Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Queen Esther: A Destiny Fulfilled. Day 11, Mordecai Honored

Queen Esther:
A Destiny Fulfilled
Day 11
Mordecai Honored

Haman has set up a pole on which he hopes to have Esther's uncle Mordecai impaled. He is going to accuse him before the king and secure an immediate death warrant. But meanwhile the Lord prevents King Xerxes from getting a good night's sleep.

"That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes." (Esther 6:1-2) Xerxes' book of chronicles must have been quite lengthy, but it was turned to the very page that gave the details of the foiled assassination plot. The Lord placed His hand over the reader's hand and caused him to open the book to the passage the king needed to hear.

"'What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?' the king asked. 'Nothing has been done for him,' his attendants answered." (Esther 6:3) No reward had ever been given to Mordecai for saving the king's life. And he had never asked for any kind of recognition. In contrast we find the wicked man Haman promoted to a high rank in the kingdom. Sometimes we feel like we've worked hard and been honest for nothing, but even if our superiors don't recognize and reward us for our labors, we can be certain God has noticed our diligence. Mordecai did what was right even though he gained nothing by it. Everyone except the Lord overlooked his service, but the Lord reserved his reward for this very night.

"The king said, 'Who is in the court?' Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him." (Esther 6:4) God's timing is perfect. By our own standards we often judge Him as running late. Mordecai may have thought He was running late when no reward or honor was given him for saving the life of the king. But now we see that God held it in reserve for such a time as this.

"His attendants answered, 'Haman is standing in the court.' 'Bring him in,' the king ordered. When Haman entered, the king asked him, 'What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?' Now Haman thought to himself, 'Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?'" (Esther 6:5-6) Xerxes is simply asking his right-hand-man for advice. But Haman, who thinks only of himself, believes Xerxes is looking for a way to honor him. It would never occur to him that the king is referring to Mordecai, ("that Jew", as Haman always thinks of him), so naturally he assumes the king is talking about no one other than Haman himself.

Because he believes the king wants to honor him for his service, he envisions an honor he would take great pleasure in. "So he answered the king, 'For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'" (Esther 6:7-9) I picture Haman standing there with an enraptured expression on his face as he daydreams about himself dressed in the king's robe, seated on the king's horse, riding through the city as everyone he passes bows to him...including that Jew Mordecai.

"'Go at once,' the king commanded Haman. 'Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Do not neglect anything you have commanded.'" (Esther 6:10) Haman's happy dreams of glory come to a screeching halt. His jaw nearly hits the floor in shock. But there's nothing he can do but obey the king.

"So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'" (Esther 6:11) Oh, the poetic justice of this! If only Haman had remembered the words of the great King Nebuchadnezzar, who said of the Lord, "Those who walk in pride He is able to humble." (Daniel 4:37b) Instead of bowing to Haman, and instead of being impaled on a pole, Mordecai is led through the streets dressed in a royal robe, seated on a royal mount, as the people bow to him. Along about now I bet Haman wishes a big hole would just open up and swallow him; he's that humiliated.

"Afterward Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him." (Esther 6:12-13a) This adulation means nothing to Mordecai. As soon as he dismounts the horse he goes back about his business. His head isn't swelled with pride. He is wise enough to know that the praise of man means little. Only the honors bestowed by God have any lasting value.

Haman, on the other hand, is a man to whom recognition means everything. He flings a covering over his head and scurries home in shame only to be given more bad news by his wife and friends. "His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, 'Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him---you will surely come to ruin!'" (Esther 6:13b) Pagan and lacking in godly perspective though they were, even the people close to Haman sense the hand of God in these matters concerning Mordecai. The God of Israel appears to have taken Mordecai's side. To fight against Mordecai, and the Jews in general, is to oppose God. And who is Haman that he should prevail against God?

Haman's terrible day is just getting started. It's about to go from bad to worse. "While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrives and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared." (Esther 6:14) He probably hopes the private banquet with the king and queen will make him feel better, but in tomorrow's study we find Esther revealing her heritage to the king and accusing Haman of being the very man who would love to see her and her people wiped from the face of the earth. The trap Haman laid for the Jews will snap shut on him instead. Then we will see a principle spoken by King Solomon proven true, "For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into His confidence. The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame." (Proverbs 3:32-35) 

Maybe you feel like you've labored in vain and lived a life of integrity in vain. You've seen others promoted while you've been passed over. At one time or another, we've all felt like the psalmist Asaph who said, "I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked...This is what the wicked are like---always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments." (Psalm 73:3, 12-13) But then Asaph went to the house of the Lord and poured out his heart to God, who showed him that the pleasures of this world and the praise of our fellow man is meaningless. The person who flatters us today may be the one who stabs us in the back tomorrow. The wicked enjoy sin for a season but their downfall is coming, just as Haman's downfall is coming. But the favor of the Lord endures forever. This is why we must keep on doing what is good and honest. We may not receive the accolades of man, but we can be sure our God will exalt us in due time. (1 Peter 5:6) God will reward us at the right time...in His perfect timing. Our King will take delight in us. 

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