Monday, July 20, 2009

The Plot Thickens

And the plot thickens. That is what takes place in Esther chapter three. Queen Vashti has been deposed of her royal position. King Xerxes has held a beauty pageant. Esther has gone from Jewish orphan to queen of Persia. Mordecai has saved the king’s life without any recognition or reward. And Haman, evil Haman, has risen to 2nd highest position in all the land. This position brought with it an edict from the king that all who passed by him must bow before him. Mordecai, who will bow to no one but the God of Israel, refuses. Haman has become so angry that he desires not just to kill Mordecai but to exterminate every Jew on the face of the earth. And now, as we continue in chapter three of this book that never even mentions the name of God, we see Haman’s diabolical plot set in motion.

In verse seven, Haman appeals to the superstition of his time to pick through the process of lots his “lucky day” to set for his Anti-Semitic plan to exterminate all Jews in the land. He then goes before the king and deceives him into thinking that there is a group of people who aren’t just refusing to obey him but who have become a threat to his kingdom (v8). He doesn’t even mention who the group of people are and the king is either apathetic enough, or trusts Haman enough, that he doesn’t bother to ask their identity either.

Haman’s advice to the king is to hire out the job of killing all the Jews (v9). Haman himself offers to pay a reward of silver out of his very own pocket. The amount of this reward is staggering…10,000 talents of silver. Persia used silver as their monetary standard. 10,000 talents would be the equivalent of 375 tons of silver. Now let me give you a dollar amount so that you could put it into perspective. One ton of silver today is worth $37,704.84. This would put the value of 375 tons of silver at roughly $14,139,315 by today's standards. Now Haman was very rich but I’m not sure even he could afford that sum. I think it is safe to assume that his plan was to use all the loot confiscated from the Jews after they were killed to pay these assassins.

This plan was quite extensive. The massacre would be carried out all the way to Palestine which was part of the Persian Empire under Xerxes. The king believes in Haman and gives him total authority to carry out the plan seen in his giving him his ring (v10-11). Though the edict was signed in the first month of the year, due to the result of the lot, it was not to be carried out until the 12th month. It would seem that the Jews would live in misery for nearly a year knowing what awaited. Why would this be agony for the Jews? Because this execution included all Jews…young and old, women and children.

But though you do not see His name mentioned, don’t overlook God working behind the scenes. Proverbs 16:33 tells us that “The lot is cast in the lap but every decision is from the Lord.” So who really determined when this “D-Day” would take place? It was God. He had a plan. He was working behind the scenes then just as He is now. So Haman has all the royal papers drawn up, sealed, and distributed through the kingdom resulting in even non-Jews being perplexed by the announcement of this plot intent on killing all Jews (v12-15).

Tomorrow we will see two lessons that we should learn from the unveiling of this diabolical plot.

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