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|Posted on January 30, 2016 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
Esther 8:1 On the same day, King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther all the household of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Then Mordecai was brought before King Ahasuerus, for Queen Esther had told the king how they were related. 2 The king took off his signet ring (the one he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. Then Esther put Mordecai in charge of all of Haman’s household.
Reformation Study Bible
8:1 According to Persian custom, the property of a traitor was confiscated by the crown.
King Ahasuerus made a gift of Haman’s confiscated property to Queen Esther. He elevated Mordecai to Haman’s former position as second in command to the king. Esther gave Mordecai complete charge of his enemy’s estate and servants. Just as Joseph had providentially been made second to Pharaoh when he had been captive in Egypt and subsequently saved the Jews from drought, Mordecai is now put in a position to help his people.
Q – Can you think of other times that God raised up a surprising choice to a position of power?
Esther 8:3 Esther came before the king once more. This time she fell at his feet, wept, and begged the king to do something to stop the evil plan that Haman (the Agagite) had brought upon the Jews. 4 The king, as before, extended his golden scepter to Queen Esther; and she stood to her feet before him.
The problem of the edict written by Haman still remains. So Esther approached the king again to beg for her people.
Queen Esther: 8:5 If it pleases the king, and if I am in his favor, and if the king believes it is the right and just thing to do, let there be an official decree written that will cancel out the order that Haman (son of Hammedatha, the Agagite) had written to rid all the king’s provinces of the Jews. 6 For I can’t bear to see this catastrophe brought against my people; how can I live another day if I witness the destruction of my kindred?
Esther asked the king to please do something to undo this. She asked him to break his own laws to lift this unrighteous, catastrophic edict. But if he revoked the edict, he would look weak in the eyes of the Persians.
King Ahasuerus (to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew): 8:7 Look, I have given you, Queen Esther, Haman’s household because of his vengeful actions against your people. That is also why he hangs on the pole he had made for Mordecai. I have done all I can do; the rest is your responsibility 8 because no order that has been written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring can be overturned. So you must write a new order to the Jews to remedy the situation; it, too, must be written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring.
King Ahasuerus reminds Esther and Mordecai how he had recompensed them by turning over Haman’s property to the king. Then the king reminded Esther and Mordecai that once something is sealed with the king’s signet ring, it cannot be nullified. The king gave his blessing for them to write a new order that would rectify the situation and seal it with his ring. He gave them carte blanche to compose a plan that would save his queen and her people.
Esther 8:9 So the royal secretaries were summoned together on the 23rd day of the 3rd month (the month of Sivan). The king’s new orders were written down exactly the way Mordecai dictated them, and they were written to the Jews, the rulers, the governors, and the nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. The orders were written down in every script and every language spoken in the provinces, including the Jewish script and the Jewish language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with his signet ring. Then, these orders were dispatched to the provinces by couriers who rode on the finely bred horses sired by the royal stud.
Mordecai was the author of these new orders. He had them translated into every dialect spoken in the various provinces, including Hebrew so the Jews could read it for themselves. Mordecai now had the power Haman once enjoyed to write an edict in the name of the king and seal it with the signet ring. The king dispatched these new orders by the fastest means available, couriers riding the best horses sired by his own stud horse. He wanted the message out quickly for the Jews to have adequate time to prepare.
Esther 8:11 The king’s new orders gave the Jews in every city the right to gather together, to protect themselves, and to kill or destroy any army of any nation or province (including their women and children) who might attack them. The orders also gave the Jews the right to take over the assets of their enemies. 12 These new orders were set to go into effect on the 13th day of the 12th month (the month of Adar). This was the same day Haman had determined by casting lots to kill the Jews. 13 An official copy of the king’s order was to be issued to every province and read publicly to all nationalities, so that the Jews would be ready to protect themselves against their enemies. 14 The couriers were quickly dispatched by order of the king, and they left the capital riding on royal steeds. Then the decree was publicly proclaimed in the citadel of Susa.
The new edict, worded much the same as the original, gave the Jews the right to fight back and even confiscate the spoils of the battle. It would now be a fair fight instead of a virtual slaughter of the Jews. Ahasuerus could not think of a plan himself, so the Lord had him give this task to Esther and Mordecai who definitely rose to the occasion. As Mordecai told Esther months before, God had elevated her for the purpose of saving her people.
