For the Love of God, Volume 2/January 28
From Gospel Translations
Genesis 29; Matthew 28; Esther 5; Acts 28
THREE OBSERVATIONS THAT SPRING from Esther 5:
First, the pace of the story prompts a cultural observation. There is much in our culture that demands instantaneous decision. That is as true in the ecclesiastical arena as in the political. We observe what we judge to be an injustice and immediately we get on the phone, fire off E-mails, or huddle in small groups at the local coffee shop to talk over the situation. Of course, some situations require speed. Endemic procrastination is not a virtue. But a great many situations, especially those that involve people relations, could benefit from extra time, a slower pace, a period to reflect. We have already seen that the news of Haman’s plot has been disseminated throughout the empire. Considerable time therefore elapsed before Mordecai approached Esther and challenged her to act. Even then, she did not barge into the king’s presence. She allowed three days for preparation and prayer. Now she is in the presence of the king. Her unauthorized entrance has been accepted. But instead of laying out the problem immediately, she calmly invites the king and Haman to a private banquet. When they get there, she slows the pace even more and builds anticipation by proposing a further banquet, when she will tell all.
Second, Haman represents a man lusting for power. He is in high spirits because only the king and he have been invited to Esther’s banquet (5:9, 12). His boast is his wealth and his public elevation above the other nobles (5:11). It is not enough for him to be rich and powerful; he must be richer and more powerful than others. Doubtless some readers suppose that such temptations do not really afflict them, because they do not have access to the measures of wealth and power that might make them vulnerable. This is naive. Watch how often people, Christian people, become unprincipled, silly, easily manipulated, when they are in the presence of what they judge to be greatness. One of the great virtues of genuine holiness, a virtue immaculately reflected in the Lord Jesus, is the ability to interact the same way with rich and poor alike, with strong and weak alike. Beware of those who fawn over wealth and power and boast about the powerful people they know. Their spiritual mentor is Haman.
Third, Haman represents a man sold out to hatred. All of his strengths and advantages, by his own admission, mean nothing to him when he thinks of Mordecai, “that Jew” (5:13). The only thing that can restore his delight is the prospect of Mordecai’s death (5:14). Here is self-love, the heart of all sin, at its social worst: unrestrained, it vows that it will be first and wants the death of all who stand in the way of fulfilling that vow.