You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.
“The Jews were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere. In every province and city, wherever the king’s decree arrived, the Jews rejoiced and had a great celebration and declared a public festival and holiday. And many of the people of the land became Jews themselves, for they feared what the Jews might do to them.” – Esther 8:16-17 NLT
The wicked Haman has plotted to annihilate all the Jews living in Persia. He has convinced the king to issue a decree declaring a day on which every man, woman and child of Hebrew heritage will be killed. Mordecai informs Queen Esther of the plan and encourages her to do whatever she can to help stop it. Esther, knowing the risks to her own life, agrees to go before the king, even though it means she must reveal to him for the first time that she too is a Jew.
In the meantime, the king has insomnia one night and in an attempt to make himself drowsy, has his attendants read to him out of a book containing the history of his reign. While doing so, they happen to read how Mordecai foils an attempted assassination plot on the king. When Xerxes discovers that nothing had been done for Mordecai, he decides to ask Haman for advice. When the king asks Haman, “What should I do to honor the man who truly pleases me?” (Esther 6:6 NLT), Haman mistakenly thinks the king wants to honor him. So he comes up with the perfect idea. “…he should bring out one of the king’s own royal robes, as well as a horse that the king himself has ridden—one with a royal emblem on its head. Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. And let him see that the man whom the king wishes to honor is dressed in the king’s robes and led through the city square on the king’s horse. Have the official shout as they go, ‘This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!’” (Esther 6:8-9 NLT). The king loves Haman’s idea and instructs him to put it immediately into effect, commanding him to do everything he suggested – for Mordecai – Haman’s enemy! As a result, Haman is humiliated.
But wait, it gets worse for Haman. He is invited back to the palace for a second banquet hosted by Esther for he and the king. This time Esther reveals Haman’s plot and that her own life is at risk because she too is a Jew. The king leaves the room in a rage, only to walk back in and see Haman begging Queen Esther to spare his life. To the king it appears as if Haman is accosting the queen right there in the royal palace. This seals Haman’s doom and he is impaled on the very pole he had had erected in his own courtyard and on which he had planned to murder Mordecai. His property is given to Queen Esther and the king’s signet ring, which Haman had worn, is given to Mordecai. And in an attempt to reverse the decree that Haman had convinced King Xerxes to sign, the king gives Mordecai the power and authority to write a new decree giving the Jews permission to defend themselves against anyone who might try to harm them. This second decree is sent throughout the land and the impact of it is significant. The people of Persia not only decide to leave the Jews alone, but many of them convert to Judaism out of fear for what the Jews might do to them.
What had been planned as a plot to destroy the people of God had been used by God to bless them. He had taken the plans of men and used them for His own glory and His peoples’ own good. Haman was no match for God. And Mordecai and Esther were uniquely and divinely positioned to be used by God to accomplish His will on behalf of His people living in the midst of a pagan nation. This story, like all the others in the Bible, is not really about Esther or Mordecai. It is about God. To a Jew reading this historical event, the presence and power of God would have been readily apparent. His hand is all over this story. It was God who planned for Mordecai and his adopted niece to end up as exiles in Babylon. It was God who had arranged for Mordecai to adopt Esther when her parents had died. It was God who predetermined that Esther would become queen. It was God who orchestrated Mordecai’s job working as a gatekeeper at the palace. Every step along the way, God was working behind the scenes, using unlikely individuals like Esther and Mordecai, and ungodly individuals like Haman and Xerxes, to accomplish His divine will. Our God is in control.
Father, why do we doubt You? You have proven over and over again Your ability to control circumstances and accomplish Your will in the face of the greatest challenges and odds. Sometimes we have a hard time seeing Your hand at work. The situation can look dire and the prospects bleak, but we need to continue to remind ourselves that You are not done yet. And we need to remember that You have chosen to work through people like us. So help us to see what it is that You might want us to do to make a difference. Never let us lose hope. It is never too difficult or too late for You to work. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men