Q – Historically, God had protected the nation of Israel many times. According to Scripture, He will continue to preserve a remnant of His people Israel. With this in mind, how should we relate to Israel?
Esther 8:15 Mordecai went out from the king’s presence donning blue and white royal robes, a large gold crown, and a fine linen and purple cape. When the people of the city of Susa saw this, they exploded into joy. 16 For the Jews, it was a time of celebration. Darkness had turned to light. Sadness to joy. Shame to honor. 17 In every city and province, wherever the king’s law and orders were received, there was happiness and joy among the Jews. They feasted, they danced, they celebrated—and people from other nations living among the Jews professed to be Jews because they were afraid of the Jews’ sudden political power in Persia.
Mordecai went from sackcloth and ashes to regal robes. Remember that when Haman’s edict was heralded, it threw the population of Susa into confusion and chaos. The new edict caused them to burst forth with joy. The Jews could now hold their heads up as the people of the queen! The people who had been the Jews’ enemies or had even been on the fence suddenly wanted to be their buddies. They claimed to be Jews out of fear now that the Jews had the upper hand.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Mordecai demonstrated faith when he prophesied that Esther was promoted to queen for this critical time. Look for how God has used seemingly unrelated circumstances to bring you to your current situation in life. Trust Him to direct your path, and do not take another step without seeking His will and way.
2. When times seem to be at their darkest, pray and remind yourself, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5 (ESV)
|Posted on January 28, 2016 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
Esther 7:1 King Ahasuerus and Haman came to dine with Queen Esther; 2 and while they were drinking wine, the king posed his question once again.
King Ahasuerus: What is your request, Queen Esther? I’m willing to give you anything you want. Just make your request. Even if it’s half the kingdom you desire, I will make it happen!
The king and Haman attended a second banquet hosted by Queen Esther. Once again, she waited until the king made his offer to give her anything during the after dinner wine. This was the third time King Ahasuerus had offered to give Esther up to half the kingdom, but material goods were not her desire.
Esther 7:3 Queen Esther: If you favor me, my king, and if it pleases you, spare my life. That’s all I’m asking for—that my people and I be spared. That is my wish. 4 There are some, my king, who wish to rid your kingdom of us. For my people and I have been sold, marked for destruction and massacre. Now if the plan were simply to sell our men and women into slavery, I would have kept my mouth closed because that would not have been important enough to disturb you, my king.
Now that she had the king perfectly primed with two elaborate meals and was assured of his amorous attention, she answered his question with her heart’s plea to be spared along with her people. She didn’t initially slam the king’s favorite official but just said “there are some” who wanted to destroy her people. In the original Hebrew, Esther quoted the exact murderous words of the edict that the Jews were to be “destroyed, killed, and annihilated”. She even told him that if he were just going to sell or trade them to another owner, she would not have bothered him. Her humility probably touched him since he had gone so overboard in showing his favor to the point of offering her up to half of his kingdom. Her humble approach disarmed him.
Q – Is it better to demand what we want or to approach someone humbly?
King Ahasuerus: 5 Who has targeted your people? Where is this man who dares to do this?
The king was a little dense, thick-headed. He either had not put two and two together that his beloved queen was a Jewess, or the edict against the Jews had totally flown out of his brain. Since Haman actually composed the edict, the king may not have fully realized what he was approving.
Esther 7:6 Queen Esther (pointing to Haman): The man responsible for these actions is wicked Haman. He is vile, and an enemy to my people.
Esther finally was able to express her true feelings about Haman. Surely after observing the animosity between Haman and her surrogate father, Mordecai, for years, Esther abhorred the king’s right-hand man. Not only was Haman an enemy to the Jews; but as we have seen, his nation and the nation of Israel had always been adversarial.
Esther 7:6b In that moment, Haman’s joy turned to terror before the king and queen. 7 Angered, the king shoved away from the table, left his wine, and walked into the palace garden.
Haman was now shaking in his sandals. King Ahasuerus fumed that he could be used as puppet by his most trusted official. Incensed, the king stormed out of the room.
