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Esther 6

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, JUNE 21

SCRIPTURE:  ESTHER 6

As the story of Esther continues, it is easy to think badly of Haman.  He was, after all, a bad man who has despicably planned the annihilation of God’s people.  He was also an arrogant man who allowed his pride to dictate his behavior.  It really is easy not to like this guy.

But we must always remember that God loved Haman as much as He loves me or you.  Indeed, the work of God behind the scenes in this remarkable story could be seen in a couple of ways.  One, God was at work to protect His chosen people.  Two, God was at work increasing the pressure on Haman with the goal of Haman finally collapsing under that weight and repenting.  In Ezekiel 33:11 God said, “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

It is important that we see the story of Haman through the lens of Ezekiel 33:11.  We should also see the story of all humanity through that same lens.  Regardless of how bad, how evil, how ruthless a person may be, Jesus died for that one so that he/she could be saved.

Without trying to belabor the point, we should be thankful for the incredible salvation God has given us.  But we should never use our salvation as some sort of proof that God likes us more than He does others or that we are somehow better than others because we have been saved.

Now, perhaps, I should get on to verse one.  As the chapter opens, King Ahasuerus can’t sleep.  He decides the best cure for his insomnia is to have one of his aides read from one of the books that chronicled his reign.  Of all the books the aide could have pulled from the shelf and from all the places in that book that the aide could have chosen to read from, he chose a book that chronicled what had happened some five years earlier and the page that he read from pointed to how Mordecai had saved the king’s life but had never been rewarded for that.

There are some who would read this part of the story and be amazed at all the “coincidences” of it.  But looking at this through a Biblical lens simply points to the unmistakable sovereignty of God and His ability to work through anybody he chooses to work through to accomplish His plan.

Without retelling the story, it is obvious that Haman was convinced he was the one who was going to be honored.  But in the great irony of God’s handiwork, Haman ends up leading Mordecai not to the gallows but through the streets of the city proclaiming to all that Mordecai was being honored by the king in a most special way.

There are a couple of other things that I want to point out before we finish our time on this chapter.  One, in verse 10, King Ahasuerus referred to Mordecai as a Jew.  In other words, by this point the king knew Mordecai was a Jew which meant that Mordecai fell under the edict that the king had signed to put all Jews to death.  This is an interesting turn of events that I can offer no answer for.  Either the king had forgotten his edict or he temporarily set it aside to honor a man who had saved his life.  Regardless of what is going on here, God is still at work.

The second thing is what Haman’s friends said to Haman at the end of verse 13.  This does not indicate that the friends were experts in Jewish history or prophecy.  It is, once again, indicative that God can use whomever He chooses.  Here we have a group of unbelievers speaking great, prophetic truth.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Esther 5

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20

SCRIPTURE:  ESTHER 5

Psalm 7:14-16 are almost prophetic of Haman: “He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment.  He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made.  The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.” (Psalm 7:14-16, NIV)  Although we will not see this fulfilled in this story for a couple of more chapters, this is where the story is most certainly headed.  Regardless of how much power or influence Haman thought he had, this entire narrative is headed toward a divinely orchestrated ending that proves God’s eternal plan is really the only plan.

You might remember that yesterday’s chapter ended with the Jewish people fasting for three days and three nights.  Since Biblical fasting always includes prayer, we can rightly assume that all those who were fasting were praying. 

We should never negate the importance and power of fasting and praying but at some point someone has to act.  As we read in the Book of James, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20, NKJV)  After calling for this fast, at some point Esther had to act.  She had to do something.  And she did.

She arranged for a special banquet with just the king and his Prime Minister Haman in attendance.  For a man as prideful as Haman, this invitation must have sent his arrogance to new levels.  Not only was he invited to the banquet with just the king, he was also invited into the queen’s private quarters.  He was privy to some private conversation between the king and his queen, Esther.  And he was invited to the next banquet as well.

On his way home, however, Haman encountered Mordecai who not only refused to bow but this time refused even to stand up.  Haman was infuriated. 

Verses 10-11 give us some interesting insight to Haman.  This verse speaks of “his friends”, “his wife”, “his riches”, “his sons”, and even all of his promotions.  This man lived with himself at the center of his universe. 

As the chapter concludes, his wife and his friends concluded that Haman should make plans to execute Mordecai on gallows that were 75 feet high.  It is unclear whether this structure was to be 75 feet high in itself or was to be built perhaps on the city wall that would make it a total of 75 feet high.  Regardless, it was going to be high enough that everyone in the city would see the execution and know the danger of opposing Haman. 

Another interesting aspect of this is the concept of “gallows”.  Because of our western heritage, our concept of a gallows would be a structure upon which someone would be hanged.  And that could be the reference here.  But the Persians were mean people who had little compassion for their enemies.  As a result, their preferred method of execution was impaling their enemies on a sharp pole where they would die a sometimes slow but always excruciatingly painful death.  In comparison, hanging would have been almost a gift.

Were it not for the fact that we already know the end of the story, we might leave this book at the end of this chapter with the thought that all is lost.  The bad guys are going to win.  But because we know the ultimate end of the ultimate story, we know God is at work.  He is always at work.  And God is the ultimate victor.

 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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