We left the story yesterday just as Haman had implemented his wicked scheme to avenge his wounded pride by doing more than merely punishing Mordecai for his imagined slight; he was going to annihilate Mordecai’s entire ethnic community across the empire. It was a pretty good plot; it had the authority of the king himself, and no decree of the king of Persia could ever be reversed. Haman thought he had an air-tight plan. But God had a plan of His own — and no one trumps God’s plans.
Do not imagine — As soon as Mordecai heard of the plot to kill all the Jews, he was thrown into deep mourning, and sent a messenger to Esther that she had to talk to the king and do something to prevent this wicked plot against God’s people. Esther’s initial response is probably exactly what most of us would say, essentially, “I can’t. The king might kill me. There’s nothing I can do.” Mordecai’s reply to her was something that we should all keep in mind, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews.” We’d like to imagine our inactivity, our failure to get involved in doing our part to serve, share the Gospel, teach, speak up for what is right, contribute, or attend will not really effect us. The truth is — just like Mordecai explained — we will not escape the consequences of our apathy, our laziness, our let-George-do-it attitude, or our distraction with lesser priorities. They weaken the church we are part of and a weaker church will effect us, our family, and our community morally and spiritually. “Do not imagine that you can escape” — yet we often do.
For such a time as this — This verse expresses so beautifully the constant possibilities of God’s activity in our lives. “Who knows?” It applies to us in zillions of ways, doesn’t it? Who knows whether you attained this job for the purpose of saving this colleague’s soul and that of his/her family? Who knows whether you got into this check-out line to be the right person at the right time in this cashier’s life? Who knows whether you lost your job so you could spend more time with your kids at a critical time in their lives? Too often we see only randomness in everyday life, and we fail to see the possibilities of God’s hand. Esther had clearly been placed were she was by a benevolent God who intended to save the Jews — and His grand scheme of redemption.
But this same verse also reveals something many people — many that I’ve spoken to about this, anyway — have not thought about: that God might have a plan B or C or ZZZ. “For if you remain silent at this time,” Mordecai said, “relief and deliverance will arise for the Jew from another place and you and your father’s house will perish.” If you don’t cooperate with God’s plan, he says, God will simply find a more cooperative person and let you perish. Meaning, you have free will; your life hasn’t been planned out, the script (apart from the most generic outline of the direction that God wants history to go) hasn’t been written, you still have legitimate choices that you personally must make. So, on the last day, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself for being lost or saved, because you chose one or the other, you believed and obeyed or you did not believe.
Pride ruined everything — In 5:13 Haman says something that out to make us think. Haman by his own assessment had everything — everything! At 5:13 he even had the honor of being invited by the queen for a very exclusive dinner party — but Mordecai’s refusal to indulge his pride by bowing to him was overshadowing every blessing, every honor, every benefit, every treasure. How often do we let one relatively small thing ruin everything else. It’s not perfect, so it’s all junk. How much better Haman would have been, if he had been satisfied with what he’d been given. How much peace, joy, love, relationship, blessing, benefit, and lasting memory do we miss by focusing obsessively on the one thing that displeases us.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.