Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times from Nov. 30-Dec. 3 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Esther 3:1, 6; 7:10
After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. . . . 6 [H]aving learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. . . . 7:10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.
Atheist Richard Dawkins said, “The God of the OT is . . . a petty, unjust . . ., a vindictive, bloodthirsty . . . bully.” His evidence: God’s command to King Saul to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them”—including “men and women, children and infants” (1 Sam. 15:3).
In light of this, exonerating God from Dawkins’ charge would be impossible; but the meta-narrative regarding Israel and Amalek begins about 400 years earlier when Israel came out of Egypt and was roaming the desert in search of the Promised Land. In the process, Israel encountered many battles. From the perspective of several Canaanite nations, they had a legitimate beef against Israel, since they sought to cross other nation’s land to get to her destination (Deut. 2:27-30). But that wasn’t the case with the Amalekites who actively searched for Israel to destroy it. Thus, God, before telling Moses, “When the LORD . . . [gives] you . . . the land . . . as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven” (Deut. 25:19), reminds him: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (18).
So, why was God so livid against Amalek? Inasmuch as Israel was God’s chosen instrument to carry out His redemptive plan, Amalek, in effect, was Satan’s tool to destroy it. From the very outset, the Amalekites sought to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. So what was in it for Satan? Once Israel was gotten rid of, so was God’s redemptive plan—for it was through Israel that the Messiah was going to come. It really was a zero-sum “game”: if the Amalekites prevailed, then the “dominion of darkness” would have continued to envelop the world; if Israel prevailed, then the imminent threat against God’s plan would have been thwarted.
But evidently, Saul’s disobedience left some members of King Agag’s family alive, which, 500 years later, resulted in the rise of Haman the Agagite who tried to destroy all the Jews in the Persian Empire, including the ones in Jerusalem. Had he succeeded, God’s redemptive plan for the world would have been obliterated. This was why God ordered Saul to eliminate all the Amalekites—for His love for the world was such that God risked being labelled as a “bloodthirsty bully” in order to send the Savior to redeem us from the miserable penalty of sin. Dawkins is wrong—again! “God is love” (1 Jn. 3:8) and “light; in him there is no darkness” (1:5). With that in mind, go take on the day in Him.
Lord, I’m so thankful that I possess a life that is eternal that can never be taken away. But it’s sad when I realize that I continue to distrust You and doubt Your promises—forgive me. I’m once again reminded today that Your providence is real, and that I can truly trust in Your guidance of my life. Thank You.
Bible Reading for Today: John 11
Lunch Break Study
Read Esther 6:5-6: 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?” (Remember that the king had in mind Mordecai, Haman’s enemy.)
Luke 14:7-11: When [Jesus] noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Question to Consider
- What do Haman and the guests who picked the places of honor at the table have in common?
- What is the lesson of the parable, and how would it have helped Haman?
- What makes us act like Haman and these guests? How are you doing with humility?
- Both assumed that they were better than others, thus they felt entitled to a better treatment.
- This lesson about humility will save you from a ton of embarrassment. If Haman would have understood this parable, he would have asked the king whom he had in mind to honor before simply assuming that he, himself, was the man the king wanted to honor. Lack of humility and wanton assumption always go hand-in-hand.
- A sense of entitlement: for some, it takes no more than a mere college degree to feel like they are so much better than others. Just take Christ’s advice: stay humble and don’t assume that you are the most decorated and educated person in the room—you are not!
God’s providence often seems accidental or coincidental. But it is when our favorable circumstances are seen through the eyes of faith in a personal God that we come to realize that it was God after all. As you look back to today, was there a moment (however insignificant of a matter) in which you sensed that it was God who was favoring you once again? Reflect. Thank Him.