Haman Begins To Fall Before The LORD - Esther 6:1-14
A week ago I turned on the news and became a little melancholy. This world that you and I are living in is getting more scary and confusing with every passing day. Later that day I went into my study and began to read something that I would like to share with you. The author begins by asking a serious question. He asks, “Who is regulating the affairs of the earth today – God, or the devil?”
I wonder what this author was witnessing in his life that made him ask such a question? What was the context of his life that made him wonder if God or the devil were regulating the affairs on the earth?
These appear to be the words of a man who is witnessing a great battle between good and evil, right and wrong, morality and immorality, justice and injustice.
Listen to what this author says next, “Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world. What a scene of confusion and chaos confronts us on every side! Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds, evil men and seducers are waxing ‘worse and worse’. Today, everything appears to be out of joint. Thrones are creaking and tottering, ancient dynasties are being overturned, nations are in revolt, civilization is a demonstrated failure...Instead of the world having been made ‘safe for democracy’, we have discovered that democracy is very unsafe for the world. Unrest, discontent, and lawlessness are rife everywhere, and none can say how soon another great war will be set in motion. Statesman are perplexed and staggered. Men’s hearts are ‘failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth’.”
The author then asks another question, “Do these things look as though God has full control?”1
These words could easily have been written by someone who is looking around at our world today but they weren’t. These are the words of a pastor named A.W. Pink and he published a book in 1928 entitled, ‘The Sovereignty Of God’. He wrote this book after World War 1 and before World War 2. The man who was asking this question was was not a skeptic, an atheist, or an agnostic. He was no post-modern philosopher or liberal theologian. He was a pastor who went to the Scriptures and saw that they teach us that there is a sovereign God who is in control of everything. Therefore he looked at the events going on in his day and took courage in knowing that that meant that God was sovereignly and providentially working all around him.
Pink said, “Without a doubt a world-crisis is at hand, and everywhere men are alarmed. But God is not! He is never taken by surprise. It is no unexpected emergency which now confronts him, for he is the God who ‘works all things after the counsel of his own will’. Hence, though the world is panic-stricken, the word to the believer is, ‘Fear not’! ‘All things are subject to his immediate control: ‘all things’ are moving in accord with his eternal purpose, and therefore, ‘all things’ are ‘working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’”
This pastor was living in chaotic times but he embraced the Sovereignty and providence of God to find peace and comfort in the midst of it. Let me quote him one last time. He says, “It is in view of what we have briefly referred to above, that we say, present-day conditions call loudly for a new examination and new presentation of God’s omnipotence, God’s sufficiency, God’s sovereignty. From every pulpit in the land it needs to be thundered forth that God still lives, that God still observes, that God still reigns.”
In the book of Esther we see that there are those who believe in the providence and sovereignty of God when life seems out of control. These people who believed these things, Esther, Mordecai and the Jews, turned to the LORD when they were confronted by evil. We have also seen that there are people in this book who do not believe in the sovereignty of God. Instead, they believe that they answer to no one but themselves. Haman is a perfect example of this. He rules his own heart, he rules his own sphere of influence and if given the opportunity he would rule the world. With every passing day Haman seems to be getting more and more powerful. But he is also becoming more prideful and arrogant. There is no humility in his heart.
If someone were to tell Haman that his kingdom was about to fall he would laugh in their face. If someone were to tell him that Mordecai was about to be the most honored and esteemed man in the kingdom he would have dismissed it. If someone were to tell him that within the next twenty-four hours he would loose everything, including his life, he would not have believed it. None of that would have made sense because he had experienced so much success. Haman did not believe in a sovereign God who was in control of everything, but God shows us that He is always working around us.