Esther 7:7b But Haman, aware that King Ahasuerus had already sealed his fate, didn’t follow behind. Instead, he pleaded with Queen Esther to spare his life. 8 In desperation, he threw himself onto the couch where Queen Esther was sitting, just as King Ahasuerus walked back from the garden to the place where the wine and the banquet had been set.
King Ahasuerus: Haman, will you even violate my queen right here in the palace, where I can see you?
Haman had been reduced to groveling before a Jewish woman, one of the very people he viewed as despicable! While begging for his life, he threw himself onto the queen’s couch. Even daring to touch the queen would be considered as violating her. He was seeking mercy in place of justice. His timing was horribly unfortunate as the king walked in to see him apparently attacking the queen! The king was flabbergasted that Haman would take such outlandish liberties!
Esther 7:8b As soon as the king gave the order, the royal eunuchs covered Haman’s face. His fate had been sealed. 9 One of those eunuchs was Harbonah.
Cue the dramatic music…Haman was now completely sure he was condemned to die.
Esther 7:9b Harbonah: Look! Haman has prepared a 75-foot pole for execution in his own courtyard. He was hoping to use it to hang Mordecai, the man who spoke up and saved the king.
King Ahasuerus: Well, hang him on it!
10 So they took Haman and killed him and displayed him on the pole he had made ready for Mordecai. And King Ahasuerus’ anger subsided.
The eunuchs must not have appreciated Haman. Haman was not a kind overseer. Harbonah was quick to offer the king a way to dispose of the despised Haman. Harbonah made the king aware of Haman’s plot to kill Mordecai and display him on a 75-foot skewer. The king ordered that Haman be shish-kebabbed instead. In an ironic twist, Haman became the object of ridicule instead of Mordecai. His wife’s prediction came true, and biblical prophecy was fulfilled.
The king was no longer hot with anger, but this still had not solved the problem of the upcoming annihilation of the Jews and his queen. Remember, a Persian edict or law cannot be reversed EVEN BY THE KING!
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. True humility is not only a virtue but is often the best path to reward. James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
2. Haman had immense power and thought he would destroy his enemies, but God’s power was greater. God’s providence is seen throughout the book of Esther. We need to remember that we serve the same sovereign Lord who is able to accomplish all He desires in our lives.
|Posted on January 26, 2016 at 10:40 PM||comments (0)|
Esther 6:1 That same night the king was unable to sleep, so he ordered the official records of his reign to be brought and read before him.
What does a king do when he cannot sleep? He has the record of his reign read to him, so he can relive his glory days. Even sleeplessness can be due to the divine work of our Lord.
Q – What do you do when you absolutely cannot go to sleep? Have you ever thought that the Lord might have you awake for a purpose? To pray? To study?
Esther 6:2 As the record was read, the king was reminded of the time when Mordecai saved his life. Mordecai had been the one who reported that Bigthana and Teresh, two of the royal eunuchs who guarded the doors, were plotting to assassinate the king.
King Ahasuerus (to his servants): 3 Did Mordecai receive any recognition for this action? Was he honored in any way?
Servants: He received no recognition for this.
It had been five years since Mordecai reported the plot against the king’s life, and he had never received a reward for this good deed. The king’s readers chose the portion of the record that reported that his life was saved by Mordecai. I believe God directed them there. Having been made aware of this incident, the king wanted to know if Mordecai received any kind of thank you. The servants reported that he had not. Maybe one of the reasons Haman and King Ahasuerus got along pretty well is because they were both self-absorbed, two peas in a pod. Perhaps they saw their own reflection, a mirror image when they looked at each other.
Esther 6:4 King Ahasuerus: Is anyone out in the court now?
Haman had just arrived at the outer court of King Ahasuerus’ palace. He hoped to speak with the king about executing Mordecai and hanging him on the pole he had prepared.
Servants: 5 Haman is here waiting in the court to see you.
King Ahasuerus: Allow him to come in.
The king asked if there was any official in the outer court. Enter Haman at exactly the wrong time! He was there because he was going to talk to the king about the plan to impale Mordecai on a pole. He had no idea what the king had just read! Haman had no clue how close he was to putting his big foot in his self-promoting mouth.
