Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 11 2019 - Esther 6 – Mordecai honoured

Haman had his pole ready for impaling Mordecai, all he needed was the consent of the king and, given his privileged position in court, he had no doubt that he would soon get that. But he had reckoned without the intervention of the Lord.

That night the king could not sleep so he ordered a volume of the chronicles of his reign to be brought. No doubt he felt reading this would quickly send him to sleep. But who had robbed him of sleep that particular night? Who had prompted him to ask for these chronicles? Who prompted the servant to pick this particular volume and who prompted the king to read the pages that captured his attention? Behind the dramatic human story of Esther, God is at work to accomplish his own purposes, to save his people and to establish his kingdom in this world.

The king read of how Mordecai had overheard a plot to kill him. Mordecai had informed the king and so prevented the king's assassination. But Mordecai had received no recognition or reward for his service. The king is determined to put this right. At first light he asks if any of his advisors are in the court. Haman is already there, anxious to get the king's assent to his own assassination plans. Haman is summoned, but before he can get in his request, the king asks him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?" (v. 6). Haman assumes that the king must be planning to honour him; in his mind no-one is more worthy of the king's honour. So he suggests an elaborate public spectacle:

For the man the king delights to honour, let 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. 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 honour, 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 honour!” (vv. 7-9).

We who have read of the king's sleeplessness have inside knowledge of whom the king has in mind to honour and cannot but read Haman's suggestion with laughter and delight. He has even told the king to entrust this task to "one of the king's most noble princes". Who more fitting for this task than Haman? So Haman is ordered, "Go at once … 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" (v. 10). Note that the king knows that Mordecai is a Jew, a man belonging to the race he has assigned for slaughter. Surely the Lord is at work here.

To Haman's dismay he is forced to dress Mordecai in royal robes, set him on royal horseback and lead him around the streets proclaiming, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!" It was his suggestion and he is just the man to carry it out. When he returns home and tells his wife of what has happened she only rubs salt in the wound by telling him, "Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him – you will surely come to ruin!" (v. 13) – and she was the one who had suggested the impaling! Before Haman can respond, eunuchs from the palace come to summon Haman off to his second banquet with the royals. He must have felt that this was some compensation for this day's humiliation.

We may often be quite unaware of the ways that God is at work in our lives or in the events that go on around us. We may, like Haman, jump to wrong conclusions. Maybe when you are next robbed of sleep at night you will be prompted to ask what the Lord is seeking to bring to your attention. At the very least you can turn your thoughts to him and offer thanksgiving that the living God, who never sleeps, keeps loving watch over you.

Lord God, we thank you for your promise that all things work together for the good of those who love you, those whom you have called to be your own. Help us to trust your promises and not give way to fear when circumstances or people seem to be at work against us.

Dec 11 2020 - Revelation 2:18-3:6 – Wake up!

Churches need more than a reputation for being lively, they need the living presence and power of the risen Saviour.

The church at Sardis had a reputation for being alive, but Jesus, the Lord of the church, declares that it is dead, or all but dead (Revelation 3:1). He issues them with a wakeup call to strengthen what remains before there is nothing left alive (3:2).

How was it that such a church had a reputation for life? It is difficult for us to offer any answer from the perspective of nearly two thousand years. But it does challenge us to consider the reputation of our own churches and whether that reputation is deserved. What reputation does our fellowship have? What reputation does it have among Christians? What reputation does it have among the community where it is placed? Is that reputation a reflection of what the church has been in the past, or of what it now is? Is its reputation deserved? How do we assess life?

There are many ways of assessing the quality of a church. Some would ask about the soundness of its doctrine – the church at Ephesus would have done well on such an assessment. Others may look at the liveliness of its worship. Others still might judge a church by the range of its activities, while others might look at the strength of its evangelistic programme and its impact upon the community. But how do you measure life?

The life of a church is the presence of the risen Saviour in the power of the Spirit. I'm not sure that this answers the question of how life may be measured, but it is certainly the only way that life may be genuine.

The church at Thyatira was marked by such life. The one whose eyes are like blazing fire commends the church saying, “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first” (2:19). What a commendation to receive from the Lord! Nevertheless, they too are tolerating error amongst them. The presence of false teaching, idolatry and immorality will sap the life of the church as it draws people away from single-minded devotion to Christ. Like the church at Sardis, this church too needs to wake up to what needs to be put right.

Jesus promises that those who follow him faithfully – who hold on to what they have in him until the day of his appearing – will share in his reign; “To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – that one ‘will rule them with an iron sceptre and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ – just as I have received authority from my Father” (2:26-27). What is prophesied of Jesus in Psalm 2 is promised also to those who follow him. We shall reign with him and judge the nations (see also 1 Corinthians 6:2).

What does this mean? It is difficult for us to understand now all that shall be ours at Christ’s coming, but we know that it will be unimaginable glory. Something of the glory of the coming kingdom is to be seen now in the fellowship of God’s people as the risen Saviour lives and walks amongst us.

Lord, give us more than a reputation; give us life. Help us to be a people marked by love, faith, service and perseverance. Help us to love those who are lost and to seek to bring them to you. But help us also to hate every teaching that draws people away from love and devotion to you, for you alone are the source of our life.

Peter Misselbrook