The Mysterious Petition
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
(9/22) So, we pick up our series Jesus is Better in Esther 6:14. Now we have seen that Esther, in hearing that the death sentence had been issued is now practicing faith in God. She’s growing in faith; she’s a maturing, and acting in an increasingly godly way. And she’s decided that she needs to find a way to use her position of influence save God’s
We saw in the previous chapter, she risked her life… she went into the presence of the king, which could be a death sentence, and she said, "If I perish, I perish." But the king welcomed her and asked her, "What is it that you want?" And so we see that she’s wise, not foolish. She’s patient, not impatient. She’s waiting for the right opportunity to
make her petition… her request known… to spare God’s people. So, she throws a banquet, and she invites the king and Haman, her enemy. Over the course of the night, the king asks, "What could I do for you?" And she says, "Come to another party." She realizes it’s not yet time, so she throws another banquet.
Well, as the plot thickens, the tension rises, and with every minute, God’s people are closer to death. Her adoptive father, Mordecai, is on the brink of being murdered on the gallows that Haman has built in his own yard, when the king’s insomnia allowed him to discover that he had never honored Mordecai for foiling the king’s assassination plot. So
the King calls in Haman and commands that he honor Mordecai; the very man who won’t bow down to him… the very man whom Haman despises… the man who has Haman enraged… and now while Haman’s family is discussing this tragic turn of events verse 14 says…
"While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.
So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, 2 and as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, "Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted."
3 Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life — this is my petition. And spare my people — this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet,
because no such distress would justify disturbing the king."
5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, "Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?"
6 Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman."
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.
8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
The king exclaimed, "Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?"
As soon as the word left the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, "A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman's house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king."
The king said, "Hang him on it!" 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's fury subsided." (Est 6:14-7:10; NIV)
Isn’t this crazy. It’s like a Mexican soap opera with Persian subtitles… it has it all doesn’t it? You’ve got the queen, the king, and Haman. You’ve got powerful, rich, drunken men; beautiful women; corrupt politicians; conspiracy and death on the horizon.
You’ve got this guy named Haman. He loves power, attention, fame, and glory. He wants everyone to bow down to him. He’s second in command for the entire Persian Empire.
There is King Xerxes, the drunken, powerful, crazy god king of the Persian Empire. He threw out his first wife, got a second wife. Her name is Esther.
Now Esther is amazing isn’t she? Esther finds out about this plot of Haman’s to commit genocide against all of God’s people and she’s one of God’s people. She’s not been a necessarily faithful, godly, amazing woman her whole life. But now, a death sentence has been set for her father Mordecai, and all of God’s people, which means that she too is now in
Now, here’s what she does. Esther comes out of the proverbial closet. She raises her hand and says, "I am one of God’s people too." Now she could have kept her silence and just walked away from the entire crisis. She could have had a personal relationship with God and not a public relationship with God. She could’ve avoided the suffering, the ridicule
and the very real threat of murder, but she chose to be listed among God’s people.
And I would like to encourage you to live as Esther does. She has nothing to gain by identifying herself with God’s people. There’s no reward… there’s no benefit for adding your name to the list of those to be murdered. Yet she’s considering it a great privilege to be numbered among God’s people, like Moses, whom when he had grown up, he refused to be
known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Moses chose to be mistreated along with God’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than all the treasures of Egypt, because like Esther, he was looking ahead… looking forward… to an eternal reward (Heb 11:24-26).
1. The Queen’s Request.
So, at this dramatic point in the story what’s going to happen? Everything is sort of culminating to the queen’s request, to this moment, seeking some sort of resolution. And verse 2 says, as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, "Queen Esther, what is your petition?"
"Then Queen Esther answered." And I want you to note how respectful she is. Now was her husband respectable? No. But… was Esther respectful? Yes. And the Bible talks a lot about wives respecting their husbands. And so here, Esther, in being respectful, is not allowing herself to become the issue, but for the issue to remain the issue. And she’s
limiting the opportunity of the king to be offended by her. And she’s encouraging him to do the right thing, because being respectful sets the tone… it allows your voice to be heard in a way that is conducive to the kind of change you’re seeking to achieve.
So I want you to hear her respect. "Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life — this is my petition. And spare my people — this is my request" (Est 7:3-4).
What she says is, "I don’t want to be murdered." She’s getting pretty bold now isn’t she? Up until this point, she’s been timid, silent, and passive, but now she’s speaking… she’s active… this is a woman growing in faith. And faith is demonstrated in bold, courageous, truthful action. Esther’s demonstrating her faith (James 2:22-24).
And she goes on to say, "For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation." Now the king’s had a few drinks. So she’s going to make sure he doesn’t miss the point. Destruction, slaughter, and annihilation. That’s a big statement and she uses strong words. And then she says, "If we had merely been sold as male and female
slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king." So she respectfully sets the stage. "King, we hate to inconvenience you. We know you’re very busy. I wouldn’t think to bring trivial matters to your attention, but this is a big deal.
And you know sometimes… among God’s people, there’s no sense of timing, there’s no sense of urgency, and it’s often because we’re continually, selfishly consumed with our own affairs. But here we see that Esther’s looking up and not in. She’s not looking at the chance that she might die… she’s looking at the fate of others and the urgent situation that
her people are facing.
