Battle Plans — Liam Goligher’s 5th sermon on the book of Esther
Barb’s précis of the sermon:
Ps Goligher introduces this sermon by talking about how the story of the Bible is about the war — mostly an invisible war —between God and the devil, Christ and antichrist, the serpent and seed of the woman, and between the devil and the people of God.
In the book of Esther, Hamaan is a type of the antichrist. Hamaan had immense power and prestige and he tried to effect ‘the final solution’ of the Jewish people, just like Hitler did. Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, will not bow to Hamaan because he recognises that such obeisance would break the commandments of God and it would be like bowing to the devil.
Mordecai’s resistance was not a personality clash between Mordecai and Hamaan. It wasn’t a personal pique. It was a principled stand for truth and righteousness.
Mordecai’s resistance, his refusal to bow the knee to Hamaan, precipitates a great threat to the church of God. [As victims of abuse we have experienced similar things: when we refuse to bow the knee to our abusers, the abusers usually escalate and rage against us, so we are in more danger.] Mordecai’s one action of resistance — in God’s name and for God’s honor —puts the whole church of God in danger, because that one action exposes the heart of Hamaan and it explodes in rage and anger … which leads to a decree that the Jews will be eradicated.
And interestingly, Hamaan engages in occultism, just like Hitler did.
Mordecai sends a message to Esther with a copy of the decree; he encourages Esther, who is no longer a young girl, to do what she can to save the Jews. Esther accepts the challenge. She moves into the position of controlling what happens as the situation unfolds. She becomes the governor. She tells Mordecai what to do. She tells Mordecai what to tell the other Jews to do. She mobilises the people of God to gather together to fast and pray.
Why did Esther pray? She knew that all things come to pass immutably and infallibly by the providence of God; but she also knew that God orders these things sometimes according to the nature of second causes, and one of those second causes is the prayer of God’s people.
And on the third day of prayer and fasting, Esther approaches the king’s throne room. The dramatic tension is highlighted by the slowing down of the narrative here. Esther is risking death by approaching the king uninvited.
Esther isn’t hasty. She doesn’t push in to the throne room. She stops. She stands outside the throne room, in full view of the king. When he sees Queen Esther, her queenliness, her resolution, her dignity, her inner nobility affect him — and he holds out his royal sceptre, setting her free from the risk of being immediately killed by his bodyguard.
The third day: the Jewish Midrash says, “Israel is never left in dire distress more than three days.” (Hosea 6, Jonah, etc.)
And when the king offers to grant whatever her request may be, we are surprised to find that she does not grasp her moment too quickly. She simply asks the king to come to her dinner party and to bring Hamaan too. And after the dinner, does Esther put her real request? No. She simply asks the king and Hamaan to come to dinner tomorrow night and THEN she will tell the king her request. Esther is very much in charge here. She has them eating out of her hand! She’s acting as the Queen. She is being careful and wise.
Hamaan’s responses at this point show the folly of the evil-at-heart. All his pride and pleasure from the elevated status he had in the court — these feelings are dashed when he again sees Mordecai at the gate of the palace and he recalls that Mordecai won’t bow to him. And Zaresh, Hamaan’s wife, “consoles” her husband by suggesting he build a gallows and hang Mordecai on it.
… but the one enthroned in heaven laughs…