November 20, 2015

Esther 3-6
Some time later Xerxes promoted Haman...making him the highest ranking official in government.  All the kings servants at the King’s gate used to honor him by bowing down and kneeling before Haman - that’s what the king had commanded.  Except Mordecai.   Day after day they spoke to him about this but he wouldn’t listen.....When Haman saw for himself that Mordecai didn’t bow down and kneel before him, he was outraged... Haman looked for a way to eliminate not just Mordecai but all Jews throughout the kingdom...

In the 5th month, the twelfth year of Xerxes, the pur, or lot, was cast under Haman’s charge to determine the propitious day and month.  The lot turned up the 13th day of the 12th month.  Haman then spoke to the king, “There is an odd set of people scattered through the provinces of your kingdom who don’t fit in....Worse, they disregard the king’s law.... If it pleases the king, let orders be given that they be destroyed.  I’ll pay for it myself....”Go ahead” the king said to Haman.  “It’s your money--do whatever you want with those people.”....Bulletins were sent out by couriers to all the king’s provinces with orders to massacre, kill, and eliminate al the Jews...on a single day - 12/13 - and to plunder their goods....The king and Haman sat back and had a drink while the city of Susa reeled from the news.  

When Mordecai learned what had been done, he ripped his clothes to shreds and put on sackcloth and ashes.  Then he went out into the streets of the city crying in loud and bitter cries....Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her.  The queen was stunned...

Esther called for Hathach, one of the royal eunuchs, and told him to go to Mordecai and get the full story of what was happening...Mordecai told him everything...When Esther heard the report, she replied to Mordecai...”there is a single fate for every man and woman who approaches the king without being invited:  death.  The one exception is if he extends his gold scepter, then he or she may live.  And its been 30 days now since I’ve been invited to come to the king.”  

Mordecai replied, “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get saved. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else, but you and your family will be wiped out.  Who knows?  Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”  

Esther’s reply, “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together.  Fast for me.  don’t eat or drink for three days, either night or day.  I and my maids will fast with you.  If you will do this, I’ll go to the king even though it’s forbidden.  If I die, I die.   Mordecai carried out Esther’s instructions....three days later, Esther went to the king...he extended his gold scepter in his hand...”Ask and it’s yours--even if it’s half my kingdom.”

“If it pleases the king, let the king come with Haman to a dinner I’ve prepared for him.”...  So the king and Haman joined Esther for the dinner she arranged.  As they were drinking the wine, the king said, “Now what is it you want?  Half of my kingdom isn’t too much to ask!  Just ask.”  Esther answered...”If the king favors me and is pleased to do what I desire and ask, let the king and Haman come again tomorrow to a dinner that I will fix for them.  Then I’ll give you a straight answer to the king’s question.”

Haman left the king’s palace that day happy, beaming.  And then he saw Mordecai...ignoring him, oblivious to him.  Haman was furious with Mordecai but held himself in and went on home.  He got his friends together with his wife Zeresh and started bragging about how much money he had, his many sons, how many times the king had honored him and his promotion to the highest position in the government along with his invitation to the private dinner with the queen...”But I can’t enjoy any of it when I see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting at the King’s Gate.”  His wife and all his friends said to build gallows 75 ft. high then speak to the king first thing in the morning to get him to order Mordecai hanged on it.  Then happily go with the king to dinner.

That night the king couldn’t sleep.  He ordered the record book...to be brought and read to him.  They came across the story there about the time that Mordecai had exposed the plot against the king...The king asked, “What great honor was given to Mordecai for this?”  Nothing was the reply of the king’s servants in attendance....

Now Haman had just come into the outer court to talk to the king about hanging Mordecai...When Haman entered, the king said, “What would be appropriate for the man the king especially wants to honor?”  Haman thought of himself...so he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, do this: bring a royal robe that the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden...have the prince lead this person on horseback through the city square proclaiming, “This is what is done for the man whom the king especially wants to honor!”  The king responded,

....Do what you have proposed to Mordecai, the Jew, who sits at the King’s Gate.  Don’t leave out a single detail of your plan.”  So Haman led Mordecai through the streets....

Then Mordecai returned to the King’s Gate but Haman fled to his house, thoroughly mortified, hiding his face....his knowledgeable friends who were there and his wife said, “if Mordecai is in fact a Jew, your bad luck has only begun.  You don’t stand a chance against him--you’re as good as ruined!”  

While they were still talking, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the dinner that Esther had prepared.

I Peter 5
I have a special concern for you church leaders...that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd.  Not because you have to, but because you want to please God.  Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously.  Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way...

But all of you leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for ---God has had it with the proud; but delights in just plain people.  

So be content with who you are and don’t put on airs.  God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time...

Keep a cool head.....keep a firm grip on the faith...Give holy embraces all around.  Peace to you---to all who walk in Christ’s way.