Esther 6:6 So Haman entered the king’s chambers. He waited for the king to speak first.
Since the king had called for him, Haman chose to let the king be the first to open the conversation. This was both good and bad for Haman. Good that he didn’t immediately share his plot against someone the king wished to reward. But bad, as you will see, because his frustration with the Jew who would not bow down to him was about to be increased.
Esther 6:6b King Ahasuerus: Haman, I want to ask you something. What do you believe is the proper manner in which to honor a man who has pleased me?
Then Haman thought to himself, “There is no one the king wishes to honor more than me.”
Big mistake, Haman! In his vanity, Haman assumed he was the one to be rewarded. Isn’t it ironic that the king poses such an interesting question to Haman, and Haman had no thought of anyone else the king would want to reward other than him. Any official could have been in that outer court, but God was working toward not only honoring Mordecai and ultimately saving the Jews, but also putting Haman in his place.
Esther 6:7 Haman: If you desire to honor a man, I believe you should do this: 8 First, have your servants bring one of the robes you have worn and one of the horses you have ridden that has worn the royal crown on its head. 9 Then, you should give the robe and horse to one of your most noble officials. Have him robe the man whom you want to honor and then lead the man on horseback throughout the center of the city. It should be announced that this is what happens for the man whom the king wants to honor.
Since Haman was cocky and sure that he was to be the one honored, he set forth his own personal wish list. His idea was a lavish, extravagant plan to display the man’s honor for all the kingdom to see. Since I know the rest of the story I almost feel sorry for him, but not quite.
King Ahasuerus: 10 Your idea is perfect, Haman. I want you to go and do this immediately. Take one of my robes and one of my horses and do exactly what you have suggested to Mordecai, the Jewish man who sits at my gate. Do everything you have said, and don’t leave out one single detail. Not one!
The situation is now reversed, and Haman is forced to honor the man he has sought to kill.
Has the king forgotten he approved an edict to condemn all Jews to death? Perhaps since he allowed Haman to actually compose and seal that edict, it has slipped his mind. Haman now has the “privilege” of being the one to bestow all these honors on Mordecai. I see Haman going out of the king’s presence stomping his feet up and down and shouting, “Why!? It’s so unfair!” It was really a custom at this time in history to put royal crowns on horses, but to me that sounds like something out of a cartoon. However, this would say to all who saw this one person parade that he was being treated as if he were the king himself, wearing the king’s robe, riding his crowned horse, and being led by one of the king’s favorite nobles.
Esther 6:11 Haman was mortified. He took the robe and horse; he dressed Mordecai in the king’s robe and led him throughout the square of the city.
Haman (shouting): This is what happens for the man whom the king desires to honor!
The Bible does not tell us anything about Mordecai’s reaction to this turn of events, but I am sure he could see the irony of being so honored with his enemy having to lead the horse. The Bible does not describe the crowd’s reaction either, but I would think they would be absolutely dumbfounded, utterly speechless. The enmity between these two men was well known, so we can be certain there were probably two camps – Haman’s Persian friends, and Mordecai’s Jewish friends as well as Persians who respected him.
Q – Read Luke 14:8-12. Do you think this would have been good advice for Haman? Do you think he would have had the wisdom to heed this advice?
Esther 6:12 When it was done, Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman fled to his home, mourning and covering his head in humiliation. 13 He told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends everything that had happened to him. They offered him a bit of wise advice.
Zeresh and His Friends: You must be very careful with how you handle Mordecai! If he really is a Jew, a descendant of the nation that defeated your ancestors, then you won’t be able to succeed. In fact, you will most certainly be destroyed! Look, you’ve already begun to bow to him.
Reformation Study Bible notes:
6:13 you will not overcome him. Haman’s wife and advisers give voice to the belief that the Jewish people were indomitable and, perhaps, even to the view that their God was the living God. See the predictions about the fall of Amalek before Israel (Ex. 17:16; Num. 24:20; Deut. 25:17–19; 1 Sam. 15; 2 Sam. 1:8–16; cf. Dan. 6:26, 27; Josh. 2:11; 9:29; Ezek. 38:23).
