not true at all. We have to be so careful about these things. We discuss this more at the end.
Not only does Haman speak maliciously and bear false witness against the Jews, but he also tries to remove any objection that the king might have by offering him 10,000 talents of silver. In other words, Haman is now bribing the king and letting him know that this campaign will not cost him anything. On the contrary, the kings coffers will grow!
How much is 10,000 talents of silver? Astonishingly, this is believed to be about half of the annual income that was brought into the king each year from all of his provinces. That is a very large sum of money! To put this into some perspective, the budget for Wisconsin is 81.5 billion; half of that would be 40.75 billion dollars. The 2020 budget for our federal government was 6.6 trillion dollars; half of that would be 3.3 trillion dollars.
How was Haman able to promise the king so much? Most believe that Haman intended to pay for this with the monies that he would have received from all the plundering of the Jews that he intended to kill (3:13).
The King Approves Haman’s Request
Verses 10-11 says, “So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. 11 And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”
The result of all of this was that King Ahasuerus agreed to authorize this plan. He gave Haman his signet ring which enabled him to do everything that he wanted to do in the name and the authority of the king. As he handed the signet ring to Haman the king said, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”
There is some confusion as to what is meant by the words, “The money is given to you…”. This could mean that the king refuses Haman’s offer to pay for this to be carried out and that the king will fund this campaign. Or it could meant that the king would cover the expenses of this campaign until Haman can return the money to the kings treasury when the Jews have been destroyed and their goods looted.
Notice what the king says to Haman, “...the people are given to you, do with them as it seems good to you.” There are two things to bring out about this. First, this is Haman’s plan, and not the kings. Haman is doing what will seem good to him. Even so, the king approves of this plan and supports it. Haman has presented the Jews to the king as faceless, nameless, and as an unseen people. He can approve of this order and then immediately resume a life of drinking (15). (This is the same principle at work in the abortion industry. As long as they are seen as nameless and faceless people fail to see that this takes away the life of a child. But when the parent sees the baby in an ultrasound they are much less likely to follow through with the abortion.)
Secondly, notice the irony of what the king says when he tells Haman to do whatever seems ‘good’ to him. This is an evil plan, not a good plan; this is a wicked plan, not a righteous plan; this is a un-just war against the Jews, not a just cause! This is a terrifying plan that will unsettle all who hear of the decree that will be made against the Jews (15).
The Letters Are Sent Out To All The Provinces
We read this in Esther 3:12-15a, “Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king's satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel.”
In this part of the text we see that the wicked commands of Haman are sent out to all of the satraps, all the governors, all the officials and all the people throughout the whole land. Everywhere his commands were read and proclaimed and he encouraged others to engage in this great sin against the Jewish people. He instructs the people that they are to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day. And after they do this they are to plunder their goods.
With this in mind, consider the words of John Flavel in his book entitled, ‘Sinful Speech’. He says,
‘How long does an idle word, or foolish jest, stick in men’s minds, and become an occasion of much sin in them? The froth and vanity of your spirit, which your tongue so freely vents among your vain companions, may be working in their minds when you are in the dust, and so be transmitted from one to another... And thus may you be sinning in the persons of your companions, when you are turned into dust.’ Flavel goes on to say, “After men have passed their particular judgment immediately after their death, because after this, multitudes of sins by their means will be committed in the world, for which they must yet be judged to a fuller measure of wrath.”
Flavel is reminding us that Haman will be judged for his angry words, his abusive words, his malicious words; but he will also be held accountable for the sins that others committed when they acted upon those words.
When King Ahasuerus finds out later about the details of this plan he will kill Haman for this plot against the queen and her people. In that moment Haman will plead for his life but it will not be spared. Flavel is reminding us that more terrifying than this is the fact that Haman will have to face the LORD concerning these things and He will be judged for the destruction that these commands brought about upon others even after he is dead. (Read Esther 7:10; 9:1-11, 16)
Notice that the scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month to write these terrifying words, “Letters were sent...with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.”
All of this was done just one day before the Jews would celebrate the Passover. This was done one day before the Jews would begin their solemn assembly in which they were reminded that the LORD had once delivered the Jewish people from the oppression of the Egyptians. I am sure that many Jews would be reminded by this that the LORD is able to save all those who take refuge in Him. He is able to save all those who look to Him and call upon His name. Little did they realize that a year from this time they would be celebrating the fact that the LORD had saved their very generation from this evil plan.
W are told that the couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king. No time was wasted. There was no procrastination in carrying out this command. There was no delay. There was no hesitation by anyone in sending out this decree throughout the kingdom. Wicked plans always seem to spread fast and take hold quickly. On the other hand, it often seems that deliverance seems to happen so slowly. Our text today reminds you and I that God is in control of these things and He is always working even when we are unaware.
We See The Reaction To This Order
We see this reaction at the end of verse 15, “And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.”
There are two completely different reactions to what has just happened. First, the king and Haman sat down to drink. These two men drank wine while the entire kingdom was thrown into confusion. This last sentence is meant to shock us. This should not be done!
But what should be done? Let me give you an example from scripture of how authority is supposed to function. We see this in Proverbs 31, where a king’s mother, gives her son some instruction. She says, “What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?…It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted...Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (v.2, 4-5, 8-9)
Secondly, we are told that the people of Susa were thrown into confusion by these things. The people that lived with the Jews knew that none of what Haman had told the king was true. The people that worked for the Jews knew that none of this was true. Therefore, when the command came to destroy the Jews the people were confused. They knew something was wrong. Even though this evil plan goes forth so quickly throughout the empire we see that the consciences of the people were troubled from the very beginning, and this is encouraging to see and we ought to praise God for this grace.
There was a period in my life as a young kid that someone lied about a bunch of people in my family. I believed that everything I was being told was true. But over time I realized that none of it was really true. But the lie had been so ingrained in me that every time that I am around my family I have to say to myself, “These people are not like what you have been told. These people are nicer than you think. If you give them a chance, you will really like them.” Forty years later I have to confront the lies that I have been told every time I see them.
My friends, we live in a world that is full of Haman types of people. Because of our fallen nature we too have a lot of Haman characteristics in us. Therefore it is good for us to see how the bible tells us to deal with one another so that these traits that we have seen in Haman are mortified. Our church has adopted a communications covenant that will be helpful here.
Community Church Communications Covenant If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)
When I have a problem with another person, I will go to that person promptly and privately.
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Matthew 18:15
When individuals have a problem with me, I want them to come to me privately and I will be open to them when they come.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3
When someone has a problem with me, and comes to you, send that person to me. I'll do the same for you.
Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25
When I am wondering if someone has a problem with me, I will go to them and ask promptly.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
I will be careful to not assume what others are thinking and feeling.
Test everything, hold on to the good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
I will not speak for others in regard to what they are thinking or feeling.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16
I will honor others by treating personal information and private conversations as confidential.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
I will refrain from all gossip and slander by only speaking that which edifies and builds up others.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29