Friday, April 29, 2011

The Book of Esther 13

The Book of Esther
Esther 6:10-14

Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.  Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.

And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.  And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.

The City Square
Mordecai had just been in the city square the day before covered with sackcloth and ashes. Hamon is instructed, by the king, to bring Mordecai into the city dressed in kingly apparel, riding the king’s horse, and proclaiming to those in the city, the royal honor due him. The words that Hamon would speak about Mordecai must have been like gravel in his mouth. What a difference a day would make in the lives of Mordecai and Hamon. What Hamon hoped would bring Mordecai down was used to humiliate Hamon which had an adverse affect upon him––nothing he had anticipated or planned happened. What about us, have we planned things in our lives and been greatly disappointed? Did we not know that our God is sovereign and His plan for our lives overrules, overturns and overrides our plans to cause His will to be accomplished? Please know and understand that in the hands of Almighty God, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).”

Advisor to Adversary
Hamon rushes home to his wife and friends having his head covered in shame and humiliation. He explains all that has happened to him and awaits for someone to console or counsel him over his dreadful plight. His wife and friends give him no hope, no recourse, no option to fall back on, their only response, “If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.” His wife and friends have now become his adversary and make it sound as if they had nothing to do with the plot against Mordecai. Their comments are cold and uncaring now that Hamon is in trouble and with heartless disregard they correctly predict his downfall. As Hamon is listening to them give him a dim view of the outcome of his life, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurry Hamon away to the feast Esther has prepared.
Thought: Pride will always bring you down,  A man's pride shall bring him low: and can destroy you; The LORD will destroy the house of the proud (Proverbs 29:23a; Proverbs 15:25a). Are there areas in your life that you are tempted to become arrogant or prideful? If God were to humble you now, is there a situation that He would have to give His unlimited attention to? May you freely and deliberately humble yourself before God, submitting to Him, and resisting Satan, that you, in your humble state, may be given more grace. James 4:6-10 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Book of Esther 12

The Book of Esther
Esther 6:1-9

On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.  And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.

And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.  And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.  So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.

Sleepless in Susa
After the banquet with Queen Esther and Hamon, King Ahasuerus could not sleep and sent for the book of records to be read before him. This book of the chronicles was an accurate account  of events kept by Persian officials that would effect the royal empire as well as the palace. Do you think it was a coincidence that the king couldn’t sleep, or was it the providence of God? A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps (Proverbs 16:9). God, in His sovereignty, overrules the intentions of men to fulfill His purposes. When Daniel was to be thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius was troubled over Daniel’s plight and his sleep fled him. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?  Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.  Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God (Daniel 6:18-23). Sometimes, God, accomplishes His greatest work in the hearts of men while they lay upon their beds in the middle of the night.

The Chronicles of Shushan
There were thousands of items recorded each year in the book of records, but one particular item was overlooked for nearly five years. Mordecai had gone unrewarded for saving the life of the king–– a negative reflection upon the king’s character. Hamon, on the other hand, was up all night planning and plotting, as men were building the gallows to hang Mordecai upon. Hamon came to the palace early that morning after the erection of the gallows, looking to talk to the king about executing Mordecai. The king, hoping someone would be in court early that morning, immediately summonsed Hamon to come into his presence––an unexpected privilege. Hamon had only one thing on his mind that morning, with the king’s approval, he would hang Mordecai. 

The king also had a single interest on his heart; Mordecai, had not been properly honored and he wanted to make this right. The king posed a question to Hamon asking, “What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?” and  Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? Anyone could have made the same mistake Hamon did in thinking he was to be honored that day and the irony lay in what had been happening during the night in the conflicting intentions of both men. Here is a clear illustration of the text that reads, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

Hamon lays out in detail every honor he would be delighted to receive publicly, from the wearing of the royal robe, to the king’s horse he would mount and ride upon. To some, the riding of the king’s horse could have meant Hamon was bidding for the king’s throne but in this event, no such problem emerged. (The crown royal was not for Hamon to wear, but to be placed upon the head of the king’s horse or a top knot formed by the horse’s hair to image a crown––as pictured in ancient remains.) The fact that Hamon was able to make such a list of honors to give to the king immediately, suggests that he must have been thinking about them, if ever he were asked.
Thought:  Hamon never divulged his hatred for Mordecai to the king or that the decree against the Jews was directed towards Mordecai. The love of position was paramount in the life of Hamon along with prestige, influence and earthly treasures. He was blinded by his pride and sought what would satisfied him most. As Christians, we are to seek the things above, where Christ is, and not the pleasures and self-satisfactions of this world.  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Book of Esther 11

The Book of Esther
Esther 5:9-14
Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.  Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king.  Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.  Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.

Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.

Haman’s Arrogance 
Haman is feeling pretty good about himself at this point, and excited over the honors that have been unexpectedly bestowed upon him. He’s in good spirits, and has left the palace joyous over the special banquet he attended with the king and queen. Haman didn’t get far when he was again confronted with the presence of Mordecai, seated at the king’s gate. Mordecai’s fast was over and he was again dressed in his usual fine apparel; seated at the king’s gate, a prominent position appointed by the king. As Haman entered the area, Mordecai didn’t stand up or move for him in any way. Though Haman did not react to Mordecai’s adverse response to him, he did later allow his heart to be enraged with anger against him.
Haman’s Anger
Haman returns to his house where friends gathered to hear of his dinner party with the king and queen. His friends are not only his companions, but they will become his council of advisers along with his wife, Zeresh. Haman boasts of his great riches, the multitude of his children, and how he has been promoted above all the officials and servants of the king. Pride has overtaken Haman’s heart causing him to have an unfavorable attitude of animosity towards Mordecai. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. (Psalm 10:4) Haman allows his wife and friends to raise his confidence in the unlawful premeditated killing of Mordecai. “Build a gallows to hang him by,” they said, and then they suggested, “Return to the king tomorrow and request Mordecai be hanged there.” “Yes,” he said, “I like that!” The plan devised in absolute pride and self-gratification, brought Haman considerable pleasure and satisfaction. Instructions were prearranged to build the gallows before Haman would meet again with the king––what unbelievable arrogance he betrayed!
Thought:  Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. (Psalm 73:6)  The sin of pride encompassed Haman like a weighty chain and violence covered him like an article of clothing.  A man given to his own devices will reap destruction, and pride in the heart of man manifests a multitude of vices, causing fellowship with God to be broken. Haman’s life does not prove him to be a believer, but according to scripture, he was acting out his true character, the fallen nature of man. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:  Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known:  There is no fear of God before their eyes (Psalm 3:10-18). The sin of pride is inevitable in those who do not know Christ, but to the believer, the sin of pride can be forgiven, and forsaken. May we as believers walk in humility and newness of life in Christ, renouncing the sin of pride.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Book of Esther 10

The Book of Esther
Esther 5:1-8

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.  And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.  Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.  And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.  Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.  Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is;  If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.

Esther Steps Forward
The time has come for Esther to approach the king with uncertainty of heart and the threat of death emerging. I can only imagine the pressure, anxiety, and anticipation she must have felt prior to her appearance before him. The preparation and planning of this moment, even down to the royal robe she wore, was of the utmost importance and Esther took every precaution in her feminine strategy to fulfill court protocol. Esther now stands before the king seated upon the throne. He peers through the columns of the royal palace and sees Esther in all of her beauty and fine apparel. What will be his response? Will he give acceptance to come forward or will he deny her the right to approach him? The scene is dramatic and gripping as the king extends his golden scepter to Esther, indicating she may step forward to touch the tip of the scepter, this progression symbolizes her acceptance.
The King’s Reply
In all probability, the king must have been surprised at Esther’s unannounced appearance and thought that her request had to be an urgent one to reveal herself before him unexpectedly. The king’s response to her is in the form a question, “What is thy request?” and then declares, “It shall be even given to thee to the half of the kingdom.” This statement was a hyperbole: an exaggerated, overstatement, or embellished proclamation intended to cause an effect or result. Esther, in all her beauty and costly array, summons the king and Haman to a banquet she has prepared for them on this day. Esther’s plan, is to accuse Haman of plotting against her and her people in a conspiracy to destroy them and yet, Haman is unaware of her intentions.

Esther was a brave and daring queen to invite Haman to a banquet as her exclusive guest and to accompanying the king. Her intent was to hold a private meeting with Haman and the king in a much less formal dinner-party and then bring accusations against him. After the meal, the king again requests from Esther her desired petition. Her response to the king was,“If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.”  Esther plans another meal with the king and Haman the following day after discovering, she had not lost favor with her husband, the king. 

Thought: Esther acted in great confidence and yet, God was certainly in control of the entire situation. God used her bold faith, her beauty and her bravery to approach the most difficult challenge of her life with determination and purpose. God gives us the ability to face any trial with the same strength of character as Esther. She fasted and prayed--watched and waited and then with fearless courage, took a course of action only God could design. Are you willing to allow God to design your course in life? He is all knowing, all seeing, and all powerful--who best to construct and fashion your life to His honor and glory.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Book of Esther 9

The Book of Esther
Esther 4:9-17

 And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai; All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. And they told to Mordecai Esther's words. 

Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

The Golden Scepter
Access to the king was under strict control. Everyone knew the influence and power the king held, therefore, every precaution was taken to protect the king from those that would make attempts on his life. Even his wife had no right to come before him without his personal invitation. For thirty days, Esther had not been called to approach or accompany the king. Only those the king knew or welcomed a visit from, would he extend the golden scepter. This protocol was a sign of monarchal authority. Esther sent word to Mordecai of her concerns and perhaps even feared that the king had lost favor with her.
Mordecai’s answer to Esther exhibited great faith in God’s sovereign power to preserve His people. He may have even been reminded of God’s promises to Abraham in which was said, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed Genesis 12:3.” Mordecai strongly implies to Esther that just because of her position and prominence in the royal palace, she would not be excluded or escape the death sentence that was decreed. Esther’s circumstances are exhausting and perplexing but she must now act courageously and fearlessly while exercising great faith.
At the Crossroads
Mordecai helped Esther to realize that she was queen of Persia for a reason, it certainly was no fluke and she needed to cease every opportunity in her influential position, to glorify God. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Esther was living out the truth of the New Testament, not altering her values or allowing the privileged life of luxury in the royal palace to change her principles. Though she was at a crossroads in her life, she pondered what Mordecai had said and in her dilemma, she made a most difficult choice. The words she spoke, “And if I perish, I perish.” provided strength and guidance to those that awaited her response.
Thought: Esther’s reply was also her confession of faith though it was not covered with terms of religious expressions. The duty revealed by Mordecai, filled Esther’s heart with apprehension indicating the seriousness of the hour and the great need for her people to fast. Though the word “prayer” is not mentioned in these verses, it is most obviously implied during this critical time in her life. Queen Esther is not without flaw in her life, but she is a heroine to her people and her acts of bravery are recorded in Scripture for all eternity. Would we be able to take a stand knowing we may die for what is virtuous, right or honorable? Esther gives us a picture of what a principled, exemplary life should demonstrate and God honored her for it.