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Role Reversal: Esther’s Eighth Connection to the Gospel

The king’s heart was soft; God’s timing was perfect. Haman expected to be exalted, but Xerxes’ heart was prepared for the opposite. His flip-flopping moods and behaviors worked to Haman’s disadvantage, leading to a reversal of fortune.

Contributing Writer
Jul 22, 2022
Role Reversal: Esther’s Eighth Connection to the Gospel

God’s Word says that “he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:52). Jesus promised, “The last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). If Haman had ever paid any serious attention to history, he would have seen that Scripture painted an accurate picture.

What Isaiah prophesied had come true more than once: “the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:17).

Pharaoh, Joshua’s brothers, and Samson were only some of the many men who were undone by pride. But Haman either had not heard of them or thought the Jewish teachings were just foolish stories.

Haman created the platform for his own demise and erected that platform very high: his fall was terrible, starting with a humiliating reversal of fortune in Esther Chapter 6.

Esther 6: The Unwitting King

King Ahasuerus/Xerxes was unable to sleep, and he did what many of us do at such a time: he read a book. The king chose to peruse the names of honorable individuals in the kingdom and came across a record of Mordecai’s deed.

Mordecai had reported two traitors who were plotting to kill their monarch. “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” (6:3). Nothing had yet been done, and his unpredictable mood suddenly swung to “gratitude.”

In fact, he was impatient in his gratitude to the benefit of Mordecai, Esther, and all the Jews in Persia. Of course, the Lord’s perfect timing was also at work, as we see from what happened next.

“Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. [...] So Haman came in, and the king said to him, ‘What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?’ And Haman said to himself, ‘Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?’” (vv.5-6).

If any time had been permitted to pass between the king reading about Mordecai’s heroism and Haman appearing at just that moment, who knows if the king would have remembered to honor Mordecai or not.

The king’s heart was soft; God’s timing was perfect. Haman expected to be exalted, but Xerxes’ heart was prepared for the opposite. His flip-flopping moods and behaviors worked to Haman’s disadvantage, leading to a reversal of fortune.

Where Have We Seen This Before?

Joshua’s brothers came to Egypt to grovel because they were starving, but their supposedly dead brother saved them and raised their status.

Pharaoh’s daughter adopted a lowly Jewish baby into the royal family, but then Moses relinquished his status because he had to flee the scene of a murder he had committed.

Samson was powerful, but pride brought him low. The thief on the cross thought he was doomed, but his faith saved him for a place in God’s Kingdom.

Christ’s resurrection is a reversal of fortune, too, the greatest of all time. Jesus was dead; the Pharisees had won, and the followers of this rebellious rabbi prepared to run for their lives: then Jesus rose from the grave.

One day, Christ will return, “and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (Revelation 1:7). Every believer will be raised from death to life for eternity with Christ, our King and Savior. That’s a reversal of fortune believers long for.

One day, those who scoffed at our faith or abused believers for obeying Jesus will realize — to their horror — that they were standing on the wrong platform, a platform with a hidden trap door. They were following the wrong gods and kings essentially, idols without loyalty to or love for their followers.

Haman’s Prideful Assumptions

Have you ever overheard a conversation in which two people were trash-talking another individual, and you assumed they were talking about you? If you trash talk yourself, or you are accustomed to hearing only criticism, it’s an obvious conclusion.

But it’s still an assumption with no basis in hard facts. Experience, preference, or assumption are personally convincing but subjective and short-sighted, and they create a flimsy foundation from which to develop a belief or take action.

We all need to look beyond ourselves, and our small worlds and get some perspective in order to reach rational conclusions, which affect people besides us.

Haman was accustomed to being exalted. He was used to being served, at the center of everything. From this position, he passed that conversation in the hallway and drew a conclusion that was to his benefit, naturally.

Who would ever defy him? Who could undermine his power? Haman was poised to be as powerful if not more powerful than the king.

But his evidence was circumstantial, and he had failed to take into account the unpredictable reputation of his primary supporter: Ahasuerus himself. Haman’s pride led him straight into a trap because the evidence he chose to view was that which suited him best.

Haman’s advice to the king also reveals a two-dimensional picture of a king: a fine-looking person, an exalted, condescending showman. Haman wanted the trappings without the responsibility.

We know what sort of king he would have been, but God wants us to know that a real ruler doesn’t act like either Haman or Xerxes.

I used to read Max Lucado’s book Just the Way You Are to my children, who recognized the King immediately.

He was obvious to them because his heart was revealed in his behavior, even though he had left his royal robes at the palace. A king is not a remote despot; he serves his people. He invites them to have a relationship with him. He comes down from his castle the way Jesus did.

We Mustn’t Gloat

Mordecai had revealed a plot by two eunuchs to kill the king. Two eunuchs were revealed as traitors (v.2). Two eunuchs delivered a traitor (v.14). The tables were turned for Haman.

I want to gloat for Mordecai’s sake and forget about the sin lingering in my own heart. But if I got what I deserved, I could not expect to spend eternity with Jesus. It’s only by his grace that I have:

1. A loving, supportive family (including friends and co-workers) who won’t let me get away with being a jerk.

2. A loving God who will warn me through these friends, through his Word, and in any number of creative ways if I am leaning towards sin, in need of redirection.

3. The promise of forgiveness if I do sin and choose to humble myself in a posture of genuine repentance, like David in Psalm 51 — “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (v.10).

When I ask God to change me, he does the work. I cannot take credit at all. “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). If I ever do boast about anything else, refer to number 1 above.

God Uses the Bad for Good

One day the king of Persia signed a decree to have all Jews killed, then shortly before the decree was enacted, he honored the Jew who had so severely injured Haman’s pride and failed to worship him as king. 

“Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned” (v.10). If Mordecai had not protected the king, this story would have been different.

Imagine having enough pride to plot the overthrow of one’s king? That’s treason. Sounds familiar, like something out of Genesis 3, and we know what happened in the Garden. Haman had his eyes fixed on the throne, but he overestimated his value to the king, and this unbalanced him.

He should have been prepared — after all, Xerxes was prone to making snap decisions; that’s why it was so easy to get him to sign the decree, which had endangered the lives of all Jews in the Persian Empire. He was too lazy to do his own research and too impatient to think things through.

Sometimes Haman could take advantage of that, but such an impressionable character is always apt to be swayed by a convincing argument.

He had signed an edict that would destroy all Jews, but he forgot about his edict, declaring that “Mordecai the Jew” should be honored.

As I said, the evidence was always there; Haman just chose not to observe it, and God knew how to use the traits of both Haman and the king for his good purposes.

The Consistency of God

Rulers, supervisors, CEOs, managers, etc., are fallible human beings who can be abusively single-minded or persuaded by an argument that appeals to their pride or longing. But “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

Much as we sometimes want him to come around to our way of seeing things, so much of God’s reliability is in his unchanging nature. He will not be manipulated. He will not be persuaded.

God doesn’t wait for man’s approval: like it or not, his Word will always stand, and there is no power greater than his power. God’s memory is infallible, and that’s a good thing.

After all, he remembers his promises and it’s our trust in those promises which helps us to get through uncertainty, stress, and fear. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

Whatever today looks like, I rest on a foundation of rock, and there will be no surprise trap doors waiting for those who believe in Christ alone for salvation.

For further reading:

Sackcloth and Ashes: Esther’s Fifth Connection to the Gospel

The Scepter and the Shepherd’s Rod: Esther's Sixth Connection to the Gospel

Pride and Impressionability: Esther’s Seventh Connection to the Gospel

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/pamela_d_mcadams

Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.

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