INTRODUCTION – If you have ever wondered what God does in a given day, one place you could look is Jeremiah 9:23,24, where the prophet states, “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty many boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”
The living God, who never sleeps or takes a vacation, is constantly throughout the earth exercising lovingkindness, justice and righteousness. And much of this work He chooses to do through people, and if possible – families.
Ideally every family on the earth would not only be a place of support and training and provision for its own family members, but it also out of its relationship with the living God – would have an overflow of love and compassion and service for those in need around them.
Sadly in many cases that is not the case. In fact one of the reasons God has to exercise justice on the earth is because some families are so ridden with evil that instead of extending love, compassion and service to those around them, they actually extend hatred, violence, murder, and who knows what else to those within their reach.
One of those families actually shows up in the book of Esther, the family of Haman and Zeresh. And had God not acted through another family, mass destruction of Jews would have taken place over a very large region.
We know very little about Haman and Zeresh. Pretty much only what we’re told in the book of Esther – starting in ch. 3. For reasons we are not told by the author of Esther, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman to a position similar to Vice President in our nation. It is very possible that one reason he was promoted was because of how he brown nosed the King throughout the six plus months of celebrations, they had just had. From chapter one we know the King’s purpose for all these celebrations and lavish banquets was to display his glory and power. And it is possible Haman took every opportunity during those days to agree with the King that his majesty and glory was indeed stupendous and like none other.
What we know for sure is if he was promoted because of his character or leadership skills or sacrificial service, the author chose not to mention it.
So in chapter 3 we find Haman was not only promoted to this 2nd highest position in the kingdom, but we also learn in vs. 2 of ch. 3 that the King had commanded that everyone in the kingdom should bow down and pay homage to Haman every time they were graced by his presence. Everyone gladly obeyed, except Mordecai. This refusal absolutely ate Haman’s lunch! vs. 5 tells us he was filled with rage, when he walked by Mordecai and unlike everyone else around him, Mordecai neither bowed nor payed homage.
You know the story – Haman decides instead of just having Mordecai killed, why not have every Jew living in the 127 provinces from Ethiopia to India that King Ahasuerus ruled over killed? He talks the King into a strategic plan for this to happen. And everything seems to be moving in that direction; and then one day after enjoying the first of two banquets Esther threw for him and the King, he walks by Mordecai again; and Mordecai – being a man of principle – again refused to bow and pay homage; Haman again was furious; and Haman goes home and summons his wife and friends and recounts to them “the glory of his riches” and the number (literally multitude) of his sons (not their names, but their total number, as so many notches in his belt), and an opportunity arises for his wife and friends to speak some sense into this maniac, but sadly the opposite happens. Zeresh and his friends, though Zeresh is mentioned first, which probably means she took the lead, and they followed her lead – – she (and they) totally enabled him to fulfill the evil in his heart, by encouraging him to build a gallows and hang Mordecai at the earliest opportunity.
Family at its worst! I mean even Pilate’s wife warned him with great sobriety to not have anything to do with the mob efforts to crucify Jesus.
Nothing sucks the life out of the God given destiny on every family to be an instrument in God’s hands than this prevalent practice of turning a blind eye to obvious sin and evil and unrighteousness in one’s family or extended family. Sometimes wives do it in a marriage where their standing in the marriage and in the home is far from secure; Sometimes adult children try to keep peace with their parents (especially if there is an inheritance in the wings) even though they know what their parents are saying or doing or planning to do is wrong and unrighteous.
I’m working on a study on every thing Jesus ever said about family. He invented families and He is thus highly invested in them. But listen to these words about what is sometimes necessary in a family, “Matthew. 10:34-37 – “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Mothers in the room, many of whom are also wives, …. The living God yearns to use you to see His very personal and specific destiny for your family and even extended family realized; but it has to be on His terms, and you will need to trust Him that if He tells you to speak truth, or to walk out the truth, He can handle the initial fallout from doing so, especially if you are in a family or clan where speaking truth is rarely practiced or not acceptable from the women in the family.
Well,… enough focus on hatred filled Haman and his enabling wife Zeresh.
As you know if you have read the book of Esther or if you have been tracking with us in our preaching series through Esther, God used Esther and her older cousin Mordecai to avert the total destruction of every Jew living under King Ahasuerus’s reign.
God knew before the world began that wicked Haman as Esther called him would seek to wipe out the Jews. God could have just struck Haman with lightning to protect and defend His people, but instead He chose a family – of sorts to be His instrument.
I say “family – of sorts” because this was not a model family. Not a family that any of us would have on the front end chosen to be the family of the year. Mordecai was evidently a widower or perhaps never married, which if that was the case would mean he had no experience whatsoever raising a child. Esther never had the opportunity to be raised by a mother and father. Both died we are told in chapter 2. And if it was necessary for Mordecai to take upon himself the responsibility of raising her, she must have been young enough to not be able to be on her own. Not only did she not have the identity and security that God meant for a set of parents to impart to their child as they layed their lives down for their child year after year, but she also probably had some trauma from losing her parents at such an early age, though again we do not know how old she was when they died. Were they murdered, died in a fire, both died of pneumonia…??? We just don’t know.
Whether Mordecai had parenting experience – again we don’t know. But I find it interesting in ch. 2 that twice the author mentions that Mordecai took the initiative to raise her as his own. First in vs. 7, “….when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” And then in vs. 15, “Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as hisdaughter…” Mordecai took this responsibility very seriously, which can be seen by his practice of daily checking in on her status while she was in the king’s harem, vs. 11, “Every day Mordecai walked back and forth in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and how she fared.”
