Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Split-Second Timing

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When your power is rooted in pride rather than in humility and a heart to serve, you’ll be threatened by anybody and anything that you can’t control. Proud people have to be in control. Insecure people have to be in control. It has to be my way. They have to control the people around them. They’re just saying, “I’m proud.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 18. It’s easy to read about some wicked, power-grabbing man from the pages of history and think, “Thank You, Lord, that I’m not like that.” But as Nancy goes into detail about Haman, the villain in a classic Bible story, let’s listen with a humble heart. Maybe God’s Word will expose some prideful attitudes in our hearts. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Well, in the last session we saw that Esther has approached the king. She has been given an opportunity to speak her mind. The king says, “What is your request? Ask anything you want up to half the kingdom, and I’ll give it to you.” All Esther says is, “Can you and Haman come to a feast that I have prepared for you?”

So they come to the feast and have a great dinner apparently and then the king says, “Esther, what do you want? I want to give it to you.” And she says, “Can you come again tomorrow?” We talked about the remarkable restraint that Esther showed in not just blurting out what was on her mind but in waiting for God to act.

So today we pick up in chapter 5, verse 9, as Haman is leaving this first feast that he has had with Esther and Xerxes. Verse 9 tells us, “Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart.” He was elated. He was the only one who had been invited to this feast with the king and the queen.

Immediately within the same verse here we see a dramatic change of temperature in Haman’s countenance and in his spirit. “But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai.” In the same verse here, we have Haman being joyful and glad of heart because he’s been invited to the feast and moments later he is filled with wrath against Mordecai who will not bow down to him.

Now that says here’s a man who’s got roller coaster emotions. He does not have self-control. In contrast, we saw Esther’s extraordinary self-control. We’ve seen how she’s able to keep her emotions under control. She’s been able to keep her tongue under control as she’s dealing with this situation. But Haman is a man who has no control over himself or his emotions. He’s prone to emotional extremes and that comes out throughout this story. He’s easily elated and easily deflated and in this case both and the same within the same verse.

Later in this story we’ll see other instances of Haman’s emotional extremes. I think the reason he had such extreme emotions is because his emotions and his sense of wellbeing are being determined by external circumstances. He’s at the mercy of how people treat him. That’s why he vacillates so quickly from extreme highs to extreme lows.

It all depends on what’s happening around him, what’s happening to him. So when Esther favors him, his spirit soars. When Mordecai refuses to honor him, he sinks into depression. High and low. This emotional roller coaster. When he can’t get what he wants, he becomes irate and irrational. When he’s being honored and things are going his way, he’s delighted.

That’s not the way God intends us to live. I’ll say that when your life and your heart and your mind are not grounded in the sovereignty and the ways of God, you’re emotions will be subject to whatever happens next in your life. Your emotions will be subject to whatever happens next in your day, whatever happens next in your life, whatever circumstances come into your life.

The picture that came to me, as I was even reacting this way myself, was feeling like a little paper boat that some little kid made out on this sea that has a surging storm. That’s the way our lives will be and that’s the way many women’s lives are—just vulnerable to all the storms, all the waves—because their lives are not grounded in the sovereignty of God.

When you trust in God’s sovereign control and direction and protection in your life, when you trust that He knows what He’s doing and that He is orchestrating all the events of this universe to accomplish His purposes, what do we call that? Providence. When your life is grounded in providence, you will not be at the mercy of those happenings in your life. Your life will be grounded.

Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. Then Haman said, "Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king’” (verses 10-12).

What’s the one word you would write over that speech? Pride. P-R-I-D-E. It’s “I” that’s smack in the middle of pride. We see here a man who is arrogant. He’s boastful. He’s haughty. He’s self-centered. He boasts of his wealth, his family, his accomplishments, his honors, his exaltation, the queen’s invitation. “I am a VIP.” That’s what he’s saying here.

