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Esther

Persecution

Esther 3

Lesson audio

Have you ever wondered just what kind of person it takes to persecute Christians? We are introduced to him in this chapter. He is named Haman, and his character will show quickly in his actions.

After these events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him. All the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage. Then the king's servants who were at the king's gate said to Mordecai, "Why are you transgressing the king's command?" Now it was when they had spoken daily to him and he would not listen to them, that they told Haman to see whether Mordecai's reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king's laws, so it is not in the king's interest to let them remain. "If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king's business, to put into the king's treasuries." Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. The king said to Haman, "The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please." Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and it was written just as Haman commanded to the king's satraps, to the governors who were over each province and to the princes of each people, each province according to its script, each people according to its language, being written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder. A copy of the edict to be issued as law in every province was published to all the peoples so that they should be ready for this day. The couriers went out impelled by the king's command while the decree was issued at the citadel in Susa; and while the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was in confusion.

(Est 3:1-15 NASB)

 

 

Persecuting the Different

Have you ever wondered how the other side views persecution? In particular, just what they might want next?

Step 1: The Clear Command

Persecution usually starts by finding a test case. Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • First, what they want you to do is absolutely clear-cut. It’s bow down to Haman; it’s don’t carry a Bible in school. It is designed to force a clear cut choice.
  • Next, such an action must be symbolic rather than hugely affecting most people. Carrying a Bible on to campus is such an action. In and of itself it is of very limited usefulness; it is not a magic talisman. But carrying one speaks volumes.
  • The action itself must appear innocuous to those outside. What difference does it make whether or not you have a Bible in your locker? It’s no big thing, is it? Aren’t you people being rather fanatic about this?

Permit me a contemporary example. Very shortly after he assumed the presidency, Bill Clinton issued an executive order. It stated simply that abortions were to be performed on military posts; all gynecologists were to perform these on demand, without notifying parents. It’s clear cut; it’s largely symbolic, as abortion on demand is available practically anywhere. It’s an order from the President telling you to do something that is “safe, legal and rare.” It appears quite innocuous on the outside, just a slight change in hospital admittance procedures.[1]

Step 2: Objection presented

The intent, of course, is to threaten and bully the man of God. Therefore, if possible, men like Haman ignore what Mordecai puts forward as his reason. The word used here implies worship by prostrating yourself on the ground – which the Jew reserved for God alone. In short, Mordecai presents his objection to the procedure entirely.

The objection is presented in context. Since the man of God knows that governments are ordained by God, the implicit argument is this: you know that we are loyal to our government. That can be established as fact. And when a loyal citizen presents such an objection, it should be heard and at least considered.

A similar argument happened in World War II. Many World War I veterans were rounded up with other Jews and sent to concentration camps. Often, these men would come wearing the jacket of their old uniform, medals jangling from the chest. How much more loyalty do you need?

This action now presents two options for the Christian: we can “bow down in the house of Rimmon” or we can refuse to cooperate. It is in the interests of Satan that the decision be presented as one wild-eyed fanatic against the loyal, noble magistrates of a tolerant country.

Step 3: Hearts Harden

“Are we going to let these people get away with it?” The choice is always presented to the public as being one which is trivial for the people of God vs. a point of honor for the state. Millions of Christians died in the early days because they would not burn a pinch of incense over a fire and state, “Caesar is Lord.” Everyone else (who had many gods) saw this as nothing but political loyalty. Their view was stated as, “This is a major thing, seeking loyalty to Caesar. It’s so trivial to you; why don’t you be reasonable?” By doing this the state affirms that there can be no doubt as to the politically correct answer.

Which brings up the question: Do I bow down in the House of Rimmon? Do I accept abortion casually because, after all, it is legal – and I work in a public school? Do I go about my class work with posters proclaiming “Lesbian hero of the week?” Do I hand out business cards for the local abortion mill?

Persecution – from the top

There is one key indicator you may look for in the governing class which tells you that persecution is imminent. It is the angry rage of those who will want the persecution done. Things done in anger today must be justified peacefully tomorrow[2].

