A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Today my devotions took me to the book of Esther. A fascinating story that never mentions the name of God. You can certainly see the hand of God throughout the story, but his name is not mentioned. I’ve heard and preached many sermons on the sage pronouncement Mordecai gives to his niece, Queen to King Xerxes. He says to her, “Who knows but you were made queen for just such a time as this.”
Esther was the only person in a position to stop the massacre of the Jewish people after Haman, a prince in the nation, convinced the king to destroy every Jew across the land because of his personal hatred of the race.
But today I’d like to talk about something a little different than the usual sermon topic in the book of Esther. I’d like to exam the character of the king and Haman. We see people like them everywhere today. As a matter of fact, their character types plague us today when you begin to explore who they really are and their roles in the drama that played out in the first few chapters of the story.
First, let’s look at Haman. Here was a political figure who had it all. He climbed the ladder of success to become an advisor to the king. Few could just walk into the throne room without a personal invitation, but Haman could. He was special in the kingdom. The king could trust few people with his signet ring to make proclamations in his name, but Haman held that kind of trust.
People bowed to Haman just as they bowed to the king. People may not have respected Haman because of the way he gained his position, his power and influence. But people paid homage to him because of those things. He was rich. He was deemed intelligent. He was at the ear of the king in every decision made about the kingdom. And you can be sure every decision the king made was good for Haman before it was good for the kingdom.
Most of the people around the kingdom would like to be like Haman. Rich. Powerful. Prestigious. Standing at the right hand of the king. Almost a god in his own eyes. What a life! Most people longed for a life like Haman’s. Mordecai was not like most people, though. And so Haman hated him. Mordecai was a Jew and bowed to no one except God. He would not even consider bowing to one of God’s creations because God said not to have any gods before him. There was only one God and he was not Haman. So while everyone else bowed when Haman walked by, Mordecai just stood there. Haman despised the man.
But his hatred went a little deeper. He hated every Jew because Mordecai was a Jew. His prejudice showed through his behavior, his emotions, his every action. Haman hated a whole race of people because Mordecai would not bow to him when he went in and out of the gates of the royal palace.
So here’s the point I want to make about Haman. We get the rest of the story about how Haman was humiliated by having to praise Mordecai for a deed he had done several years earlier. We get the part about Queen Esther intervening on behalf of the Jews and saving her people by appealing to the king allowing them to defend themselves against those Haman demanded kill her race. But we’re focusing on Haman.
Did you get the point about Haman hating a whole race because of the actions of one man? Did you see how Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him led him to want to kill every man, woman, and child of Jewish ancestry? Did you see the character flaw in Haman that even if Mordecai harmed him in some way, let him become blind to the good in people and carried his hatred to a whole race instead of focusing his attention on the one who did him wrong?
Now look around the neighborhoods where you live. Do you know any Hamans? Or worse, yet? Do you spread your prejudice to a race of people because of the harm one or two people of one race or another might have done to you in the past? Do you harbor hatred and vengeance in your heart against a whole class of people because of what a few have done?
We see it every year in our election processes here. Democrats against Republicans. Doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on. If you can’t understand that both sides need salvation and both sides need to put God at the head of the party instead of their political leader, our nation is doomed. And guess what. God has disappeared from our political process. The Supreme Court says he must not be mentioned. Something about separation of church and state. Didn’t seem to be a problem for the gentlemen who founded the country, but it is today in our not so Christian nation.
So, do you have a tendency to be like Haman and pour out your negative thoughts and ideology against a race just because? Think about it. God made us all. Everyone who breathes the air around us were made in his image. In fact, Jesus didn’t look like the white guy in most of the paintings we see. Remember he was born in Bethlehem. A community of Jews who lived in Israel. He looked a lot more like the terrorists we see on television every once in a while than he looks like me. Dark haired. Olive skinned. Probably large nosed. Middle eastern. Israeli native. Jew. So what kind of prejudice do you need to overcome when you think about Haman’s hatred of the Jews because of Mordecai.
Well, let’s move on to King Xerxes. What a guy. No one could come into his throne room unless he invited them. If he doesn’t raise his scepter and you walk into the room, his guard immediately run you through with a spear. Great guy. He banished his first queen because she wouldn’t dance in front of a bunch of drunken guests. Yep, put him on the list of folks most likely to invite your next party. Oops, scratch that.
He picks his next wife by sleeping with the most beautiful women in the kingdom and that’s the best criteria he can come up with to find his next queen. He must have spent a lot of time coming up with a good list of things he wanted in his next queen before he started on this quest for the right virgin girl. Right.
Now take a look at his kingdom. He trusts this guy Haman with everything. He probably knows little about his character or he wouldn’t put him in charge. But because King Xerxes doesn’t seem to know anything about being a king, only a bored bully, he lets Haman do whatever he wants and in his boredom, gives him his signet ring and tells him to just go write whatever he wants to get rid of the race that seems to be pestering him. Great analysis went into his decision making, I’m sure.
Even the king’s decision to have Haman hung was pretty flighty when you really look at it. There was no defense. No question. No chance for Haman to tell the king he was pleading with Esther for her help in calming the king and helping him out of this situation. He had no chance to tell the king he didn’t have any untoward feelings for Esther and only touched her couch to beg her forgiveness.
The king flew off the handle. He didn’t stop to think. He didn’t seek any explanation. He assumed he knew what was going on when he really didn’t. He thought he was smart enough to know everything about everything because he was king. So Haman had an immediate trial with the king as judge and jury. Haman had no chance to appeal. He was immediately sentenced to die. King Xerxes needed some anger management classes in the worst way.
Know anyone like that? Know anyone that goes from zero to ten in a flash without thinking? Know anyone that decides the worst about something without really knowing what’s happening? Just flies into a rage because? King Xerxes may have been different in that he had the power of life and death at his fingertips as king, but we can just as easily destroy someone’s life with our words or actions when we act as this king did. We can destroy relationships in a flash when we decide we know everything about a situation when we really know nothing about what is going on and we completely misinterpret the circumstance surrounding us.
The book of Esther has some great lessons for us. All the players teach us monumental truths about how to live or how not to live. Haman and the king certainly give us the negative side. Pay attention to them, though. If we don’t pay attention to history and understand what happened and why, we are bound to repeat it. With the tension abounding in our political processes right now, we need to go back and take a look at our history books. 1860 to 1865 were not good years for us. We don’t need to repeat them, but we are getting really close if we don’t get on our knees and ask for God’s help.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.