Esther 3:7-15 The Sermon For 1/30/22

Let me begin this morning by letting you know that a more full exposition of this text has been posted on our Community Church web-site should you want to read it. This morning, however, I have chosen to only emphasize a few particular things from this text. 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 ends with these shocking words in verse 15, “And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion”. This short description contrasts…

  • the grief, shock, confusion, bewilderment, despair and chaos of the people in Susa;

  • with the aloofness, callousness, detachment, indifference, unresponsiveness and unsympathetic and haughty disposition of the king and Haman as they sit down to drink.

This scene reminds me of the scene that Jesus speaks of when He tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

The order that Haman has just sent throughout the land is first decreed to the people of Susa. The people are confused and bewildered by this command:

  • Jews and Gentiles are both shocked,

  • men and women are found grieving in the streets,

  • the young and old are confused,

  • the rich and the poor are perplexed,

  • slaves and free persons are thrown into confusion by this unexpected command.

The verb that is translated ‘was thrown into confusion’ is used two other times in scripture.

  • In Exodus 14:3 it is used by Pharaoh who believes that the children of Israel will be trapped and entangled in the land as they are attempting to leave Egypt. In that moment, Pharaoh pursues the people of Israel as he seeks to overcome them in their confusion and distress. He pursues them to his own demise when he encounters them at the Red Sea when the LORD delivers His people.

Similarly, in our text Haman sits down with the king to drink believing that he has cut off any way of escape for the Jewish people. Haman believes that he has entangled the Jews and that there will be no escape for them. In his pride he has plotted against the people of God like Pharaoh did and it will lead to his own demise.

The second time that this verb is used is in Joel 1:18 where we read, “How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.” Then in Joel 1:20 we read, “The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Similarly, in our text we see that the city of Susa was thrown into confusion and began to groan. This decree has threatened the life of every Jew and threatens to take all of their possessions, wealth, and goods as plunder. So while the king and Haman sit in the palace and begin to drink their wine, the Jews begin to turn to the LORD for deliverance.

Proverbs 28:27 describes something of what should have been done in this moment by the king. It says, “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Haman has promised to give the king 10,000 talents of silver as a bribe to implement this evil plan. He does not spend this money on the poor; rather, he spends it to impoverish a people and to implement a plan of genocide.

  • Most commentators have tried to convey the amount of wealth that Haman has promised to the king by showing that this was probably around half of the wealth that the king enjoyed through tax revenue each year.1Some have even estimated that this amount would be two-thirds of the annual revenue.2

Another way to put this into perspective is to consider the story that is recorded in 2 Kings 15. The king of Assyria came against Israel to conquer them but the king of Israel paid Pul a thousand talents of silver to get him to withdraw from the land. Haman has offered two-thirds more to King Ahasuerus to kill the Jews, than Israel’s king offered to save Israel from Assyria.