Haman reacts like a wounded dog, hiding his face, with his tail between his legs.His mortification now seems complete. He told his wife and friends, the same ones who had advised him to have Mordecai executed, what he had been required by the king to do for Mordecai on behalf of the king. They now offer him advice that is polar opposite to their previous plot. Now they want him to treat Mordecai with kid gloves. His advisors now tell him the sad reality of his future. The destruction of the Jews is not eminent, but the destruction of Haman is.
Esther 6:14 In the middle of their conversation, the king’s eunuchs arrived at Haman’s house and rushed him off to have dinner with Esther and the king.
All of these events have transpired between banquet one and banquet two given by Queen Esther. Whereas Haman had been looking forward to the second dinner with the royal couple, there was now a damper on his excitement. Haman had no idea how bad this nightmare was going to become.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Mordecai did not seek reward for his saving the king’s life, but the Lord caused the king a sleepless night to remind him to take care of this slight. Patiently await the Lord’s timing rather than demanding what you think you are due.
2. Likewise, do not assume you deserve the greatest honor and recognition. Better to behave humbly and be raised up than to elevate yourself only to be brought down. Proverbs 16:18 (VOICE) “Pride precedes destruction; an arrogant spirit gives way to a nasty fall.”
|Posted on January 25, 2016 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
Esther 5:1 When the third day arrived, Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace across from the king’s rooms. The king was sitting on his throne facing the palace entrance. 2 He was pleased when he noticed Queen Esther waiting in the court. He extended his gold scepter with his hand, inviting her in. Esther walked toward him, and when she was close enough, she reached out and touched the king’s scepter.
After fasting for three days, Esther prepared to do as she had promised Mordecai. Obedience to Mordecai put her in the precarious position of disobedience to the law. She dressed in all her queenly finery. I don’t know if this was protocol for a visit to the king’s room or if she was dressing for confidence or if she felt the king needed a reminder that she wasn’t just any member of his harem but his chosen wife and queen. The king was facing the entry hall and saw Queen Esther standing there waiting. She had already advanced to the place of danger, being inside the court even though the king had not summoned her. The king was pleased when he saw her: the King James Version says, “she obtained favor in his sight.” According to Proverbs 21:1 (ESV), “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” Even though God is not mentioned by name in the book of Esther, we can rest assured that God orchestrated Esther’s favor with the king. He extended the gold scepter allowing her to approach the throne unscathed.
King Ahasuerus: 5:3 What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? I’ll give you anything—even half of my kingdom—all you need to do is ask.
The king was really asking something akin to “What is troubling you?” Perhaps she looked gaunt after the fast, or maybe he just realized she would not dare to enter his presence uninvited except under extreme circumstances. The thought of Jewish annihilation had to be causing her inner torment. Perhaps that showed in her countenance. Would the king literally give Esther half of his kingdom? Probably not, but the exaggeration expressed his desire to completely satisfy his chosen queen. On the other hand, this king had the bad habit of saying and doing things in haste. Maybe he would have given her up to half the kingdom.
Queen Esther: 5:4 If it would please you, my king, I’d like for you and Haman to come today to a banquet I have made in your honor.
Esther does not at this time present the dilemma that she and the rest of the Jews face due to his edict. She does not present the problem that is troubling her immediately. Instead she makes the seemingly simple request that the king join her for a banquet and bring his second in command, Haman, with him. She states she has prepared the meal to honor him. She knew this would inflate his narcissistic tendencies; and, therefore, she would be elevated in his good graces.
King Ahasuerus (looking at his servants): Esther 5:5 Go and find Haman this instant, so we can do as Esther desires.
Q – Why do you think the king who had so hastily punished Vashti for disobeying by failing to appear, accepted Esther when she disobeyed the rules and appeared unsummoned? Why is he so eager to please her? Is it simply deep love, or do you think the truth of Proverbs 21:1 had something to do with these events?
The king wasted no time but commanded that Haman be found immediately. He makes it clear that he is accepting the queen’s invitation. The king instructed his servants to make whatever Esther desired happen.
