BEST DECISION EVER: THE INFORMANT

In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!

THE INFORMANT

We all are probably familiar with the story of Mordecai and Queen Esther. The preservation of the Jews in Persia has largely been attributed to the good and beautiful Queen. And rightly so. But I’d like to look at the story from Mordecai’s perspective.

What were the Jews doing in Persia in the first place? Here’s the scoop. Mordecai’s and Esther’s forebears had been carried into captivity in Babylon (part of the Kingdom of Persia). That was over a hundred years ago  in Mordecai’s time. Many of the captive Jews subsequently returned to Judah when the Persian King Cyrus gave the Jews their freedom and released them from captivity. But Mordecai’s dad and granddad decided they were going to stay in Persia. Esther’s parents decided to stay too. They lived in Shushan, the capital of Persia. Anyways, both of Esther’s parents died when she was still young. So Mordecai, her cousin, being much older than her, took her in and treated her as if she was his own daughter.

Anyways, you know the story. The Persian King Ahasuerus is looking for a new Queen. Gobs of young virgins from all over the Empire are brought to Shushan to serve as concubines for the King. One of these lucky concubines, whoever pleased the King the most, will be chosen as the next Queen.

Well, Esther was one of these virgins and, to make a long story short, the King immediately fell in love with her and crowned her his Queen. Of course, nobody in the Court knew she was a Jewess. That would have caused quite a scandal. Imagine a Jewess being Queen in Persia! That wouldn’t go over too well with the Persians. So Mordecai told Esther not to tell anyone in the Court her true nationality.

The next time we hear about Mordecai, we find him sitting in the King’s gate (Esther 2:19). That’s where civil trials were held. So Mordecai is probably a Judge. If not that, then he’s a royal government official. In any case, he’s probably there because his daughter pulled some strings for him and got him this gravy job in the employ of the King. (By the way, I neglected to tell you that Mordecai also told his daughter not to tell anyone that Mordecai was her dad.)

One day, while Mordecai was at the gate, he happened to overhear two of the Court officials plotting the kill the King.  They were eunuchs who stood guard at the door of the King’s bedroom. So they had easy access to the King and that made the King all the more vulnerable to their treachery and treason. So Mordecai ratted on them and told the Queen about the plot.

Of course, Esther wasn’t going to let these royal guards get away with murder. So she went to the King and informed him of the conspiracy. This she did wisely in Mordecai’s name (Esther 2:22). That is, she gave Mordecai full credit for the information. She told the King that it was Mordecai who uncovered the plot.

Well, when the truth of the conspiracy was confirmed, the two conspirators were promptly hanged. End of threat.

Now it was customary for Kings to reward their spies and informants handsomely for passing on life-saving news of this sort. After all, they did save the King’s life. But, for some unexplained reason, King Ahasuerus never rewarded or recognized Mordecai for his valuable service. I wonder if Mordecai was outraged and offended by this royal flub. If it was anyone of us, we’d probably be counting all the ways we would spend the King’s rewards. What a bummer to spend our days waiting for a recognition and reward that would never come!

Fast forward several months. The wicked Haman, who was the King’s Grand Vizier or Prime Minister, has built a gallows for Mordecai. He so despises the Jew who wouldn’t bow before him and reverence him that the wrathful Haman is fully intent on destroying what he sees is a Jewish dog. In fact, he’s not only going to kill Mordecai: he’s going to kill every Jew in the Kingdom! Haman’s hate was truly legendary! He issues a royal decree in the King’s Name and, on a certain day, every Persian is given the right to kill every Jew in sight (Esther 3). This would be the original Holocaust of the Jews.

Well, the King couldn’t go to sleep one night. So he commanded the chronicles of the Kings to be brought forth and read to him (Esther 6). That would surely put him to sleep! Or so he thought. Quite providentially, (don’t you just love the hand of God working everything out!), Mordecai’s name comes up in relation to the two conspirators against the King. At the remembrance of the event, the King’s ears perk up. What did we ever do to reward Mordecai for his life-saving information?, the King asked. Nothing, sir, replied the scribe. We never paid him a dime for saving your life.

