Monday, August 03, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

As we saw in last week’s blog, Haman, the villain in our study through the book of Esther, has had a very promising day turn very bad (be sure to read last week’s postings for the full story). But as chapter 7 opens, it is about ready to get even worse. At the request of Esther, Haman attends a second banquet with just himself, the king and the queen. For the third time, the king asks Esther to make her request, whatever it is, and it would be granted. Esther passed on the first two opportunities but now she senses that the timing is right. Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for every event under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak. Never underestimate the power of timing.

Esther’s request is that her life and the life of her people be spared. She informs the king that her and her people have been sold to be destroyed and annihilated. The king, having no idea that this had anything to do with Haman, asks who was responsible for this scenario. The queen identifies Haman who the Bible says is “terrified,” a word that means “dumb-founded.” He was shocked as he was in no way expecting this banquet to bring about this declaration. Talk about a bad day…but it is not over yet. The king is so outraged that he goes for a walk in his garden to consider what to do. While he is gone, Haman takes this opportunity to plead with Esther to intercede on his behalf. When the king returns and finds Haman fallen before the queen he assumes he is intending to harm her and calls for Haman’s immediate execution, seen by covering his face.

In enormous irony, Haman is hanged (impaled) on the very gallows he had built the night before for Mordecai’s execution. The king then gives all of Haman’s estate to Esther. I wonder what Haman’s wife thought about that. By the way, it was normal for the king to take as his own all of the estate of his deceased enemies. Esther tells the king about her nationality and her adoption and she brings Mordecai before him. Realizing Mordecai’s character and loyalty, the King promotes Mordecai to Haman’s previous position and puts him in charge of Esther’s estate. Realizing the decree against the Jews was still in effect, Esther again goes before the king uninvited asking to reverse the decree. The king reminds Esther of all he has done for her and Mordecai. This was not to say that she was expecting too much but to give her confidence that he would continue to take care of her.

It was impossible for the king to overturn the decree that had been written in the law of the Medes and Persians (see Daniel 6:8, 12, 15). But the king agrees to sign another decree that would in essence nullify the first one and he gives Mordecai the task of writing the decree. So Mordecai sends a letter from the king throughout all the provinces stating that Jews could defend themselves and take for their own the possessions of anyone they kill who was trying to harm them. This second decree written in the 3rd month would give the Jews nine months to prepare before the day of extermination in the 12th month. The results were three-fold. First, Mordecai becomes a hero! Second, all Jews celebrate! Third, instead of killing Jews, people become so respectful of Jews that many of them convert to Judaism themselves. Next week we will see the conclusion of this wonderful story as we get a little taste of the feast of Purim right here at Grace!

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