We don’t know for sure what Mordecai’s job or daily responsibilities were, but one thing we know – one way or another – he found a way and a time to check in on his adopted daughter.
Now Esther was in the King’s harem with a whole bunch of other young virgins. My guess is most of them were ecstatic about the possibility of becoming the next queen. They also might have been glad to finally be free from the shackles of their parents and to be able to be doted on with lavish foods and all the make up they ever dreamed of. They very likely had lots of conversations with their fellow virgins, and were more and more influenced by those relationships, than the fading memory of parents that they do not see anymore.
But even though Mordecai was not Esther’s parent, she highly respected him and gave great attention to his counsel and instruction. We see this first in vs. 10, where we are told she didn’t make her Jewish ethnicity known “for Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make them known.” Then it is more significantly emphasized in vs. 20, “Esther had not yet made known her kindred or her people, even as Mordecai had commanded her; for Esther did what Mordecai told her as she had done when under his care.” Heeding his counsel was a way of life for Esther.
Both Esther and Mordecai were principled people; people who practiced respect and honor of each other whether they were in each other’s presence or not.
And it was that mutual respect and deep care for one another and commitment to truth that enabled them to work together to make the plot to assassinate the king known to him as seen at the end of chapter 2. Mordecai after learning of this plot, easily could have decided, “Hey this guy’s an arrogant pervert. Have at him!! I’ll just pretend like I didn’t hear that.” Or Esther after hearing of this plot from Mordecai could have concluded the same thing, and just kept it to herself. But both of them knew somehow that all authority is to be honored, and God is the one alone who holds the right to raise one up and put down another.
What I really want to emphasize about this family of two is this: After Esther was crowned queen, and she had had some time to see how the King dealt with those who crossed him or dishonored him, she could have lessened her aspirations to simple self preservation and self preservation alone. But she had cultivated a lifestyle of respect and honor for Mordecai. She had seen God’s blessing time and time again on her life as a result of heeding Mordecai’s counsel, and as a result of choosing the way of truth and righteousness in the midst of the heat of battle and crisis.
I love the way Mordecai, who loved this young lady as his own daughter, picked up on this huge temptation of self love and self preservation that she was wrestling with when he was trying to help her see her destiny in chapter 4. Esther as a young lady had overcome so much, and now God had clearly exalted her to be Queen over this vast empire, and now Mordecai is asking her to risk being executed to keep the Jews from mass destruction? Easy for him to say! But this wasn’t the first time they had to wrestle for truth and righteousness together, and when she pondered Mordecai’s famous words, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” For such a crisis as this? Esther knew she had to lay her life down for something far greater than her own security, hopes and dreams.
Listen folks, the families and clans in America are in desperate need of mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and even sons and daughters who will echo Jesus’s words, “ For what shall it profit a man (or a woman) if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?” Or Jesus’s words where He said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
Who cares if your son daughter or grandchild makes straight A’s, and has a great job waiting for them upon graduation, and has this or that honor, and they are not daily bowing the knee to Jesus who gave them those abilities?
Who cares if your father or grandfather just earned another career notch in his belt and het he doesn’t bow the knee to Jesus?
You know what’s great about Mordecai? Right after he exhorted Esther to die to her right to self preservation and risk it all for a greater cause, she then commanded him to “Go assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. ….” And how did he respond? Vs. 17 “So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.”
Their relationship wasn’t a one way (my way or the highway) relationship. They wrestled with the call to truth and righteousness and fulfilling one’s calling together and both were sharpened by the other’s insights and zeal and obedience.
So if we women are supposed to speak up more and not sweep things under the rug, what do we do with Peter’s command in I Peter 3:1, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior….”
The key ladies/wives is that you make your priority your inner growth in holiness and purity. Jesus was very clear that the only way we can see clear to remove the splinter in another’s eye is that we give daily due attention to the massive beam in our own. A husband knows if he is being respected by his wife or not.
I know of a couple who used to watch a movie most every Friday night in their living room together as a way to “relax” and get their work (mainly the husband’s) off their minds. Over time the wife began to feel more and more uncomfortable with some of the things that would crop up in some of the movies. Eventually she would put her hands over her eyes if it was too violent or too sensual. Finally she began at times to just walk up stairs and let her husband finish the movie. Eventually they quit watching movies all together. Now she never told her husband while walking away that he was a loser (or worse) for watching some of those movies. But he got the message.
I know a family whose grown daughter loves and respects and consistently honors her Dad. She and her husband decided to get a puppy. Nothing wrong with that. Her father and mother had obtained a puppy from a local friend and litter when their children were young. And then a year after it died, they got another puppy from the Humane Society in their region. The first one was free and the next one was under $100.00. And thus should everyone in the kingdom of God obtain their puppies, this father subconsciously believed. “So where and how are you getting this puppy?” the dad asked his daughter. “From a breeder in Palm Springs. And the price is ______. Which was way over $100.00. The dad’s eyes bulged. The daughter caught the bulge, and said, “Dad, don’t judge us!” The Dad knew he was guilty as charged. Should she have not said that? I believe she had every right to. Ultimately righteousness is more important than a man’s feelings.
I do think there are times where we need to be careful that we do not do the Holy Spirit’s work. This will become clear to us as we grow in “walking by the Spirit and not by the flesh.”
Closing time of intercession for the moms and ladies in the room.