He’s a picture of insecure people—people who find their identity in human applause, who they know, what they have. So they have to drop names. They have to make sure that everybody knows what they did that was an accomplishment. They get their identity in being promoted and making a good salary, in driving the right kind of car and living in the right kind of house and wearing the right kind of clothes and having their kids in the right kind of school. That’s how they get their identity. That’s insecurity.

Scripture tells us pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. That is an inexorable way of God. Count on it, and we’ll see it happens with Haman. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor” (Proverbs 29:23, NKJV).

So Haman makes this speech to his family. Then he says in verse 13, "Yet all this [all these things I have] is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” You can just see his jaw locking up, his face, his countenance getting tight. He’s seething. “I have all these incredible blessings but this one thing, this person in my life, as long as he is there, as long as he will not honor me, I cannot enjoy what I have.”

His hatred of Mordecai deprives him of being able to enjoy all his wealth, his accomplishments. He’s a bitter man, which leads him to an obsession for revenge. In spite of all his wealth, in spite of his position, in spite of his influence, he is rendered miserable by the sight of one little nobody whom he can’t control.

Isn’t it interesting how often the object of our bitterness begins to control us. The person you said you’d never be like, the person you don’t want to be around, the person you don’t want to have anything to do with. It may be your mother. It may be your mother-in-law. It may be your daughter-in-law. It may be an ex-friend or an ex-boss or an ex-mate. How that person just begins to control you. You can’t enjoy what you have. You can’t enjoy life. You can’t enjoy God’s blessings because you’re always thinking about that person, how they hurt you, how they wronged you, how they didn’t do things your way.

When your power is rooted in pride, when your influence is rooted in pride rather than in humility and a heart to serve, you’ll be threatened by anybody and anything that you can’t control. Proud people have to be in control. Insecure people have to be in control. It has to be my way. They have to control the people around them. They’re just saying, “I’m proud.”

Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him [does Mordecai bother you that much?], "Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast." This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made (verse 14).

So he makes these gallows for Mordecai 50 cubits high. That’s 75 feet high, about 8 stories tall. Now we’re not sure if the gallows was actually that high—that’s almost a monstrosity—or if it was placed on a hill or a building that would make it that high. At any rate, it was very high. It could be seen probably all across the city. This was a site he wanted to make a public display of the hanging of Mordecai.

He does this. He makes this gallows. He erects this pole at his wife’s suggestion. Now Zeresh at this point foolishly does not encourage her husband to think right or to act right. Instead she just fuels his foolishness and his pride. She coddles his insecurity and his sinful bent. She enables him to keep plowing ahead in his foolish pride. She doesn’t realize that she’s telling him to prepare his own gallows.

What kind of input and counsel do you give to your husband or to a boss or to a friend when they’re bent out of shape about something? You can give good counsel or you can give bad counsel. Say it’s your husband and he comes home and he’s got this crazy idea and he’s all mad at something that happened at work.

  • Do you fuel his misguided and his foolish thinking?
  • Do you pick up an offense?
  • Do you pour gasoline on the fire of his pride and his anger?
  • Or do you respectfully speak the truth? Not entering into an argument with him but saying, “Have you considered . . .? Could it be possible that . . .? Maybe you should look at it this way?” Giving respectful but godly advice.

However, in this situation even Zeresh unwittingly falls into God’s providential plan by telling Haman to build the gallows for Mordecai and again we see providence at work with a capital P.

Now as we think about this passage we’ve been reflecting on today, on the face of things it looks like things are getting worse. If Esther and Mordecai knew what was going on, they knew how angry Haman was, if they had known that he was building those gallows, you’d think they could have been kind of freaking out. “It’s getting worse! We prayed. We fasted. But it’s not working!”

That’s when we need to remember that God is still in control, that God is at work behind the scenes, that God is providentially ordering all things to fulfill His purposes in this situation. God says He will even cause the wrath of men to praise Him. How does He do that? I don’t know. It’s mystery, and providence is a mystery. If we could figure it out, we’d be God. But we’re not God.

