Sometimes I can’t help myself; I want the bad guy to get what he deserves. I watched an old TV police show a few days ago. The bad guy was a serial killer who had been methodically killing young women. After the authorities zeroed in on him, he was literally trapped between a rock and a hard place. To give up meant going to prison for the rest of his life or facing the death penalty. One more step backward would send him hurling off the jagged cliff to the rocks below. The camera closed in on the perpetrator’s face just as he flashed a decisive grin. Then to my surprise, the policeman yelled, “No! Stop!” I yelled back at the TV, “No! Let him!” Then, he took that one more step off the cliff.
You would think during my quiet time, with a song and a prayer on my lips and the Word in my lap, I would be a tad more compassionate than that. Normally, I am. However, every time I read the story of Esther, I smile as the manipulative, hateful, conniving, sinister, dastardly … (ok, I’ll stop) Haman gets what he deserved.
Haman, who had become Persian King Ahasuerus’ chief official, wreaked dreadfully with putrid pride as he insisted that everyone bow down to him when he passed by. Mordecai the Jew refused, thus infuriating Haman. He retaliated by offering the king a great sum of money in exchange for a decree that would bring about, not only the end of Mordecai, but ALL of the Jews. The king’s attention was on the money, not so much the content of the decree.
Mordecai’s niece Esther, obviously also a Jew, had become queen and held the perfect position to offer help to her fellow Jews. She would courageously go before the king without being summoned and hope that he would extend his royal scepter and allow her into his presence. He did. And she invited the king and Haman to a banquet she had already prepared. Haman thought he was hot stuff by being included. He and the king ate, drank, and made merry. So, she invited them again the next day in order to soften the king’s heart even more. Her plan was to expose Haman’s evil plot, and try to have the decree repealed.
In the meantime, Mordecai still refused to bow down to Haman. So, Haman’s wife advised him to have gallows built that day so that Mordecai could be hung on them the next morning. Then, he could go and attend Queen Ester’s banquet joyfully.
That night was a sleepless one for the king. So, he had the royal book of memorable deeds brought to him so that he could read for a while. (That would surely put me to sleep!) While reading, he discovered that Mordecai had saved him from two disgruntled employees who plotted to kill him and was never commended for it. He turned to his servants and asked, “Who is in the palace right now?” It just so happened that Haman had come in very early to talk about having Mordecai hanged. Yet, before Haman could speak, the king asked, “What should be done for a man the king wants to honor?” Haman, believing HE IS THE ONE who should be honored, listed a number of great and wonderful things to be done for such a man. Talk about a plan backfiring! The king, in so many words said, “Great! Go do all those things for Mordecai the Jew!”
I’m sorry, but I can’t help but smile at this next scene. Haman has to put a royal robe and crown on Mordecai, set him on the king’s horse, and lead him through the town proclaiming, “Thus shall it be done to the man the king delights to honor!”
At the second banquet, with Haman still sipping on his wine, Esther laid out the chilling contents of Haman’s decree. The Jews were to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated! The enraged king responded, “Who has dared to do this?” Esther replied, “A foe and enemy! The wicked Haman!” By this time, if Haman’s cup wasn’t sitting securely on the tabletop, his shaking wine would have surely sloshed over the rim and stained that precious Persian rug.
The king leaves the room in a rage, and Haman pleads for Esther to save his life. When the king finally walks back in, he finds a desperate Haman hovering over Esther on her couch. Not good! SO not good! One of the eunuchs, most likely weary of Haman’s arrogance, informs the king of Haman’s gallows. That’s too convenient for the king to ignore, so he orders Haman to be hanged on the gallows built for Mordecai! Justice for Haman is served, and the Jews are eventually saved!
The book of Esther in the Old Testament is unusual in that the name of God is never mentioned. But God’s hand is everywhere in this story! It is no coincidence that Esther, a strong, faithful, and courageous woman, became queen for “such a time as this.” It was not by happenstance that:
- Mordecai became aware of the plot to kill the king,
- The king received Esther,
- The king couldn’t sleep,
- Haman came into the palace at just the right time,
- The eunuch spoke up, or
- The Jews were saved.
God’s hand always rests with His people. Let’s follow the thread of what MIGHT never have happened had God not intervened in this story. First of all, the Jews would have been wiped out. There would be no tribe of Judah left. No need for Jerusalem to be rebuilt. No people for Ezra to read the Law to. No one to proclaim the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No idols would be cast down. Everyone would do as he saw fit. There would be no Jesus. No Gentiles saved. No Holy Spirit indwelling believers. No church established. No gospel to spread. No peace with God.
Sure, God could have, and because of His great love for us, He would have found someone else to carry out His plan of salvation. But, my point is this: we cannot ignore our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus because we know that God’s providence will prevail. Each of us has been assigned a place in this world for such a time as this. Let’s keep Satan’s feet backed up to the edge of the great abyss. Rest assured, that manipulative, hateful, conniving, sinister, and dastardly force of evil will get what he deserves. Christ reigns today, tomorrow, and forever!
Lord, thank you for not giving us what we deserve. Thank you for the blood of Jesus that covers all our sins. Help us find the courage of Esther to stand up against Satan, our Haman and our only real enemy. He is a serial killer who wants to steal, kill, and destroy young and old alike. Yet, we have faith in Your plans. We know they are for our good. You have created us to do specially prepared works, and You will help us carry them on to completion. Increase our faith, our strength, and our courage to face whatever comes our way.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
“Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:14 ESV)