For Such a Time as This
Part 6: The Hand of God in our Lives
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 24, 2012
*We are studying the dramatic story of a Jewish woman who was born about 500 years before Christ, and became a great hero for her people. Esther was orphaned as a girl and raised by a Godly older cousin named Mordecai. That close bond extended into Esther’s adulthood, as she continued to put great stock in Mordecai’s wisdom.
*Mordecai and Esther lived in the Persian Empire, the greatest empire of that day. By the Hand of God, and against incredible odds, Esther the secret Jew was chosen to be the new queen of the empire. And her selection as queen turned out to be a matter of life and death for all of the Jews.
*This danger came from a wicked plot by the new prime minister named Haman. He was a proud, bloodthirsty monster, who schemed to annihilate the Jews, simply because Mordecai refused to bow down before anybody but the Lord.
*Haman convinced the king to issue an irreversible decree to slaughter all the Jews. But in Esther 4, Mordecai challenged his young cousin to plead for her people before the king. This was a huge request, because Esther faced the death penalty for appearing before the king uninvited. But in Esther 4:16, the queen was persuaded and said: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
*Last week, chapter 5 told us that after the three days of prayer and fasting, Esther found favor in the sight of the king. Then she began to carry out a plan to save her people.
*Listen to this part of the story again starting in Esther 5:2.
2. So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.
3. And the king said to her, "What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you up to half my kingdom!''
4. So Esther answered, "If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.''
5. Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said.'' So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
6. At the banquet of wine the king said to Esther, "What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request, up to half my kingdom? It shall be done!''
7. Then Esther answered and said, "My petition and request is this:
8. If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.''
9. So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai.
*That’s when the wicked prime minister sulked home, and agreed to a devilish plan to hang Mordecai. Esther 5:14 gives this report: “Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits (or 75 feet) high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.’ And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made.”
*With this background in mind, let’s read Esther 6:1-14.
*Things looked good again for Haman, but how quickly they began to turn in chapter 6, -- because God is in control!
*God was working behind the scenes to help His people. And He is surely working in our lives today. As we move into chapter 6, we can see some of the ways God works in our lives.
1. First: God’s shakes us awake.
*This is the lesson for us tonight in vs. 1-3:
1. That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
*(This was the very same night when Haman’s men were busy building a 75-foot-high scaffold to use for hanging Mordecai.)
2. And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.
3. Then the king said, "What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?'' And the king's servants who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him.''
*Sometimes God wakes us up for a reason. In this case, the Lord kept King Xerxes awake so that he could protect Mordecai. And in vs. 2, the Lord had the king’s servants read just the right chronicle so the king could find out that Mordecai had saved him from an assassination plot. There is no way that all of these things were a coincidence. King Xerxes also learned that sleepless night that Mordecai had never been rewarded for his loyalty to the king.
*Psalm 127:2 tells us that, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” And this is surely true, but some things are more important than sleep. And sometimes God wakes us up for a reason.
*Have you ever had a restless night, when God was trying to get your attention? -- Most of us have.
 Maybe the Lord wanted us to wake-up about something wrong in our life.
 But sometimes God has a mission for us to accomplish.
*Matthew 2:13-14 says that after the Wise Men left Bethlehem:
13. . . behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.''
14. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,
 Other times the Lord will wake us up with a burden to pray.
*Luke 2 tells about an elderly woman who saw Jesus as a baby in the Temple. And this is how the Scripture introduces us to Anna:
36. Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;
37. and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
*Luke 6:12&13 says this about the Lord:
12. Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Him; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles.
*Sometimes God has a good reason to shake us awake.
