Twists and Turns of Sin Always Unravel (Esther 6:12-15)

Among the best books I have ever read is Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew by Alex Kershaw. It tells the tale of the World War 2 submarine named the U.S.S. Tang, a vessel that sank a total of 33 Japanese ships. Its own demise came by the rather unusual (though not unheard of) circumstance of one of its own torpedoes malfunctioning and running in a circular course back to the sub. It hit, sinking the boat in 180 feet of water, killing all but nine men who made an unprecedented escape to the surface, one by one, using a Momsun lung device.

Also in World War 2, a British vessel named the HMS Trinidad was making an attack run upon some German destroyers, who were unsuccessfully firing torpedoes toward the British ship. As the Trinidad was closing in to finish off a crippled destroyer in flames, a torpedo came directly toward the cruiser. The captain is reported to have looked over the bridge at the approaching “fish” and said, “You know, that looks remarkably like one of our own!”  It was. The explosion damaged the boat severely, ripping a hole in the side and killing 32 sailors.

Sin is a lot like a circular-running torpedo. It comes back to cause the most damage to the sinner himself.

In literature or art, a situation irony is when something occurs that is opposite of what was actually expected to happen. For example, a professor might despise a certain student in his organic chemistry class and have him fail, thus resulting in the student flunking out of medical school. Twenty years later the professor has a dreadfully rare disease and goes to see the one doctor in the world who has become a specialist in dealing with the ailment. And the prof finds out it is the very student he failed years before, who went to another school and became an accomplished physician.

Situational irony is seen in other Scripture passages. For example, Joseph — the hated younger brother of Jacob’s family — is sold into slavery, only to eventually rise to power in Egypt and become the one who saves the family from extinction.

Such a story is especially powerful in the hands of an omnipotent and providential God, who delights in displaying His power through the weak, disenfranchised and despised.

And so we see the irony of this evil man Haman, who conspires for the death of his hated rival Mordecai, only to see his entire plan take twists and turns that come back upon himself.

12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

It may often be that in a fallen and sinful world, it will appear to the righteous that they are in danger on every front, abused and maligned by those who appear to get away with it. Yet there is a just and sovereign God who often only appears at the last moment to avert a severe injustice. And even when injustice does prevail, as it sometimes does, there is a truer and final justice that is to be found in the greater reality that is life eternal beyond this world. And we will begin to talk about that tomorrow.

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It is Dangerous to be Proud (Esther 6:1-11)

Today we read about the beginning of the end for Haman. We have spoken already of his rather expansive view of himself. It is a struggle we all have at times — to not find ourselves thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe.

There is a really interesting video “out there” that I have seen people post online. And it begins and ends by saying that “You are not the center of the universe.” (Click HERE to see it on YouTube.)  It then goes on to talk about the size of things in the universe, beginning with the moon and progressing through all of the planets and up to our sun. It then shows how small the sun is compared to the other stars — the largest of which it would take an airliner 1100 years to fly around it one time. And yet this is just a speck in the sky of billions of stars in our galaxy — one of billions of galaxies. So, yes, we are not the center of the universe.

Before we say more, let’s read the passage again. And we are immediately struck by the providential hand of God working out of sight, in the dark, behind the scenes …

6:1 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

3 “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.

5 His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”

“Bring him in,” the king ordered.

6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” 7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor,8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”

10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”

11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”

Having a balanced view of self is oft difficult. We may tend to think too highly (more common), though some may go to the other extreme. But we are encouraged in Romans 12:3-5 with these words …

12:3 – For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Even what we possess in terms of positive assets — be it intellect, talent, energy and health — is all the gift of God. And the encouragement of the passage is to think about how those gifts and abilities contribute to the good of others, even as the strengths of others serve us well as contributory toward minimizing and making up for our limitations and liabilities.

It is dangerous to think more highly than we ought to, and this is because it will lead to foolish decisions and exposures. We may find ourselves being unwise and in the middle of a situation for which we are unprepared and cannot find a means of extrication.

This is essence of the Scripture that says, “The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.  (Proverbs 16:17-19)

Don’t be a Haman … it just ain’t safe!