Esther 5:5b So the king and Haman came to Esther’s banquet. 6 As Haman, the king, and Esther were enjoying the wine at the end of her banquet, the king pressed the question.
King Ahasuerus: Now, my queen, what is your request? I promise that half of my kingdom is not too much to ask! Don’t be afraid to ask for whatever you want.
Nothing is said of the dinner conversation between the royal couple and Haman during the main part of the banquet. During the final course of a long meal, the wine course, the king gave Esther another open opportunity to present him her wish list. The king was anxious to hear her request, but Esther did not jump in quickly with her demands even with the king pressing her for details. She was very cautious.
Queen Esther: 5:7 I do want something. My request is: 8 If I have found favor before you, and if you truly desire to grant my request, would you and Haman join me again tomorrow for another banquet I will prepare? Then I will answer your question.
Scripture does not tell us why Esther put off her answer by asking the king and Haman to a second banquet the next day, so we are not sure if this was part of her original plan or if she just felt queasy about what she needed to do and used the second banquet to stall. Maybe she used the delay of the second banquet to bolster her confidence. However, the rest of chapter 5 and chapter 6 shed light on the reason for the delay from the perspective of divine providence. Whatever Esther’s reason for the 2nd banquet, God had plans for the intervening time.
Q – Have you ever faced unexpected delays or felt it wise to wait? Do you consider God’s control of your circumstances?
Esther 5:9 Haman left dinner in high spirits, almost gleeful, but his joy was short lived. As he walked through the king’s gate, he passed by Mordecai. It angered Haman to see the Jew unwilling to stand and, worse still, seemingly unafraid. 10 But he resisted showing his anger right then and there. Instead, he went home and spent time with friends and Zeresh, his wife. 11 Haman spent the evening bragging to them about being rich and having lots of sons in his family. He even boasted about his relationship with the king, talking to his guests about his promotion above all of his fellow nobles and the officials of the king.
Only the highest of society were invited to dine with the king and queen, so Haman thought he had arrived beyond all others since he was the only official invited. Therefore, he could consider himself and intimate of the king and queen in his inflated mind. However, when he saw Mordecai still sitting at the king’s gate, his happiness vanished into thin air. Mordecai’s lack of fear or any kind of response caused seething anger to billow up out of Haman as out of a volcano. Haman squelched this anger for the moment until he was in the privacy of his own home. He and his wife entertained friends for the evening. Haman always needed to stroke his ego, so he engaged in this behavior every chance he had. That night he strutted his stuff like a peacock. He bragged on his position, his ten sons, his wealth, and his close relationship with the king.
Haman: Esther 5:12 And that’s not all! Queen Esther invited me today to dine with her and the king. Just the three of us! And guess what? She’s invited me again tomorrow. What do you think about that? 13 But I must be honest; seeing that Jew, Mordecai, as I pass through the gate makes it difficult to celebrate any of my good fortune.
Haman is a legend in his own mind. He is under the delusion that Queen Esther prefers him over all the other officials of the court. He brags about the invitation to dine with the king and queen not only once, but again the next day. Then he confessed that there was something robbing him of his happiness. His hatred for Mordecai outweighed his pleasure and enjoyment of all the good that had happened to him that day.
Esther 5:14 Then his wife Zeresh and all of his friends came up with an idea.
Zeresh and His Friends: You should make a wood pole 75 feet high! Tomorrow morning, have the king sentence Mordecai to be executed on it. Then you’ll be able to have a good time at the banquet with the king.
Haman thought the idea was brilliant. So he had the pole made.
Zeresh actually strategized the plot to have Mordecai executed by impalement on a pole. The proposed height of this pole would have been about the same as an eight story building, perhaps even constructed on top of a building to allow for this height. Since Jews were taught that being hung on a tree symbolized being under a curse from the Lord (Galatians 3:13), this would be particularly humiliating. This was exactly what Haman wanted to do at all times, humiliate Jews, especially Mordecai. Zeresh then put forth the idea that after the grizzly demise of his enemy, Haman would be able to eat, drink, and be merry with the king and queen! This shows that Zeresh knew that Haman would have no remorse and, therefore, could party with the king with no thought of what he had just orchestrated. Since this fed Haman’s hatred, he thought it was an excellent plan. However, chapter six will prove that God was still in control and had other ideas for Mordecai.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. God had a purpose for Esther to fulfill and gave her favor with the king. If God has called you to a task, He will enable you to accomplish it. Rely on His power and not your own.
