Good versus evil
Esther 3: When Haman saw for himself that Mordecai didn’t bow down and kneel before him, he was outraged.
The final person we meet in the story of Esther is Haman. Every good story needs a villain and Haman fits the role quite well. He has it all: pride, revenge, selfishness, godless ambition. Haman rises to a position of great power in government and he expects all the perks that come with power. He especially likes it when the “little people” bow and scrape before him. And that is what sets this story in motion. Each time Haman arrives at the palace to see the King he enters the gate with a flourish. Everyone plays along except for one senior adult Jew. Mordecai doesn’t think Haman is worth honoring and his refusal to pay homage infuriates him. He could respond by killing Mordecai but Haman has grander ambitions than that. He knows Mordecai is a Jew, so he schemes a way to do away with the whole Jewish population. Haman and Mordecai are polar opposites. Haman’s a very bad man and Mordecai’s a very good man who loves and serves God with all his heart. It’s a classic conflict: good versus evil.
Take Away: Evil is real and it’s especially evident in the presence of good.
Just doing the right thing
Esther 2: Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa. His name was Mordecai.
The second character we meet in the book of Esther is Mordecai the son of Jair. Mordecai is a “Jew of the Jews.” He comes from the family tree of Benjamin and in this story he’s spoken of in only positive ways. He’s compassionate in taking his niece in and raising her after she’s orphaned. Clearly, he has a godly influence on her as this story shows. Mordecai doesn’t want the spotlight but he’s reluctantly brought into it by the unexpected circumstances that are revealed in the book of Esther. He stands up to the powerful Haman and shows himself to be a loyal subject to Xerxes. Mordecai is one of those people who quietly goes about living for God for many years, and then, at just the right time is used by God in some very specific, positive way. Mordecai does the right thing when the spotlight of history is turned upon him because he’s been doing the right thing all along.
Take Away: Do the right thing in the everyday events of life and it will be easier to do the right thing when the pressure is on.
Long range planning
Esther 4: Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.
I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that Haman probably hated the Jews long before Mordecai gets under his skin by not bowing down to him. I think that when the old man at the gate doesn’t feed his ego Haman takes note of him. When he finds out that he’s a Jew it triggers his plan to do away with a race of people he already hates. And, clearly, Haman has been on the elevator upward in Xerxes’ kingdom for some time now. Haman is a schemer who willingly bypasses small gains if doing so fits in with his bigger plans. If these two guesses are correct, Mordecai’s words here are especially accurate. That is, he doesn’t think that God gave Esther her beauty and then engineered her being made queen as a “just in case” measure. He believes God has been aware of the circumstances of all this all along. With that in mind, the Lord began putting together a plan of his own and that plan is what brings Esther to the position she now holds. Up to now Mordecai and Esther have tried to react to the unexpected events of life as a people of God should. Now they realize that God is depending on their faithfulness to accomplish his own purposes. This passage reminds me that even when I can’t see the big picture that God can and when unexpected things happen (both good and bad) they might just be a part of something bigger than I know.
Take Away: Even when I don’t see the big picture I can trust in the One who can.