Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday, December 7: Esther 3-5 and Luke 12:32-59 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Esther 3-5, Luke 12:32-59

I found this to give some background (here) to the deep rivalry that existed between Mordecai and Haman:

The historical genesis for the drama played out between Mordecai (a Benjamite descendant of Saul—2:5) and Haman (an Agagite—3:1, 10; 8:3, 5; 9:24) goes back almost 1,000 years when the Jews exited from Egypt (ca. 1445 B.C.) and were attacked by the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8–16), whose lineage began with Amalek, son of Esau (Gen. 36:12). God pronounced His curse on the Amalekites, which resulted in their total elimination as a people (Ex. 17:14Deut. 25:17–19). Although Saul (ca. 1030 B.C.) received orders to kill all the Amalekites, including their king Agag (1 Sam. 15:23), he disobeyed (1 Sam. 15:7–9) and incurred God’s displeasure (1 Sam. 15:1126;28:18). Samuel finally hacked Agag into pieces (1 Sam. 15:3233). Because of his lineage from Agag, Haman carried deep hostility toward the Jews.
The time of Esther arrived 550 years after the death of Agag, but in spite of such passage of time, neither Haman the Agagite nor Mordecai the Benjamite had forgotten the tribal feud that still smoldered in their souls. This explains why Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman (3:2, 3) and why Haman so viciously attempted to exterminate the Jewish race (3:5, 6, 13). As expected, God’s prophecy to extinguish the Amalekites (Ex. 17:14Deut. 25:17–19) and God’s promise to preserve the Jews (Gen. 17:1–8) prevailed.

To think that if Saul had obeyed that Haman would have never been born makes for an interesting side story. Disobedience always has consequences.  Not obeying your parents has consequences. Not listening to teachers, leaders, and bosses has consequences. Not following God has far reaching consequences that go way beyond what Saul could have imagined when he chose to spare some of the lives of the Amalekites.  Even when we obey something half way instead of all the way, there are consequences. There are consequences when we don't play by the rules.

MacArthur compares the book of Esther to a game:

Esther could be compared to a chess game. God and Satan (as invisible players) moved real kings, queens, and nobles. When Satan put Haman into place, it was as if he announced “Check.” God then positioned Esther and Mordecai in order to put Satan into “Checkmate!” Ever since the fall of man (Gen. 3:1–19), Satan has attempted to spiritually sever God’s relationship with His human creation and disrupt God’s covenant promises with Israel. For example, Christ’s line through the tribe of Judah had been murderously reduced to Joash alone, who was rescued and preserved (2 Chr. 22:10–12). Later, Herod slaughtered the infants of Bethlehem, thinking Christ was among them (Matt. 2:16). Satan tempted Christ to denounce God and worship him (Matt. 4:9). Peter, at Satan’s insistence, tried to block Christ’s journey to Calvary (Matt. 16:22). Finally, Satan entered into Judas who then betrayed Christ to the Jews and Romans (Luke 22:3–6). While God was not mentioned in Esther, He was everywhere apparent as the One who opposed and foiled Satan’s diabolical schemes by providential intervention.
In Esther, all of God’s unconditional covenant promises to Abraham (Gen. 17:1–8) and to David (2 Sam. 7:8–16) were jeopardized. However, God’s love for Israel is nowhere more apparent than in this dramatic rescue of His people from pending elimination. “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4).

God keeps his promises. He uses what we are, meets us where we are, and accomplishes what he said he would. May our focus be on obedience to what God desires for us so that we can be willing instruments to His plan.

This verse from the NT also stood out for me:

34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

So many things get in the way for me and my walk with God. What I need to remember is that where I put my time and my energy is where my heart will be. My prayer is that I will willingly submit to obedience when God calls me to do things that make me uncomfortable...just like Esther was called to do.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Esther 6-8; Luke 13:1-22


TammyIsBlessed said...

It's almost mind boggling how far reaching sin's consequences can be! One man's disobedience led to the near destruction of the entire Jewish race. Of course, God would never let that happen, He will always preserve a remnant, but such a good reminder to us.

It's with shocking dismay that we read about how callously the king agreed to Haman's plan, and that he literally gave him permission to do whatever he wanted to an entire race of people, as if the decision was an inconsequential as what he should wear that day. Completely flippant with human life. Sounds a bit like today and society's utter disregard for the unborn, the elderly, the sick, the deformed, the "less than".

What struck me was how self-absorbed and ungrateful Haman was. He was in a position of power and favour, he was personally invited by the queen to dine with only her and the King, and yet in his own words "yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate". Really!?

In our NT I thought it was important to note that when we stand for the truth, it will sometimes cause division. We are to be peacemakers, but not at the cost of the truth.

Conrad said...

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. - Luke 12:51

As we are approaching the Christmas season, it is common to hear the words "peace on earth" in songs that we sing. And yet, the peace that we understand provokes division with others. I pray that I would be effective at displaying the truth, causing a division, but in a way that is loving and understandable to those who need peace.