The Nasty Nature of Political Posturing (Esther 2:19-23)

Though I never made a big deal of it and in fact never even once referenced it in church, I was heavily involved for a period of years in the inner workings of local and state politics. I’m not embarrassed to have done it and am not ashamed or anything of the sort. It is a worthy calling, and for me it was just that—something that found me far more than I found it.

I have often said that in those years of meeting many very interesting political personalities, I met some of the best and some of the worst people I have ever known. But it is true that there is a lot of posturing that goes on in those circles. Every state convention involved some people running for some sort of office within the party. And I began to see that too many of those involved were enamored with the process of politicking more than in truly serving in government in ways that truly served people. The whole thing was a continuous game for them.

I don’t know that there is anything worse than political consultants. These were the real troublemakers. They were being paid to help a candidate win, and it too often seemed that the rules were more like broad suggestions to them than firm parameters. It was an ugly business; it always has been and always will be, as it is the search for power and acclaim.

But political intrigue and posturing was especially bad in ancient societies like Persia. And we see that a plot to kill the king that was discovered by Mordecai …

2:19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

As Chris aptly described the palace of Xerxes, it was a lot like the Hugh Hefner Playboy Mansion—a very salacious place. Mordecai had a job at the king’s gate—probably something to do with legal judgments, as this was the place where business was transacted. And thus it was a place where the high-rollers of society gathered and mingled.

The two officials who became angry for some reason (perhaps the demotion of Vashti?) could be thought of as sort of secret service agents assigned to the palace and royal family. Through some unstated means, Mordecai is aware of the plot, tells Esther who tells Xerxes, leading to an investigation. The rumors are true, the two bad boys are turned into human popsicles, and credit is given to Mordecai and recorded in the official record (which becomes a part of the story later).

So Mordecai saves the king from assassination. As further illustration of the prevalence of such plotting in ancient societies, Xerxes would in fact BE ASSASSINATED in a very similar set of circumstances after about 20 years as the king. A commander of the royal bodyguard named Artabanus did it, along with killing the son of the king. But another son of Xerxes named Artaxerxes stepped up to kill Artabanus and his seven sons, all with the help of a prominent general who switched sides back and forth.

It was a mess. And you think our political process is a mess? Well, it sort of is. Would you take a job that has a 9% chance of you getting murdered while doing it?  We’ve have four presidential assassinations in 44 presidents, and there have been more than 20 plots and attempts! Yet it seems like dozens of people are vying to get this job—so many that they can’t even fit onto a single debate stage!

It seems like becoming the #1 political person in the country is the ultimate achievement, and so it is honored among men. Yet there is a higher calling than even this. God has called us to put first His kingdom and to be His servants. What is better: President of the United States and 4.4% of the earth’s population, or an ambassador of the King of Kings and Creator and Ruler of the entire universe?

We are such ambassadors, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5 … God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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