December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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.”—Esther 3:2 (NIV)
The Book of Esther has us thinking this is a “happily ever after” story about a young orphaned girl who meets her king. He picks her out of a sea of beautiful virgins and gives her the “final rose” simply because he’s so enthralled by her.
We’ve already been introduced to the main characters and the setting has been established. The Jewish people have been dispersed all throughout the Persian Empire and we’re following a story set in a city called Susa. King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes) replaced Queen Vashti with Esther, who hasn’t revealed her ethnicity. BUT then, life happens, a new villain is introduced, and the climax arises!
We don’t really know why Mordecai vehemently refused to bow down to Haman. After all, Haman was promoted by the king himself and all the royal officers were paying him honor. Haman’s obsession to punish the Jewish people in Persia over Mordecai’s disrespect is rather extreme: the genocide of the chosen ones.
Some scholars suggest their feud stems from ancestry: Haman was a descendant of Agag and Mordecai of King Saul. Agag and Saul were enemies, so it makes complete sense for history to repeat itself. There doesn’t seem to be a biblical command for anyone to bow down to a political leader as a sign of respect. Therefore, Mordecai is in his right not to kneel down in Haman’s presence.
As we read this passage more deeply, it’s not difficult to miss how there are qualities present in these characters that exist in all of us. They can easily come into display when we’ve missed out on a grand opportunity or a promotion, lost out on a scholarship, been stuck on the bench for way too long, or when we’ve felt disrespected and had someone attempt to ruin our reputation or go after our jobs without mercy. That’s when we witness before our eyes a person being chosen over us. Even worse is when we strongly believe this person is unworthy of such position and displays questionable character. We don’t understand why God would allow those people to have victory when we’re certain they’re not working for Him, but they’re doing it all for themselves to fulfill their agenda.
We’re in a dangerous place when we hope for our enemy to fall so we can claim victory over them. Today’s passage ends with the king siding with Haman. And if you’ve all felt the sour taste of defeat like Mordecai, you know there are two options: to run or to fight. But this isn’t Mordecai’s or even our heroine’s fight. This fight belongs to the Lord.
We seem to forget that just like this story isn’t about Mordecai, it isn’t about Esther either. The hero of this story is JESUS! This story serves as a foreshadow of His redemption. Redemption is what Jesus offers us prideful Mordecais and evil Hamans. We currently stand in the middle of the climax waiting to see what will happen. But don’t think for a second this part of the story isn’t pivotal. The waiting is MOST important because it’s when we get to practice our trust in Him and when our true faith is revealed. For now, we let go of our prejudices and our pride while focusing on following His lead, even if it means sacrificing it all.
Pause: What does waiting look like for you?
Practice: Write a letter to the last person who deeply offended you. It doesn’t have to be perfect—allow the five-year-old version of yourself to write it. Release all the hurts on paper and then destroy the letter.
Pray: Jesus, thank You for re-centering our minds with this passage. Our stories aren’t about us. They’re all about YOU, Jesus. Whenever we find ourselves in the middle of a feud or conflict, remind us to extend mercy to those who hurt us, even when we don’t feel like they deserve it. Help us to be peacemakers and fight the battles we need to fight with Your help and Your grace. Forgive us for the times we haven’t exemplified You and we’ve allowed our pride to take over a situation. We love You and we’re forever thankful for the ultimate sacrifice You’ve made for us so we can live in freedom. Amen.
Alessandra (Ally) Velsor has been part of the Calvary Chapel staff since 2009. Because her family owned various restaurants growing up, she determined to do something else and got a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication. But… never say never…
She served in The Grill at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale for 14 years as a server, restaurant manager, and catering manager. She’s currently serving as the cafe supervisor in the Plantation campus. She met her husband, Kenny, working at The Grill and married him in 2011. They have two amazing children Joshua and Sunny.