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Esther 10: Being a Professional Christian

Wow! There are only three verses in Esther 10, but it gives us a happy ending to Mordecai’s story.

Est 10:3  For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

Mordecai seemed to be able to bridge multiple cultural barriers. It sounds as if he was very high up in the official government and was valuable to the king, but this verse also says that his brethren, the Jewish people, still accepted him. He didn’t have to sacrifice his “Jewish-ness” even though he was part of a government that was not Jewish by nature.

I think that it tells us something about Christianity today. Certainly, as Christians, we probably work for organizations that are not Christian. I’m not saying that they are necessarily bad places, but we might have coworkers or bosses who might not subscribe to our particular belief system.

Notice though that Mordecai did not have to sacrifice any of his beliefs or his culture. He was still accepted by all of his countrymen, and I have to assume that if he deviated too far from being a good Jewish man, he probably would not have been as well loved by his own people.

For some reason, he was able to have a foot in both of these arenas.

I think that he is a really good model for you and me. We can be incredibly involved in our business lives. We can do a very good job even in a secular business. After all, God did not call everyone to work as a pastor or a missionary. We can be highly successful and be an excellent banker or teacher or mechanic.

However, as Christians, there is another level to our success and I would even argue a higher level of moral responsibility. We also want to try to be a good representative of Christianity as we are doing whatever we do. For example, as a banker and a Christian, you would want to make sure that you do business in an ethical way and not cheat people. Non-Christian bankers should probably do that as well, but as Christians, we know that we need to act like that. You can do very well at your job, but you also do things the right way. We are still called to be the light of the world even in our everyday professional lives; that commandment does not stop at the church door.

Mordecai seems to have been able to do that. He was accepted in the non-Jewish world as a professional, and he was still Jewish. It is possible to be in the world but not of the world (of course, would Jesus have commanded it if it was not possible?). It might be hard, but we can work towards being good representatives of Jesus.

I will see you tomorrow in Job!

Esther 8: The Perfect Protection

With Haman out of the picture, the Jewish people were in a much better position in Esther 8. However, Esther knew that more work needed to be done. Previously, Haman’s command to exterminate all of the Jews had gone out all over the kingdom, so now it needed to be reversed. She asked king Ahasuerus to send out another letter reversing that order.

He went farther than that.

Est 8:7  Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.

Est 8:8  Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.

He basically gave Esther and Mordecai free reign to write whatever they wanted and the authority to make it permanent, so here is what they wrote.

Est 8:10  And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:

Est 8:11  Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,

Basically, under this agreement, it seems as if the Jewish people had unlimited self-defense. They did not have the power to initiate violence which is probably a good thing, but they did have the power to protect themselves if anyone came at them.

Of course, as we find out later in the chapter, the Jewish people were really happy and relieved when they find out about this new protection that they had been granted. People like to have the power to defend themselves.

Unfortunately, we can’t protect ourselves from everything even with all of the best laws in the world. With this law in place, the Jewish people were a lot more protected than they had been, but it was definitely not a perfect system. No humans organization can possibly be.

It is a good thing that we have a perfect Shepherd who can offer us perfect protection.

Psa 23:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psa 23:2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Psa 23:3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psa 23:4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psa 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psa 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Esther 6: When God Intervenes

Haman must’ve been getting a little bit frustrated in Esther 6. He had this plan to exterminate all of the Jewish people, and he was going to start with Mordecai. However, I think that we can see divine intervention at work here.

One night, king Ahasuerus was having a hard time sleeping, so he wanted some of their record books to be read to him. It was in those books that he realized that Mordecai was the one who actually stopped the assassination attempt on his life but had never been properly honored for that. He knew he had to make that right.

Est 6:4  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.

Est 6:5  And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.

Est 6:6  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?

Haman was all excited that this honor was going to be for him, so he basically said that they should allow the one who was honored to ride through the street wearing all of the king’s apparel and riding on the king’s horse.

Est 6:10  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.

Haman followed through on his word, but he also became incredibly aware that there was no way he could kill Mordecai at that moment like he had planned back in verse four.

This is going to sound a little bit morbid, but we are kind of like this at times. I am absolutely not saying that we all want to murder an entire group of people, but I am saying that we have a plan, and we get really close to executing that plan. However, God has something else in mind.

Haman was literally outside the king’s chambers ready to condemn Mordecai. His plan could have been completed in five minutes. He was probably getting excited because his plan was just about ready to come to fruition.

However, for some reason, the king could not sleep that night and happened to be reading from the particular book that recorded Mordecai’s heroism. I use the word “happened” as kind of an understatement because I believe there was a lot more at work here than chance.

God’s plan might not always make sense, and its timing might seem questionable. God could have intervened before Haman even started to plot against Mordecai, but for some reason, He waited until this moment to intervene and save Mordecai from death at this particular point.

As Christians, even though I am sure that we don’t plan to do this kind of evil, this should be a wake-up call. We might have a plan, and we might come really close to seeing our plan happen. However, we need to remember that God has a better plan, and that is the one that we really need to try to be following.

Esther 4: Willing to Sacrifice

Naturally, the Jewish people were getting a little bit nervous in Esther 4. The date of their planned extermination was drawing nearer, and they were trying to figure out how they could somehow avoid this terrible thing that was about to happen to all of them.

Being the smart man that he was, Mordecai had an idea.

Est 4:8  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.

Esther was in a position of influence. She had access to the king, and Mordecai knew that the king was really the only one with the authority to alter his own order. Politically, they needed to change his mind in order for any of this to work out.

Unfortunately, when you wanted to see the king, it wasn’t as if you could just walk in.

Est 4:11  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.

I don’t quite know how such a strong penalty ever developed for just entering a room, but that is what Esther had to consider. Was it worth putting her own life in danger to potentially help all of her people? Potentially is a very important word in that sentence because if he decided to kill her, no one would have benefited.

However, here is what she decided by the end of the chapter.

Est 4:16  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.

Quite frankly, this is one of the best expressions of human love in the Bible. Obviously, the love of God rises above all human love, but Esther was willing to put her own life on the line for all of her people. This kind of radical concern for the well-being of others is something that I think we can miss a lot today. We probably all won’t be in a position to stop a genocide, but we can still take this attitude into our lives. We can worry about other people despite the consequences.

Esther is a great example of that and was prepared to give up her own life for many people who she probably had never even met.

Joh 15:13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Esther 3: Faith in Tough Times

In Esther 3, we see part of the reason that Esther might not have wanted to say that she was Jewish. Haman, one of the favorites of king Ahasuerus, could not stand the fact that Mordecai would not bow to him. He was so upset in fact that he asked the king if he could eradicate every Jewish person in the kingdom.

Est 3:8  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.

Est 3:9  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.

Obviously, Haman was really mad at Mordecai, and that is a lot of why he ordered this massacre. However, part of me also thinks that he really must not have liked Jewish people to begin with. If there was indeed this kind of culture at the high levels of government, there is no doubt that must have been a little bit frightening for Esther (which explains a little bit about what I talked about yesterday).

I think that when you read this in the Bible, you might be wondering where God was. You might be wondering why He allowed this kind of hatred to begin to develop. At this point in the chapter, nothing has happened yet in terms of violence, but the Jewish people must have wondered if they were going to be brutally attacked. That is nevertheless a frightening time.

As we will find out, God did not abandon the people, but we have the benefit of hindsight. We know what is going to happen (if you read ahead of me), but the people that had to live entirely by faith.

You know, especially in times like that but really all of the time, it is good that we have a God that loves all of us and never fails. It brings us hope in tough times, and it gives us a solid foundation for that faith.

Heb 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.