Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Bible's BEAUTY and the BEAST

The end of Esther chapter two takes a twist away from Esther and back to her older cousin, Mordecai. At his position as a gate-keeper, Mordecai hears of a plot to kill the king and he warns Esther, who is now the queen, of what he has learned (v21-22). The plot is found to be true and the culprits are executed. Verse 23 uses the term “gallows”. When we think of gallows today we think of hanging someone with a rope and noose. But in the Persian culture of that day, gallows did not include ropes but long poles on which they would impale the victim and leave him hanging at the top of the pole in the writhing in the air until they died. You can see this mentioned in Ezra 6:11. History tells us that Darius (the father of King Xerxes) impaled over 3,000 men.

Now the end of verse 23 becomes a very important verse. It tells us that the full events of this incident, including Mordecai’s saving of the king’s life, were recorded in the annals of the king. Though that may seem somewhat insignificant, it will come to play a much larger role later in the story. Mordecai’s heroic action that saved the king seemed to him to be totally forgotten. There was no reward. There was no verbal praise. No “Thank you.” Not even an “Atta boy.” It seemed that his good deed had gone unnoticed and unrecognized. How often do we get miffed when our good deed or our action doesn’t get the recognition that we feel we deserved? But remember, even when it seems like we have been forgotten, God remembers. He keeps meticulous records. He is at work behind the scenes. This incident will one day save Mordecai’s own life, Esther's life, and the life of his people. Don’t sweat it when you seem to be forgotten. Sometimes it is the seemingly forgotten events that can turn the entire course of a person’s life.

Once when I preached through Esther years and years ago I called it, “The Bible’s Beauty and the Beast.” In chapter two we were introduced to the beauty of the story. Her name, of course, was Esther. But in chapter three we are now introduced to the Beast in the story. His name is Haman. Many years later a man just like Haman would appear on the scene in our world. His name would be Hitler. The two had much in common.

Chapter three once again begins with the words, “after these events.” Verse seven would tell us that it is now the 12th year of the king’s reign. Just as 4 years passed in between chapters one and two; another five years pass in between chapters two and three. Esther has now been queen for five years and it has been five years since Mordecai’s saving of the king’s life went unrewarded. Now Haman is promoted to second highest position in the land (v1). The position carried with it a decree from the king that all who passed Haman must bow down before him (an act of worship, v2). Mordecai refuses to bow before Haman because as a Jew, Mordecai only worshipped the God of Israel (v2-4). Haman’s pride comes bursting out as Mordecai’s refusal angers him to the point of wanting to kill not just Mordecai, but every Jew in the land (v6). Haman would now put together a diabolical plot to see the entire race of Jewish people, all the way to Palestine, wiped off the face of the earth. And if he succeeds, it would also destroy the line of the Messiah that would ultimately be used to bring Jesus into this world to die for our sins.

Join us at Grace Church this Sunday (8:30; 10; 11:30) to hear the next chapter in this amazing story. If you can't be with us here in Lititz, watch our live stream on the web at 10am (

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