Esther has been named queen and is living in the palace of King Xerxes. Her cousin, Mordecai, who adopted Esther when her parents died, guards the palace gates. And then there’s Haman, an official for King Xerxes and for all intents and purposes, ancient Persia’s very own Hitler.
One day, while guarding the gates, Mordecai overhears two of King Xerxes’ officials plotting to kill him. He got word to Esther to warn the king and the two officials’ plans were thwarted. While Mordecai was not awarded for his noble efforts, the King’s scribes did make a note of it in the history book.
Fast forward 4-5 years later. Esther is still queen and Mordecai continues to guard the palace gates. Haman is now King Xerxes’ highest official. Haman loathes Mordecai, and not just because of his Jewish heritage. You see, Mordecai refused to kneel and bow down before Haman, so Haman set in motion a plan to have every Jew in the province annihilated. Mordecai spiraled into violent mourning at this decree, but continued to keep watch over the palace gates.
One evening, the King was having trouble sleeping and asked for his attendant to bring in the history book and read to him. The attendant got to the part about that one time when Mordecai saved the king’s life from certain assassination. Xerxes asked the attendant if they’d ever done anything for Mordecai. When the attendant answered, no, the king summoned Haman to his chambers.
When Haman arrived, the king asked him, “What should I do to honor a man who truly pleases me?” Of course, Haman thinks Xerxes is talking about him and lays out this elaborate plan including wearing the king’s fancy clothes, and riding on the king’s horse….a horse with an emblem on its head, no less. And on top of all that, he suggested that one of the king’s highest officials parade that man around the city square shouting to everyone, “This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!” Y’all, this next part is absolutely hysterical. King Xerxes looks at Haman and says, “Excellent! Quick! Take the robes and my horse and do just as you have said for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the gate of the palace…..leave nothing out that you have suggested.”
Of all the books in the bible and of all the chapters in the bible, why is this my absolute favorite? There are three reasons:
1. It demonstrates that God has a sense of humor. The way that God chose to honor Mordecai for his faithfulness, by orchestrating this outlandish royal parade at Haman’s expense, is absolutely hilarious to me. Laughter is a healing balm, and I can only imagine how many onlookers had to cover their smiles with their hand as Haman led the elaborate procession, (his idea, by the way) through the city square.
2. It reminds us that God will fight our battles and that God will punish our enemies. Mordecai did not retaliate against Haman, even though he had every reason to do so. Instead, he waited for God to fight his battle for him. And God came through in a mighty way, by bringing honor and nobility to Mordecai and utter, public, humiliation to Haman. Haman’s plot to kill the Jews would later be revealed to the King. As punishment, Haman was impaled on a 75 foot metal pole that he had erected himself for Mordecai.
3. It affirms that God is good and keeps His promises to those that love him. I’m sure that Mordecai was passed over for promotions time after time, but he continued to stand firm in his position at the gate. Never wavering. Some may even question how a God, who allowed for Esther to lose both of her parents, could possibly be good. But had that not happened, there never would have been reason for Mordecai to adopt her, and this historical occurrence would not have unfolded the way that it did. Esther, this orphan girl, brought redemption to her people in a story that still holds significance today. God is good. He keeps His promises.
Remember, too, that this narrative was YEARS in the making, requiring Esther, Mordecai and all of the Jews in that region to hold firm in their faith. But what about me and you?
Do you ever feel like a Mordecai? Watching colleagues, friends and family members elevated over and over to positions and places of honor you think you deserve. Watching as people, perhaps some enemies, are recognized for their efforts, while you maintain your stead. Seemingly invisible. Still guarding the gate.
Remember this story. Remember that God sees you. His eyes can gaze beyond your current circumstances to a greater purpose that He has specifically ordained for you. He will fight your battles, and punish your enemies, and place you where he wants you as part of His great plan. Do not despair, for perhaps you are exactly where you are supposed to be, "for such a time as this."