When the events in the Book of Esther began, King Ahasuerus deposed his queen, Vashti, in a fit of anger and for three lonely years lived without a queen. After those three years, he, by the grace of God, found and married a Jewish girl named Esther. Her cousin, Mordecai, became a judge in the city of Susa and he uncovered a plot against the king's life. Chapter three continues this story.
This isn’t simply a story out of the long forgotten past, interesting as it may be. This is the story of your life! The king pictures you and the influence you have on all those you have contact with. If you are a Christian, the king of your life found a new queen when your spirit was made alive in Jesus Christ and now you can know the influence of the Holy Spirit against the plot of Satan in your life. You can see how aptly this story of Esther pictures the story of the believer’s life.
The first two chapters of Esther represent all that many Christians know about the Christian life. They have accepted Christ and are truly born again, and they feel like they have been left here to struggle on the best they can until the Lord comes or until they are called to be with Him, and they’re trying to make the best of it until that time.
Christianity is often perceived as receiving Christ, (being born again), and trying to do the best we can from there on. If this was all there is to the Christian experience, then the book of Esther would end at Chapter 2, but it goes on to teach some very important truths.
The rest of the book is an object lesson, it details the process of Satan's influence in our life, and then it shows how God works to deliver us from Satan’s influence.
Chapter 3 start with problems in the kingdom.
Esther 3:1-5 “After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. 2: And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. 3: Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment? 4: Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5: And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.”
Who is Haman? Why is there antagonism between Mordecai and Haman right away? Haman’s ancestry is given here for some reason. Maybe it has something to do with the problem.
Haman was the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, so he is a descendant of Agag. We find Agag mentioned in First Samuel in connection with the account of how King Saul was ordered by God, through Samuel the prophet, to attack and destroy all the Amalekites so we see that the Amalekites were ancient enemies of the Jews and Mordecai is a Jew.
1 Samuel 15:1-3. “Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. 2: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
Then, it says, in Verses 8-9: “And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9: But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”
Saul refused to obey the command of God to destroy Agag so God took the kingdom from him and gave it to someone else.
If we go back further in time, to when the Children of Israel were on the wilderness journey, we’ll find that Amalek had attack them on their way from Egypt to Canaan.
Exodus 17:8-16. Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9: And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 10: So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11: And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12: But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13: And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14: And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 15: And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: 16: For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
If you go back even further in history, you’ll find that Amalek was the grandson of Esau, and God said "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated." (Malachi 1). So we see that all through the Old Testament, Amalek, Agag, and the descendants of Esau are all picture types of enemies that oppose God’s people.
There’s a satanic principle at work in the personal kingdom that is our body and soul, and Haman the Agagite pictures that principle.
That same principle is at work in every human heart. In the New Testament it’s called "the flesh" and it lives for one purpose, it lives in order to exalt itself just as Haman did.
The king obviously trusted Haman but Haman’s true purpose was to further himself and have everyone bow down to him.
If we let this same principle work in our life, we become self-centered. We think our lives would be nothing at all if we don’t put ourselves first. It’s that old chant, “We’re number one!” This pictures the Haman in our lives and Haman is a picture of Satan working against the Christian in the flesh. Mordecai pictures the Holy Spirit who helps us to resist Satan’s influence. The New Testament says, in Galatians 5:17, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh and these are contrary the one to the other."
God said He would make war against Amalek (Haman’s ancestor) from generation to generation. This was not only physical warfare, it also typifies spiritual warfare against the flesh when it’s controlled by Satan. "The flesh cannot please God," Romans 8:8b.
Every one of us has something inherently displeasing to God in us, no matter how it may appear to us and God has sworn eternal enmity against it. But God, in His infinite grace, puts the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer so that He can oppose this subtle influence that Satan uses so skillfully.
This is what we have pictured in the story of Haman, Mordecai, and Ahasuerus. The king can be said to picture the believer, Haman pictures Satan, and Mordecai the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of man, Satan will do anything he can to cause the believer trouble. When you became a Christian, didn’t you find that you had more trouble than you ever had before? That’s because the Haman (Satan) in you went to work and the Mordecai (the Holy Spirit) in you refused to bow before him.
