“Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the kings about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.” vs. 4
Going For The Gold
Runner Ben Johnson’s story
Born in Jamaica, Johnson came to Canada when his parents wanted a better education for their six children. His mother found work as a kitchen server in a Toronto hotel and sent for the children in 1976. The father also came to Toronto for a while but returned to Jamaica to a better job than Canada could offer. A puny 14-year-old, Johnson entered the eighth grade and proved an average student. After high school he dropped out of an auto mechanics course. Nudged into athletics when his brother joined a track club, by 1980 Ben was 50 pounds heavier, six inches taller, and beginning to win medals in international competitions. His mother took a second job at another hotel to help pay for Johnson’s training, which included weight lifting six days a week.
Enter the 1984 Olympics. Ben Johnson, Canada’s 100-meter sprinter, arguably the fastest man in history, flew down the track in a world-record 9.79 seconds, only .13 of a second in front of 1984 quadruple gold medalist Carl Lewis of the U.S. But photographs freezing that astounding moment of the 1988 Seoul Olympics reveal a dark side of Johnson. At the finish line, in angry celebration and to taunt Lewis, Johnson thrust an index finger to the sky. Johnson later told reporters, “I don’t care about the perfect race. I don’t care what the world record is. I just wanted to beat Carl.’
Johnson’s pursuit of shaming a rival brought shame upon himself. The Olympics crackdown on illegal drugs, requiring post-race urine tests of all winners, revealed Johnson had taken stanozolol, a forbidden anabolic steroid. Within three days he was stripped of his medal and record and banned from competitive athletics for two years. He left Seoul like a criminal, hiding his face behind a briefcase as he was mobbed by photographers. This is the man who once said, ‘running is my life,? The man who sold out to the luxuries and fame it brought.
– Just days before the Olympic track events, an American trainer noticed Johnson’s eyes ‘so yellow with his liver working overtime processing steroids
-After Johnson’s disgrace at the “88 Olympics, his coach admitted Johnson had used steroids for nearly seven years.’ (Talk about his run-ins with the law in the following years)
A seemingly small decision to enhance athletic performance with an illegal drug set Johnson up for a life out of control.
Jeanne Zornes, ‘taking the High Road,? Pursuit, Vol. V, No. 1, 1996, pp. 13-15
Read Passage – Esther 6
That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 3 “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.5 His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.” “Bring him in,” the king ordered.6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” 7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have 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. 9 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 honor, 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 honor! ’” 10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “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.” 11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” 12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.
The Good Deed Resurfaces
A few weeks ago we looked at the story of Mordecai and his bold and courageous move to reveal to the king a plot that he overheard two men planning to take his life. At that time I asked you a question; Would you being willing to do the right thing even if you didn’t get recognized for it? One of the strengths of Mordecai was that he was willing to do the right thing regardless of being recognized and in spite of the danger. Now the king, Xerxes, can’t sleep this one night, and he does what all good kings do, he says “Hey, someone read me all the (good) things I’ve done and remind me of my legacy so far.” Even kings need reminders that they have done something worthwhile. Then the story of Mordecai and his revelation about the murder plot is recounted and he realizes that maybe he hasn’t recognized that that he honored him for it, so he says (vs.3)
“What honor and recognition has been Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.”” vs. 3
Let me remind you that it has been 5 years since that took place. That is a long time. The Persian kings had a custom of recognizing people publicly We are never told why the king had not formally recognized him. When the king recognizes that he hadn’t honored him he makes immediate plans to rectify that. So he asks for help in what should be done to recognize Mordecai without mentioning his name. This is where we learn a little more about Haman.
The Focus Of Your Heart
What we learn is in his response from what the king asked him about honoring someone. Vs. 6:
“Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” vs. 6
We learned a few weeks ago about the hatred between the Jews and the Amalikites from years gone by and we remember that Haman has a particular hatred for Mordecai because when the king had honored him, Mordecai would not bow down to him. It is evident that Haman holds grudges but what really comes out now is that Haman’s focus is really askew. It is natural to take care of yourself and to even maybe think that just maybe when someone says something nice that it might be about you or even hope it is about you. Haman isn’t hoping or guessing here, he thinks it can only be about him. What we are seeing in Haman is that his focus is on him and him only. He doesn’t consider others and he doesn’t care to consider others. This is a red flag and we are going to talk about the red flags (warnings) that Haman pushes us to consider but first let me introduce one quick thing to you.
There is something we have to consider about our health and it is the emotional health that we strive to have; it’s the idea of keeping things in the right perspective. We tend to move to extremes, i.e. whether to drink or don’t drink, sex or no sex, etc. This happens in the church a lot because it’s easier to deal with black and whites not grays. It’s easier to deal with don’s and don’t’s and not maybe’s or possibly’s. Haman has a lot of emotional unhealthy because everything is to the extreme. Don’t just kill Mordecai, kill all the Jews. His opinion and his way is the only way, etc. But realize that God is more of a God of the middle. God invented sex and he didn’t say not sex, he said sex is good, within the marriage context. He didn’t say don’t drink, he said don’t get drunk. We put those things in place because it’s easier for us to deal with, We struggle to keep balance. Emotional health is realizing that there are good things in life but when we let them get out of balance, it causes us some emotional un-health.
