DON’T QUESTION THE LEADER!
Lord, deliver us from unrighteous decrees.
Read ESTHER 3
Haman’s Plot to Destroy the Jews
3 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.
5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on[a] the twelfth month, the month of Adar.
8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents[b] of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”
10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.
15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.
a Esther 3:7 Septuagint; Hebrew does not have And the lot fell on.
b Esther 3:9 That is, about 375 tons or about 340 metric tons
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands” (Psa. 25:9,10, NLT).
In 3 John 9, we find that Diotrephes “loves to be first.” Throughout history, both outside and inside the church, certain leaders have set their priority as demonstrating their own importance! Haman is clearly one of these. Having secured royal backing, everyone is now expected to bow before him. Refusal is hazardous to one’s health, but Mordecai doesn’t care. The text gives no indication whether he acts from religious conviction in the tradition of Daniel and his associates, or political rebellion, or just a personal disdain for this odious man. Readers must decide which option fits the whole story best. But Haman becomes absolutely furious that one man is refusing to “pay him honor” (5). Discovering that Mordecai is Jewish, he sees a way to remove not only Mordecai but also the entire ethnic group of which he is a member. Perhaps there is some sort of functioning justice system in place, because he must convince the king that the Jews somehow threaten his kingdom—not because Mordecai has scorned him, but because they are “different” and “do not obey the king’s laws” (8). The king, influenced perhaps by Haman’s offer to underwrite the operation, accepts his report without question and provides the authority for Haman to take action on the chosen day. The edict goes out.
Perhaps the most significant verse is the last: “The king and Haman sat down to drink [having demonstrated their unquestionable authority!], but the people of Shushan were bewildered” (15). The implication here is that the citizenry has no idea why Jews should be targeted for extinction. That Jewish subjects should be viewed as a threat in any way has no basis, and so they show no desire to kill them. Haman and his king are singularly guilty but not the people under them. Corrupt leadership has a lot to answer for!
“Fake news” is a big theme in today’s media. Think about how we can and should see evidence before believing things said about those who we might see as “different.”
Lord, some of those whom You appoint to leadership are capable of evil. Give us the grace to obey only what You would have us do.
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