That’s why we have to trust and remember that as you are in your life situations—many of which are tangled and messed up because that’s the way life is on a fallen planet. Remember in your home, remember in your church, remember in your school, remember in your workplace that God is at work. He is behind the scenes. He is orchestrating the events. He is causing all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and those who are called according to His purpose. That’s what it’s all about is His purpose being done. His purpose being fulfilled.

So don’t fret. Don’t panic. Don’t stress out. Don’t manipulate. Don’t grab the reins. Don’t try and take things under your own control. Act when God says it’s time to act. Speak when it’s time to speak. But rest and trust the results to God even while the gallows are being built that you think are going to lead to your destruction. God is still in control.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss speaks powerfully about the contrast between proud people and broken people. She just showed us teaching from the book of Esther and she’s also written effectively on the topic in the book, Brokenness: The Heart God Revives. This is a classic book from Nancy. It doesn’t take long to read but the message will stay with you for a lifetime. Find out how to have a copy for yourself by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com or ask about Brokenness when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Let’s get back to the second half of Nancy’s teaching. The series is called Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time.

Nancy: Those people who work with me and who live around me have often heard me say, “I love living under Providence"—with a capital P. That’s divine Providence. And I do. I’ve come over the years to look for evidences of God’s providence everywhere and to know that even when I can’t see evidences of His providence, it is there.

God’s providence—His watchful care and supervision and oversight over all the affairs of this universe, and that includes all the affairs of my life. All the details. All the things that don’t make sense to me make perfect sense to God.

Well, there’s no place in the Scripture that God’s providence is any more evident than in the book of Esther even though the name of God is not mentioned one time in the whole book. God is the unseen hand behind all these events and these circumstances that seem meaningless and chance on the face of things. But once you know God, you realize there’s no meaninglessness or chance to this. This is providential. This is purposeful. God is intentional. He is working all things. He is weaving the master plan. He is orchestrating the pieces to fulfill His purposes.

Now as we come today in the book of Esther to chapter 6, we see some fresh evidences of God’s providence. It’s an amazing story, an amazing plot. Let’s read it together beginning in verse 1.

“On that night . . . “ Now what night is this? It’s the night after Esther has just had the first feast. That same night. It’s the night that Haman has gone to his wife and said, “I can’t stand this Jew, Mordecai.” His wife has said, “Build the gallows,” and Haman has built the gallows. It’s all this same night. Okay? “On that night [that very night] the king could not sleep.” I don’t know if it’s what they had to eat at the feast, that he ate too much too late or he was drinking too much. I don’t know what, but I do know it was God’s providence.

The king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, "What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" The king’s young man who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him” (Esther 6:1-3).

Now you see a whole series of seemingly insignificant facts and events that all fall together here in a perfect way. Providence, with a capital P. What are the chances that on that very night the king could not sleep. Well, God’s keeping him awake. That’s God’s sovereignty. So what are the chances on that same night that he couldn’t sleep that he would decide to help his insomnia to read some history books? Well, if I couldn’t sleep at night, I’m not sure that that’s what I would read, but that’s what he selected.

What are the chances—he’d had a 12-year rule thus far—that they would have pulled the very book that was about the event that took place five years earlier about Mordecai uncovering this plot to assassinate the king? I mean out of all the king’s chronicles, what are the chances of that being the one read?

Coincidence? No way. We are seeing God’s sovereignty. We’re seeing God’s providence five years after Mordecai’s intervention that this comes to the king’s attention. God had providentially delayed Mordecai being rewarded for his good deed until the precise moment when his people needed supernatural deliverance.

So that’s something that Mordecai could have been bitter over all these years. You know what? A lot of us would have been. Some of you still are. You’re bitter over things that happened five years ago, fifteen years ago, twenty-five years ago. You don’t have to be bitter. You can release it when you realize that in God’s providence He will deal with all things in their time—in His time, in His way.

So the king says in verse 4,

“Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the1 king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, "Haman is there, standing in the court." And the king said, "Let him come in.”