Well, this just isn’t right! It won’t do! We’ve got to pay him back for saving my life, the King said. So, with Haman’s unwitting help, Mordecai is paraded throughout Shushan’s streets, clothed in the King’s robe, wearing the King’s crown, and riding the King’s horse. Haman himself went before the royally-honored Mordecai as a herald, shouting, This is what happens to the man who the King honors!

Haman is utterly humiliated! The guy he was planning on hanging is now honored by the King. Everyone in Haman’s house sees the handwriting on the wall. Haman’s days are numbered. Instead of you hanging Mordecai, that Jew is going to hang you, Haman!

Well, the King ended up hanging Haman. And he made Mordecai Grand Vizier in Haman’s place (Esther 8). He even gave Mordecai the royal ring with which he was authorized to issue edicts in the name of the King. It was this ring that enabled Mordecai to issue a national decree: every Jew in the Kingdom was given the right to bear arms and defend himself and his family on the day of Haman’s Holocaust. When it was all said and done, it was Mordecai’s vizierate, ring, and decree that preserved the Jews from extinction in Persia. God and the Queen placed Mordecai in the King’s good graces where he could play a pivotal role in the preservation of God’s people in Persia.

Do you know how Mordecai got in the King’s good graces? Queen Esther, in a moment of time, decided to tell the King that it was Mordecai who discovered the plot against his life (Esther 2:22). She could have kept quiet and not said anything to the King about who her informant was. She could have claimed all the credit for the conspiracy’s discovery for herself. But the good Queen gave credit where credit was due. Mordecai’s name got written in the history books. And the rest is history.

So, in a very real way, the preservation of the Jews in Persia can be attributed to Esther’s decision to name her informant. It was one little decision made spontaneously in a moment’s notice. But it was a decision that would ultimately save all the Jews in Persia. Wow! How neat is that!

Friends, don’t ever minimize the decisions you make. ONE TINY, SEEMINGLY INSIGNIFICANT DECISION CAN END UP CHANGING THE COURSE OF YOUR FUTURE—OR SOMEBODY ELSE’S FUTURE.  One “small” decision can be larger than life and end up being your best decision ever. May you be blessed with many such “small” decisions!

BEST DECISION EVER: HANGIN’ AROUND

In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!

HANGIN’ AROUND

Many of us are familiar with the trials and triumphs of the apostle Peter. On the night of Jesus’ arrest, just hours prior to that, Jesus prophesied that all His disciples would fail and desert Him that very night (Matthew 26:31). No way!, Peter vowed.  He’d never deny the Lord (Matthew 26:35). He’d rather go to prison and die for Jesus than deny Him (John 13:37). In fact, at that very moment, he was all pumped up and ready to follow Jesus to the very end (Luke 22:33). Come what may, Peter was going to be supremely faithful to his Lord. No way was he ever going to deny the Lord! The poor guy was surely intent on proving the Lord wrong!

But, as surely as the Lord prophesied, Peter and the rest of the disciples all forsook and deserted our Lord that evening. To his credit, however, Peter followed the arresting party to the High Priest’s house and watched from a distance what would become of Jesus. He hid himself, as it were, as he wandered fearfully about the lion’s den. When folks recognized him as one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter would deny the charge, brush his accusers aside, then go to some other dark corner of the courtyard to hide. Alas, when the cock crew, he caught a glance of Jesus just as Jesus turned and looked him straight in the eyes. He’d just denied the Lord thrice, just as Jesus said he would. And with the shameful realization of what he’d just done, Peter left the courtyard and went out into the night, weeping profusely in condemnation and sorrow (Luke 22:62).

I feel so sorry for Peter at that very moment of realization because that’s exactly what I would have done. I’d be so condemned that, apart from God’s grace, I’d have killed myself. There’s no way I could have lived with the guilt and shame of denying my precious Lord. I’d rather die than live with the torments and haunts of my cowardice and guilt.

