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Esther 4

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, JUNE 19 

SCRIPTURE:  ESTHER 4

As the chapter opens, Mordecai learned about what Haman had done and how he had convinced the king to sign what appeared to be an irrevocable edict to annihilate the Jewish people.  What we know historically (not Biblically) is there were literally millions of Jews scattered throughout the Medo-Persian Empire.  Even if the Jewish people fled the capital city, where would they go?  After all, Israel was under the rule of this particular empire as was all of the territory between India and Ethiopia (Esther 1:1).

Mordecai’s solution to this was to put on sackcloth and throw ashes on himself.  This was a symbol of either great repentance or great grief.  In this case, it was almost certainly grief.  But he did not grieve in solitude.  He chose a most public place to express his grief.  One of the effects of this public grief is it was evidence to the entire city that Mordecai was a Jew. 

After Esther found out about her cousin, she sent one of servants, Hathach, to go find out what was going on.  Part of what Mordecai told Hathach (see the very end of verse 8) pointed to the fact that Esther was a Jewess and would undoubtedly be killed in the carrying out of the edict. 

Mordecai’s plea was for Esther to talk to the king about this.  Esther’s reply was she couldn’t just rush in to talk to the king because that would mean certain death for her.  This shouldn’t be taken as an excuse not to get involved.  Instead, it is simply a statement of fact. 

As the chapter closes we encounter what are probably the best known statements of this book.  The first one is “for such a time as this”.  The second is “if I perish, I perish”.

There are some important principles that we should consider before we move on to the next chapter.  The first one is God is more than able to use whoever He chooses to accomplish His great and perfect will for His people.  Throughout the Bible, we see Him using what is often nameless people as important participants in His plan.  Also, throughout the Bible we see Him using what we would surely consider rather obscure characters to advance His plans and purposes.  Hatrach is a great example of this.  He had no idea what important role he was playing in this drama.  And although people like Ahasuerus and Haman as well as Esther and Mordecai undoubtedly get first billing in this story, there is Hatrach being used by a sovereign God to accomplish a great work.

The second principle is we should remember that God’s plan is going to be fulfilled.  His sovereign power is insurmountable.  No one can circumvent what He will do.  Even when it looks like the odds are against Him and everything is moving in a direction that is opposed to Him, His plan is still in place.

The third principle is the nation of Israel was and still is God’s chosen people.  Throughout the centuries there have been many attempts to destroy the Jewish people.  Although millions of Jews have in fact been executed, God has and will always protect a remnant of Jewish people from which the nation will grow again. 

The fourth principle is that Esther’s statement of “If I perish, I perish” is not fatalism.  It is a statement of trusting God – His plan is more important than our physical life on this earth.  And if we are martyred for our faith, we have taken a good and right stand on our faith.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Esther 3

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, JUNE 18

SCRIPTURE:  ESTHER 3

Today we are introduced to another major character in the story of Esther.  His name is Haman.  The Bible makes a point of telling us that he was an Agagite. 

This identification connects Haman with the Amelekites.  Back during the days of the Exodus, their king was named Agag.  As the people of Israel were moving through the wilderness, Agag led his army to attack the weary Jewish people in the rear ranks of the marching nation. 

In retaliation, Joshua attacked the Amelekites and won a great victory.  Later, after the times of the Judges, King Saul was commanded to wipe out the Amelekites.  Although he had an opportunity to do that, he failed.  His failure not only cost him his crown but also his life. 

Because Saul failed in his attempt to annihilate the Amelekites, we now have a descendent of that people who is about to be moved into the second most powerful position in the Medio Persian Empire.

As you read the story, there is a small detail that you must catch.  The king had to command everybody to bow down to Haman.  Normally, people in that culture would have bowed immediately.  The fact that the king had to command this gives us some insight into what others must have thought about Haman. 

In Proverbs 6:16-19, the Bible tells us seven things God hates: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.  We will see throughout this chapter and the rest of the book that Haman was guilty of all seven.  He was not a nice man.

Interestingly enough, Mordecai refused to bow before Haman.  Even after some of the other officials tried to convince Mordecai to bow, he refused.  When pressed for his reason for not bowing, he revealed that he was a Jew.  It was not wrong for a Jewish person to bow before a king or ruler or government official.  That happens throughout the Old Testament.  And even today, when we show respect to a government official we are, in some way, bowing.  So, we have to ask ourselves why Mordecai’s being a Jew was the reason he wouldn’t bow.

It may very well have been because of Haman’s ancestry.  Mordecai would have known the story of the Amelekites.  And perhaps this was his method of standing against the sworn enemy of Israel and standing against the people that God had set aside for annihilation. 

Regardless of Mordecai’s reason, the result of his stand had widespread ramifications.  Haman didn’t just take out his anger on Mordecai.  He used this situation as an opportunity to annihilate all of the Jewish people in all of the precincts that made up the Medio Persian Empire.  Haman got King Ahasuerus to by into his devious plot and the stage was set for the destruction of the Jewish people.

Throughout Jewish history there have always been people and other nations that were bent on destroying Israel.  The Jews have face withering persecution, mistreatment, and unimaginable difficulty.  But there has always been a remnant of God’s chosen people saved through even the worst treatment.  The commentator J. Vernon McGee used to say, “The Jew has attended the funeral of every one of the nations that tried to exterminate him.”  And so it is.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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