Esther 3:1 – 4 “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. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.”
This is an interesting twist in the story. Mordecai, who has told Esther to conceal her identity as a Jew, has taken a stand. He has refused to bow down to Haman, although he apparently had no such qualms about bowing to Xerxes. To understand his stubborn refusal to bow to this man, we need to take a closer look at history.
Haman was an Agagite, a descendent of King Agag the Amalekite. When the Jews left Egypt, they were attacked by the Amalekites. For this reason, God condemned the Amalekites to extinction, and declared them to be eternal enemies of the Jews. He committed to wipe out all memory of them from the face of the earth. This job was given to King Saul, but Saul fudged a little. He spared the animals. And he spared King Agag. He said he wanted to sacrifice the animals, and who knows why he spared the king. But whatever the reason, the Agagites were still around in Mordecai’s day – arch-enemies of the Jews. And Mordecai, a descendent of King Saul, refused to bow to him.
His friends bugged him and bugged him. “Mordecai, why aren’t you bowing down to this guy? You’ve done so well in the kingdom. You’ve become a judge, and who knows where you could go from here? Don’t you think you ought to play by the rules, and just bow down to the guy?” But Mordecai had a stubborn streak a mile long, and he refused to bow. He was probably right about standing by his convictions, but it is interesting that he would choose this particular battle to fight. He had obviously hidden his Jewishness up to this point. He had most certainly made many compromises along the way.
Generations before, Saul had made a little compromise. Now, a man had risen to power who had a deep hatred for the Jews. If Saul had only obeyed God completely. If only.
Now Mordecai had made compromise after compromise. He had concealed his identity up to this point, and blended right in with the pagans around him. He had told his adopted daughter to hide her Jewishness, though he had no way of knowing what was coming. He just wanted her to fit in with the pagans. But bowing to an Agagite was just too much to ask. It makes me wonder if it was truly a spiritual conviction on Mordecai’s part, or if it was just his stubborn pride.
Don’t we all do that, though? We have our pet sins which we will not tolerate, but we often compromise on much bigger issues. We don’t dare use foul language, at least not in front of other Christians who might judge us, but we will sure tear each other apart with gossip! We are too holy and spiritual to go see a certain movie. We don’t drink, or smoke, or chew, or run with those who do. But all the while we are unkind and judgmental; we slander one another, and don’t seem bothered one bit.
I’m glad Mordecai took his stand against Haman. I just wish he had taken his stand as a child of God much sooner. And as I look at my own life, I must ask myself, “Am I being consistent in my actions? Am I living as a child of God should live in every area of my life? Or am I picking and choosing my battles, based on my own pride and stubbornness?” If I am squeaky clean morally, yet I am unkind and judgmental, then I am a hypocrite. If I walk and talk and dress with all the appropriate Christian attire, but I gossip and slander, then I am not who I say I am.
Mordecai took a stand, and everyone was surprised at the news that he was a Jew. I want my life to be consistent, so that when I need to take a stand, no one is surprised.
Dear Father, Please help me to live for You in all things. Help me to recognize areas of inconsistency in my life.