Shushan Was Perplexed Est 3: 8-15 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Haman had convinced King Ahasuerus to let him write a decree to destroy all of the Jews, men, women, and children, in his provinces and to take the spoil of them into the king’s treasures. The decree was to be published throughout all the provinces. The day it was approved, it was published in Shushan, the palace city. And when the residents read it they were perplexed. That is, they were puzzled; they were filled with uncertainty.
They were perplexed by Haman’s commandment – Est 3:8-12 – why such a decree would be written baffled them. They weren’t having any problems with the Jews. They, of course, weren’t aware that Haman was furious with Mordecai the Jew for not bowing down to him. But even if they had known about that, they still couldn’t have made sense out of the decree to destroy all the Jews in all the provinces.
Sometimes what God allows kings to do is mind boggling. For instance, God allowed Pharaoh to increase the burdens of slavery on the Jews. If we had been Jews in Egypt at that time we would have reacted the same way they reacted when Pharaoh increased the rigor of their bondage. We couldn’t have understood it. It’s easy to be perplexed when things don’t make sense. And often what kings are allowed to do doesn’t make any sense at all at the time.
They were perplexed by Haman’s covetousness – Est 3:13-14 – what did the king need with all of that spoil? Not long before this, he held a feast that lasted 180 days to show all his princes and servants the riches of his glorious kingdom [Est 1:4]. He didn’t need the spoil. However, what they didn’t know is that he had granted Haman approval to withdraw ten thousand talents of silver to pay the soldiers who were responsible to carry out the attack on the Jews. With all of that spoil, no doubt Haman would have been able to repay the soldiers’ money and add great wealth to the king and himself. Haman was a wealthy man [Est 5:11] and certainly he had his mind on substantially increasing his wealth after this campaign.
Kings are often motivated by the prospect of absolute rule over ever increasing territory. They are also motivated by the prospect of increasing their wealth. But their subjects and citizens don’t appreciate these motives. Nevertheless, they must obey and God often lets kings get away with these things. Sometimes, he even arranges these conquests. Sennacherib prospered in his wars because God provided him with the power and means to defeat other nations [2 Ki 19:21-26]. When you are on the receiving end of something like this it is easy to be perplexed.
They were perplexed by Haman’s conscience – Est 3:15 – after the decree was signed and sent out, “the king and Haman sat down to drink.” Everyone in the palace city was perplexed by a decree to kill off an entire nation of people in one day and the king and Haman are having a drink. That’s astonishing. Haman has no conscience. And often the rulers of countries can order the death of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in their kingdoms and not feel the slightest remorse. When you read about Stalin, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Hitler, the Kim dynasty in North Korea, and many others through history, you can’t comprehend how they can blatantly order the deaths of so many people. But they do. And during the Tribulation this is going to be worse than it has ever been in all of history.
If you ever see a decree like the one Haman issued, you won’t like the command, you won’t like the person who gives the command, you won’t like the reason for the command, and you really won’t like the fact that the commander doesn’t care. Despite your disagreement, you will be under God’s command to obey the ordinances and honor the king [1 Pet 2:13-20]. You’ll be perplexed yet obedient.
Conclusion: the only way to handle a situation like the Jews faced in Esther is by fearing God and, thereby, trusting him [1 Pet 2:17]. Because from the time the decree was given to the time that God fully worked his will through the king [Prov 21:1] they did not know how the thing was going to turn out. But God did.
In the Jews’ case, God intervened. He set Haman up, he had him executed, and he promoted Mordecai to Haman’s position. A new decree was written that allowed the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies and the outcome was spectacular. The Jews’ enemies were defeated, the ten sons of Haman were destroyed and the days of Purim became a feast of celebration rather than a memorial of destruction.
Think about how other events similar to this in the Jews’ history have turned out so differently than they looked at first. Not only did Pharaoh let Israel go, but they left fully supplied by the Egyptians and Pharaoh and his entire army were drowned in the Red Sea. Sennacherib’s advance was halted at Jerusalem, 185,000 of his elite troops were destroyed in a singe night, and Sennacherib was assassinated by his own children.
You must give God time to work his will. We’ve seen this turn of events over and over through the Bible. Next time you are perplexed, you need to remember to fear God and trust him. When things look like they are falling to pieces, when God is involved, the pieces are falling into place.