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Family Feud, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
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June 22, 2021 12:00 am

Family Feud, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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June 22, 2021 12:00 am

Have you ever been afraid to tell someone you were a Christian? Has the fear of losing that friend or that job or that credibility ever outweighed your desire to identify with Christ? In this message we’ll watch as Mordecai is faced with a similar crisis of faith. How will he respond? Join pastor and author Stephen Davey now to find out.

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Haman saw it and the verse tells us to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

As far as Haman is concerned, this, ladies and gentlemen, is perfect. I can use Mordecai's disobedience as an excuse to settle this family feud once and for all. He wants to set it up so that it begins an extermination of this people. This is an earlier holocaust in the making.

This is a more ancient Hitler. In the story of Esther, Mordecai is seen as someone who seems to have it all. His life was going really well. But Mordecai realized something important. He realized that there are things in life far more important than career, fame, and money. That's a lesson we all need to learn.

Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Our Bible teacher is pastor and author Stephen Davey. Today, Stephen continues through his series from the Old Testament book of Esther.

Stephen also has a book covering Esther, and I'll tell you more about that later. But for now, here's Stephen with a lesson called Family Feud. Without a doubt, the most famous family feud in American history was the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. You know about that too, huh?

Everybody does. The feud, however, between these families was real, and it would become deadly. The Hatfields and the McCoys were actually two wealthy families who lived on either side of a river named Tug Fork that, by the way, geographically represented the border of Kentucky and West Virginia, Tug Fork. As it wound its way around, the McCoys lived on the Kentucky side, and the Hatfields lived on the West Virginia side. In 1878, Mr. McCoy accused Mr. Hatfield's family, one of them at least, of coming across Tug Fork in the cover of darkness and stealing one of his hogs. The offense was serious, serious back then especially, and it ended up in court. But the McCoys were unable to prove the crime had taken place, and so the Hatfields were let go. It created such resentment that sometime after the trial, if you can believe it, one of the McCoys actually shot and killed a juror who had sided with the Hatfields.

It only escalated after that. In 1882, four years later, one of the McCoys ran for public office. He was publicly attacked and verbally accosted.

He was discredited out there in the open before the election, and as a result, he lost the election. Retaliation became a bloodbath, and at the end of the shooting, Mr. Hatfield's politician-to-be son was dead as well as three members of the McCoy family who had also been killed. The fighting didn't stop with that. It actually spread along the border of Kentucky and the border of West Virginia, added to by supporters of either the Hatfields or the McCoys. The feud reached its peak in what would be called in that region the 1888 New Year's Massacre, when several of the Hatfield gang surrounded the McCoy homestead and opened fire on the sleeping family, set the house on fire in an effort to drive Randolph McCoy out into the open. He escaped as he slipped away unnoticed, but two of his children were killed and his wife left for dead. For eleven years between 1880 and 1891, this family feud would actually claim dozens of lives from among both of the families, often becoming headlines. In fact, I learned just recently in studying this event that the governors of Kentucky and West Virginia called up their state militias at one point to try to stop the fighting and restore order.

Think of it. It all began with a stolen pig. I would agree with Old Testament scholars that the drama behind the Book of Esther includes in some way a family feud. It's not coincidental that the family tree of Haman is repeated for us in such a short book, as well as the family tree of Mordecai. Bad blood goes all the way back to the Book of Exodus in chapter 17, where the Amalekites became, they had the dubious distinction of becoming the first nation to go against the people of God in war. You may remember that story where if Moses' hands were up, his people succeeded.

If his hands fell down, they began to fail, and so his associates held his hands up and they defeated the Amalekites. But that only began the feud. It would last, by the way, 900 years, which is where we find Haman in chapter three of Esther about to wipe them out if he has his way, attempting effectively to wipe out the people from whom the promised Savior would be born.

And that's the bigger issue, isn't it? But if you go back to 1 Samuel, you get another inclination of the bloodshed between these two peoples. You discover that King Saul has been commanded by God to act in judgment, as Israel often was.

They were the sword of judgment from God against the idolatrous nations, and they were to wipe out the Amalekites and King Agag along with them. Instead of obeying God, Saul spared King Agag and kept the best of the herds and flocks for himself. So Samuel, the prophet, comes along and tells Saul, because of that, the kingdom is going to be taken away from you and your throne and given to another. And then Samuel has King Agag executed.