2. The King’s Rage.
And so the king hears her and he’s like, "Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?"
The king’s angry… but it’s not that he particularly loves or cares for his wife, it’s because his wife is an extension of his authority and kingship. And someone who would plot against the queen is undermining his lordship. So he’s angry because this is an offense to his pride, to his dignity, and his image.
So Esther points her finger. He’s standing right there. And she says, "The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman. Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen."
It’s a bad day to be Haman, right?
"The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden..."
The king got up in a rage… and you know a king who is offended… a king who is sinned against… has every right to respond with anger… with fury… with justice and every consequence due to the offensive party. So here we have a vivid picture of a king in a rage, a king who has wrath against an enemy, like our God. Like the Lord Jesus Christ is a king and
he has wrath against his enemies. And you know the Bible says that we’re his enemies. Listen to what it says, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior" (Col 1:21). So we’re all Haman. We’re all selfish, we’re proud; we’re in it for ourselves.
Now God is love, but God is also just… very just. And the wrath of God is spoken of more than six hundred times in various ways in your Bible. The wrath of God is spoken of more than the love of God. The wrath of God is very real and it’s a wrath that burns today against his enemies.
Now, this king… King Xerxes is not a perfect king. He does not have a perfect wrath. He will not respond with perfect justice. But our King, King Jesus is a perfect King, with a perfect wrath, who enacts a perfect justice on his enemies. And I assure you, you should be terrified before that King. Listen to what Jesus said, "I will show you whom you
should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him" (Luke 12:4-5).
Some of you don’t want to hear this, but you need to hear this, because we live in an age where we’re told that we’re basically good people, created by a good God; a God who is only love, who has no wrath, who has no enemies, and that’s not true. It doesn’t end well for Haman and we need to know that one day each of us will be standing in the presence
of a great King, and he will have a perfect wrath, and we should fear Him.
The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out… he didn’t say a word to Haman, he looked at him, and Haman saw a furious wrath in the eyes of the king. He realized he was a dead man. And as the king goes out to the garden to collect his thoughts Haman is terrified.
3. Haman’s Reward.
Verse 9 says, "Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, "A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman's house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king." The king said, "Hang him on it!"
The Bible tells us: "The wages of sin is death" right (Romans 6:23)? Haman was getting his reward. His sin, his pride, his foolishness… he can’t blame anyone else… it was Haman who had gotten himself into a situation where he’s terrified. He’s overwhelmed, he’s panicking, he’s terrified, and it’s all over his face.
Verse 10 tells us, "So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's fury subsided."
As we look at the death of this one man Haman, we must remember that death comes to every man, because all have sinned, all have fallen short of the righteous standard of God’s law. So death comes for all. You know, just consider this, every time you go to the fridge and take out food, you check the expiration date; or at least you should as I
discovered this week. But I want you to remember that there’s a date set for you as well. You’re going to die. You don’t know when that day is, but one day… on that day… when you die, you’ll be standing face to face with God.
And the King’s wrath requires a sacrifice. It requires death. It requires that blood be shed. Now Xerxes was an unjust king and Jesus is a perfectly just King, but that wrath of the king always needs to be appeased… always needs to be pacified… and somebody has to get crucified. In this case, it’s Haman, but he had so longed to crucify Mordecai that he
closed his eyes to his own need only to open them to see another King with a deeper wrath and a more perfect justice.
And of course all this is a portrait and a picture of the coming of Jesus, because Jesus is better. He is the great King against whom we have sinned… whose wrath burns against us… yet he gets off his throne, he comes into history as one of God’s people, the same race, the same group that Haman sought to destroy. And unlike Esther, he lives a life
without any sin. Jesus is a perfect savior. And he identifies himself with his people, and because of his identification with his people, all of God’s people are saved.
The story is amazing but imagine this… imagine if King Xerxes looked at Haman and said, "Take this man and crucify him!" Imagine if in that moment, Esther walked over to Haman and said, "I forgive you and I love you," and then if she turns to the King and says, "would you allow me to take his place and I’ll be crucified for him, my enemy, so that he
can become one of God’s people too." That would have been amazing wouldn’t it? But that’s what Jesus did. That’s why Jesus is a better Savior that Esther.
You see we’re all Haman, and either we die for our sin or Jesus dies for it. Either the wrath of the King is appeased through our punishment or the wrath of the King is appeased through Christ’s punishment. See, the Lord Jesus identified himself with you and me and with us, and he did one thing that Esther did not even offer to do. He died not only for
his people, but for his enemies… to make them his people.
Don’t you just love Jesus? Aren’t you so thankful for Jesus? Are you living for him today? Is Jesus your King? Did he die for your sin or are you still trying to figure it out on your own?
Now, let me say this: you will either hang on your own cross for your own sin like Haman did, or by faith in prayer you give it all to Jesus who hung on a cross in your place for your sin. And Jesus is so much better. Xerxes went in a rage to the garden but Jesus went to a garden where he sweated blood in preparation for our salvation. Jesus was
crucified not for his own sin, but Jesus was crucified for your sin. Jesus endured wrath for God’s people and gives us his grace in its place. Jesus is better. He saves God’s people from every nation in every generation. We are spared from eternal death, eternal separation from God all because Jesus Christ identifies with us.
God bless you!
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