Esther’s Story…Part 3 (Chapters 4-8)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
The foiled assassination plot against the King can be likened to your salvation experience. Remember, due to Mordecai’s timely warning the two officers who plotted the King’s death were discovered and sentenced to die. Most translations of my story say they were hanged, but in those days hanging meant something different than it does today. It meant that they were nailed to a tree or wooden post and left to hang there till they died, and that’s what happened to the would-be assassins. It was an early form of crucifixion, and it saved the King from death. The event was then recorded in the Annals of the King.
Because of your sin, represented by the two officers, you too were appointed for death. But the Holy Spirit intervened and your sin was dealt with in the only way possible. It was nailed to the cross and you were saved from death. The event was then recorded in the Lamb’s book of Life.
When the King made Haman his chief counselor and empowered him to act on the King’s behalf, it symbolized man giving his sin nature authority over his behavior. Believers are sometimes surprised when they discover the extent to which the sin nature still controls their responses to events in their lives. They don’t realize that while being saved gives them the right to choose a new Counselor, they have to make that choice daily and then follow His advice in order to attain the victorious life. (If you’re starting to suspect that my story is a model of the Book of Romans, you’re catching on.)
One of Haman’s first official acts was to mount an effort to wipe out Mordecai and all the Jews, symbolic of the sin nature’s attempts to undo all the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
When Mordecai told me what Haman had done, I was sick at heart. And when he said that I had to help save our people by going to the King, I was scared to death. I reminded him that no one, not even the Queen, could approach the King with out first being summoned. Barging in on him unannounced was an offense punishable by death, and the King hadn’t sent for me in over 30 days. Who knew if he ever would again?
Mordecai was not impressed. He curtly explained to me that God doesn’t miss out on an opportunity to advance His Kingdom just because of our reluctance, we miss out on the opportunity to be involved. If I didn’t help save my people, the Lord would raise up someone else who would. But, he said, I shouldn’t think I would escape this danger just because I was the Queen. I was still Jewish after all. And besides, who could say that I wasn’t elevated to my royal position for just such a time as this?
“OK,” I said. “Have all the Jews in the city fast for 3 days and 3 nights. My maids and I will do the same. At the end of that time I’ll go see the King even though it’s against the law. If I perish, I perish.” Mordecai went out and did all that I asked.
On the third day, with my heart beating so loudly that I’m sure everyone around me could hear it, I put on my royal robes and stood just outside the King’s Hall. He was sitting there on his throne facing the entrance. When he looked up and saw me his eyes lit up and he smiled as he motioned me into his presence. My life had been spared, at least for that day.
“What is it?” he asked. “What’s your request? Even if it’s for half the kingdom, I’ll grant it.” By law, half the kingdom is the most the King was permitted to give someone, so that was a good sign. But all I asked for was the pleasure of his company at a private luncheon that afternoon, along with permission to invite Haman as well. He happily agreed.
After the meal, as the King and Haman relaxed with me over drinks, the King again asked what I wanted him to do for me, and again offered half the kingdom. “Come dine with me again tomorrow, the two of you,” I responded. (I wanted to make absolutely sure the King was being sincere in his offer to do anything I asked.) “If this is agreeable, then tomorrow I’ll tell you what I want.” They both accepted my invitation and left.
Haman was really full of himself after the luncheon. “The Queen invited only the King and me,” he bragged to any one who would listen. But later as he passed by the King’s Gate, Haman noticed that Mordecai refused to bow down and was enraged all over again. Complaining long and loud to his family about Mordecai’s insubordination he was finally cheered by his wife’s suggestion that he have a giant gallows constructed and first thing in the morning ask the King’s permission to hang Mordecai on it for refusing to obey the King’s order. He rounded up the workers and had the gallows built that very day. (As I explained earlier, hanging him on it meant nailing him to it.)
That night the King couldn’t sleep, so after tossing and turning for some time, he had the historical record of his reign brought and read to him thinking that would help him relax. But when he heard the part about the assassination plot Mordecai had discovered, saving his life, he sat up in bed and asked how Mordecai had been honored for this act of loyalty.
