Mordecai Acts To Save The King Sermon Outline - Esther 2:19-23
Our text for this morning is Esther 2:19-23,
19 Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. 20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 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.
Our text has three historical facts that we will consider today.
The virgins were gathered together again
Esther continues to keep her secret
Mordecai becomes aware of Bigthan and Teresh’s plot to kill the king
The Virgins Were Gathered Together For A Second Time (19)
Verse 19 says, “Now when the virgins were gathered together a second time…”.
Let me give you four possible interpretations for this verse.
Some say that Ahasuerus continued to add to his harem.
Perhaps this is the original group of women who were gathered in Susa but who had not seen the king. Perhaps these ‘virgins were gathered together a second time’ and sent home.
Perhaps this was another group of virgins who were trying to supplant Esther after she had been made queen.
Some suggest that the same virgins who came together in 2:8 and were all brought together again to honor Esther when she was made queen.1
Option #1 is that the king continued to add to his harem.
If this is true then the excitement of the royal wedding would quickly be tempered by this scene.
The honeymoon period between King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther would be short lived.
Esther would be reminded that she lives first among many other women and that the number of women is always growing.
Debra Reid writes, ‘Verse 19 brings reality to the euphoria of the previous verse. It reminds the reader that Esther operates in an environment that uses and abuses women who can be gathered at a whim.”2
[To use an analogy, we could say that this is like a starting quarterback who knows that they may be replaced at any moment by someone else who can fill their spot. There is always the second and third string player who is waiting to impress the coaching staff.]
Application to consider: Marriage can purify you through trials and joy; but only God can sanctify your heart!
When the king fell in love with Esther we can assume that he probably changed in some ways for the better. However, the only way that King Ahasuerus would ever be able to overcome sinful thoughts, habits, addictions and lusts would be to turn to the LORD.
Esther was beautiful but she is no cure for the king and his pride and for his sinful inclinations.
The only remedy for sexual sins, carnal habits, fleshly desires, or any sin is the sanctifying work of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit upon the heart.
Wives may think that they can miraculously transform their husbands; husbands think that they can change their wife; but the LORD alone can do these things.
You may be an instrument that God uses in this process but not the ultimate cure.
Option #2 suggests that the remaining virgins who had been in to see the king were gathered together and returned home.3 It brings joy to my heart to think that this might have happened to those women who had not been with the king.
I don’t know how likely this scenario is simply because of the way that godless people operate. The time and investment has been made in this process and these things are not reversed apart from a true reformation of ones life by the grace of God.
We saw in 1 Kings that Solomon had many wives and many concubines. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines! (1 Kings 11:3)
Option #3 supposes that there were some virgins who sought to supplant Easter. This option seems the least likely to be true because it requires the most assumptions. We are not told of this sort of plot.
If Haman was executed for his act against the queen and her people, then it would seem that such an act against Esther by these women would be punished severely as well (7:8).
Options #4 suggests that the women were gathered to honor the newly crowned queen.
Esther had been held in high honor by the king’s chief official Hegai.
We also read in 2:15, “Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her”.
And if this interpretation is true, then this verse is letting us know that Esther is being honored by all the other ladies in the Harem as well.
Psalm 23:5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Proverbs 16:7 – When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Esther Continues To Keep Mordecai’s Secret (19b-20)
We read in verses 19b-20, “Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. 20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him.” Esther has a secret that she still has not revealed to the king.
[The other day Mindy and I were out eating with a former college student who attended our church. At one point I revealed that I had made plans in February to take some time off to work with Jim. When I casually said this my wife’s face began to reflect great surprise and I figured that I had neglected to tell her about my plans. Surprises like these never makes my wife happy.]
Esther has been in the kings Harem for over four years and now she has become the queen. She wears the royal crown upon her head; and yet, the king and all of his officials have never asked her about any detail about her lineage and about her people. There is no way this would happen if you wanted to visit the President in the White House.
