Today's story is from the full Book of Esther. PART 2 OF 3
In Esther Part 1 of 3, we discovered the history of Esther and Mordecai, and how Esther's intelligent commitment to obedience to both Mordecai and Hegai obtained her favour.
When God calls us to obedience, there is a far-reaching reason linked to our calling. It is for the reason of getting his work done on earth and beyond. We all have work to do, regardless of how small or useless we might feel at times.
As we know, Esther had life and death battles ahead. Her wisdom, faith and trust in the fact that God had his hand on every step of her life caused her success.
Revelation 17:14, states:"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
indeed, Esther was bound for war, but we see she managed to pass through these testing phases by always substituting her fear with faith to fight that war.
Our Story 2 of 3
Esther 2:16 reads, So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
Ten stands for responsibility and seven for the Holy Spirit, we see God's timing is again perfect. Her responsibility was to carry out what she has been taught, and the Holy Spirit would do the rest.
Esther was chosen above all the others. Esther had not yet told them of her Jewish heritage. Do you think she felt guilty about that, and perhaps with a bit of fear? However, she had to do it this way as there was a greater cause at stake.
While this was happening, Mordecai sat in the king’s gate where many of the deeper conversations were held. He heard of a secret that a couple of the King’s chamberlains were going to assassinate the king. Mordecai told Esther, who was now Queen, who told the king, mentioning Mordecai’s name. This got the bad guys hung. However, shortly after came the rising of Haman, the Darth Vader of that empire.
Chapter 3:1 says of Haman's appointment that he was set above all the princes that were with him. Haman wanted everybody to bow to him as he passed, but Mordecai wouldn't. Mordecai said he was a Jew, meaning he worshipped only the one true God.
As Daniel wouldn't bow to Nebuchadnezzar's statue despite fierce opposition, so Mordecai did something similar here. They knew each other well and would have worshipped God together in that strange land. Haman wasn't God. Scripture states that Haman was very wrath with this. He probably took it the same way Ahasuerus took Vashti's rebuttal.
Haman then thought every Jew was a facsimile of Mordecai and, after a few months, sought to exterminate this entire race from the kingdom. He put fuel on the fire and quite a number of people ended up hating the Jews (Esther 9:1). Hatred is an easy emotion to encourage. It starts with a rumour, then builds until the rumour becomes fact. Many churches have fallen into this trap of judging, necessitating God to challenge us all not to hate our brothers or sisters in our hearts.
Haman approached the King — with a lie, of course, as sons of Satan do. He said there were certain people (Jews) scattered throughout the kingdom that had their own laws and didn't follow the king's laws, and that it would be more profitable for the King to slaughter them. He mentioned nothing about all this being based on his own pride.
Ahasuerus agreed and gave his royal ring to Haman to ensure the edict was sealed. The leaders of this slaughter were also to get paid well, which would ensure a fast and savage job. As merciless as Hitler's genocide, we see letters drafted up and sent by post to all the King's provinces, "to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women."
This kind of brutality against God's people can only emerge from one source, Satan, the Father of Lies. Ephesians 6:12 remind us that, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
A particular day was set aside for this massacre and the taking of all the Jews goods, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. However, while Satan was preparing Haman and his vast army of land pirates for the onslaught, God's was queitly preparing Esther.
In all this, the city of Shushan was perplexed. (Esther 3:15) as they had no trouble with the Jews. Many would have remembered the fame of Daniel in the lion's den and the fire of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; and many would now work beside them.
In every province, there was great mourning, weeping and rending of clothes amongst the Jews. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes. In Shushan itself, Mordecai rent his clothes and went through the middle of the city crying with a loud and bitter cry. He even came before the King's gate, which was banned in those clothes.
Still unaware of the King’s commandment, Esther sent clothes out to Mordecai, but he refused them. Instead, Mordecai gave Esther's servant a copy of the post, and it is from the reading of this she was called to put all her trust in God on the line. Her faith was never more needed than right here and now.
Much like Abigail, Esther was a woman of action. With Mordecai’s and Esther’s roles now reversed, Mordecai found himself taking orders from Esther. She got word to Mordecai to summon as many Jews in Shushan as possible. Esther 4:16-17 put it this way, "Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him."
What a wise response. I wonder how many of us are prepared to go this distance to seek the Lord's favour?
Esther realised she might perish, and had less comfort in Ahasuerus being appeased by her request than Abigail did in David when she went to appease him.
On the third day, while the fast was still in process, Esther adorned herself with the royal apparel and sought the King's favour, who was sitting on his throne. Esther knew the time to approach was not when Ahasuerus was ready but when her Lord God was ready. Ahasuerus held out his golden sceptre and received her presence.
The King asked of her enquiry. She did not simply say what we might all blurt out, "your Majesty, one of your men is trying to kill me and my people?" Haman may have been able to squeeze out of that one. No, this required a more subtle approach. She invited only the King and Haman to attend a banquet she would hold, just for the two of them. No man other than the King had ever been invited to her place.
Haman bragged to all his family about his riches and honour and this latest exclusive invitation. Yet, all that joy dissipated when again he saw Mordecai not bowing to him. His hatred was such that he made a special 23-metre high gallows to hang this Jewish dissident on. Haman wanted to hold Mordecai as a witness to all who didn't bow the knee to him, and he wanted to reflect the same disrespect Mordecai had shown.
The night before the banquet, God awoke Ahasuerus and pointed him to the chronicle page where Mordecai had earlier saved his life from assassination. He wanted then to know what had been done to repay Mordecai. The intrigue deepens. The next morning, Haman came before the King to tell him of the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Not giving Haman a chance to mention it, the King asked a question, saying: What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?
Haman thought the king was referring to him, so he said to the King to let that man be adorned in the royal apparel which the King himself uses, set him upon the King's horse, place upon him the King's crown, and let him be paraded through the streets in great honour. Did the King not see this veiled writing on the wall for his own kingship? Was Haman behind the two assassins? Would he try to assassinate the King at a later stage to take his crown?
So the King, taking Haman's advice, told him to do that for Mordecai the Jew. Haman's spirit was shattered. After he followed the King's orders he went home and mourned.
There is a saying, “never kick a man when he's down”, but obviously Esther did not apply that principle to Haman. As the King's chamberlain lured him to attend Esther's banquet, the final rattrap was being set.