2. He also steers our paths.
*There are countless examples of God steering the paths of His people, putting them at the right place at the right time. Of course, Esther herself is an ideal example for us. Remember what Mordecai asked the young queen in Esther 4:14, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
*Here in chapter 6, it was the wicked Haman who got steered right where the Lord wanted him to be. We see this part of the story in vs. 4&5:
4. And the king said, "Who is in the court?'' Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
5. The king's servants said to him, "Haman is there, standing in the court.'' And the king said, "Let him come in.''
*Haman had no idea that his life was being steered by God. He probably cursed his “bad luck” after things turned out the way they did. But there is no such thing as luck. God steers our paths.
3. He also shames the proud.
*God humbles the hard-hearted, and this is exactly what happened to Haman in vs. 6-12:
6. So Haman came in, and the king asked him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?'' Now Haman thought in his heart, "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?''
7. And Haman answered the king, "For the man whom the king delights to honor,
8. let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head.
9. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: `Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!''
10. Then the king said to Haman, "Hasten, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king's gate. Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.''
11. So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man the king delights to honor.''
*James 4:6 tells us that “God resists the proud.” And Haman was beginning to find out the harsh reality of that verse. God shames the proud.
4. But there is another dimension to these verses: God also saves His people.
*It began here with the king’s sleepless night in vs. 1. Then the Lord led Haman to the palace just in time for the king to command him to honor Mordecai. There was no way Haman would risk hanging Mordecai, after hearing that command from the king. God saves His people.
*None of us knows how many times we have been protected by the invisible Hand of God. But sometimes God graciously lets us see His Hand of protection in our lives. Could you give a testimony like that tonight? -- Many of us could.
*I like the story that happened on Christmas Eve in 1875. Famous song leader Ira Sankey was traveling on a steamboat in the Delaware River. And he was asked to sing a hymn.
*When one of the other passengers heard Ira sing, he asked Ira if he ever served in the Union Army. The answer was yes. And the stranger asked, “Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?” -- Ira said, “Yes!”
*And the other passenger replied, “So did I, but I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post, I thought to myself, ‘That fellow will never get away alive.’ I raised my musket and took aim. At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes to heaven and began to sing. ‘Let him sing his song to the end, I said to myself. I can shoot him afterwards.’
*But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly. Those words stirred up many memories. I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother. She had many times sung that song to me. When you had finished your song, it was impossible for me to take aim again.
*I thought, ‘The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty.’ And my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side.” (1)
*The song the soldier heard that night, the song that saved Ira’s life, was a song we have sung many times:
“Savior, like a shepherd lead us, -- much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, -- for our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.” (2)
*God is more than able to save His people. And even if we never see His special protection in this world, we can see it forever in the cross!
-God saves His people.
5. But there is another way that God works in people’s lives: God scares His enemies.
*Many times God puts an awful dread in His enemies as they become aware of their impending doom. And we see this truth in vs. 12-14:
12. Afterward Mordecai went back to the king's gate. But Haman hastened to his house, mourning and with his head covered.
13. When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.''
14. While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.
*Haman should have known. It had only been about 65 years since the Babylonian king Belshazzar had made a great feast for his lords. That night Belshazzar and those partiers foolishly drank wine from the gold vessels that had been captured from the Temple in Jerusalem. And the Hand of God wrote a message for the king on the wall of the palace.
*Nobody could translate that message, until Daniel was summoned. And here is part of what the prophet said in Daniel 5:
23. . . "You have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. . . and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
24. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
25. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
26. This is the interpretation of each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;
27. Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;
28. Peres: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.''
*That very night King Belshazzar was slain. How foolish it was for Haman to make himself an enemy of God and His people. But he helps us see how God works in people’s lives.
-Sometimes God’s shakes us awake.
-He steers our paths.
-God shames the proud.
-And He scares His enemies.
*But best of all, God saves His people!
*Let’s thank God for the cross as we go to the Lord in prayer.
1. K. Hughes, “Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome” - Tyndale, 1988, p. 69 - (Source: Sermonillustrations.com - Topic: Protection)
2. “Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us” by Dorothy A. Thrupp & William Bradbury - http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/l/slaslus.htm