Monday, May 2, 2011

It's time to listen to the voice of God

Have you ever heard the saying “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”? Well that could not be said for Haman in Esther chapter 6. The fact is, as when chapter six begins it will be the last day of the life of Haman.

When I taught this lesson to my class at church I titled chapter six “It’s Time to listen to the voice of God.” If Haman would have listened to the voice of God this day may have went different. Before the chapter is over Haman will be warned many times about his wickedness, and on each occasion Haman will ignore God’s voice. Haman continues to run head first into his wickedness.

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”   Ezekiel 33:11

The fact is that God has no pleasure in the death of a sinner. God does not want anyone to die lost and go to hell. The Father rejoices, the Son rejoices, the Spirit rejoices, and the heavens rejoice when a sinner is saved. If Haman would have turned to God he could have been saved. God would have loved to save Haman.

God speaks His will, verses 1-3

Many times God speaks to us without us even realizing it. We assume that when God speaks He does it in such a way that there is no way we can misplace His voice. This is not always true.  Sometimes God speaks in a “still small voice” as He did to the prophet Elijah. Sometimes He speaks through an event in our life. Sometimes He speaks through others. Maybe He speaks to us through something we read, or hear. In chapter six He will speak through a sleepless night.

I believe it is important that we train ourselves to hear the voice of God. There have been many times that God has spoken to me. Most of the time when God speaks He does it in a small way. A nudge saying maybe you should do this, or not do that. I try my best to listen.

This night in Shushan was a sleepless night. Haman is up all night supervising the construction of the gallows that he intends to hang Mordecai from. The king is up all night as well.  Shakespeare wrote, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” King Solomon agreed by saying,

“The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”  (Eccl 5:12)

I’m sure that the king had spent many nights awake. No doubt the king had many responsibilities and worries that kept him up at night. He worried about the finances of the kingdom. He worried that someone would try to take his life. Maybe he ate too much at the queen’s feast. We don’t know why he is awake, but God is keeping him awake for a purpose. This night however will be one of the most eventful in history.

Since the king is unable to sleep he orders one of his servants to read to him. Again, this is the hand of God working. The king had many forms of entertainment at his disposal. He could have called for a musician to play music or a troubadour to tell him a story in a song. He could have called for some of his officers to come play a game. He could have called for a woman to come to his chamber. Instead the king asks one of his servants to read to him.

The Persians had a strict order of honor and rewards. This kept the people loyal to the king. As the servant reads the account of something in the mind of the king clicks. It’s like a light going off. He realizes that nothing was ever done to honor Mordecai for saving his life.

You can almost picture the servant reading and the king sitting up in his bed asking, “You didn’t read what was done to honor that man. What did we do for him?” The servant looks over his notes and replies, “Nothing was done to honor him.” If Mordecai would have been honored 5 years before, the events of this day could not have occurred. There was a definite reason that Mordecai’s deed was wrote down, but no honor was given.

God speaks to the wayward, verse 4-14

God takes no pleasure in the unrighteous, but he also takes no pleasure in the unrighteous person’s death. The bible is clear that God does not bring judgment without first bringing a warning. Before Judas betrayed Christ he was warned. Paul tells us in his epistles to warn the unruly. God does not just judge someone without first giving them the opportunity to repent.

I have seen God warn people about their sin. I have also seen people ignore the warnings of God. To see someone ignore the warnings of God is one of the scariest things you can watch. In these verses we will watch Haman ignore the warnings of God. We will also see what happens to a sinner that continues to ignore the warnings of God.

Haman hasn’t slept this night either. He has been up all night supervising the construction of the gallows he intended to hang Mordecai on. Once they are built he goes to the palace early to get permission to kill Mordecai. I’m sure Haman thought that if he would get permission early then Mordecai would have to hang there all day, giving everyone the opportunity to see his dead body.

When Haman arrives the king hears someone stirring in the court so he asks who is outside. When he finds out that it is Haman he calls him into his bed chamber. Again, the hand of God is moving. Had Haman arrived an hour later the king may have already consulted with one of his other advisors. God wanted Haman to be the first one there. God wanted Haman to be the one that spent the day honoring Mordecai, not killing him.

When Haman is called for the king asks him a question without giving the background of the question. “What should be done to the man the king wants to honor?” Haman thought the king meant him. After all, he was the prime minister. He had been given the ring of the king. He was given permission to destroy the Jews. Surely the king was thinking of him. Little did Haman know that before the day was over the situation would be reversed. Haman would spend the day honoring Mordecai and the gallows that were meant for Mordecai would hold his body.

Imagine the sequence of events. First he has to go find Mordecai and bring him to the palace. He has to put the royal clothes on him and get him on the king’s horse. Next, he had to walk up and down each street of the city proclaiming that this was the man that the king wanted to honor. When all this was done he was to take Mordecai back to the palace, remove the clothes from him and send Mordecai away. This was quite a day.
When the day is over Haman heads home. He has his hood over his head like someone has died. He has been publicly humiliated and does not want anyone to see his face.  When he arrives home he again gathers his family and friends like he did in chapter five. What a difference a day can make. This time he does not call them to brag, but to share his humiliation. When he tells his wife and friends about the day he has had his wife speaks up. What she says is very interesting.

Basically his wife is saying that there is no way Haman can prevail over Mordecai. God is sending another warning to Haman. Had Haman repented of his deeds and asked for forgiveness, God would have forgiven him. This may have spared the lives of himself and his ten sons. I don’t know if she thought the day was a bad omen or if she knew the history of the Jews, and God’s promise to Abraham. She did know something was not right. Just as Pilot’s wife warned her husband not to have anything to do with Jesus because of the dreams she had the night before. Haman’s wife is warning him about bad things that lay ahead.

While they are discussing these things a knock is heard at the door. It is an escort come to bring Haman to the banquet Esther is making. As Haman leaves he has no idea he is headed to his last meal. Oh, how things would have been different if Haman would have listened to the warnings of God.

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