June 29: Behind the Scenes
Esther 3:1–7:10; 3 John 1:1–4; Psalm 117:1–118:16
Sometimes life can look so bleak that it seems as if all hope is gone. This was the situation for Esther and Mordecai: “Letters were sent by couriers to all the provinces of the king to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children” (Esth 3:13). Genocide was upon Esther, Mordecai, and their people, and it seemed that little could be done.
Yet God unexpectedly used Esther to do His work and made Mordecai a hero for thwarting the enemies’ plan to destroy God’s people (Esth 5–7). As a result, the people who wanted to kill Mordecai ended up dead (Esth 7:7–10). But these events depicted more than poetic justice; they provide an example of hope in the midst of adversity. This story shows that God is at work even when we don’t realize He is there—when even prayer feels like a waste of energy.
While God is not a “character” in the book of Esther, His presence is implicit in every scene of goodness coming out of chaos. We may not see Him talking in a burning bush, but we feel His concern in the tension; we note His love and compassion through His orchestration of events. These actions aren’t credited to God directly, but that, too, shows something about His character. He doesn’t need the praise that we so often do, so we need to acknowledge how praiseworthy He really is. Even when we don’t know how to pray, or don’t pray at all, God can still answer. And that’s goodness, above all else.
How is God at work in your life in ways you may not realize—even at this very moment?
JOHN D. BARRY
- After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and exalted him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king’s servants that were at the king’s gate, bowed their knees, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him: but Mordecai bowed not the knee, neither did reverence. Then the king’s servants which were at the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest the king’s commandment? And albeit they spake daily unto him, yet he would not hear them: therefore they hold Haman, that they might see how Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them, that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not the knee unto him, nor did reverence unto him, then Haman was full of wrath. Now he thought it too little to lay hands only on Mordecai: and because they had showed him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. In the first month (that is the month of Nisan) in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is a lot) before Haman, from day to day, and from month to month unto the twelfth month, that is the month of Adar. Then Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a people scattered, and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom, and their laws are divers from all people, and they do not observe the King’s laws: therefore it is not the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be writen that they may be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver by the hands of them that have the charge of this buisness to bring it into the king’s treasury. Then the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite the Jews’ adversary. And the king said unto Haman, Let the silver be thine, and the people to do with them as it pleaseth thee. Then were the king’s Scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written (according to all that Haman commanded) unto the king’s officers, and to the captains that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people, and to every province, according to the writing thereof, and to every people according to their language: in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to root out, to kill and to destroy all the Jews, both young and old, children and women, in one day upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (which is the month Adar) and to spoil them as a prey. The contents of the writing was, that there should be given a commandment in all provinces, and published unto all people, that they should be ready against the same day. And the posts compelled by the King’s commandment went forth, and the commandment was given in the palace of Shushan: and the king and Haman sat drinking, but the city of Shushan was in perplexity. Now when Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth, and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a great cry, and a bitter. And he came even before the King’s gate, but he might not enter within the king’s gate, being clothed in sackcloth. And in every province and place, whither the king’s charge and his commandment came, there was great sorrow among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and mourning, and many lay in sackcloth and in ashes. Then Esther’s maid and her Eunuchs came and told it her: therefore the queen was very heavy, and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him, but he received it not. Then called Esther Hathach one of the King’s eunuchs, whom he had appointed to serve her, and gave him a commandment unto Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was. So Hathach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king’s gate. And Mordecai told him of all that which had come unto him, and of the sum of the silver that Haman had promised to pay unto the King’s treasures, because of the Jews, for to destroy them. Also he gave him the copy of the writing and commission that was given at Shushan, to destroy them, that he might show it unto Esther and declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in to the king, and make petition and supplication before him for her people. So when Hathach came, he told Esther the words of Mordecai. Then Esther said unto Hathach, and commanded him to say unto Mordecai, All the king’s servants and the people of the King’s province do know, That whosoever, man or woman, that cometh to the king into hte inner court, which is not called, there is a law of his, that he shall die, except him to whom the king holdeth out the golden rod, that he may live. Now I have not been called to come unto the king these thirty days. And they certified Mordecai of Esther’s words. And Mordecai said, that they should answer Esther thus, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou holdest thy peace at this time, comfort and deliverance shall appear to the Jews out of another place, but thou and my father’s house shall perish: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time? Then Esther commanded to answer Mordecai, Go, and assemble all the Jews that are found in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and eat not, nor drink in three days, day nor night. I also and my maids will fast likewise, and so will I go in to the King, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. And on the third day Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the court of the King’s palace within, over against the King’s house: and the King sat upon his royal throne in the king’s palace over against the gate of the house. And when the King saw Esther