Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 large sacks of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury.” The king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his signet ring from his finger and giving it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. The king said, “The money and the people are both yours to do with as you see fit” … Dispatches were sent by swift messengers into all the provinces of the empire, giving the order that all Jews—young and old, including women and children—must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on a single day. This was scheduled to happen on March 7 of the next year. The property of the Jews would be given to those who killed them. A copy of this decree was to be issued as law in every province and proclaimed to all peoples, so that they would be ready to do their duty on the appointed day. (Esther 3:8-11, 13-14 NLT)
Persecution? No, genocide. Now the Jews, who are no strangers to suffering, being surrounded by enemies, in this case because of their disobedience to God, were in exile because of their sins. But, God had promised that He would bring them back, so wiping them out was not part of His plan. It was the plan of a very evil individual named Haman. Mordecai, another main character of the book and a leader of the Jews and uncle to Queen Esther, who was also Jewish, contacts her, telling her of the decree and asks Esther to go to the king and beg for mercy and plead for her people.
Unfortunately, it was court etiquette that if someone was not summoned by the king and tried to appear before him without an invite, it resulted in death. Mordecai’s response was: Who knows if perhaps you were made Queen for just a time as this? Esther asks Mordecai to gather all the Jews and fast for her three days, then she would try to go before the king.
Following Esther being granted an audience with the King, intrigue abounds (chapters 5-9) which eventually leads to the decree being repealed, the Jews being saved, Haman disgraced and killed and Mordecai exalted.
An interesting characteristic of the book of Esther: nowhere is God mentioned. But you see His works all over the place. And because of the deeds of a couple of righteous individuals, an entire nation was saved. I wonder what God would do if we would stand for His righteousness for such a time as this?
Read last week’s blog, Dealing with Trauma – Starting Strong