Honestly, if you were in Peter’s sandals, feeling everything he was feeling, what would you have done that night after you left the High Priest’s house? Some of us would opt for suicide. Others among us would have left the city immediately: no way am I gonna hang around and see my precious Jesus get Himself crucified and killed. That would only be adding infinitely more grief and unbearable guilt to that which were already killing me.

My first thought would be to go back home to Capernaum, my adopted hometown; or back to Bethsaida where I originally came from. But then, on second thought, I’d probably not go anywhere where I’d be recognized as being one of Jesus’ disciples. I couldn’t bear the people’s scorn and ridicule.

No, I’ll buy me a one-way ticket to nowhere where I would be a complete stranger, go on with life, and find a way to live with myself. In any wise, I definitely wouldn’t hang around Jerusalem. I wouldn’t go back to my friends and the other apostles. I just couldn’t handle the shame and guilt that were sure to come from them. No, just let me leave on a jet plane, I’ll not be back again. I’m done. I’m through. I’m all washed up. I’m a has-been. And that’s what I’ll always be.

But to Peter’s credit, he didn’t kill himself or leave. Just like he did at the High Priest’s home, Peter decided to hang around. He stayed put in Jerusalem. Presumably, he was in the crowd of Jesus’ followers who stood afar off at Calvary and watched the agony of Jesus’ crucifixion (Luke 23:49). On Resurrection Sunday when the women found the empty tomb, they hurried back into the city and relayed the news to the eleven apostles (Luke 24:9). Peter was there. And both he and John ran to the empty tomb to ascertain the truth of the women’s incredible report (Luke 24:12). It wasn’t until later that same night when Peter and the other apostles saw Jesus alive for the very first time after His crucifixion (Luke 24:33,36). I’m sure all the disciples were reinvigorated when they saw the risen Lord for themselves. The depression and guilt that hung on their shoulders weighed heavily upon them. I’m so totally sure that they got things right with Jesus and went on to have a fabulous time with the Lord for the remainder of the evening.

Peter, however, was not totally healed or relieved of his guilt—not as far as he was concerned. Just a few days later, he decided to go fishing (John 21:3). The sense in the Greek text of the Scripture is that he was going back to fishing as a livelihood. He was abandoning his apostolic calling and ministry. He was calling it quits. He was walking out on the Lord and the apostles. He was through being an apostle. That’s when the Lord showed up on Galilee’s shores and called him back to the ministry (John 21:15-19). Thankfully, Peter acceded and the rest is history.

Think about Peter’s fiery Pentecostal sermon that resulted in the conversion of thousands of Jews (Acts 2). His bold stance against the the religious leaders in Jerusalem (Acts 3-4). His judgment of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). By him the first Gentiles were saved (Acts 10). When the apostles questioned his ministry among the Gentiles, it was Peter who convinced them to open the doors of the church to the Gentiles (Acts 11). Peter didn’t stay put in Jerusalem. He went out and became a travelling missionary in Asia Minor. And he wrote a couple of letters that became a permanent part of the Holy Scriptures.

Wow! What an amazing comeback from a guy who sobbed bucket loads of tears, got buried ‘neathe a load of guilt and shame, survived the worst case of self-condemnation and depression, and went on to become a shining light of the early church. Man oh man! What happened to him? What changed him? How did he do it? Here’s the answer. Instead of Peter killing himself or splitting the scene, he decided to hang around town and stay with the rest of the disciples. I’m very sure this was a difficult thing for him to decide and do. It took guts and loads of humility. But he made the decision to stay put. And, in doing so, he put himself in a position where Jesus could crown him the comeback kid.

Have you ever made a mistake that just killed you? Are you tempted to run off and forsake the Lord and the church? Are you wanting to fall into some dark hole and die? Dear friends, look at Peter. Hang tight. Hang tough. Hang around. God’s not done with you. Resurrection Sunday’s coming round for you and Jesus is coming to crown you the next comeback kid. So cry out to God, get back to church, and make this your best decision ever. God bless you and help you be the next comeback kid.