Friday, November 12, 2010

Esther 6: The Set Up

Bible study: The Book of Esther

Sleepless in Susa. What's a king to do? Listen to stories of his own greatness, of course! And that's exactly what we find King Xerxes doing after that first dinner with Esther and Haman.

Esther 6 is when God pivots the whole story line of Esther, and the pivotal point is not the point of highest tension.
We expect the peripety (the sudden reversal, the hinge) to fall in the spot of highest tension but it doesn't always happen that way. In Esther, the pivot point is not the climax of the narrative. It's the seemingly insignificant event of Xerxes sleepless night, an ordinary event that begins to turn the tables. By making the peripety, the pivot point, an insignificant event, rather than the point of highest dramatic tension, the author is taking the focus away from human action. Had the pivot point been during the tension, Esther or Xerxes would have been seen as the cause for the change or reversal. By separating the peripety from the tension this makes the message that no one in the story is in control what is about to happen! An unseen power, God, is controlling the reversal of destiny. ~Karen Jobes.
God used Xerxes' sleepless night to turn the tide in Esther. The scrolls that were read to him recounted the story of how Mordecai had saved the king's life, 5 years previously. Typically, those kinds of deeds were great rewarded, but that time hadn't been. When Xerxes looks around for someone to help him figure out what to do, Haman is there with a fast answer.

Just look at this! Haman doesn't have to stop and think. The answer is fast because he's thought about it so often, and besides, who would the king want to honor more then the great Haman who attends private dinners with the king and queen of Persia? Haman pours out his wish list. He's so deep into self-promotion that he doesn't even stop to think the king may have someone else in mind.

Check out Haman's wish list:
*dressed in a royal robe—Persians superstitiously thought the king's robes brought him magical powers so very, very few ever touched them.
*riding the king's horse—coronations included riding the king's horse.
*paraded around by the king's most noble prince—clearly placing him much higher than the most noble prince.

It's enough to wonder if Haman wasn't planning on usurping the king's throne. Haman's tremendous thirst for honor made him so fixated on it that it eventually ended up destroying him. Look at the pronouns in verse 10...

The the king said to Haman, “Take quickly the robes and the horse as YOU have said, and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king's gate; do not fall short in anything of all the YOU have said.” ~Esther 6:10 NAS

Of course, Haman obeyed. *snicker* I so wish I could see an instant replay of that scene! What was said between the two men as Haman robed Mordecai? Did Haman bellow his pronouncement of “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor!” or did he say it only loud enough that he could still mumble some? And what did the onlookers think and see? Did they see and understand the irony of it all? How many Jews got to see Mordecai on the king's horse? Did they cheer wildly? Do you think they had any idea of what was about to happen?

And then what happened?
Mordecai went back to work at the king's gate and Haman scurried home with his head covered. Once he got there, he wasn't encouraged, either. His friends saw what had happened and they took off. They didn't want to be anywhere close the lightening bolt struck, and it's a good thing because it struck fast.
We might glean several things from Mordecai's example. If we get overlooked for affirmation or promotion, so be it. Let's just do our jobs. If we get elevated and celebrated, so be it. Let's just do our jobs. Let's pursue a walk with God so close that the spolights of this world—be they for us or against us—are eclipsed by His enourmougs shadow dcast on our path.

There in the shelter of the Most High we find our significance and the only saticsfactin of our insatiable need to be noticed. There and theree alone we are free to be neither depressed nor impressed with the capticious reactions of this carnal world. ~Beth Moore
Haman's pride set him up for the fall he took. God's hand worked out the details for his free fall from fame.

By making a sleepless night the pivot point of the book, God took the focus off all human involvement and placed it squarely on Himself. He is the unseen powerful hand controlling destiny—then and now.

What about me and you?

*Do you think Xerxes' sleepless night had anything to do with Esther including Haman in their private dinner?

*When was the last time you've been sleepless? Try listening to what God may be trying to say to you but you're always too busy to listen to.

*Is there something you've become so fixated on that it's cheating you out of the goodness God is offering? Is that fixation setting you up destruction?

*After you've been praised or rewarded, do you go right back to work or do you strut around preening?

4 comments:

  1. I recently saw (again) One Night with the King and this played out so well. You can just picture it all.

    I never thought about why Xerxes was sleepless. Good point!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I never thought about Xerxes' sleeplessness either! Maybe he was wondering what Esther would be asking for. Who knows? Love this post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As Julie and Joanne stated, I never thought about Xerxes' sleeplessness.

    Wow Patty--another thought provoking post!

    Makes me wonder if I'm basking in my accomplishments instead of basking in Him?!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post, Patti! Thought provoking, and I loved that Beth Moore study in particular!

    ReplyDelete

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