Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Esther Pt 3

Coming back to our study of the Book of Esther, I remind you that the theme of the book is the Sovereignty of God. Throughout the story God is accomplishing His purposes through incidental moments that seem to have no significance other than moving the story along. Yet, within each incident is a piece of a puzzle, only God knows where it fits and how many pieces it will take to complete the picture. 

What’s at work is: Prov 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.   

What’s interesting about that proverb, it doesn’t matter whether the man is a believer or a non-believer, a follower of the principles of God or a heathen, a Christian or a non-Christian. Through the manifest sovereignty of God, God can accomplish, through whomever He chooses, whatever helps fulfill His purposes. He can use any circumstance or situation at any time, instantly, along the way, or in the distant future to bring about His greater good. Bottom line: God will do what God will do.  

Thus far in our story, Ahasuerus, King of Persia, has dethroned his wife Vashti, gone to war with Greece and got defeated, discovered and married Esther, who is now queen. Also Mordecai moved into a position of influence. In all of this we saw God’s hand moving certain people, positioning them, to be in the right place at the right time. 

Esther 3:1-2 After these events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him. All the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage.   

It’s important to the story to go back in history a bit to better understand Haman’s heritage.  

I find ancestry an interesting pastime. Since I had my DNA processed to search my family lineage, I have had many discoveries of relatives I had no idea existed. Obviously, many of those are in the third to fifth cousin realm and I’ll never meet them, but I’m amazed that I have a family connection to thousands of people I don’t know.  

At first when I got my results back, they came with a bag of acorns and a note saying, “We think, in the interest of the betterment of society, you need to forget the past and just start over.”  

Realize, each person is the product of one couple. Each couple comes from two sets of parents. Those parents come from four sets of parents. Those four from eight. The further you go back, the more the branches of the tree spread out. Each branch is its own legacy. So, we back up to ten generations and thousands of people can claim the same tenth generation grandparents. Each one a direct descendent, having followed a different branch to get there from here. 

Haman is a direct descendent of Agag the Amalekite. Now the Amalekites were a thorn in the side of Israel throughout the conquering of the Holy Land. They were a warring people living in the southern desert region of Israel.  

They were distant cousins, both coming from the tree of Abraham. Abraham had a son Isaac. Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Jacob became Israel. Esau was the father of Edom, and the grandfather of Amalek. But even though they were family, the Amalekites had turned hostile toward the nation of Israel. So, God made a judgement against them:   

Deut 25:17-19 Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall come about when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.  

Samuel made this command personal to Saul, the first king of Israel. 

 1Sam 15:1-3 Then Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.' 

1Sam 15:9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.   

However, it must be assumed that some escaped because, several hundred years later, we have a twig from the branch of the tree of Agag ending up in Persia. But, with even one fiber of the strand of the Amalekites remaining, the prophetic command Moses gave remained to be fulfilled. So, add that to the story of Esther.  

Esther 3:3-6 Then the king's servants who were at the king's gate said to Mordecai, "Why are you transgressing the king's command?" Now it was when they had spoken daily to him and he would not listen to them, that they told Haman to see whether Mordecai's reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. 
What causes reactions in some people toward other people? Typically, it is prejudice. Prejudice means:
  1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand and without knowledge, thought, or reason.
  2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
  3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.
Prejudice is basically an ingrained opinion for or against something or someone. Watch how it manifests itself in Haman’s life.  

Obviously, Haman’s ego was bruised when Mordecai the man refused to bow. But he went into rage when he found out Mordecai was a Jew. Centuries of prejudicial hatred now consumed him. Haman, like others in history, took his hatred to the extreme to annihilate all the Jews. 

Most hatred comes from preformed opinions, justified because of a damaged history. But in this case, God may be using that hatred. Prov 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.   

As much as it runs contrary to how we think God works, because He is sovereign, God can even use the evil of personal prejudice to accomplish miracles in the lives of His people. 

Esther 3:7-12 In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king's laws, so it is not in the king's interest to let them remain. If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king's business, to put into the king's treasuries." Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. "The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please." Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and it was written just as Haman commanded to the king's satraps, to the governors who were over each province and to the princes of each people, each province according to its script, each people according to its language, being written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring.   

The seal made with the Kings’ signet ring made this an irrevocable declaration. Not even the King himself could change what Haman had done. Sounds like a done deal. Until the greatest words of Scripture come in: But God... Prov 21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. 

Esther 3:13-15 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder. A copy of the edict to be issued as law in every province was published to all the peoples so that they should be ready for this day. The couriers went out impelled by the king's command while the decree was issued at the citadel in Susa; and while the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was in confusion. 
This is scheduled for a year later, but for now, let’s look at the patience of God. Though the city was in a panic, and Jews throughout the empire were distraught, God had everything under control. Someone said: If you can remain calm at a time like this you do not understand the severity of the crisis.  

The natural response to a crisis moves from shock, to disbelief, fear, confusion, then to panic. But the unnatural response, the spiritual response, is different, it moves from shock, to belief, hope, trust, then peace. Those who know God is at work respond differently in a crisis. Those who are not convinced God is at work will react like those who don’t know Him.  

Ps 33:10-22 The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. 13 The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; 14 from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, 15 He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works. 16 The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. 17 A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. 18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, 19 to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. 22 Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.  

Nothing ever takes God by surprise. Nothing happens that catches Him unprepared. It can never be said that, “God never saw this coming.” Whatever the crisis is, it comes with the plan God will use to get us through.  

So, if God is patiently doing what’s best, faithful at all times, working constantly behind the scenes, consistently accomplishing good on our behalf, what should that produce in us? 

Patience to wait on His outcome:
  • Patience is the ability to sit back and wait for the outcome without experiencing anxiety, tension, fear or frustration.
  • Patience is the ability to remain calm in the midst of turmoil because you know God is in control.
  • Patience is the ability to let go of our needs for immediate gratification and be willing to wait for God’s best.
  • Ps 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Dont set a timer for God to work. Don’t try to hand God puzzle pieces you want in the picture. Let Him accomplish His purposes His way and on His time schedule.
  1. It is not our faith that makes God accomplish what’s best for us, it is His faithfulness.
  2. Without faith, we will not see Him at work, trust Him or patiently await the outcome He intends, but that won’t stop Him.
  3. It is to our advantage to settle the matter of God’s goodness in our lives now, so that when we enter a crisis, we do so in faith not fear.
  4. Peace comes when we no longer carry the burden of the outcome. Let Him carry it for you.

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