Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Esther- Chapter 3

Esther 3

-Up until now, everything had been a fairy tale story for Esther and her caretaker-cousin Mordecai, but some evil things were beginning to take place in the plot. After the events of Queen Esther’s marriage to the king and Mordecai’s saving of the king from conspirators, Ahasuerus promoted an Agagite named Haman advancing him and establishing his authority over all the princes of the kingdom. The Agagites were mortal enemies of the Jewish people from ancient times. Prophecy had indicated that there would be perpetual war between Agag, king of the Amalekites (Amalek was a descendant of Esau, for more see, and God’s chosen people as far back as their wilderness wanderings (Exodus 17:8-16, 1 Samuel 15:2-33). The king had commanded all those of his servants at the king’s gate to bow down and pay homage to Haman every time he came through, but Mordecai neither bowed down nor did he pay homage. When asked daily why he transgressed the king’s command, he refused to listen to them and let them know that he was a Jew, which meant bowing to no one other than the LORD (much like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Daniel 3, 6). “When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage (Esther 3:1-5).”

-He disdained to violently attack Mordecai; but because he had been told of Mordecai’s nationality, the wicked Haman sought to destroy all of the Jews throughout the entire kingdom of Ahasuerus. This deal entailed much more than just a vendetta with his personal enemy. In the first month of Nisan (March/April on our calendar), in the 12th year of King Ahasuerus’ reign, Pur (a lot) was cast before Haman every day and from month to month until he deciphered from this practice when the best day would be to carry out his venomous decree. Little did he know he was playing right into the providence of God, for the day of death was actually set for another whole year away. This gave Esther time to make her plea to the king. Purim is the Persian word for lots, which became the name for the holiday of the Jewish people to commemorate this occasion when they were delivered rather than killed as Haman had planned. In the twelfth month of Adar (February/March on our calendar) the Pur finally told him it was time to go ahead with his devious plan. He told the king that there was a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of the kingdom that followed diverse laws from the king and his people. He reiterated that it was not in the king’s best interest to let these people remain and that they should be utterly destroyed. He offered to pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carried out the king’s business of eradicating his enemies for the king’s treasuries. Without thinking too much about this, King Ahasuerus took his signet ring and gave it to Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to sign this proclamation into law. The king said to Haman, “The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please.” By the 13th day of the first month, now in the 13th year of Ahasuerus’ reign, the king’s scribes were summoned to produce this document prescribed by Haman to give to all the satraps, governors, and princes of each province in their own language and script. It was written in the name of the king and sealed with his signet ring as a law of the Medes and Persians, irrevocable and permanent. Letters were sent out by couriers into all the king’s provinces with the message to kill, destroy, and annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, male and female, even the youngest children, in one day, which was the 13th of Adar. They were also to seize their possessions as plunder in this Nazi Germany type of scandal. Copies of this edict were published as a law for all the people of the kingdom so that they would have proper communication and be ready for this day. Haman’s scheme seemed to be shrewd, well thought out, and invincible. As the couriers went out impelled by the king’s command in Susa, and while the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city was in mass confusion with these developments (Esther 3:6-15).

*Application* Courage in the obedience to the things of God will always stir up a ruckus. We can count on that. Had Mordecai bowed down and paid homage to this vile human being, Haman, nothing of note would have happened in Queen Esther’s kingdom. However, he did refuse because this man was not worthy of worship. This amounted to idolatry, and Mordecai was smart enough to recognize it. Also, he was willing to stand up to it even though he genuinely could have predicted an inflammatory reaction. Who knows, he might could have expected death from the outcome of his persistence and bravery. This did not stop him from doing what was right. Now he let people know his identity, and fought the good fight for the LORD without compromise. We need to be like that too in our own day and age. While evil is on the rise, what kind of stand are we willing to take to set us apart from the pagan crowd? Rest assured, when we do, God will come to our aid though there be fire in the offering. Don’t fear the despicable human reaper; rather, fear the God of the harvest (Matthew 3:1-12, Luke 12:4-5).

Verses to Memorize: Esther 3:5, 13

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