Today we look at the story of Mordecai refusing to bow to Haman. And as we apply this lesson, we see that the thing we face today which seems bigger than life and more powerful than our abilities or strength – Jesus is greater than that thing. Jesus has overcome…
19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.
21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.
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.
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 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.”
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.
Esther 2:19-23, 3:1-4, 8-11, 15
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Why wouldn’t Mordecai bow to Haman? Wouldn’t that have avoided this whole situation? Why not bow before the nobility elevated by the king? Mordecai’s answer was that he was a Jew. This sounds to me like Mordecai believed that bowing to Haman would be an offense to the Lord God.
Hmmmm… that’s a good reason to not bow. Except it put Mordecai in opposition to the king. His refusal was seen as disobedience to the king’s command. And his reason was religious freedom, which wasn’t much of a thing in Babylon at the time.
Haman used the opportunity to flex his noble muscle. We have choices when people push back or refuse to carry out orders (if orders exist in our contexts…). We have choices when the people we lead dishonour our leadership. We can create a plan to wipe them out (Haman’s choice), or we can ask questions and listen to figure out what is underneath the outward response.
Kings tend to do what is in the best interests of their sustained royalty. Xerxes approved Haman’s plan to eliminate a threat – if these Jews wouldn’t bow to the king’s man, then they might be a threat to revolt or undermine Xerxes’ throne. And so, the edict was issued to wipe out the Jews. And “the city of Susa was bewildered.”
The Jews were obviously not a problem for the city. It doesn’t sound like there were race issues between the locals and the Jews in exile. Yet bewildered was probably as far as the people went. Remember, in a time when loyalty to the king was a matter of life and death, the Babylonian neighbours of the Jews probably didn’t want to play spin-the-king’s-wrath-bottle. The Jews were on their own.
Or were they?
Jesus said these amazing words in John 16: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Without getting ahead of ourselves, God had a plan for Mordecai’s situation. And when we think about the lonely, threatening circumstance we are in, we ought to know that God has a plan. It’s a guarantee that in this world we will face trouble. Some of us may even face the threat Mordecai and the Jews faced.
Jesus has overcome.
Trust him. Go to him. Rely on him. Believe that he is faithful when he promises he will never leave us. He is always with us.
Whatever that thing is that you face today which seems bigger than life and more powerful than your abilities or strength – Jesus is greater than that thing. Jesus has overcome.