The Expository Files

The Day The Letter Came

Esther 3

Esther 3
Things changed when Haman was promoted to "Top Prince" of the land. In fact, the subservience of men and there devotions were focused primarily upon this man who had the king's blessings. All of the kings SERVANTS were COMMANDED to bow before Haman and pay him tribute and homage because of his position (Esther 3:2).

Although it may appear without propriety to capitalize the words, "servant" and "commanded," it is important to notice that these terms play a significant role in understanding the issue of this revelation. Mordecai would not bow down and pay homage to Haman for specific reasons. First, he WAS NOT A SERVANT of the king and he was not obligated to obey CIVIL COMMANDS that would undermine and destroy his relationship with the God of heaven. Mordecai refused to compromise the priority to be a servant of God as God had commanded. We see this illustrated in a number of places in the inspired record. When Daniel was kidnapped and taken to Babylon, he refused to eat the portions of the kings meat that was given to him. He refused to stop praying and worshiping the living God. And he did not stand for truth in a closet. Instead, as he had always done, he knelt before his window. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to the idol gods of the land. They refused to compromise the expectations of God. This infuriated Nebuchadnezzar, but it did not change the hearts of the faithful. In the text of our current study, the servants of the king threatened Mordecai daily with the consequence of civil violation, and eventually tattled to Haman. With knowledge of this, the kings highest prince was enraged with wrath and anger because Mordecai would not bow before him and render him acknowledgment. Mordecai's decision would not only effect himself, but it would effect every servant of God that lived in the land.

Haman's thugs cast lots to distinguish which day the first holocaust would be. It fell on the thirteenth day of Adar and the unchangeable decree was written. Haman's office sent out letters to every Jewish household clearly explaining their demise and temporary lives. Everyone would die because Mordecai would not bow to Haman. - Do you think it is highly possible that Mordecai was confronted by some of his brethren that maybe he had made a rash decision and probably needed to think it through a little more? Do you think maybe someone could have suggested that he apologize to Haman and maybe these things would not come about? The fourth chapter describes all of Israel mourning over the news. Mordecai dressed himself in sackcloth and ashes, but he did not waver one inch from the standard of right. Yes, his brethren were effected by this, but the consequence of rejecting God or compromising the principles of God's will would certainly propagate a greater punishment than that which they were facing.

I like the rendering of the NKJV in Esther 3:14, where it reads, "A copy of the document was to be issued as law in every province being published for all people that they should be ready for that day". I wonder if the people of God became more fervent in prayer the day the letter came. I wonder if the songs lifted to heaven in praise to his name were attended to more seriously than they had been before. I wonder if the people of God attended to the law and viewed its teachings more closely. I wonder if their attitudes toward each other was closer knit than it had been the days before. And I wonder if the 13th day of Adar had fallen on the day they were to enter into the place of worship, would every one have shown up, or would there have been some who conveniently were unable to attend on that day. Would they seek places to hide? Would they try to make apologies for Mordecai and for being associated with such a shallow and retro-traditional thinker?

I wonder what would happen if a letter like that came today.

By Tony Ripley
From Expository Files 8.3; March 2001