After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. [2 ] And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. [3 ] Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” [4 ] And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. [5 ] And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. [6 ] But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus (Esther 3:1-6 ESV).
Standing as one of the most astounding narratives in all literature, the book of Esther recounts a time when the people of Israel where in exile in Babylon (around 550 B.C.). King Ahasuerus needed a queen after he banished Queen Vashti for humiliating him in front of his friends. Through an extended process, the king chose Esther. Her cousin, Mordecai, instructed her to keep her Hebrew name (Hadassah) and her lineage quiet. Esther gained favor.
But the king’s first lieutenant was the Agagite named Haman. Verse 1 shows that he was above all the officials—just the way he liked it! Haman was intrigued by wealth and power, and liked how he wore those clothes, for sure. He liked everyone bowing to him, paying him homage. Yet Mordecai refused. In Mordecai’s thinking, he only bowed to his God and his King. Instead of Haman respecting Mordecai’s view, his reaction exposed his motives: “Haman was filled with fury” (Esther 3:5). His anger led him to wish Mordecai eliminated—even if he had to conjure up a conspiracy before the king about Mordecai’s people. His blind rage blinded him from the atrocity he was about to commit.
D.A. Carson insightfully warns us of falling for the spirit of Haman:
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 (D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, Part II, January 28 entry).
James warns us about the sin of partiality in James 2:1-13—only loving those who have something to offer us, or even loving those who believe we have something to offer them. (I preached on this two Sunday’s ago for Sanctity of Life Sunday.)
In reading about the horrible conditions found in Confederate prisons during the end of the Civil War, one would wonder if any good thing could be said about them. The pictures that came out remind one of the pictures of those in Nazi prison camps. Yet, one said something surprising regarding the horrific Libby Prison in New Orleans in 1864.
Libby prison was a vast museum of human character, where the chances of war had brought into close communion every type and temperament; where military ran was wholly ignored and all shared a common lot. . . . It was indeed a remarkable gathering and the circumstances are not likely to arise that will reassemble its counterpart again. . . . All in all, Libby prison . . . was doubtless the best school of human nature ever seen in this country (Bruce Catton and James M. McPherson, The American Heritage New History of the Civil War, 474).
Human nature, it must be seen, is fallen and in need of redemption (Genesis 3; Psalm 51, etc.), but the idea of a situation where rank and class did not matter shows how fleeting wealth and rank and class are. All of us are of value, being image bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
Beware the Spirit of Haman.
Read John 20.
Pray for yourself and the three people God would have you speak to about Christ.
Fast to disconnect from the world.
Journal your journey.