Today: [Esther Five] Provoking Your Enemy to Move the Hand of God. In this chapter we see Esther trembling before the king in her royal apparel. The king’s scepter is lowered in her behalf and he offers her whatever she might ask. Instead of exposing the plot of Haman she invites the king and Haman to a dinner in Haman’s honor. What happens next is a lesson to all of us in how not to move the hand of God but to provoke our enemies to move the hand of God in our favor.
[Est 5:1-14 KJV] 1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on [her] royal [apparel], and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. 2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, [that] she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that [was] in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. 3 Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what [is] thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. 4 And Esther answered, If [it seem] good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. 5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
In Ephesians 5 we are told that Jesus as the bridegroom washes His bride with the water of the word “that He might present it to Himself a spotless bride without spot or wrinkle…” We can see from reading thus far in the book of Esther that Paul may well have had the book of Esther in his mind when he wrote this passage in Ephesians. We see the love of the king for his queen and the respect of Esther in approaching the king with great reverence. In the Amplified version of the bible the following admonition is given to a woman in her regard for her spouse:
Ephesians 5:33 However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [ that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].
In this chapter of Esther we see both the love of the husband and the reverence of the wife. Notice it doesn’t command the wife to love her husband. She does that by nature. She will love her husband even if he is undeserving of her love as most of us who have lived many years can attest to witnessing. Likewise it doesn’t tell a husband to respect his wife for that comes naturally to him unless he has been otherwise instructed or conditioned. But it doesn’t come natural to a woman to REVERENCE her husband nor to a husband to LOVE his wife. Therefore we see the commensurate commands for the husband to make the disciplined effort to LOVE his wife and the wife likewise to REVERENCE her husband to in fact: see that she respects and reverences her husband [ that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].
What about our relationship to Christ? We corporately as individuals make up the body of Christ. What is our attitude toward Jesus? Is it simply an ambient recognition of his Lordship? Or does our life both individually and corporately as the church reflect a determinate response to His presence whereby we “see that she respects and reverences her husband [ that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].?”
At Mordecai’s prompting Esther presents herself to the king for the purpose of interceding for her people the Jews. When she came she did not come casually. She came arrayed in her royal apparel. As a wife how do you appear before your husband? Do you give any care for your appearance? Or do you follow the spirit of the day and expect him to adjust to your comfort level and accept you on your own terms? What about in the church setting? Since the 1980’s church culture has adopted an uber casual, laid-back approach to gathering together that focuses on commonality and unpremeditated ease and comfort. Of course the objection is that we should not focus on externals or make the church a fashion show – but how would you appear before a king, or dignitary or high elected official who came to see you? If you go to the banker to ask for a home loan, or stand before a judge do you go in your cut offs or in clothes more designed for comfort or are you expected to show deference to the one you present yourself to?
If Esther had come before the king in her casual attire there would be no doubt the king would not have accepted her. There was however something her demeanor and appearance that just by looking at her she gained his favor. Let us endeavor ourselves to present ourselves daily at the king’s court and by every aspect of our carriage and comportment bely the conviction that we don’t live to ourselves and we aren’t putting ourselves first but Christ Jesus the Lord. The living of life down to its lowest common denominator may be in vogue but it has not served the church of the Living God to adopt such practices. There is never a time in recent history that the church has been taken so lightly and respected so little – in proportion to our own lack of respect for ourselves, our culture and the king that we claim to serve.
6 And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What [is] thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what [is] thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. 7 Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request [is]; 8 If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said. 9 Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.
Let us see the wisdom with which Esther conducted herself before the king. She could have thrown herself wailing at his feet pointing the finger at Haman. She didn’t do that. Why? She no doubt kept in mind that Haman only stood in a position to destroy the Jews because her husband the king promoted Haman above all the princes of the realm of Persia. To rail about Haman was to impugn the wisdom of the king himself. Had she charged Haman before the king’s court she would likewise of necessity and by inference charged the king with malfeasance and foolishness in his decisions. Now realize that the king was in fact guilty of not seeing Haman’s true character – but because of Esther’s fear of God and love for her spouse she would not do anything to diminish him in her eyes or the eyes of the court.
How about your own husband? Have you ever said or done anything to disparage your husband or diminish him in your eyes? Have you ever made him feel small or despised in his actions or decision-making? If Esther had done such a thing what would have been the result? Why did she refrain? Because she wasn’t thinking of herself she was walking in her destiny and standing in the gap for others – as she spoke to the king in her husband. This is not reflective of the spirit of the day in or out of church culture but that fact only highlights the reality that the divorce rate among Evangelicals today is actually higher than among the unchurched and even professed athiests and agnostics as a people group have a lower divorce rate than professing Christians. As one of my mentors observed “ain’t nothin’ wrong – but somethin’ ain’t right!
Instead of confronting the issue in an adversarial way Esther invited the king to come with Haman to a dinner in Haman’s honor. Haman is absolutely thrilled! How can we apply this wisdom today? There is a spirit of Haman in the earth today in the political realm and among nations toward the people of God. In the most conservative cultures such as the UK and the US there is a movement growing at an alarming rate to disenfranchise and delegitimize people of faith – specifically Christians. It began decades ago in media and entertainment that has consistently disparaged and vilified men and women of faith and now it has invaded the courts and the political realm chipping away at the rights of believers and institutions of faith throughout the western world.
How do we as the bride of Christ approach this? We can blame this on the devil but that viewpoint excludes the sovereignty of God. The bible plainly teaches that the powers that be are ordained of God and set in office by God Himself. In shaking our fist at our adversaries we are by inference indicting God Himself for if you believe the scriptures no one gets in a place of power but that the opportunity to do so was directly by the hand of the God we claim to serve. What is to be our response then? What was Esther’s strategy? She courted the king’s favor in the presence of the man the king promoted even though that man was an anti-Christ. She spent her energies deferring to and honoring the king that she could have otherwise spent disparaging and accusing her enemy Haman.
How effective has the church been in shaking our fist at the world that is running so rough-shod over our freedoms? Is the world apologizing? Are they gaining in power or losing in power? Is God being honored in the midst of that process or further disparaged not only by those who don’t know Him but dishonored by those who do who completely reject the idea that God Himself and not man or the electorate is in charge of the process? Perhaps our best energies should be expended as Esther’s who didn’t put her attention or the attention of others on the problem but rather poured her energies into honoring the king, her betrothed in recognition if anything was ever going to change it would be His Sovereign hand to bring it about.
10 Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. 11 And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all [the things] wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. 12 Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. 13 Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. 14 Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.
Not only did the king respond warmly to the invitation but Haman was flattered as well. Instead of vilifying our enemy why don’t we defer to them and give them the honor and recognition that they think they want? Does this not agree with the words of Jesus to “love thy enemy?” You cannot love an enemy that you despise in your heart. However you cannot love Haman on his own terms. In spite of the honor given to Haman Mordecai still would not bow. Likewise we can and should love and honor our enemies in political office, in the courts and around us personally. However we don’t love them on their terms. We don’t bow to them. Because of that they will hate you the more. Because of that they will move the hand of God to defend you. You see the key to defeating your enemy is not to attempt to move the hand of God yourself but to provoke the enemy to move the hand of God to defend you because of their rapacious desire to destroy both you and Him. Thus the honor that Esther showed Haman exposed his deep hatred and provoked him to overstep his bounds and positioned him to be destroyed by the hand of the king.
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