Summary: A 32 week journey through the Bible, inspired by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. A look at the story of Esther
The Queen of Beauty
March 6, 2011 - Week 20
Sometimes I feel like my life is like a day in Vegas. My faith, my destiny is all wrapped up in the roll of the dice. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. Would you be willing to roll the dice, knowing if you lost, you could lose more than you bargained for.
For example, if I roll and get a lucky 7, snake eyes or a boxcar you win. With only one die, I wonder what I’ll roll. A 3 and I win. If I win great, but if I lose, ouch. Don’t you feel that way sometimes? You get in the wrong line at the store. You buy gas after the price goes up. You slip and fall, on the only piece of ice. And the list goes on and on.
Now there are times when a set of circumstances unfolds and comes together where you experience either a colossal disaster or a great windfall. Some call this a coincidence, others call it luck. There’s still others who would say there’s someone working behind the scenes, working out my destiny. Chapter 20 of The Story is such a story. This is the OT story of Esther, which we’re looking at today.
We’re introduced to a guy named Haman, and early on we learn one important thing about him, he hates the Jewish people. It’s a full fledged hatred. Remember the southern kingdom of Judah was exiled to Babylon in 587 BC. Eventually, the Babylonians were overtaken by the Persians.
It is believed Haman had it out for the Israelites because he was an Amalekite. They were direct descendants of King Agag. Way back in chapter 10, God asked King Saul to wipe out all of the Amalekite people for 2 reasons. Their extreme and persistent wickedness, such as child sacrifice. And secondly, they tried to stop the Israelites from entering the land of Canaan. That means they were directly opposed to the unfolding of God’s upper story plan.
Saul didn’t destroy all of them, and 400 Amalekites survived; and 100's of years later, Haman holds a huge grudge against the Israelites.
Now by luck (or was it) Haman has received honor from the king and has a position of high honor, and lots of authority. So Haman decides to use his authority to come to completely exterminate the Jews. There’s one particular Israelite Haman has it out for. His name is Mordecai. We learn that as Haman parades through town, people would bow down to him, but Mordecai wouldn’t; and that really got to Haman. We also learn Mordecai is from King Saul’s lineage. And who was supposed to wipe out Haman’s ancestors? King Saul. So, we have an old feud, and ancient Hatfield and McCoys.
Haman goes to the king of Persia, a guy named Xerxes, and tells him the Israelites are a bad people and it would be in the best interests of the kingdom to get rid of them. Haman will issue an official decree, marked by the kings signet ring, that gives the people of Persia the legal permission to kill any Hebrew or Hebrew family.
In one day all of the Jews are to be killed. The incentive is the fact that it was legal and you got to keep all of their personal possessions. The king goes along with the plan; and in order to determine which day this would occur on, Haman rolls the dice. In ancient language, it would be the word p-u-r. We see it in the OT and NT as the casting of lots or the throwing of dice. Haman casts the pur or dice in order to determine which day the Jews will be destroyed. And the date is Adar 13th in the Jewish calendar. Or late February or early-mid March in our calendar.
Adar 13th, eleven months from when he rolled the dice, all Jewish families would be exterminated. The edict went out throughout the land of Persia with the kings signature, which made this irreversible. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be an Israelite and learn that you had 11 months to live? The fear that must have overwhelmed them. The agony of knowing what was coming on Adar 13th. Lucky 7's for Haman.
But there was another story line occurring at the same time which would eventually collide with the Haman story. At the beginning of chapter 20, King Xerxes is holding a huge party, showing off his wealth and ego. Xerxes summoned the queen to come to him. You see, in those days, a queen couldn’t come into the presence of the king without first being summoned. And when the king summoned the queen, she didn’t ask when, because she knew it was now. For some reason, on this particular night Queen Vashti refused. This embarrassed King Xerxes and he asked his male counselors what should he do. In Esther 1:16-18 the king received this council from his friends,