Our text this morning is found in Esther 6:1-13,
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king's young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” 4 And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king's young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
12 Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”
Our text begins with the words, “On that night the king could not sleep.” At this point in the story we clearly see the sovereignty of God in these words. We have already seen God organizing everything in advance so that His people would be saved from Haman’s evil plot. Seven years ago God placed Esther in the palace and made her Queen so that she could be at the right place at the right time. At this point, Esther has found favor with King Ahasuerus and he has promised to give her up to half of his kingdom if she were to request it. But strangely, even though Esther has been asked what her request is by the king two times already she has not yet made her request. She has been incredibly patient in this process.
She could have asked the king to save the Jews in the throne room when the golden scepter was first held out to her. She could have made the request at the first feast but she did not do it then either. What is she waiting for? Or should we say, what is God waiting for?
After this first feast Haman went out to go home and he saw that Mordecai did not honor or tremble before him. This made him very angry. When he arrived home, his wife and friends suggested that he build a platform 70 feet in the air to hang Mordecai upon. Shockingly, this pleased him. Haman is described in Proverbs 15:21 when we read, “Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.” Haman lacks sense because he does not fear God or know that He rules over all things and He will protect His chosen people.
Haman immediately began to erect this platform and in the morning he intended to get permission from the king to kill Mordecai. Haman did not think that this would be a problem since he had already convinced the king to kill all the Jews so easily. What could possibly go wrong?
Unbeknownst to Esther the gallows for Mordecai were being erected so she would not be able to intervene in this situation. She had no idea that all of this was unfolding so she could not go to the king and plead for Mordecai’s life. Can you imagine how guilt ridden she would be if Mordecai dies and she could have made her request to the king a day earlier. If she had made the request a day earlier we could make the assumption that Haman would have been exposed and all of this may have been adverted.
It appears that there is no time to thwart this plan and that there is no one who can stop him. Haman acts so quickly with regard to this. He does not cast purim for a date to do this. He begins work that night and plans to kill Mordecai in the morning. It does not appear that there will be anyone to stop this plan. This is very troubling.
With great excitement and anticipation Haman plans to go to the palace before any other official arrives so that he can make his request to the king. But on that same night God kept the king from being able to sleep. As a result, he asked that the book of Chronicles be brought and read to him. At some point, a story was read that had happened four years earlier. It was the story about when Mordecai had saved the kings life from the assassination plot of Bigthan and Teresh. The king listened to the story and then asked how Mordecai had been rewarded. The servants told the king that nothing had been done.
How could the king have neglected to reward Mordicai for such an act? Was he too busy? Was he distracted with all the drama of those days? This delay in responding was because of God’s sovereign plan and His providence. God planned to use this event four years later to save Mordecai’s life.
In all of this we are seeing that God is in control of everything. He controls events, responses, reactions, decisions, and delayed requests. God is showing us that even when no one knows about an evil plot against Mordecai that He is able to thwart it in any way He chooses to do so.
It greatly troubled the king that Mordecai had not been rewarded for what he had done. At the same moment that we see that Haman wastes no time to carry out this evil plot against Mordicai, we also God provoke King Ahasuerus to act quickly and decisively to honor and recognize him.
Because of this the king asks if any of his officials were at the palace. On any other day there may not have been, but Haman was anxious to ask for the kings approval to kill Mordecai so he had arrived early. He was excited to carry this plan out so that he could begin to enjoy his life again. He wanted all of this done before he would go to the second feast with the king and Esther.
Everything seemed to be going great. He did not have to stand in the court long before the king invited him into the throne room. You can almost see Haman thinking to himself that all of this pointed to the fact that everything was going to go his way. As he walked in the king spoke before Haman could make his request. He asked, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” (6:6).
When Haman heard this question he was convinced that the king was speaking about him. Haman could not imagine that there would be any other man in the kingdom that the king would delight in and honor as much as him.
In this moment, the man who had said that he could not enjoy anything in life until Mordecai was dead could only think of the things that would bring him great pleasure and joy. I wonder if he even thought for a split second about asking the king to have Mordecai killed? But really, why would he do that? He wouldn’t waste this moment on something like that. He could always ask for that after he is honored by the king.
