Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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ENTERED: November 26, 2014
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Scripture Passage

        Esther - Chapter 03 (Contemporary English Version)
      1. Later, King Xerxes promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha to the highest position in his kingdom. Haman was a descendant of Agag,
      2. and the king had given orders for his officials at the royal gate to honor Haman by kneeling down to him. All of them obeyed except Mordecai.
      3. When the other officials asked Mordecai why he disobeyed the king's command,
      4. he said, "Because I am a Jew." They spoke to him for several days about kneeling down, but he still refused to obey. Finally, they reported this to Haman, to find out if he would let Mordecai get away with it.
      5. Haman was furious to learn that Mordecai refused to kneel down and honor him.
      6. And when he found out that Mordecai was a Jew, he knew that killing only Mordecai was not enough. Every Jew in the whole kingdom had to be killed.
      7. It was now the twelfth year of the rule of King Xerxes. During Nisan, the first month of the year, Haman said, "Find out the best time for me to do this." The time chosen was Adar, the twelfth month.
      8. Then Haman went to the king and said: Your Majesty, there are some people who live all over your kingdom and won't have a thing to do with anyone else. They have customs that are different from everyone else's, and they refuse to obey your laws. We would be better off to get rid of them!
      9. Why not give orders for all of them to be killed? I can promise that you will get tons of silver for your treasury.
      10. The king handed his official ring to Haman, who hated the Jews, and the king told him,
      11. "Do what you want with those people! You can keep their money."
      12. On the thirteenth day of Nisan, Haman called in the king's secretaries and ordered them to write letters in every language used in the kingdom. The letters were written in the name of the king and sealed by using the king's own ring. At once they were sent to the king's highest officials, the governors of each province, and the leaders of the different nations in the kingdom of Xerxes.
      13. The letters were taken by messengers to every part of the kingdom, and this is what was said in the letters: On the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month, all Jewish men, women, and children are to be killed. And their property is to be taken.
      14. King Xerxes gave orders for these letters to be posted where they could be seen by everyone all over the kingdom. The king's command was obeyed, and one of the letters was read aloud to the people in the walled city of Susa. Then the king and Haman sat down to drink together, but no one in the city could figure out what was going on.
      15. (SEE 3:14)


Esther - Chapter 03

Entered: November 26, 2014

Five years passed since Esther was made queen and Mordecai saved the king's life by reporting an assassination plot. Chapter 3 brings us to the central point in this story of Esther and when we see what is at stake and the forces at work we are prompted to wonder if these events are as much a battle between God and Satan as between the Jews and their enemies.

The occasion of this chapter is the promotion of one of King Ahasuerus' officials, Haman, to a position second in command to himself. King Ahasuerus, in this promotion of Haman, set in motion events for which God, in His providence, had brought Esther to the throne as queen. Reflection on these events causes one to recognize that when we are submitting to God's direction in our lives we should never presume the events of our lives to be without purpose no matter how routine and unmeaningful they may appear to be. Certainly Esther must have wondered for what purpose she had so amazingly been made queen. Then five years went by in which seemingly nothing was happening and she must have doubted that there was any special purpose at all. That her ascension to queen was merely coincidence. This reflection on God's providential hand in making Esther queen is but one side of the story.

The other side of the story comes to light with the promotion of Haman the Agagite. This identification of Haman as an Agagite is thought by many to indicate that he was a descendant of Amalekite kings. If this is accurate, the book of Esther can be seen as another battle in the perpetual war God proclaimed against the Amalekites in Exodus 17:16, "my hand is lifted up toward the LORD's throne. The LORD will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation." On a larger scale, the account of Esther can be seen as a battle between God and Satan. As God was guiding the placement of Esther as queen, Satan was guiding the king in his promotion of Haman.

With Haman's promotion to second in command in Persia, eveyone was instructed to bow down to him, a command which Mordecai refused to obey based on his Jewish ethnicity and that he bowed to only one - the Lord. Mordecai's failure to bow was eventually brought to Haman's attention and he was enraged. If these were mere circumstantial events Haman would have simply dealt with Mordecai and his disobedience to the law. But driven by forces beyond himself, Haman elevated this to a much larger scale, making it a vendetta against the whole Jewish race. He took his case to the king, telling him, "There is one ethnic group, scattered throughout the peoples in every province of your kingdom, yet living in isolation. Their laws are different from everyone else's, so that they defy the king's laws. It is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them." (3:8) He didn't even mention Mordecai. If the Jews throughout every province of Persia were to be killed, this would include Palestine, the home of the Jews. This proposal of Haman's would have meant total annihilation of the Jewish people.

So Haman, no doubt driven by Satan, proposed to deal with Mordecai's failure to bow to him by annihilating the Jews. If anything so preposterous makes sense, one should be fearful of Satan's influence over them. Before Haman took his proposal to the king, he cast lots ("Pur was cast") to determine when his plan to kill the Jews should be carried out. Again, we see God's hand at work as the lots fell on a date a year in the future allowing time for Haman's plot to be thwarted. King Solomon, in his writing of the book of Proverbs stated that, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." (Proverbs 16:33)

There is no indication in this account that King Ahasuerus questioned Haman's motives or the wisdom of taking this action. He simply gave Haman his signet ring to authorize implementation of his plan and told him, "The money and people are given to you to do with as you see fit." (3:11) And so the edict was translated into the language of each ethnic group in the various provinces and sent by courier to the officials of every province. Then, as an indication of the king's disinterest in the whole affair and his obliviousness to what he was doing, verse 15 says, "The king and Haman sat down to drink, while the city of Susa was in confusion."

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