Warning Signs Your Focus Needs Adjusting
Today let’s look at three things that each of us need in our life, they are good for our life, but when we tip the scale and they become out of whack and we put too much emphasis on them, they lead us to un-health and possibly away from God. If we find ourselves placing too much emphasis on them, that might be a warning sign that we are focusing on the wrong things and could even be a sign that we have some emotional un-health. We find these three things in Haman’s response to the King Xerxes.
- Your Outward Appearance Takes Top Priority
Haman’s first thought about honoring someone the king wants to honor focuses on the outward appearance. He ways in verses 7 and 9:
“For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn…Let then robe the man the king delights to honor…” vss. 7-9
He wants people to look at him and go, “Wow, look what he has on, that is awesome!.”He want not only to be the GQ trendsetter but for everyone to be envious that only he would get to wear the king’s robe. There was even some thought in Persia that the King’s clothes, royal robes, could somehow impart magical power.
Please note this: it is not bad to want to look good. We should all want to look good and be presentable and have a style of our own and feel good about our appearance. Haman takes it to a whole new level. Haman’s heart focus was himself and his appearance to others. He has a sin of pride and arrogance that comes from his request. It’s more than just wanting to look good, it is wanting to lord it over others and place himself in a place of superiority, even at the expense of others.
It’s important for us to remember that this is not how God sees us. I Sam. 16:7 says:
“Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Sam. 16:7
We spend a lot of time looking at our outward appearance. When was the last time you spent some time fixing up your heart?
2. Your “Things” Are More Valuable Than They Should Be
A second focus of Haman’s reveals itself in the second part of his request; again verses 7 and 8:
“For the man the king delights to honor…and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head.” vs. 7-8
At first this might not seem too unusual. But think a little more with me on this. His request is deeper than just riding on the king’s horse. He wants a horse with all the pageantry and pomp that goes with it so he asks for the horse to be robed in all this special attire that only would be done for the king himself. His focus here is on “things.” It’s like saying I don’t want to be driven around in the king’s Mercedes, I want the Hummer limo and “oh yea” can we decorate that thing with tricked out rims, special detailing, like real gold pinstripes, and how ‘bout throwing on some of those. special hood ornaments too. Haman wants the appearance of having the things that bring power over others and many believe that to be riches.
Again, riches are not bad. It’s not bad to have things and to have nice things but again realize that when we use those things to have superiority over others, to have them bow down to us. Haman’s focus is on treasure and he places it as a major focus of his heart. Jesus warned us in Matt. 6:21:
“For where your treasure is there your heart is.” Matt. 6:21
We can desire treasures, we can work for treasures, we can have some of the things that God blesses us with but we are warned by God not to let that be our hearts focus.
3. You Crave Praise From Others
And the third request that Haman asks for is something that really makes us all feel good; public recognition and praise; so Haman says in verse 9:
“(Let them) lead him on horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him: “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor.” vs. 9b
I love to be praised. I like to be told how much I’m appreciated. And we all need to be told and to affirm others. Haman here is looking for more than just praise. It might be that those special powers he thought the robe might bring him, would elevate him even more in others eyes and give him more power to carry out his evil scheme to kill all the Jews. The determining factor behind this is the idea of what is driving your heart to do the things you do? In Haman’s case, he was doing it to get more praise. The idea behind this point is that when our goal is to get praise, we have earned our reward.
Ex. Standing applause at the show I went to last week. The feeling of obligation to stand.
Let’s face it, people can praise us to our face and not really feel it or have sincerity with it. That’s what haman wanted. He didn’t care if people really meant the praise, he just wanted it to stroke his own ego. The Pharisee’s where much that way and Jesus told them that. John 12:43:
“For they (the Pharisees) loved praise from men more than praise from God.” John 12:43
When we do things for the praise of man, it feels good for a bit but it wears off fast. When we do them for God, it has a lasting effect. Part of the irony of this story is that Mordecai did the right thing without getting any recognition and now he is going to get a lot of regonition.
I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This
The story really takes a great twist when King Xerxes agrees with Haman and then tells him to go and do all that he suggested for Mordecai. Can you imagine how reluctantly and how difficult it would have been for Haman to do all these things for someone he hated at his core. He does it and then goes home and shame. And all his supporters, his family and friends that all had supported him in building these 75 foot gallows to hand Mordecai on, they are changing their tunes now.
“If Mordecai, before who you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” vs. 13
They see the writing on the wall. This is not turning out at all like they thought it would. It’s going south and fast many of them were probably jumping off the band wagon pretty quick now.
You never know how God is going to work. Think about this, he uses the king’s insomnia to work his plan.