Submission and Obedience

Part 10

Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare

An Age-old Animosity Surfaces - Esther 2:5-6; 3:1-6

In chapter 1 of Esther we looked at the rebellion of Queen Vashti and her rejection by King Ahasuerus. We delved into the meaning of "Many are called, but few are chosen" and its significance in the life of Esther by examining chapter 2.

Now in the opening verse of chapter 3 the scene shifts abruptly with the introduction of a new character. Haman, previously obscured from view, suddenly appears and, without any stated reason, is promoted to the highest authority in Persia, directly beneath the king.

Just as an aside, where did Haman come from? Why now? In chapter 1 of Esther, when Ahasuerus renounced Vashti as queen, he did not have her killed, as was Persian custom---Esther said that herself farther into her story. If Vashti is a picture of Lucifer before and during his fall from heaven, she continued to live in the king's concubine harem. Satan lives also. Now Haman appears on the scene as a personification of the devil as he operates today. Not royalty, but proud and attempting to ascend to rulership in the king's court and ultimately, to be worshipped.

Thus, Haman surfaced as an enemy of the Jews and perpetuated the hatred for the Jews once manifested by the Amelekites. While this plot was in the making, God was working His purposes by raising up Esther. Nothing ever surprises God nor foils His plans, because He is God, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-present yesterday, today and forever. Though he didn't realize it at the time, Mordecai was being set up to expose Haman!

In his agent position at the palace gate, Mordecai now became Haman's subordinate. By order of the king, he and all staff were expected to kneel and bow down to Haman. However, Mordecai refused to do it!

Social Conflicts Overlay.......

Thus far, we skipped over the introduction to Mordecai in Esther 2. Now we need to bring it into play. Verses 2 and 3 say:

"Now there was at the citadel in Susa a Jew whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite, [6] who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the captives who had been exiled with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had exiled."

God gives us Mordecai's pedigree: His family came from Jerusalem in 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar had sieged Jerusalem for two years to starve out the Jews. The last chapter of II Chronicles paints that picture clearly.

The book of Esther was written around 481 BC, nearly 105 years later. Probably it was Mordecai's grandfather who was exiled to Susa by the Babylonians. Therefore, Mordecai was a third generation exiled Jew living in the shadow of the palace.

Further, we see that he was a Benjamite, the same tribe from which Saul, the first king of Israel, had come. Saul was a son of Kish and, therefore, a third cousin of Mordecai, whose great-grandfather was Kish. Recall that during Saul's reign when he waged a campaign against the Amalekites, he failed to heed the prophet Samuel's instructions to completely wipe them out. The Amalekites had committed awful atrocities against the children of Israel when they wandered in the wilderness, and God ordered that they be totally destroyed.

Fruits of Rebellion Persist

Saul's rebellion spared the life of the Amalekite king, Agag, and the best of their livestock, which he wanted to use as sacrificial animals before God. However, as he returned from battle, the prophet Samuel went out to meet Saul and delivered these grave words in response to the king's rationalization:

"Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king." 1 Samuel 15:22-23

Though Samuel killed Agag, some of Agag's descendants survived. One became a progenitor of this mysterious Haman, who was the son of Hammedatha the Agagite. Thus, the scenario is complete: an Amalekite pitted against a descendent of Saul in the age-old conflict.

Daily as Haman passed through the palace gates, all the staff members except Mordecai bowed to him. Daily the staff reminded Mordecai of the king's mandate, but he intentionally ignored them on the grounds that he was a Jew and he would not be idolatrous. Finally the servants sent word to Haman: Because Mordecai was a Jew, was he exempt from bowing down or not?

Possibly oblivious to Mordecai's insubordination before that, Haman tested and found their accusations were true. His anger boiled and he wanted Mordecai's life. But the blood of one man would not satisfy him. He wanted all the Jews in Ahasuerus' realm to die.

Spiritual Conflicts Underlay...

Ugh! How reminiscent of the last century's pogroms against the Jews in Nazi Germany, Russia and the rest of Europe! Not much different from the Amalekites' attempt to wipe out Israel on their way to Canaan in Exodus 17. Why are the Jews hated so much? Why is anti-Semitism surging in this present day?

Once more we must go back to Eden where God gave Adam and Eve dominion or authority over the earth at creation. Drawing from other Biblical passages, we would find that dominion had belonged to Lucifer until he rebelled and forfeited his privilege before time began. Then God transferred the title and deed for the earth to humankind, an act that provoked the devil to jealousy and rage.

Disguised as a serpent, he tempted Eve to give up her birthright-dominion by disobeying the one commandment God had given the pair: "Do not eat.." Little did Adam and Eve realize that anything so sublime as a bite of the forbidden fruit would legally transfer the title and deed back to the devil, but it did!

Because satan deceived Eve and she persuaded Adam to join her in sinning, God intervened when He prophesied in Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between you (satan) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." The devil knew his days of illicit dominion were numbered unless he could destroy the blood line through which the Deliverer, the Second Adam, would come.

First, he murdered God-fearing Abel, using Abel's brother, Cain, to deliver the death blow. Later, he used Pharaoh to enslave the Israelites, rather than giving them their freedom to be a nation under God. And it was on the journey from Egypt to their promised destination that Israel was attacked by the Amalekites, again the devil's attempt to destroy the nation through which the promised Messiah would come.

...Dominion Battles

The battle over dominion still rages. Satan tried to annihilate the Jews using Hitler and Stalin. Now he is using terrorists' tactics to wipe out both Jews and Christians, who are looking for and will usher in Messiah-Jesus' second coming very soon.

Jesus restored man's dominion over this earth when He died and rose again, but satan is doing everything in his power to prevent the complete fulfillment of that authority and power when Jesus takes the throne in Jerusalem. This, then, is the spiritual conflict in which all believers in Messiah-Jesus are engaged---or should be.

It is not a fight against this or that people group...or denomination or race. It is greater spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness that must be fought in the power of God through His Holy Spirit. It was this battle that formed the face-off between Haman and Mordeai. We'll look at it in more depth in the next article.

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