the Queen standing in the court, she found favor in his sight: and the King held out the golden scepter that was in his hand: so Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter. Then said the King unto her, What wilt thou, Queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to half of the kingdom. Then said Esther, If it please the king, let the King and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, that it may be given thee? and what is thy request? it shall even be performed unto the half of the kingdom. Then answered Esther, and said, My petition, and my request is, If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to give me my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I wil do tomorrow according to the king’s saying. Then went Haman forth the same day joyful, and with a glad heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, then was Haman full of indignation at Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself: and when he came home, he sent, and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how that he had set him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man coe in with the king to the banquet that she had prepared, save me: and tomorrow am I bidden unto her also with the king. But all this doth nothing avail me, as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let them make a tree of fifty cubits high, and tomorrow speak thou into the king, that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then shalt thou go joyfully with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman, and he caused to make the tree. The same night the king slept not, and he commanded to bring the book of the Records, and the Chronicles: and they were read before the king. Then it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs keepers of the door, who sought to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus. Then the king said, What honor and dignity hath been given to Mordecai for this? And the king’s servants that ministered unto him, said, There is nothing done for him. ANd the king said, Who is in the court? (Now Haman was come into the inner court of the king’s house, that he might speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the tree that he had prepared for him.) And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in. And when Haman came in, the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king will honor? Then Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king do honor more than to me? And Haman answered the king, The man whom the king would honor, Let them bring for him royal apparel, which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and that the crown royal may be set upon his head. And let the raiment and the horse be delivered by the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, and let them apparel the man (whom the king will honor) and cause him to ride upon the horse through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king will honor. Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, take the raiment and the horse, as thou hast said, and do so unto Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. So Haman took the raiment and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king will honor. And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate, but Haman hasted home mourning and his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife, and all his friends, all that had befallen him. Then said his wise men, and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surley fall before him. And while they were yet talking with him, came the king’s eunuchs and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared. So the king and Haman came again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, Queen Esther, that it may be given thee? and what is thy request? It shall be even performed unto the half of the kingdom. And Esther the queen answered, and said, If I have found favor in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we are sold, I, and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish: but if we were sold for servants, and for handmaids, I would have held my tongue, although the adversary could not recompense the king’s loss. Then king Ahasuerus answered, and said unto the queen Esther, Who is he? and where is he that presumeth to do thus? And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and queen. And the king arose from the banquet of wine in his wrath, and went into the palace garden: but Haman stood up to make request for his life to the queen Esther: for he saw that there was a mischief prepared for him of the king. And when the king came again out of the palace garden, into the house where they drank wine, Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther sat: therefore the King said, Will he force the Queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the King’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. And Harbonah one of the eunuchs, said in the presence of the King, Behold, there standeth yet the tree in Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman had prepared for Mordecai, that spake good for the king. Then the King said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the tree, that he had prepared for Mordecai: then was the King’s wrath pacified. The. Esther 3:1–7:10
- The Elder unto the beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish chiefly that thou prosperedst and faredst well as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiceth greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, how thou walkest in truth. I have no greater joy than these, that is, to hear that my sons walk in verity. 3 John 1:1–4
- All nations, praise ye the Lord: all ye people, praise him. For his loving kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord, because he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Let Israel now say, That his mercy endureth forever. Let the house of Aaron now say, That his mercy endureth forever. Let them that fear the Lord, now say, That his mercy endureth forever. I called upon the Lord in trouble, and the Lord heard me, and set me at large. The Lord is with me: therefore I will not fear what man can do unto me. The Lord is with me among them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon mine enemies. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to have confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to have confidence in princes. All nations have compassedme: but in the Name of the Lord shall I destroy them. They have compassed me, yea, they have compassed me: but in the Name of the Lord I shall destroy them. They came about me like bees, but they were quenced as a fire of thorns: for in the Name of the Lord I shall destroy them. The Lord is my strength and song: for he hath been my deliverance. The voice of joy and deliverance shall be in the tabernacles of the righteous, saying, The right hand of the Lord hath done valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord hath done valiantly. Psalm 117:1–118:16