Still, the descendants of Agag flourish. The bitterness and the anger and the hostility and the hatred for God and this growing animosity against the people of God festers. It erupts from time to time in bloodshed. In fact, now here in the book of Esther, this is the ultimate context of the threat. It's going to escalate in the bloodshed in an attempt by Haman, who, by the way, is a descendant of Agag, and it will erupt against Mordecai, a descendant of King Saul. In fact, the key verse that gives you sort of the underlying theme of all this is in chapter 3 and verse 10. You might just underline that verse.

Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman. Who is he? Oh, you need to know this, the son of Hamanatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. You see, as Ezra is writing this account, he, and of course the inspiring spirit is moving him, doesn't want you to miss the real issue here.

This is about a lot more than a stolen pig. This feud represents the hatred of the kingdom of darkness for the kingdom of light. It summarizes the hatred of the people of God by the people of the world. And you see that erupting, in fact, around the world today, hundreds of thousands of people will die for Jesus Christ somewhere on the planet this year alone. On the surface, you can travel back to a defeated nation, an executed king, a deposed family, wounded pride, but underneath the surface of Agag's history is the enemy of God, Satan himself, who has been trying for centuries to destroy the covenant nation and therefore null and void the promises of God.

King Agag, was it the first? And Haman will not be the last. Again, you need to understand this is ultimately a battle, a feud, so to speak, between the family of Satan and the family of God, the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. And Ezra doesn't want us to miss it. Now with that as a backdrop, let's pick up the drama where we left off in chapter 2 and verse 21. And you'll notice right away Mordecai has been promoted. And I just want to point out something about that very first opening phrase in verse 21 of chapter 2, how that in those days, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. It's confusing to us as English readers. When you read that Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, you wonder if he was at the end of the driveway.

And that doesn't sound like a promotion at all. It's raining out there sometimes, it's cold out there in areas at the gate. He's got to watch people check their licenses as they come in to see the king.

That's not what's happening here. The gate was actually a large building just inside the palace complex. It was the administration building where legal and commercial and civil business was transacted on the king's behalf. So whenever you hear in the Old Testament that somebody's sitting at the gate, they're not outside some wooden doors, they're actually within the administration of the king inside of the palace. It's interesting to discover as the archeologists have here at the palace of Susa, which is where this drama is taking place, that the king's gate was a building of about 12,000 square feet.

In fact, there was an inscription by Xerxes, Ahasuerus, his throne name, this same king, where he is honoring his father for building such a wonderful administrative building. I say that so you understand, to be sitting at the king's gate means that you are now one of the movers and shakers in the kingdom. You're inside the inner circle. You get invited to the office parties and the president.

You get that little Christmas gift when the insignia of the company, a logo, in this case, the king's insignia. You're drinking out of teacups in your home given to you by the king. To put it into our context, he has moved into the West Wing. He's right next to the Oval Office. He's in the place of power. He has achieved his ambition.

He has more of it, I'm sure. But he has arrived, thanks to Esther, who no doubt promoted him when she became queen. And notice again, verse 21, while he was sitting at the king's gate, here's what happened. Bigfin and Teresh, they sound like bad guys, don't they? Bigfin and Teresh, two of the king's officials from those who guarded the door, became angry. They grew in their wrath, literally, and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.

They don't want to shake hands, they want to lay hands on him. Now, we're told what they did for a living in verse 21. They were literally, you could render it guards of the threshold, which meant that they were standing just outside the doors of the Oval Office.

Now, they're the last defense in the light of many defenses. You couldn't see the king unless you got past Bigfin and Teresh. Now, we're not told why their wrath had been growing. We're not told why they wanted to kill them.

One of the ancient Jewish manuscripts say they wanted to poison them. But it doesn't take too much of a stretch of imagination once you learn and you pick up on the fact that they are eunuchs. Herodotus, the Greek historian who lived during these days reported that as many as 500 young boys were gathered from subjugated nations within the empire every year and castrated to serve as eunuchs. This was a brutal act that just pictured in one more way how everyone, whether you are a beautiful young virgin or a young boy that he wanted to have serve him, you were property and you were at the disposal of the king.

You belong to him. Eunuchs were always entrusted with the king's harem. Many of them, in fact, would become well-trusted, leading officials throughout these ancient empires. In fact, one of the most famous eunuchs in the Bible is the prophet Daniel. Instead of growing bitter, and this is a side note to Daniel's own testimony, instead of growing angry and his wrath building because he was abducted and now his inability to be married and father children and have a home of his own, he instead becomes a faithful and hardworking ambassador ultimately for the true and living God.