What are the chances?! None! It’s only miniscule, incalculable chances because we don’t live in a world of chance. We live in a world of providence. So Haman is at the palace early in the morning. This is the split-second timing of God.

What if Haman had arrived one hour later? The king would have found somebody else in the court and would have got somebody else to tell him how to honor Mordecai, but it wasn’t somebody else. It wasn’t an hour later. It was that moment. I can imagine Haman had probably been up all night just waiting for it to be dawn so he could come to the king’s palace and say, “Let’s hang Mordecai.”

So Haman walks into the palace prepared to make his speech, “Let’s hang Mordecai,” but before he could get the words out of his mouth, in God’s precision timing, the king decides to ask Haman what can be done to honor Mordecai.

So we see that God is in charge. That’s the point. God is in charge. He’s in charge of seemingly insignificant decisions, schedules, choices. There are no chance happenings in this world. God’s providence. Sometimes you can see it at work. Sometimes you can’t see it at work. When you can’t, you trust that it is still at work.

As I was meditating on this passage, I took some time just to think back over the course of my life. Now looking back over 47 years to try and chronicle some evidences now that I can see in retrospect—in the rearview mirror. Things I couldn’t see at the time, but things I now can see clearly were evidences of God’s providence.

I thought about things in relation to my background: The home I was born into. The way I came to know the Lord at the age of 4. The opportunities that were provided for me that most people in the world would never experience. The books I read that made a significant impact on my life.

Talk about reading the chronicles, God put into my hand as a little girl some missionary biographies, accounts of revival that gave me a burden and a passion for revival. It was God’s providence. I thought about people I’ve met, people I’ve been exposed to, teachers who invested in my life, mentors who invested in my life.

I thought about the colleges I went to and how I transferred and at the time I couldn’t quite piece it all together. I didn’t know where I should go, what I should do. But I trusted God to direct me.

I thought about the first job I applied for in a local church ministry and how I got turned down for it. I was so disappointed. I was crushed at the moment. My pride was hurt. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t understand. Well, I look back now and how I thank God because I think how the whole course of my life would have been different if it weren’t for that disappointment and for other disappointments in my life. I think about ways that people have wronged me over the years and ways that I have wronged others and made foolish choices but how God in His providence has ruled and overruled in those situations.

I thought about split-second timing and details where God would have me go speak somewhere and someone else was there who heard me speak who ended up being the one who planted the seeds for the whole idea of Revive Our Hearts radio. I look back and I marvel at the providence of God.

I think of someone I met 25 years before we started radio and didn’t know very well, just an acquaintance, but was a Christian leader that God ended up using to be the one 25 years later to say, “Would you consider doing a radio program?” that became Revive Our Hearts. Chance?

Twenty-five years ago when I met that man I had no clue why he was in my life. I didn’t see him for twenty-five years. But then the day came I got a letter from him. He had been thinking about a radio program for women and God has put your name on our heart. Chance? No way. It’s providence, providence, providence all the way.

Let me encourage you to do what I did—to look back over your life and ask God to open your eyes to see evidences of His providence in your life. Write them down. That’s a good thing to journal so you can look at it, so you can be amazed, so you can be in awe of God’s providence.

Then having looked back, as you look to the future, as you look at the situations that you’re in right now that seem so hopelessly convoluted, so hopelessly confusing, trust that God is still working in His providence to fulfill His purposes in your life. Know that one day you will look back on today—maybe 25 years from now. It may be in heaven, but you will look back and you will say, “Yes, He did it right! God knew what He was doing. He pulled those pieces together. He knew why that person hurt me. He knew why I was married to that person. He knew why he gave me that child. He knew why I didn’t get that job. He knew why I had that disappointment.”

God not only knew but He ruled and He overruled. When you cannot see the hand of God, trust His heart and know that His providence is always at work on your behalf.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been taking us through the book of Esther bringing this story to life and showing why it’s so relevant today. Find out more about this series, Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time, when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Sometimes it seems like God lets wicked people get away with whatever they want, but when God does act in justice, He really acts. Hear more tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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