2. When delays and even dilemmas arise in your life, trust that our sovereign Lord is still in control and is using circumstances to mold you into the image of Christ. Read Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:33, Isaiah 41:10, Romans 8:28-29.
|Posted on January 20, 2016 at 10:55 PM||comments (0)|
We apologize for the delay in getting this post up. I am diligently working on finishing the draft for the devotional book on joy. Only three scriptures left to explore!!!
Let us start this chapter with a little background information on the ancestors of the two key characters, Haman and Mordecai. Haman was called an Agagite which meant he was a descendent of Agag the king of the Amalekites. The Amalekites had opposed Israel as they fled Egypt to return to the Holy Land, so God had placed Amalek under a curse saying that nation would be destroyed by a future generation of Israelites (See Exodus 17:14-16). Fast forward to the time of Israel’s first king, Saul the Benjaminite. He is the ancestor of Mordecai. God commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites completely, including their cattle. (See 1 Samuel chapter 15) Israel was to take none of the customary spoils of war. However, Saul and his men kept some of the best cattle, supposedly to sacrifice to the Lord, and took King Agag captive rather than killing him. The Lord God made the prophet Samuel aware of Saul’s disobedience. Samuel confronted Saul and then took a sword and addressing King Agag, said, “Just as your sword has taken children from women, so will this sword make your mother a childless woman,” (1 Samuel 15:33). Then Samuel took a sword and hacked Agag to pieces! No wonder Haman hated the Jews and Mordecai had no respect for Haman!
Esther 3:1 A little while later, according to King Ahasuerus’ wishes, Haman (son of Hammedatha, an Agagite) was promoted to a rank above all his fellow nobles in the kingdom. 2 The officials at the king’s gate all bowed down before Haman and paid him homage because the king commanded this. But Mordecai, the Jew, refused to kneel and refused to honor him.
Officials (looking at Mordecai): Why are you disobeying the king’s command?
Esther 3:4 The officers questioned him daily about his disobedience to the king, but Mordecai refused to listen and bow down. The officers reported this to Haman to learn whether or not Mordecai’s excuse would be tolerated, for Mordecai had told them he was a Jew.
Mordecai’s reason for being a conscientious objector was his Jewish heritage. The Persian officials may or may not have understood his logic. The officials probably were not aware of the longstanding historical animosity between the Amalekites and the Jews. They went to Haman and asked if Mordecai’s reason for not kneeling and bowing down was acceptable.
Q – Mordecai stuck to his convictions about Haman even when questioned by the government officials and under the threat of punishment. Do you have the strength to stand up for what you believe to be right? Do you have the strength to stand up for Jesus? Ephesians 6:10-18 gives instructions on donning the armor of the Lord in order to stand firm.
Esther 3:5 Haman was furious when he saw that Mordecai refused to bow and pay him the respect he was due. 6 But Haman wasn’t to be satisfied with killing only Mordecai, so he began to think of ways to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus.
Haman was due respect according to the king’s decree but even more so in his own mind. Haman suffered from an extremely inflated ego and narcissism. It wasn’t enough for Haman to exact retribution against his arch-enemy, Mordecai. Haman’s desire was to desecrate and annihilate every Jew in Persia and its provinces.
Esther 3:7 During the 1st month (the month of Nisan) of Ahasuerus’ 12th year as king, they cast lots (also known as “purim”) in the presence of Haman in order to select a day and month. [The lot fell on the 13th day of] the 12th month (the month of Adar), a day nearly one year in the future.
Haman and his cohorts cast lots to determine the best day for the destruction of the Jews. This was a common method for determining dates and times. The date selected was nearly a year away. Then he approached the king with his dastardly plan.
