Reading my iPad Bible this morning, I revisited this passage in Esther 3:
“Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”
So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
This struck me differently today when I read it. Haman was mad about the Jews being different. Frankly, he was specifically upset with Mordecai because Mordecai, even in this foreign place, honored the One True King and bowed to no other. Mordecai was not afraid to be consistent in his walk with God. Haman, a power-mad, arrogant lieutenant to Xerxes, was looking for ways to work himself into even more power by self promotion. He was willing to pay his way into the graces of Xerxes and certainly cared little for the truth. He did not care really that Mordecai did not bow to the king. He cared that he could be a tattle-tale and profit from it.
In Esther 4, Mordecai goes to Queen Esther for help. Esther had never revealed her nationality to Xerxes. Mordecai knew this and knew her witness on behalf of the God of the Ages would result in one of two things: her death and the deaths of the other Jews or the freedom of all to worship openly the God of the Ages. Esther had concerns but Mordecai brought those into focus:
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
As we know, after prayer and fasting for three days, Esther, risking death if Xerxes refused to see her, went to see the king. Approaching the king without a direct invitation was against the law, and Xerxes did not have to grant her favor to see him. In the meantime, Haman continued to plot. Yet God stirred Xerxes’ heart to take care of honoring Mordecai for a past heroic act in the manner that Haman had desired for himself. Smarting from that, Haman, when face-to-face with Xerxes and Esther, had to answer her accusations of wanting to destroy her and her people. God spared (and Xerxes honored) Mordecai and Esther. Xerxes used the punishment Haman had planned for Mordecai to punish Haman.
The story is a great Old Testament story. What rattled me today are these things:
- How do we today treat people who are different from us? Do we abuse/use them for our own good or advancement or to we attempt to bring them in and minister to them? Be it Jews or Muslims or other Protestants or non-believers – are we pursuing them because of what God wants us to do for them to further His kingdom or for the advancement of our own agendas? That question is somewhat rhetorical but it does deserve some thought and consideration and prayer.
- When we are called to a specific task – the “for such a time as this” type task, are we willing to respond to that call? I cannot answer that for you but I am aware of those calls in my life – the ones I responded to and the ones I (attempted) to ignore. The outcomes of obedience and the consequences of ignoring God’s call) tend to never leave you.
Haman strikes me as the kind of guy who made up his own rules as he went along. Today we find that around us in our government (both sides of the aisle), our churches, our homes, our workplaces. It is time for us to step up when we are called by God to take the lead and make a move for Him.
Just think about it.
Still Choosing Joy!