Learning to Lean.

Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”

While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared. So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. – Esther 6:12-7:1 ESV

It is fascinating to note the reactions of the two men in this story. After having been dressed in the king’s royal robes and paraded through the city streets on a royal steed, Mordecai returned to his place at the king’s gate, continuing his state of mourning over the fate of the Jews. He did not let his temporary flirtation with fame and good fortune distract him from his mission to mourn and fast for the salvation of his people. There were more important things for Mordecai to consider than his own prominence or personal well-being.

As for Haman, he went from bragging about his wealth, power and position to a state of mourning. The man who once held his head high in pride and arrogance made his way home with his head covered in shame. And when he arrived home, rather than receiving comfort and encouragement from his wife and friends, he was told that his case against Mordecai was hopeless. He would be the one to fall. Even Haman’s wife, Zeresh, gave him the bad news that if Mordecai was a Jew, then Haman would be the one to fall.

Even within the realm of King Xerxes, in the nation of Persia, within the capital of Susa, the Hebrew people had a reputation. Their stories were well-known. The tales of their God’s power and miracles were well-known. And while the Jews were in Persia because they had been defeated by the Babylonians, it must be remembered that both Cyrus and Artaxerses, predecessors to King Xerxes, had passed edicts to allow the Jews to return to their land to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and reconstruct the temple. These two kings had even funded the return and the restoration projects out of the royal treasury. For Haman to attempt to stand against Mordecai would be ill-advised and ill-fated. It was as if Zeresh sensed that there were greater forces at work here than Haman or anyone else could see. The events of the last 24 hours were not a case of bad luck. They were the result of the intentional intervention of the Hebrew god.

But Haman would have little time to consider that thoughts of his wife and friends. Before he knew it, the king’s eunuchs arrived to accompany Haman to the second feast being thrown in his honor by Queen Esther. Haman had to uncover his head, hide his sorrow and put on a happy face before he walked into the presence of the king. But his head was spinning. His emotional world was in turmoil. He had just been forced to honor the man he had intended to execute. And when the king caught wind of the fact that the edict he had been coerced to sign by Haman was going to result in the death of Mordecai, the man he had just rewarded, his reaction to Haman would probably be less than ideal.

Haman was probably thinking things couldn’t get any worse. But he was in for a rude surprise. His selfish, pride-filled plan was running headlong into God’s sovereign will. He would prove no match for God. He thought his beef was with Mordecai, a common, nondescript Jew. But he was about to discover that he was doing battle with God Almighty. He would learn the truth behind the statement made by the prophet Balaam hundreds of years before:

No curse can touch Jacob;
    no magic has any power against Israel.
For now it will be said of Jacob,
    “What wonders God has done for Israel!” – Numbers 23:23 NLT

Haman was no match for God. His wisdom was nothing compared to God’s. His wealth paled in comparison to the vast resources at God’s disposal. His influence over the king was insignificant when contrasted with God’s sovereign control over the entire universe, including kings and kingdoms. If he found any comfort in the fact that the king’s edict was irreversible, he was in for a rude surprise.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. – Proverbs 21:1 ESV

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. – Psalm 135:5-6 ESV

…his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” – Daniel 4:34-35 ESV

O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. – 2 Chronicles 20:6 ESV

From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done. – Isaiah 43:13 NLT

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. – Luke 1:51-53 ESV

Back in 1887, Elisha Hoffman penned the words to the great old hymn, Leaning On The Everlasting Arms. They certainly apply to the story found in the book of Esther.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

There comes a time when we must learn to lean on the everlasting, all-powerful arms of God. Just when we think all is lost and the enemy is winning the battle, we must remember that our God is on His throne and His might has not diminished, His will has not weakened, His love has not faded and His sovereign plan has not been derailed or deterred in any way. Even when all looks lost, we must continue to lean on God. What we can see with our eyes is never a reliable barometer of what God is doing behind the scenes. God replaced Mordecai’s sackcloth with royal robes, just a glimpse of what was to come. God took Haman’s pride and arrogance, and replaced it with humiliation. And that would be just the beginning of Haman’s fall from grace. God was not done yet.

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