The nature we were born with doesn’t naturally seek the spiritual things, it goes for the worldly things that are contrary to God. The most important thing in our Christian life is to recognize how Satan works.
In the story of Esther, the enemy’s strategy is shown in verses 6-9 of this chapter. Haman wanted to gain more control of the king but he had to find a way to do it without making the king suspicious. He took a round about approach and in Verse 6 we read: “And he scorned laying hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.”
Because he hated Mordecai, Haman wanted to kill all the Jews in the kingdom. Hatred of God’s covenant people isn’t new nor out of date. Christ Himself was hated and said that all believers would be hated by the world. All believers today, regardless of whether we are Jew or Gentile, are God’s Covenant People under the New Covenant in Christ’s blood.
If Satan can get us to distrust and reject godly attitudes, it frustrates the work of the Holy Spirit in our life. Satan works through the flesh trying to convince us that the things of God at work in us aren’t really to our advantage, that we’d be better off without them and adopting the attitudes of the world would really pay off for us.
Haman used this same principle when he set out to destroy "the people of Mordecai." He told the king that getting rid of the Jews would be to the king’s advantage so Haman set about to pick a day for the killing.
Verse 7: In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, lots, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.” Verse 8. “And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.” Verse 9. “If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.”
Basically, they “rolled the dice” to determine a lucky day for them to kill all the Jews, men, women, and children. They were superstitious about choosing the date themselves so they left it up to the gods of chance, which is pure superstition. I think they were afraid of the true God and were leaving it to chance in an attempt to justify killing innocent people.
Then Haman tried to show his concern for the king by offering to pay the costs of removing these enemies of the king.
He said, “King, old buddy, I like you and I don’t want to see you humiliated by these rag tag self centered people who won’t respect you or me. It won’t cost you a thing to get rid of them. Let me pick up the tab. I’ll pay for the expense of getting rid of them for you out of my own pocket.”
He tried to distracted the king's attention from his true objective with the suggestion that these people were really unprofitable to the king and they had different laws they lived by. Just in passing he mentioned he would contribute ten million dollars to the king's treasury.
Verses 10-11. “And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. 11: And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.”
The king told Haman to keep his money. When everything went his own way, Haman’s apparent victory actually started his defeat.
Our downhill slide starts when we choose to take matters into our own hands without first finding what the will of God is in the matter.
This story accurately reveals what happens in our lives when we yield to temptation. It begins with a decision. We have the final responsibility for what happens in our life, because nothing can be done, good or evil, apart from the consent of our will.
This king was sincere that he was doing the right thing when he gave his permission. Our actions may be sincere but no evil can enter our heart without our permission. When we make a decision, we give the control to forces that may go far beyond what we want, but the decision was ours alone.
The king’s decision had been made and things would proceed for better of for worse.
Verses 12-15a. “Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring. 13: And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. 14: The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. 15: The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace.”
The fast camels had been saddled and the decree had been delivered to all the Persian states.
Verse 15b.“And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.” Your decision sooner or later touches the lives of everyone you have contact with. I believe the king was trying to forget that he had passed a death sentence on many innocent men, women, and children in his kingdom. He turned to one of Satan’s favorite weapons, drink. Satan’s plan was to destroy God’s Covenant People was working.
Nobody could understand why these people had to die. They probably wondered if they were going to be next on Haman’s hit list. Some of the Jews may have been friends or relatives by marriage. The whole city was uneasy. The king had made a bad choice.
We, as Christians, sometimes lose sight of God’s leading in our lives and make bad choices too, but God provides us a way out through the Holy Spirit.
Give thanks to God for the truth of His love that made our salvation possible. Acts:16:31: "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
We have His promise to keep us in perfect peace if we trust in the forgiveness bought by the shed blood of His Son. He tells us to keep our mind on Him, and "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." God will show you the truth, if you ask Him. Ask Him to make you willing to hear, willing to believe, and willing to obey, and He will.
Chapter 4 starts to reveal God's reaction to actions inspired by Satan, and how God sets about to save us from our own bad choices. What a wonderful picture of God's deliverance for the believer. Reading this, we realize that Paul told us to pay attention to these things because they all happened as types and examples for us.
1 Corinthians 10:6. “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”