There is more to it. Anger does not wish to be alone. Anger entices its hearers. If one side is screaming for blood, and the other for sweet reasonableness, it’s the former that tends to bring in recruits. One of the reasons we see so many police brutality incidents is that anger entices the sinner.[3]

A word of warning, therefore: do not do this. Anger is one of the seven deadly sins, and it deserves its reputation. It is a great feast – and you’re the main course.

Pride

It’s not hard to see Haman’s pride in this. What does pride do?

  • Pride hardens the heart of the proud – and squeezes out the possibility of compromise.
  • Pride makes it personal – there is now a specific person (or kind of person) who is so reprehensible as to disagree with you. It demonizes your opponent.
  • Pride makes it clear to you that your opponent is a lower form of life. You think not? Consider the Jews in Germany during World War II – and the Japanese in California.
The Lie

At some point the lie must be set forth. If the truth would get the Christian convicted, you would need nothing else. You create this lie by melting together the popular conception of truth and such lies as seem convenient at the moment. For example, Haman very publicly consults the astrologers – those men whose word today would be prefaced with, “Science says…” The idea is to force the decision – give them a time limit and after that no mercy. Let them know that the end justifies the means – and the politically correct ends will use all means possible.

Look, please, at the crafty lie of Haman:

  • These people are not concentrated in one place, where they could be dealt with by the ordinary authorities. No, these people are scattered throughout the nation. (Terrorists, anyone?)
  • And, they follow strange ways. Mystic ceremonies which clearly show their bloodthirsty desires (aka The Lord’s Supper).
  • They are lawbreakers (look at the worship they won’t give) – and that makes them clearly evil.

Therefore – in the king’s best interests, of course – I will destroy them. Even pay for the privilege too.

Persecution – topside

One of those curious political tendencies that never go away is the winking knowledge of the king. He seeks what politicians today call “plausible deniability.” The way this is done is shown here; the king hands the business off to Haman along with his signet ring – allowing him to dictate the kings orders. The king need no longer concern himself with the details; if something goes wrong, it’s Haman’s fault.

The work, however, will be done by “the system.” Why? Because the system has already shown that it’s good at carrying out orders from on high. They’re efficient at it. Moreover, they get a share of the profits of this little exercise, being allowed to plunder the Jews of their material goods. It’s a stick and carrot thing; the stick being that not doing this would ruin your reputation with the king.

Can it happen here?

Consider first the Lie: “It’s really the Christians who are persecuting us.” You mean, bringing a Bible to school and keeping it in my locker; using it during an after school Bible study is persecuting you? Absolutely right.

Hidden behind this is American humanism’s grand desire; the supremacy of the state. Then the intelligentsia can efficiently reform society into their own image. The issue is always the same: Who do you say this Jesus really is?

On the odd chance you think this can’t happen in America, wake up. It is happening already. Increasingly, cities are using eminent domain simply for the purposes of increasing tax revenues. The ACLU is diligent in threatening to sue anyone who even remotely espouses Christianity. Even after a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, the ACLU regularly sends out letters to churches telling them that they cannot even mention an upcoming election. They can’t espouse, for example, a political initiative. Schools are constantly threatened with lawsuit for any action which even remotely benefits Christians.

You see the point: social pressure and legal pressure. More coming: did you know that the US Government has an accurate listing of all Christians in America? That little business of the church sending out quarterly statements to you should tell you why. Contributions to any other non-profit can be validated by a cancelled check. But not churches; the fraud is so widespread we have to have the church validate your contributions. Every three months, the government gets an updated listing. Why are Christians the exceptions who must do this reporting? Well, we all know how fraudulent most Christians are, so we need to keep close tabs on them.


[1] The order was later withdrawn – but not because Bill got the message. The government of Spain, where we have a large airbase in Rota, threatened to eject the Americans from that base if they carried this out. The order was largely viewed in Europe as yet another instance of American arrogance.

[2] Job 5:2

[3] Proverbs 16:29

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