“I don’t think we did anything,” his attendants replied. By then it was nearly morning, so the King asked if there were any officials in court yet. After looking around they reported, “Haman has just come in”. (Haman was there early to get permission to hang Mordecai as soon as he could.)
Calling Haman in, the King asked him how he would suggest they honor someone who had done a great service to the King. Haman assumed the King was planning to honor him, and said, “Put one of your own robes on him and seat him on one of your own horses. Then have one of your most trusted officials lead him through the city loudly proclaiming that this is what is done for someone the King delights to honor.”
“Great idea,” the King exclaimed, “Before you do anything else, go yourself and do this for Mordecai!”
Haman was speechless! He had come in early thinking he’d get permission to execute his archenemy Mordecai first thing, and now he was being ordered to personally honor him in the King’s name, in broad daylight and in front of the whole city. How humiliating! He was still moaning and groaning to his family after carrying out the King’s order when my servants arrived to bring him to the luncheon.
Little did he know, his problems were just beginning. After we had eaten, the King again asked for my request, and for the third time offered me up to half the kingdom. By now I knew he was sincere, so although my stomach was turning flip-flops, my voice was steady as I told him how my people had been placed under an extermination order and scheduled for annihilation. I said that if we had merely been ordered into slavery, I wouldn’t have thought to bother him, but I couldn’t stand by and let my family and all my people be slaughtered without speaking up.
I could see Haman’s astonished look as for the first time I revealed my true nationality. He had no idea he’d condemned the King’s beloved to death in his dastardly plot against the Jews.
The King was furious! “Who is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” he demanded.
“The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman,” I replied.
Haman was white with terror. The King jumped up and stormed out of the room. Haman knew what was coming and, throwing his arms around me, begged me to spare his life. The urgency of his plea threw us both back on the sofa where I was seated, and he landed on top of me. Just then the King returned. It looked for all the world like Haman was trying to molest me, and for the King this was the last straw. As he roared in anger, the guards grabbed Haman and pulled him off me.
One of them told the King that Haman had just constructed a giant gallows for the purpose of executing Mordecai. Pointing a condemning finger at Haman, the King shouted, “Hang him on it instead!” No due process here, no endless arguments on the finer points of the law, no jury deliberation. The King’s word was the law.
That very day they hanged Haman on the gallows he had built for Mordecai, and the King’s fury subsided. He confiscated Haman’s substantial estate and gifted all of its money and property to me. I introduced Mordecai to the King and for the first time revealed our family relationship. Remembering his loyalty, the King named Mordecai to Haman’s now vacant position as chief counselor giving him the official signet ring he had taken from Haman’s finger. This authorized Mordecai to act in the King’s name. I made Mordecai administrator over all my newfound wealth as well.
Listening to his spirit, man finally learns of the true intentions of the sin nature. But putting the sin nature to death isn’t enough. The Holy Spirit has to be installed as Chief Counselor, and empowered to act. Even though He was sealed within you at the instant of your salvation, you still have to put Him in charge. You see, it’s never a question of how much of the Spirit is in you. The question is always how much of you is in the Spirit. Mordecai was always there for the King. His increasing influence over the affairs of the Kingdom represents the Holy Spirit moving from being with you, as He was before you were saved, to being in you, as He became at the moment of your salvation, to being upon you as you authorize Him to govern your behavior. Only then will you begin to act in His power.
As the Lord Jesus would one day tell His disciples, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” (Matt 12:43-45)
You can’t leave the position of Chief Counselor vacant. Either you appoint the Holy Spirit, or the sin nature will return to re-appoint itself.
This is not the end of my story; it’s only the beginning of the end. My people are not out of danger yet. We still have to overcome the problem of the extermination order against us that even the King cannot rescind. And as we’ll see, the sin nature has offspring that must also be put to death. Stick around. What happens next will astound and amaze you.