In this moment Haman seems convinced that this was a great opportunity to humiliate Mordecai before he would have him killed. It was then that he suggested to the king that the man should be dressed in the king’s royal robes, the man should be placed on the kings horse, and one of the king’s highest officials should declare to all the people that he was the one that the king delights to honor. Haman conceived of all of this being done right in front of Mordecai as he worked at the kings gate.
After receiving this advice the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.” (6:10-11)
God had set all of these events up in such a way that Haman would be ensnared by the words of his own mouth. Haman was told that he had to do all of this for Mordecai. He had to dress him up in the kings clothes and put him on the kings horse and parade him throughout the city square calling out, “This shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.” (6:6)
Haman could not have imagined that he would ever be so humiliated in his life. When this was all done we read, “Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered.” (6:12)
We are told that Haman went home mourning. This is the same word that was used for the way the Jews lamented when Haman’s edict was read throughout the empire. We read in Esther 4:3, “And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.” The Jews mourned greatly and turned to the LORD; Likewise Haman mourns greatly but does not turn to the LORD.
Haman walks home in shame with his head covered and when he arrives home he is not greeted with any comforting words. No, even in the comfort of his home he suffers alone. His friends and his wife say to Him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”
Haman had acted quickly to erect the gallows but he does not act quickly to tear them down when they say this. Isn’t it true that we can act so quickly to do sin and evil but we are often so slow to tear these things down. Israel acted so quickly to promote the false worship throughout their kingdom when the nation divided, but every generation after that refused to tear down these idolatrous things. Because Haman does not act decisively to repent of this evil and tear down this structure he will be killed on it by nightfall. A prideful heart is so slow to change course and admit wrong.
In contrast to the slowness of Haman to give the command for this to be done, we see that everything else is happening very quickly. We read in Esther 6:14, “While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.”
Our world, and maybe your life, is a mess right now and our hearts are often caught up in it. We have seen that even believers will experience great mourning. In these moments believers are to turn to God in faith and entrust ourselves to Him. We read in Esther 4:3, “And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.”
In this moment Haman buried his head in shame and hurried home. Haman saw many things in Mordecai that he did not like, but he did not see the things in him that would have helped him here. He should have learned from Mordecai when he lamented in the city square in sackcloth and ashes. In this moment he could have followed Mordecai’s example but he doesn’t.
Our world, and perhaps your life, is in a mess right now; but we have learned that we can find peace as we form a strong conviction about the sovereignty of God and His providence over all things. A.W. Pink said, “Present-day conditions call loudly for a new examination and new presentation of God’s omnipotence, God’s sufficiency, God’s sovereignty. From every pulpit in the land it needs to be thundered forth that God still lives, that God still observes, that God still reigns.” Today we have done this. This morning God’s Scriptures have encouraged us that God still lives, He still observes, and He still reigns.
Part of what you and I have to do now is to preach these things to ourselves. When your doing your devotions be looking for texts that remind you that God is sovereign and providentially in all things. Bring your cares to Him and rest in Him. When you pray ask God to ground your heart in His sovereignty and providential care.
We have seen in this text that we need to rest in the fact that God can act independently to save, deliver and preserve his people. In this story it appears that there is no way that Mordecai can be saved. Time is running out and Esther has no idea that this is happening; but God acts sovereignly and providentially to defeat Haman and to exalt Haman. Let our hearts be comforted as we think about these things. The LORD is interceding and acting sovereignly in our lives. Consider Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to have you, that he might swift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Observation: Jesus tells all of his disciples, the pronouns in verse 31 are plural, that Satan seeks to sift us all. We may not be aware of his plans because Jesus says, ‘Behold’. You disciples need to know this! The LORD knows of these things and He intercedes and intervenes for us that our faith may not fail and then we are to strengthen our brothers.
1A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty Of God, p.6-9