House of Death, part one

I’m so excited about what God showed me in the Bible this week. It’s an awesome thing, but it comes at the end of a long story and so we’re going to do something different this week. This week we’re just gonna study the Bible together as we move through this story on our way to what God said to me about it. We’re gonna be in the book of Esther, but I want to tell a quick little story before I jump into it.

While I was trying to study the book of Esther, I fell asleep hard. I’m talking, awake one second, passed out the next kind of falling asleep. This happened for over a week straight. I was on Esther chapter 2 for nine days straight. I’m not calling the Bible boring, because as you’ll see with me this week there’s some awesome stuff in the book of Esther, but I’m just telling you that I was struggling to study my Bible. Part of it was that my sleep schedule has shifted just a little, just enough to apparently cause me to get insanely tired after work. And so if I sat still for a few minutes when I got home, I was just passing out.

This struggle really made me get serious about making Bible study a priority again. This stuff is our food, and if we step away from the table we’re going to starve. Without food you’ve got no strength, and if you don’t come grab some of the food then you’ve got nothing to share with others who are hungry. So God really ruffled my feathers a little, kind of pushed me a little, and just reminded me how much of a priority it is to stay in His word. I started leaving the house with my Bible, going somewhere less comfortable, somewhere I’m not going to go to sleep. And guess what God did? Like usual when we take a step in His direction, He just blessed me so much with great revelations, deeper understandings, and a renewed hunger and fire for Him and His word.

So before I start this week, let me just encourage you to find a way to study your Bible. If you look around and don’t see a way, then make a way. When you really examine your life and see the things we make time for, it’s hard to make an excuse for not making time to get closer to God through His word. Make a way, and God’s going to bless you with some spiritual growth and some deeper understanding and just a whole host of beautiful and amazing things.

Alright, so, book of Esther. The story of this book is one that I’ve heard preached on before, and if you’re someone who’s spent a lot of time in church or listening to sermons you’re probably familiar with the story. The whole thing can be read in Esther chapters 2 – 7. It’s a bit long, so we’re going to spend the first part of the week just working through it and looking closely at these events.

We’re in Persia, and the Jews are still in captivity here at this point. A beautiful Jewish woman named Esther wins the favor of King Ahasuerus (also called Xerxes depending on what Bible translation you’re reading) and is made the new queen. Under direction from her cousin Mordecai, who basically is like her surrogate father, she doesn’t tell anyone that she’s a Jew.

One day, Mordecai is hanging out and discovers a plot to assassinate the king by some of the king’s own men, and he passes word of the plot to the king through Esther. The two would be assassins get hung, bad situation averted. Remember this, as it’s going to come back up later on.

At this point, a guy named Haman comes onto the scene. He’s promoted up pretty high in the kingdom, and Ahasuerus makes a decree that people need to bow down pay homage to Haman. Mordecai refuses to bow to this man. The Bible doesn’t tell us why here, but with all the idol worship that’s gone on up to this point in the Old Testament, I think the reason is clear. Mordecai is a man who honors God and believes in Him, therefore he’s not going to bow down to any man. His master is God and God alone.

It’s not even remotely my point this week, but can we just pause and acknowledge the parallels between this situation and our own world right now? The world’s bowing down to just about anyone and anything BUT God right now. When all those around us bow down, are we refusing to go along with it? Are we proudly proclaiming that we only bow to one master, and He is the one true God? Or are we bowing to other powers, right along with those around us? Questions for myself, questions for you, just something to think about.

So, back to the story. Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman, and Haman’s not happy.

Esther 3:5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury.

It’s at this point where we learn something really dark about Haman. He doesn’t want revenge on just Mordecai, he doesn’t desire to just kill Mordecai and get rid of him. He’s got bigger goals.

Esther 3:6-7 But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Haman’s not after A Jew, he’s after ALL of them. Mordecai’s just the Jew in his face. So Haman goes to the king and explains a few things. He says we’ve got some different people here, they have different beliefs, and they’re not following your rules. We should kill them, and I’ll even fund the massacre. That really eluded me upon first reading, the fact that Haman offers to pay for the whole deal. He doesn’t directly say “let’s use this money for murder”, he just says “agree to kill these people and I’ll deposit a bunch of money into the treasury.” So I don’t know, maybe it was more of just a way to sweeten the deal, but regardless, it shows the level of commitment Haman had to death, doesn’t it? He’s willing to pay money to make sure the Jews get wiped out. And so the king agrees.

Esther 3:13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.

Not only did this atrocity get approved, but they assign a date to it! That blows my mind. “Listen up, all of you people of this particular type, on this day on this coming month, we’re going to murder all of you, your kids, old people, all dead, and then we’re gonna take your stuff. Thanks for listening, carry on.”

Gonna pause it here for the day, but I really want to encourage you to keep coming back this week. This is one of the great stories of the Old Testament and there’s a ton of great wisdom in here.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, today I just thank you for your word.  Lord, we seem to be able to make everything else a priority over reading our Bibles, and so today I just want to ask that you help us.  Awaken a new hunger in us for your word, give us the wisdom to know that you come first, and then everything else falls into line behind.  Thank you that when we do spend time with you it’s not in vain, that you enrich us and strengthen us and grow us.  In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.

I love you guys!  I’m looking forward to walking through this study with all of you as the week continues along.  I hope you all had a great Monday!

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