In fact, he will lead some of those political leaders into faith, faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It's a wonderful story when you understand the context of his own life. So it's not surprising to learn in Esther chapter two that the eunuchs are planning to kill the king. Often in ancient history, eunuchs were part of palace uprisings. In fact, it will be a eunuch who will succeed in a few years in ending this king's life when he slips into his bedchamber at night and cuts his throat.

But this attempt fails. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian adds to the manuscript evidence telling us that one of the eunuch's servants overheard the plot and went and told Mordecai. Here in verse 22, we read that Mordecai told Queen Esther and Esther informed the king, note this, in Mordecai's name. I love that.

We're not going to miss any brownie point possibilities here. You need to know, king, that your most loyal administrator, Mordecai, has saved your life and you will expect now some handsome reward. Persian kings were known to do that. For those, of course, who would save their lives, you're expecting maybe a pay raise, maybe new office furniture, three more days of vacation, something to say, Mordecai, thank you. And what does the king do?

Nothing. In fact, the king, for some odd reason, even though he has it written in his presence into the minutes, completely overlooks the matter of Mordecai's reward for his loyalty. So all you read is in verse 23, when the plot was investigated, found to be so, they were both hanged on the gallows and the account was written in the book of the chronicles in the king's presence.

That's it, no pay raise, no gold watch. And we'll eventually discover why in chapter six, God doesn't want the king to do anything until just the right time. In fact, that right time will be just about when Haman is going to succeed, then the Lord will bring back this life-saving act of Mordecai to the king's memory when it's right for God's plan and timing. In fact, the king will order Haman to reward Mordecai, even though unknown to everybody at this point, except for his family, Haman just finished building a gallows upon which to hang Mordecai. God is moving, then, the chess pieces on the chess board of human history exactly where he wants them as he eventually moves this entire contest to a checkmate against the kingdom of darkness.

Well, that's the good news and we're way ahead of the story, so let's go back to the bad news here in chapter two. Well, instead of honoring or promoting Mordecai, let's go to chapter three and verse one, notice this. After these events, King Ahasuerus promoted the wrong guy, Haman.

Who is he? Don't forget, the son of Hamadatha, the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him. All the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage. You can almost feel now, especially if you've never read this book and you've promised not to read ahead, the tension building, can't you? You need to know why Mordecai is risking everything he has gained by refusing to bow.

It really doesn't make any sense. You need to know this is more than just a little, you know, courtesy in the palace, you know, protocol. In fact, whenever these two Hebrew verbs appear side by side, sandwiched in the same verse of scripture, the same sentence for bowing and paying homage, whenever they're combined in the Old Testament, they always refer to worshiping and reverencing God.

Here's what's happening. Haman is really caught up with himself. There are little gods running around, the king and Haman. King orders, make sure you prostrate like you would before a god. Haman is so caught up with who he is.

And now the prime minister, he looks at his reflection every time he walks by a mirror, constantly polishing his reflection. Mordecai refuses to bow. I've read several views and their arguments on why he refused to bow. One I read was that Mordecai is arrogant and upset that he wasn't promoted.

He wasn't interested in court politics. He just kind of, you know, above it. He doesn't like Haman. He enjoys irritating Haman every time Haman comes in and he refuses to bow.

There may be some truth in some of these opinions. Truth is we really don't have to guess, do we? Because he tells us why, verse four. He won't bow to Haman.

Why? He tells his staff. Because he told them he was a Jew. A faithful Jew will never give that kind of reverence to anybody but their God.

Listen, for the first time there's a little glimmer of light in here. Something has happened to Mordecai. For nearly five years he's been hiding a secret and he has sworn Esther to secrecy as well. Don't tell anybody you're a Jew.

You won't get the crown and now don't tell anybody because it's going to ruin my upward climb. But now the secret is out and it's Mordecai, frankly to everybody's surprise, who leaks this to the press. This was a perfect time to bolster his secret. If he bows, which no faithful Jew would do, he's just going to continue the secret that he's not a Jew.

This is perfect. But now he refuses to bow, which by the way exposes Esther. People know he had raised Esther.

They lived in Susa. He was part of the celebration. He got his job because of her promotion. Anybody's going to connect the dots. Fortunately Haman can't. He doesn't connect the dots. He's too busy looking at his own reflection in the mirror. If he had him, he would have tried to assassinate Esther before having this edict signed. But it's going to be too late until he realizes it.

And when he realizes it, he will have walked into a trap set by our sovereign Lord. But why tell the secret now? Why risk the power? Why risk his position? I mean he's finally got an office down the hallway from the Oval Office. He's in the inner circle.

