Devotional Week 42 Tuesday
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
Ezra 7: 27, 28
“If any good appear to be in our own hearts or in the hearts of others, we must own it was God that put it there and bless Him for it, for it is He that worketh in us both to will and to do that which is good. When princes and magistrates act for the suppression of vice and the encouragement of spirituality, we must thank God that put it into their hearts to do so as much as if they had granted us some particular favor.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.”
Esther 5: 9
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“He Won’t Bow So I’ll Get Even”Part 39
“Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (berating), but on the contrary blessing, praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them: For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing from God – that you may obtain a blessing as heirs.”
1 Peter 3: 9
The Apostle Peter
Has there been a time in my life when I felt like taking revenge upon someone who did evil to me?
“Revenge is often like biting a dog because the dog bit you.”
In what ways in my own life have I found out it is wiser to follow the words of Jesus to “love your enemies”?
“There is no passion of the human heart that promises so much and pays so little as revenge.”
Henry Wheeler Shaw
“Retribution has no place in the life of any Christian.”
The banquet was over and Queen Esther had invited the monarch of Medo-Persia, along with the chief of the princes, Haman, to return the following night for another feast.
Nothing could have infused Haman with more happiness. In fact, in Esther 5: 9, we read that Haman went forth from the queen’s residence “joyful and with a glad heart” or as the Hebrew translation enlightens us, Haman was “merrily rejoicing” and of a “favorable” heart. You and I may have a mental picture of the royally robed Haman skipping along, whistling as he contemplated bragging to his family and friends about the success that had enveloped his entire life.
But then something happened that, shall we say, put a damper upon Haman’s jolly spirit. As he walked past the king’s gate, who should he run into but the plague of his life – Mordecai the Jew. This fellow Mordecai had been like a splinter under the skin of Haman ever since King Ahasuerus had promoted Haman to chief among the princes of the land.
If we return to Esther 3, we are met with the fact that after his elevation in government status, “all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him” (Esther 3: 2, K.J.V.).
However, in Esther 3: 2, the last sentence leaves us with this message: “But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.” And I couldn’t help but ask myself, “why did Mordecai act with such bold disobedience to the king’s order?”
The informative commentary on the book of Esther, written by Samuel Wells aided my thought process by pointing out the historical background that may well have led to Mordecai’s behavior. As Wells explains, “Haman was not a Mede or a Persian. He (was) an Agagite. Thus one could take Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman as a statement that there could be no way that an Agagite could be a suitable first minister for the empire. This assumes that what (was) good for the Jews amounts to what was truly good for Persia, an assumption that runs throughout the narrative.”
Taking this particular idea one step further, in Esther 3: 3, Mordecai was warned by other of the king’s servants, which also served at the gate, that his “transgression” of the king’s command could easily have repercussions! Thus Mordecai was not uninformed regarding the fallout his actions could cause. However, bowing as a Jew before a “relative” of the Amalek nation, was for Mordecai, a step too far! Even with the resulting consequence of death looming over Mordecai. And here is where Mordecai’s conduct didn’t just affect his life, but that of all the Jews residing in Medo-Persia.
To just lay hands on Mordecai, from Haman’s perspective was a waste of time. Now that Haman’s rank in the government of Medo-Persia had been elevated to an exalted level in his own eyes, his revengeful behavior against the thorn in his side was extended to all the Jews in the entire country. As author Wells writes: “Haman would stop at nothing to wreck maximum destruction and achieve permanent transformation on account of one stain on his honor – a stain he had not noticed before it was brought to his attention…Haman portrays what power means without God. There is no larger narrative that guides Haman then how to direct and channel his power; it serves only one purpose – to inflate his honor.”
In the end, a night that brought merriment and a joyful spirit, was wiped out by Haman’s passion to get revenge against Mordecai and anyone attached to him. Sadly, harboring his boat at the dock of revenge completely blinded Haman to any other possibility for a resolution other than the death of his enemies. As Wells points out, “Not content to be first minister, Haman gradually assembled all that he would need to become king.”
And actually, this was his long-term desire! With a proud look and revenge in his heart, Haman’s plans for Medo-Persia may have looked to him as a plan for his own success. Too bad he never stopped to realize that God was on the throne. And He ruled the nations. He already had ordered His purpose for the future of Medo-Persia. Haman’s problem was that he was so busy getting revenge he failed to notice the God of heaven and earth.
In a poem entitled, “A Nation’s Strength,” legendary American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson asked the question: “What makes a nation’s pillars high?” Interestingly, his words apply not only to the book of Esther, but to us today. For even though God’s name isn’t mentioned in this fascinating book – God’s purposes led by providential care are woven throughout every event. I leave you today with these words:
“What makes a nation’s pillar high
And its foundations strong!
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. It’s kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at His feet.
Not gold but only (we) can make
A people great and strong;
Those who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave ones who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly
Thy build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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