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…
Posts in this series
Part 1: Liam Goligher’s sermons on the book of Esther (pt 1)
Part 2: Beauty and the Beast — Liam Goligher’s 2nd sermon on the book of Esther
Part 3: Of Plots and Kings — Liam Goligher’s 3rd sermon on the book of Esther
Part 4: If I Perish, I Perish — Liam Goligher’s 4th sermon on the book of Esther
Part 5: Is this post.
Part 6: Sleepless in Susa — Liam Goligher’s 6th sermon on the book of Esther
Part 7: Mission Impossible — Liam Goligher’s 7th sermon on the book of Esther
Part 8: Binding the Strong Man — Dr Liam Goligher’s 8th sermon on the book of Esther.
Part 9: Holy War — Dr Liam Goligher’s 9th sermon on the book of Esther
Part 10: Celebrate: Come On! — Dr Liam Goligher’s final sermon on the book of Esther
3 thoughts on “Battle Plans — Liam Goligher’s 5th sermon on the book of Esther”
Well I certainly have enjoyed this series on Esther by Dr. Goligher.
After getting free from the oppression, darkness and evil that was my abusive marriage, and now able to breath in fresh new air, I look back and see how God really did rescue me. I do believe I am a wiser person today after having looked into the face of evil. It changes you. It enables you to see that the evil spoken of throughout Scripture is very real!! And by God’s grace I finally was able to say NO more, and refused to bow down to my narcissist dictator ‘husband.’ And this of course only brought forth more rage and fury and danger. He really did gnash his teeth at me and along with the rage and sheer horror in his voice, I went running for safety. I never experienced anything like that in my entire life. I still shudder.
Bravo! And standing ovation for Mordecai for refusing to bow down to the evil one!!
This series has been such a joy to me! New insights into a story with which I am so familiar! I am loving it and eagerly look forward to each installment. I have loved the book of Esther for many years now, have studied it on my own and as part of a women’s Bible study.
Like Anonymous above, I am absolutely convinced that God delivered me from the evil I had lived with for so long. Looking into the face of evil is indeed a life-changing experience. Being filled with courage by the Holy Spirit and refusing to bow any more, brought forth that escalation of rage intended to force submission. Thank God that He was with me!
From the original post: