Ahasuerus and Esther Part 3
Hello followers of Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team and to all who are reading this message via Facebook and our Website! What a wonderful time to worship our marvelous God!
We’re continuing our series on Couples in the Bible with King Ahasuerus and Esther, Part 3. Our scriptures come from the Old Testament Book of Esther, Chapters Three and Four.
If you missed the last two weeks’ messages, you could read them at Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team's website: www.VoicesOfHope.faith.
As a brief summary, in Esther Chapter One, King Ahasuerus had hosted a celebration for all his princes and nobles in the provinces of his kingdom. Following that celebration, the King hosted a seven-day celebration for the servants of his Palace in Shushan.
On the last day of this celebration the King sent for his Queen, Vashti, to show her beauty to those present. Queen Vashti refused to come, and this infuriated the King. In those days, one did not refuse an order from the King. This refusal was seen as not only an affront to the King, but to all men and could have repercussions from wives throughout the Kingdom. If the Queen didn't have to obey the King, then other wives would no longer obey their husbands.
So, the King, acting on the advice from his advisers, approved for them to issue a royal commandment throughout the Kingdom that Vashti no longer be the Queen and he would give her royal estate unto another that was better than her. The commandment also stated that all husbands would receive proper respect from their wives.
At the beginning of Chapter Two we see that some time has passed, the wrath of King Ahasuerus has subsided; he is remembering Vashti and what was decreed against her. It's time to select a new queen.
In those days, the kings of Persia usually married from the seven most important families in Persia. But that wasn't God's choice for the new queen; God wanted Esther, a Jew, to become queen.
King Ahasuerus' personal servants suggested that the king should order people throughout his empire to find beautiful young virgins from which the king would select his new queen. This idea pleased the king and he issued the order.
The historian, Josephus, wrote that there were 400 ladies the king could choose from and Esther was one of these. Mordecai instructed Esther not to reveal her nationality and family background. Apparently it wouldn't have been favorable for her to do so during those times and circumstances.
The ladies were brought to the palace in Shushan to live and given beauty treatments for 12 months. Then each in turn was brought before the king in the evening and the next morning was sent to another house for women. They wouldn't see the King again unless he sent for her. No one, not even the Queen, could approach the king without being summoned. Esther was chosen as the new Queen and a celebration was held.
At the close of Chapter Two, Mordecai learned of an attempt to assassinate the King. Mordecai told this to Queen Esther who then told the King and gave credit to Mordecai. Upon investigation of this information, the King found this to be true and the would-be assassins were put to death.
Now reading from Esther Chapter Three:
1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.
2 And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.
3 Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?
4 Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.
5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.
6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.
7 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.
8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.
9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.
10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy.
11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.
12 Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring.
13 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
14 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.
15 The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.
And continuing from Esther Chapter Four:
1 When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;
2 And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.
3 And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4 So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not.
5 Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was.
6 So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate.
7 And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them.
8 Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people.
9 And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.
10 Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;
11 All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, 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.
12 And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.
13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.
14 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?
15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
16 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.
17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Heavenly Father, as we've just read in Esther and as we've most likely experienced for ourselves, at times it seems our world is falling apart and it's hard to see Your hand in all that is happening. But we know and believe that You are in control and that You aren't surprised by anything that happens.
Thank You that Your Word tells us that You will never leave or forsake us. Show us what You want us to learn from such situations; help us to trust You with our present, with our future and to remain faithful to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
“In his book 'Brain Rules,' John Medina tells the intriguing story of Dr. Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist, and one of his patients, an elderly woman who 'suffered a massive stroke in the back region of her brain that left her with a most unusual deficit: She lost her ability to pay attention to anything that was to her left.' Medina explains the effect this had on her perceptive abilities:
She could put lipstick only on the right half of her face. She ate only from the right half of her plate. This caused her to complain to the hospital nursing staff that her portions were too small! Only when the plate was turned and the food entered her right visual field could she pay any attention to it and have her fill.
Sometimes I think we’re like this in our spiritual perception. While it’s easy for us to recognize the hand of God on the right, we fail to see Him working on the left. We’re grateful for the clarity of His guidance and the comfort of His blessings but find it difficult to discern His hidden hand during times of discouragement, disappointment, suffering, and trial.”
Chapter Three begins with “after these events,” and Chapter Two ends with Mordecai saving the life of the King, so we might think Mordecai would be rewarded with such a position; but obviously that wasn't God's plan.
Instead, we are introduced to Haman, the Agagite, and learn that he had been promoted to a position second only to the King. The Living Bible refers to Haman's position as Prime Minister and the most powerful official in the empire next to the king himself.
Not being familiar with the term “Agagite,” I researched it and found the following information.
The term Agagite is used in the Book of Esther as a description of Haman. The term is understood to be an ethnonym, that is, a name used to refer to an ethnic group, tribe, or people, although nothing is known with certainty about the people designated by the name. According to Cheyne and Black, this term is used to label Haman, figuratively, as a "descendant" of Agag, the enemy of Israel and king of the Amalekites. Haman, as an Amalekite, is opposed to Mordecai, the descendant of Kish.
I find Haman's promotion interesting as he had not previously been mentioned. He wasn't listed in the seven advisers of the king and the Bible didn't list any accomplishments of Haman.
In verse two, the King had issued a command that the officials and servants would bow down before Haman in reverence, as they did for the King. But Mordecai refused to do so and the reason he gave for not doing so was that he was a Jew. His reason is also interesting to me as previously, Mordecai had told Esther not to reveal her heritage.
Haman didn't notice Mordecai's behavior at first, but the officials did and brought it to Haman's attention. When Haman saw that Mordecai didn't bow before Haman or pay him honor and Mordecai's reason was because he was a Jew, Haman was filled with rage. He devised a wicked plan to do away with not only Mordecai, but all of the Jews throughout the kingdom.
To select a time for this action, casting pur or as The Living Bible describes it, throwing dice, was done in Haman's presence in the first month of the twelfth year of the King's reign. The dice said Haman's lucky day, the day he would be blessed by the gods, would be on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, which was almost a year away.
The King would need to think in the same prejudicial ways as Haman to approve his plan. So, Haman described the Jews to the King as different, disobedient and destructive.
Haman said the Jews thought differently than the King, they had different holidays, different gods, different customs, different values, different foods and different dress.
Haman said the Jews were disobedient. Although not all Jews were disobedient to the King's commands, Haman based his remarks to the King on Mordecai's behavior toward Haman.
Because the Jews were different and disobedient, Haman predicted that the Jews would create problems for the king and the kingdom in the future.
After presenting this “problem” to the King, Haman proposed a solution, eliminate the Jews. Reading from The Living Bible verses 9-11: If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will pay $20,000,000 into the royal treasury for the expenses involved in this purge. The king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his ring from his finger and giving it to Haman, telling him, 'Keep the money, but go ahead and do as you like with these people—whatever you think best.'”
The King's ring at that time was basically the equivalent of a stamp with the king's signature on it. Haman had everything he needed to carry out his plan to eliminate his enemy.
Continuing from The Living Bible in verses 12-15: “Two or three weeks later, Haman called in the king’s secretaries and dictated letters to the governors and officials throughout the empire, to each province in its own languages and dialects; these letters were signed in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with his ring.
They were then sent by messengers into all the provinces of the empire, decreeing that the Jews—young and old, women and children—must all be killed on the 28th day of February of the following year and their property given to those who killed them. 'A copy of this edict,' the letter stated, 'must be proclaimed as law in every province and made known to all your people, so that they will be ready to do their duty on the appointed day.' The edict went out by the king’s speediest couriers, after being first proclaimed in the city of Shushan. Then the king and Haman sat down for a drinking spree as the city fell into confusion and panic.”
Can we see Satan's hand in this? If he could cause all the Jews to be destroyed, then there wouldn't be a Messiah and no possibility of salvation. It looks like evil is winning.
But, as we've said before, God is always working behind the scenes to accomplish His plan. God was setting in motion a plan to save the Jews and would do so through a previously unknown orphaned Jewish virgin, now known as Queen Esther.
At the beginning of Chapter Four, we see that when Mordecai learned about the King's decree, he tore his clothes, put on clothes made of sack cloth, put on ashes, went to the city to the entrance of the king's gate and cried bitterly. Throughout the provinces of the kingdom there was mourning, weeping and fasting.
Esther's maids and chamberlains saw this and told Esther, who was distressed. Esther sent new clothes to Mordecai but he refused to put them on. Esther then sent for Hathach, who had been appointed as her attendant, to find out why Mordecai was acting like that.
Mordecai told Hathach all that the King had decreed, which called for the destruction of the Jews; Mordecai sent a copy of the decree to Esther requesting that she plead with the King for her people.
Esther responded that according to law, anyone who went into the king’s inner court without his summons was doomed to die unless the king held out his gold scepter; the king had not called for her to come to him in more than a month.
Reading Mordecai's reply to Esther in verses 13-17 from the New Living Translation: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Don’t you just love the way our Lord works through those who are considered insignificant in the eyes of the world? He puts them in positions where they can be useful as His instruments, in order to accomplish His plan and purpose for His people.
God has often used unlikely leaders to deliver His people from the evil which society finds itself in from time to time. Who would have thought that a shepherd boy with a sling and a few stones would defeat Israel’s enemy, Goliath, and become the king through whom the Savior would come? Who would have thought that a carpenter’s son from an obscure village would one day become the Savior of the world?
Here, God placed a previously unknown, orphaned, Jewish virgin in the position of Queen to the King who had issued this decree. Would she or wouldn't she do the right thing?
If we should find ourselves as the target of an unjust law or scheme, how would we respond? Would we lament it or ignore it, act gently or violently, set our sights on positive or negative outcomes or would we turn to the Lord for His guidance?
Taking a stand doesn't always sit well with others in our lives. When it's costly to do the right thing, what do we do? Each of us would have to make up our own minds and hopefully would pray, “What would my Lord have me to do?”
Esther made her decision and sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Shushan and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
What a commitment and what courage! Esther surrendered her will to do God’s Will!
Do we see a foreshadowing of Jesus? After He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, there was no doubt in His mind about His mission. “Not my will but Thine be done.”
At the end of Chapter Four we see that Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
What has God got scheduled for each of us? Life can be hard, difficult times happen and pain can't be avoided. We can’t control life, but we can yield control to God. When life doesn’t make sense, I pray that we turn to God, not away from Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
If there is a need in your life, Jesus is the answer. If you have never trusted Him in salvation, He stands ready to forgive, save, and restore. There’s no better time than now to repent, turn to God and respond to His grace.
No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, because of God's grace you can be saved.
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10 & 13:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
It's that simple.
If you’ve known God but walked away from His call on your life to do your own thing, then it’s time to stop in your tracks and repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. Tomorrow may be too late.
May you be blessed in Jesus' Name.