I would like to draw your attention to the contrast in our text between the secret that Esther has kept from everyone for so long, and how there is a secret plot by two men to kill the king.
One secret will be used to save countless people; the other secret is kept to kill the king.
Esther’s secret is kept in obedience to Mordecai; the other secret becomes known by Mordecai.
One secret will save a nation; the other secret could throw a nation into chaos.
Is it right to keep a secret like this?
We do not know why Mordecai gave Esther these instructions. Although it is clear that withholding this information would play a key role in saving God’s people. (Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.)
Other examples: Joseph did not reveal his identity right away to his brothers in Egypt. Jesus did not reveal himself right away to Mary or the men on the road to Emmaus. Jacob disguised himself to Isaac. The Gibeonites disguised themselves before Joshua. David disguised himself as a mad man before the Gentiles to save his life. In 1 Kings 20:19-43 the prophet disguised himself before Ahab.
Bad examples: Sinners love to hide themselves and their sin in darkness. Saul disguised himself when he saw a necromancer. Ahab disguises himself in battle in defiance to God’s Word (1 Kings 22:30). The Pharisees disguised themselves to be sincere when they came to catch Jesus in His words (Luke 20).
Mordecai Becomes Aware Of Bigthan and Teresh’s Plot To Kill The King
Esther 2:21-23 says, “In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows.”
Let’s consider four observations about these verses. First, we find Mordecai sitting at the gate. The king’s gate was a large building where the palace administration operated and where justice was dispensed. This is the first time that we have official testimony that Mordecai worked in some official position within the kingdom.
Consider that Mordecai had adopted Esther and raised her as his own and now she is queen!
Many men would have thought that this would entitle them to great wealth, honor and privilege; yet, we find Mordecai at work.
Esther did not change when she was made queen, but neither had Mordecai.
John Flavel in his book entitled, ‘The Mystery of Providence’ says, ‘Remember always the success of your callings and earthly employments is by divine blessing...Be well satisfied in that station and employment in which providence has placed you, and do not so much as wish yourself in another...Providence is wiser than you, and you may be confident that it has suited all things better to your eternal good than you could do had you been left to your own option.’4
Some might look at Mordecau and say that he is the most unlucky man in the world for two reasons.
First, Mordecai has told Esther to keep this secret and it has limited any privilege that might have come to him. Perhaps her new position and privilege would tempt Mordecai to change his mind about this secret but he does not waver. Rare is the example of a man who does not throw away a greater calling when they are tempted in this way.
Secondly, we see that Mordecai saves the king and he is not immediately rewarded for it. Mordecai is not dejected, depressed, despondent, or embittered and angry. Instead, he continues to go to work as he has always done.
This brings us to the second point, we are given the names of two of the men who were plotting to kill the king: Bigthan and Teresh.
There are those who have said that they believe that the book of Esther is not based upon real events; they consider it to be some kind of fiction. Yet, we are given specific details throughout this book. These two men had a failed attempt to kill the king. It is not in God’s sovereign design that this should be successful at this time.
We are not told what had made these two men angry with the king.
There are some who have speculated that these men may have been loyalists towards Vashti and were angry at how she has been treated.
Others have said that these men may have been upset that the king was taking all the beautiful women in the Persian Empire for himself.
Notice the contrast that our text gives to us.
We have seen that Mordecai worked where justice was dispersed. These two men were employed in the service of the king and were there to guard him.
Mordecai would act justly to save the king, but these two men would betray their commitment to guard King Ahasuerus by trying to kill him.
Bigthan and Teresh would have done well to have obeyed Proverbs 3:29, ‘Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.’ Or Romans 13:1, ‘Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
We will also see in this letter that Haman will seek to make righteous Mordecai look like a wicked and lawless man. Even now we see that the righteous are characterized like this.
Third, we are told that this evil plot came to the knowledge of Mordecai. How did Mordecai come to hear of this?