There could be a couple of reasons why. One of them would be perhaps he's discovered that all this stuff doesn't really matter anyway. He's the proverbial man that climbs to the top of the ladder of success only to discover upon arriving that he's leaning against the wrong wall, right? He's been on the inside track for four years and he now knows he's empty. There's got to be more than this. Have you ever been there?

And maybe you're just coming to realize that now. You can have everything and it can mean nothing. You see Mordecai has been on the inside for four years. He's got all the perks. He's got the staff. He's got the prestige. He's got the leather chair. He's got a direct phone line to the king.

And by the way, his adopted daughter is on the throne. He has arrived. He has everything but it feels like nothing. There's got to be something else. There's got to be something more. There's got to be something different.

Maybe that's your story today and you're searching. Mordecai knew what it was. He was running from the true and living God, the God of his forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was keeping a secret. He was denying who he was and he was unfaithful to the covenant keeping God.

And I want to tell you something. He's also been inside the kingdom of Persia to know there's got to be a greater kingdom than the kingdom of Persia. What a mess this kingdom was. What a mess. You've got an emotional adolescent sitting on the throne.

You've got a prime minister going around polishing his reflection. You've got eunuchs that have been abducted or seething with anger. You've got a growing bevy of women whose lives are being destroyed.

There's got to be another kingdom beside the kingdom of Persia. And by the way, Esther has lived with the king long enough to also come to grips with the fact that she's seen the king gather another bevy of virgins. She's lived with him long enough to know that she'll never have what she wanted. One author put it well, these two people are disappointed. They're the depths of their disappointment. We can't fully understand, but disappointment is often the nurse of wisdom.

Maybe you too have seen enough of the kingdom of this world to be disappointed and you're beginning to have some wise thoughts about God. Mordecai then for the first time in this book reveals the secret. I'm a Jew.

That's a loaded statement. In that statement, he reveals who his people are. He reveals what his heritage was. He reveals who his God is and the reverence due only to him. And he also reveals to his world you need to know who I am.

There's another in fact, a more explicit reason given. I believe with the use of these Hebrew verbs, Mordecai surrenders basically that the truth that to reverence anybody but God with that kind of prostration is to break the law of God. And no wonder then that J. Vernon McGee in his little wonderful little book on Esther at this point says, I am ready to throw my hat in the air and say hooray for Mordecai. He's taking a stand for God. He tells him here's why I am a Jew. Wow.

Perhaps that's the kind of courage for those of us that know Christ need where you go out into your world and you say, I am a Christian. His staff leak it to Haman and Haman then begins to look. He hadn't noticed it before, but now he watches.

Look at verse five. When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. He's angry. Why the rage? You got a little man not bowing to you when you come into the office.

Big deal. All the other people are. Why so much rage at this? Because of the next verse. He disdained to lay his hands on Mordecai alone. Watch this for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were.

Oh, this is it. This is all that bad blood. This is my deposed forefather, my executed forefather, my loss.

And so Haman sought the verse tells us to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. As far as Haman is concerned, this, ladies and gentlemen, is perfect. He's going to use this. This is a gift from his gods. This is in his lap.

This is perfect. I can use Mordecai's disobedience as an excuse to settle this family feud once and for all. And because of that, he doesn't want just the life of one Jew. That would have been easy.

He could have done that that night. He wants to set it up so that it begins an extermination of this people. This is this is an earlier Holocaust in the making. This is this is a more ancient Hitler.

He wants to eradicate every single Jew living throughout the kingdom, which, by the way, will include Jerusalem. This is why Ezra is probably so thrilled to be the one chosen by the Spirit of God to give us this account. We're going to pause right here for today, and we'll resume this message in our next broadcast. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart. If you'd like to interact with us, please visit We'd also like to hear from you personally and learn how the ministry of Wisdom for the Heart is blessing and encouraging you.

Here's a couple notes we've received recently. Dave and Eunice wrote to say, May the Lord bless your ministry, and we hope to be able to continue hearing you on the radio for as long as the Lord provides. And thanks for sharing that with us. And Jeff from Georgia said, I'm a listener who recently spoke with a lady, and she told me how she's been struggling with caring for her unsaved husband who has advanced dementia.

She's homebound and often feels a pain of isolation. As she was sharing her prayer request with me, it became clear that one of the biggest blessings to her is her mornings listening to Wisdom for the Heart. Well, thanks for sharing that, Jeff. And thanks to our partners who make this ministry possible. Send Stephen a note by addressing your email to info at Be sure and join us for the conclusion to this message next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-31 00:48:32 / 2023-10-31 00:59:05 / 11

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