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*An Evil Interlude*
!!!! Esther 2:21-3:15
* *
In the Christina life we often discover that coming on the heels of spiritual victory comes a great battle against evil.
Oh, it isn’t always recognized as evil.
Sometimes is just that everything seems to go wrong and we lose our patience.
Perhaps we allow an unkind word to be said or an impure thought to live in our mind.
5 people have this morning made a public statement of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Let me tell you that Satan does not like for us to be public about our faith – Satan does not like it when God gets the glory.
Now you can expect spiritual battles to begin.
It is almost as if when you make a statement of your faith then your faith is tested.
Is your faith real?
It is important for us to remember this family in our prayers this week.
Pray for protection, pray for courage, pray that they will be bold in their Christian life.
Esther was living a simple life.
As a Jew she lived with her people in exile.
Her parents died when she was young and she was adopted into the family of her cousin Mordecai.
As a young woman, just when girls her age were thinking of marriage, she was forced to join the harem of the pagan king who was looking for a new wife.
Her personality shone through as she won the favor of the head of the harem, of the other women she was competing against and then of the king himself.
She was chosen as queen of Persia and a banquet was given in her honor.
As the new queen, Esther continued to follow her cousins’ advice.
She told no one of her identity as a Jew.
It would seem the exiled orphan turn queen had any girls dream come true.
But evil is lurking and about to break the enchantment.
Today, our story talks about evil – but evil is only an interlude – an intrusion – but it does not end the story.
(Some people have been reading the story of Esther ahead of the sermons.
It is a fascinating read.)
This morning we focus simply on the intrusion of evil in our lives.
1)      Revelation of a plot to kill the king
Mutiny – a secret conspiracy was growing in the minds of two men.
While most were satisfied, evil surfaces.
Something about the king must have irritated them.
They could not shrug it off.
Instead some offence grew to anger then to rage and finally a plot to murder.
The poison of an unchecked mind.
Mordecai learned of the plot, told his cousin and adopted daughter, Esther, who was now queen, and in turn Esther told the king, giving credit to Mordecai.
Upon investigation, the plot was discovered to be true and the two men were hanged.
This story gets put on the back burner by the storyteller.
But do not forget it.
This act of Mordecai’s to save the king has not yet been rewarded but it has been recorded in the king’s records.
2)      Enter:  Haman – the Agagite
I Sam.
Agag was king of the Amalekites.
He was defeated by king Saul and put to death by Samuel.
Exodus 17:8-16
Amalekites attacked Israel during their exodus from Egypt.
Concludes:  ”The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
“You shall blot out the memory of the Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.”
Haman is a descendant of king Agag,
Mordecai is a descendant of Kish (2:5) so was King Saul a descendant of Kish.
These two men, Haman and Mordecai are heirs to a long-standing and bitter tradition of ethnic anger and hatred.
Story:  Haman is exalted by the king and expects honor from all in the realm.
PAUSE:  Why is Haman getting the promotion?
Wasn’t it Mordecai that saved the king’s life?
Life is unfair – isn’t it?
You deserve the promotion.
You worked the hardest.
You came up with the big ideas.
You have done most in your company for the boss.
It’s only right that you get the promotion.
But it doesn’t happen.
Life isn’t fair.
Evil prevails!
Haman gets promoted to the high place of honor where all others pay him respect and honor.
But not Mordecai.
He refuses to bow down or pay him honor.
He is a Jew.
2-4 – when the officials asked him why he would not join them in paying Haman the honor his position deserved he continually gave them the same answer – “I am a Jew.”
It went against the deepest conviction of his faith.
The Torah, the law given by God stated clearly:  “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Mordecai’s faith simply prevented him from bowing down to any earthly being.
Haman was enraged.
His reaction far exceeded the offence.
Far beyond simple revenge and plotting to murder Mordecai for humiliating Haman, he chooses to kill all the Jews.
What is happening here?
He is action is motivated by racial hatred.
The Agagites hated the Jews.
They had been taught this hatred since their childhood.
From his parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, from his uncles and aunts and cousins, Haman the Agagite had learned to hate the Jews.
That hatred ate away at him, and when he was placed in a position of power, we can be certain he carried that hatred with him.
And so he devised a scheme and presented it cloaked with truths, half-truths and lies to the king.
From chapter one we learned that the king is an empty puppet leading only by his own desire to display his wealth and power.
With his mind dulled by alcohol, to somehow alleviate his hurt pride, the king banished his queen from his presence and pronounced a law for his entire kingdom that he could not even enforce within his own family!
As Haman approaches him again we see a callous king bent only on keeping peace and propping up his image in the courts.
Without any thought to the people he was about to exterminate, King Exerses gives Haman royal power to carry out his wishes.
Haman is unmitigated evil.
Exerses’ indifference is just as dangerous an evil!
3)      Rivalry escalates from one person refusing to worship another to full-scale murder.
Haman put into motion his anti-Semitic extermination plan.
The plan was to have all the citizens rise up against their Jewish neighbors and with the motivation of keeping anything their Jewish neighbors possessed they were to kill all the men, women and children at the command of the king.
The law specified a certain date some 11 months away – lots of time to fuel anti-Jewish feelings while prolonging the agony of the Jews who have no place to run since the Persian empire covered the entire known world.
The date was chosen by a method similar to shooting dice.
They sought out a lucky day for them and chose to do their murderous act on that day.
Haman was able to go to the king and say in effect:  “Look!
If you want good luck in your life, if you want fortune to smile upon you, there’s one thing to do – get rid of those people!
Racial hatred and superstition combined to unleash a demonic plan.
Public violence, murder and pillage are to be unleashed to provide vengeance for Haman’s wounded pride.
The fate of the Jews seems sealed.
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