Formations lesson for May 24- Esther Takes a Risk
May 11 2009 by Ed Beddingfield, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fayetteville

Focal Passage: Esther 5:1-8; 7:1-8:2

Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all. 

— Friedrich Von Logau (tr. Henry W. Longfellow)

An insomniac king with a beautiful love interest; palace intrigues, comic twists and dramatic reversals; a slapstick mixup of Shakespearean proportions; an arch-villain who gets his just desserts — it doesn’t get any better than this.

Esther melts Xerxes’ heart when she enters, unbidden, into his court. He knows her concern must be serious and offers whatever she asks, even half the kingdom. Instead she invites him to bring Haman to dinner, twice. She has a lot of buttering up to do. As for Haman, he’s overjoyed at his apparent good fortune (5:1-9).

But out in the street Mordecai again refuses to do obeisance. Haman is livid. Power, wealth, status — nothing matters as long as this Jew defies him. Egged on by his wife and friends, he constructs a gallows for Mordecai (5:9-14).

That night the king, unable to sleep, rereads the legal notices in the paper (better than counting sheep?). “Did we ever reward Mordecai for disrupting that assassination plot?” The answer is no. When Haman comes to ask permission to carry out the hanging, Xerxes asks his question first: “How to honor a faithful subject?” Certain that it’s all about him, Haman suggests an over-the-top appreciation ceremony which the king orders him to carry out — for Mordecai (6:1-11). Irony, anyone?

Stung by the humiliation, Haman forgets all about the second banquet and must be collected by the king’s men. There Esther makes her startling pronouncement: Haman! He’s the villain who is threatening her and all her people (6:12-7:6).

The king storms out in a rage. Returning to find Haman literally flung across Esther begging for mercy, Xerxes mistakes it for an assault on his queen. A servant notices the new gallows outside.  How convenient! “Hang him on that” (7:7-10).

Esther gets Haman’s house and Mordecai gets his job, symbolized by the king’s ring, formerly on Haman’s finger. Next to the king, two Jews are now the most powerful people in the land (8:1-2; remember Joseph and Daniel?).

It can seem like forever. The innocent suffer while the wicked go free. But sometimes — not always, but sometimes — the chickens come home to roost. The evil a person intends toward others becomes his own undoing, and justice prevails.

More than eight years have passed since Vashti was deposed (1:3, 2:16, 3:7). Meanwhile God, unnamed, stands patiently waiting, having placed the advancement of His divine purposes into the hands of two ordinary people. Imagine that.

5/11/2009 6:05:00 AM by Ed Beddingfield, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fayetteville | with 0 comments

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