We know that Mordecai did not play the role of a private investigator to get this information because the verb is in the passive tense. Commentator David Firth speaks of this, “The passive verb means we do not know who told him while suggesting it was not information that he sought out.”5
Some have said that the LORD may have given him some divine revelation of this, but this would be purely speculative. We are not told that Mordecai was given a dream or a vision.
Others suspect that Mordecai overheard their plot while he was sitting at the gate.
Let me offer to you a third option. Perhaps God revealed these things to Mordecai by using his own disposition and understanding. ConsiderProverbs 20:5which says, ‘The purpose in a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.’
Perhaps God used Mordecai in this way and he was then able to become aware of such a plot?
We all want a vision, a dream, or a revelation; but may wisdom and understanding guide each of us throughout the events of our day!
Fourthly, we read in verse 23, ‘And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.’
When Mordecai became aware of the plot he told Esther, and then she told the king. The matter was investigated and found to be true so these two men were executed. All of these things were written down in the presence of the king. Yet, Ahasuerus does nothing to reward Mordecai and or to show him gratitude.
David Strainexplains why this is surprising when he writes, ‘Persian monarchs were known not only for their bloody and amoral nature of their use of power...but they were also know for their extravagant and swift generosity with which they rewarded those who served them.’6
The story is told of a soldier that Alexander the Great wanted to reward for his faithful service. Alexander told the soldier to go to the treasurer and request his reward. When the soldier stood before the treasurer he demanded such a large sum that the treasurer would not give it to him.
The treasurer said, ‘How could you be such an unconscionable fellow to ask for so much?’
When Alexander heard of the request, he agreed that it was a large sum of money, but said, ‘It is not too much for Alexander to give! He has a high opinion of my greatness. Let him have what he has asked for. I will not fall short of his expectations!’7
One would expect that Mordecai might have great expectations about how his faithful service should be repaid.
Ahasuerus may neglect to reward Mordecai but God always will give graciously to his servants more than we could ever expect. We would do well to keep our eyes on the LORD and receive from His hand all of His graces at their proper time. Let us not expect much less from men, but let us be bold to ask for much from God. He will not fall short of our expectations!
Application and discussion helps...
The point was made that Queen Esther could not transform the king. He alone would need to turn to the LORD in repentance and faith for this to happen. She was the most pleasing of all the women, but the kings lusts for the things of this world remained despite all of this.
Each of us needs to look to the LORD and find our satisfaction in Him. Our spouses, our money, our job, our hobbies, etc. cannot provide this.
How can the doctrine of providence help you in your situation, in your vocation, in your everyday circumstances? How can it help you when your forgotten by others and not rewarded as you might have expected? How do we trust in God’s providence when we have high expectations that just don’t seem to come to pass? How can the doctrine of God’s providence keep us humble when good things happen to us?
Remember what Flavel said, “Providence is wiser than you, and you may be confident that it has suited all things better to your eternal good than you could do had you been left to your own option.”
We continue to see the contrast between how the world works, thinks, responds, considers normal; and the way that God’s people are to think, respond, and consider normal. We have seen that for some time Mordecai could hide and conceal his background and beliefs from others; but now this clash in world views is becoming more pronounced. Next week we will see that as this contrast becomes more noticeable that the LORD works in the heart of His people to prepare them to risk everything and to stand strong despite great opposition.
As these things happen God’s people should draw closer to God and He draws close to us, this increases the contrast between believers and the world, tension increases and things bet more difficult, but God’s grace increases too.
Where are you at in this cycle?
Or have you gotten off this cycle? If so, you may need to return to the LORD and walk faithfully with Him?
1David Thompson, Exposition of Esther, Esther 2:19-23
2Debra Reid, Esther, p.83
3David Firth, The Message of Esther, p.55
4John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, p.79-80
5The Message of Esther, David Firth, p. 56
6David Strain, Esther, p. 108
7Ian Wright, God Is Always Better Than We Can Imagine, pg. 63