Haman (to the king): Eshter 3:8 All the provinces in your kingdom are overrun with one insignificant group of foreigners, people who haven’t adopted our customs. Their laws differ from all other peoples’, and they do not keep your laws. Therefore it’s not a good idea for you to tolerate them or their actions any longer. 9 If it is your wish, sign an order that these people be destroyed, and I will bear all the costs. I’ll pay 375 tons of silver directly to those who carry out the king’s business in order to relieve the royal treasury of the expense.
Reformation Study Bible:
3:9 10,000 talents of silver. This enormous bribe is calculated to have been about two-thirds the annual revenue of the Persian Empire under King Darius.
Notice that Haman gave no indication of the nationality of the people he was proposing to be wiped out. He was so determined to persuade King Ahasuerus that he was willing to possibly impoverish himself and his family to execute his plan. He told the king he would finance the entire campaign.
Esther 3:10 Not knowing which group of foreigners was being targeted, the king took his signet ring, the symbol of his power and authority, from his finger and passed it to Haman (son of Hammedatha, the Agagite), who hated the Jews.
Reformation Study Bible:
3:10 signet ring. Yet another of the king’s impulsive responses authorized Haman to issue royal edicts (cf. Gen. 41:42). The repetition of Haman’s full name together with the added phrase, “the enemy of the Jews,” underlines the terrible predicament of the Jews at this point.
The king has been kept in the dark as to whom he would be destroying. He has no idea that his own Queen Esther is a member of this people group. The king was unwittingly being manipulated by Haman’s venomous hatred of the Jews. Once again, King Ahasuerus was acting with undue haste. The king was reacting to information without verification from sources other than Haman. He should have checked Haman’s “facts” for himself before issuing any decree.
Q – We see King Ahasuerus acting before confirming the validity of the facts and completely thinking things through once again. Do you take enough time to evaluate a situation or problem before acting? Do you gather information from trusted, proven sources? Is your main source the Word of God?
King Ahasuerus (to Haman): Esther 3:11 The money is yours and the people are yours also to do with as you wish.
The king did not accept the money, but gave Haman permission to do what he desired. I feel that the king was abdicating his responsibility. Ahasuerus wore the crown but allowed Haman to make too many pivotal decisions.
Esther 3:12 On the 13th day of the 1st month, the royal secretaries were summoned. The king’s order was written down exactly the way Haman dictated it to all of the king’s rulers of the regions, governors of the provinces, and nobles of the ethnic groups. The orders were written in every script and every language spoken in the provinces in the name of the king, and they were sealed into law with his ring. 13 Messengers were sent out to all the royal provinces with the official law giving the order to destroy, kill, and annihilate all of the Jews. They were to kill everyone, including women and children, young and old, on the 13th day of the 12th month (the month of Adar), and they were free to take everything the Jews owned. 14 An official copy of the king’s order was to be issued to every province and read publicly, so that the people could get ready for that day.
The king gave Haman the power to dictate the order himself and use the king’s signet ring to seal it. Basically, the king gave Haman the power to decree an order. It was translated so that everyone in all the provinces of Persia would understand it. The decree stated emphatically that they were to “destroy, kill, and annihilate all of the Jews”. No one could possibly misunderstand the intent of this decree. No one was to be spared. They were to kill even women and children. As the Jews were put to death, whoever killed them gained the reward of taking their possessions, the wealth they had accumulating even while living as captives.
Esther 3:15 The messengers were quickly dispatched by order of the king. Then the decree was publicly proclaimed in the citadel of Susa. As the king and Haman relaxed and drank wine, the city of Susa was thrown into chaos.
Haman had the king celebrating this edict. Meanwhile, the people living in Susa were trying to make heads or tails of such a proclamation. This proclamation made no sense to them. However, it was now law, had to be obeyed, and could not be rescinded or overturned.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Mordecai stuck with his conviction that it would be wrong to bow to an enemy of his people even though he knew he could be executed for disobeying the king. Luke 14:33 (VOICE) “In the same way, if you want to be My disciple, it will cost you everything. Don’t underestimate that cost!” Count the cost of serving Christ and stay faithful in serving Him anyway. The rewards far exceed the sacrifice.
2. King Ahasuerus seemed to make a habit of acting before his brain was fully engaged. When an important decision needs to be made, TAKE TIME to investigate options, pray, seek the Lord and godly counsel, BEFORE taking any action.