Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Esther 3 v 1 - 7

Again, another week has passed an I've been too busy trying to keep up with NaNoWriMo to write any blogs. I've had a few ideas and, if I didn't feel guilty about not doing NaNoWriMo, you would have also had a blog about the student protests in London however I just haven't had time! So, here's this week's notes for Christian Union instead and to be honest, this sort of blog is much more worthwhile for you. I promise a more normal service will resume in December!

Esther 3 v 1 – 7
This week, we’re going to begin by reading the whole passage all in one go!

1 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 the twelfth month, the month of Adar. "

In this chapter, we are introduced to a man called Haman. He was a thoroughly evil person and we are told absolutely nothing good about him. Despite this, King Xerxes seemed to take a liking to him and raised Haman up to a position that would have been similar to the position of prime minister.
It is most likely that Haman got this position as he was the best at sucking up to the king and inflating his ego and in return, the king decided on a course of action that would also inflate Haman’s ego.
Haman was to be bowed down to and this was most likely to be a sign of respect. However, Mordecai refused to bow down. However, this wasn’t an obvious protest. He quietly refused to bow down and Haman actually had to be told that Mordecai wasn’t bowing down to him.

Now, it probably seems a bit silly that Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman if it is only a sign of respect but there is more to the situation than can be seen at face value. Firstly, Haman, as we are told in verse 1, is an Agagite which is another name for an Amalekite. He was part of a race of people who had a long history of being against the Jewish people who Mordecai had clearly declared himself to be a part of.
Read Exodus 17 v 16 –  He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
 Back in the time of Moses, he declared that God would be at war with the Amalakites from generation to generation.
Also, in 1 Samuel 15 (which is a bit long to put all of it here) we hear of how Saul, Israel’s first king, was ordered to wipe out the whole Amalakite race. However, he spared King Agag and not only did one of his descendants claim to have killed Saul but Haman was one of his descendants.

So, Mordecai was refusing to bow down to someone who was part of a race who were enemies of God. Also, I don’t expect that was Mordecai’s only reason for not bowing down as Haman hadn’t earned his position and therefore hadn’t earned Mordecai’s respect. Furthermore, there was also an element of Haman demanding worship from those below him and - as a Jew - Mordecai would only worship God, not man!

So, in verses 5 – 6 we see Haman’s reaction. He was more than a little displeased at Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to him and this was probably elevated by the fact that he was a Jew. Haman was more than just angry, he was absolutely furious and planned to not just kill Mordecai for revenge but to kill the whole Jewish race.

We can learn from this. It is easy to become proud, easy to think we’re better than others. We may have a position that places us higher up than someone else but that doesn’t mean that we’re any more important. The gifts and abilities we have that have put us in that sort of position all come from God and we should be giving him the praise, not taking it ourselves. Unlike Haman, we need to be humble and not get angry if we don’t get as much recognition as we maybe thought we should get for something we’ve done. Instead, thank God for giving you the gifts and abilities to get there in the first place.

Verse 7 takes place around five years later so Haman has had time to think of a way to get rid of the Jews so verse 7 really shows us where Haman’s faith was as he cast a lot to determine a date for the annihilation of the Jewish race.

Casting lots would have involved a bag or pot of dice or stones, each with different marks on to signify different decisions. Often, a spell or incantation would be said before a dice or stone would be removed so basically, the decision would then be considered lucky. Therefore, Haman chose this date this way thinking that using that date would mean success for him.

This sounds silly but even today people believe in luck in the form of horoscopes and things like that. However, why look to the starts for help with decisions when we can look to God, the creator of the stars for guidance? We should totally avoid things like horoscopes and looking to the spirit world as Satan uses these things to draw us away from God. We may think it’s OK to have a look just for a laugh but, just with anything sinful, it’s much better to avoid it totally. This sounds a bit like a lecture but it’s important. Satan isn’t the cute cuddly creature cartoons often depict but he’s out to draw us away from God at every opportunity. The best thing is to avoid temptation where possible and obviously, pray to God for help!


Current book I'm reading:  I haven't actually had time to pick up another book after finishing 'Counterfeit gods'
Listening to music? If so, what?: Yes: A backing track version of Coldplay's 'The Scientist'
Last thing I watched: It was a YouTube video but I can't remember what
Current NaNoWriMo count: 15,427
Words left to reach the daily goal of 2000: Urm, I'm a bit behind so it's a bit more complicated than that! But so far I've only written 1887 today

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