Read ESTHER 3:1–4
King Nebuchadnezzar constructed a golden statue and ordered everyone to worship it. Three young Jewish men in the king’s court refused to bow, and they were punished for their defiance by being thrown into a furnace. To the king’s amazement, the fire did not destroy them. Instead, God protected them, and their obedience to God became an example to the king, his court, and the Jewish people. Nebuchadnezzar praised the God of Israel: “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants” (Dan. 3:28).
Years later, Mordecai was in a similar predicament. Some time had passed since Esther became queen. Things had been going well for both Esther and Mordecai, who were now situated in their positions in the king’s court.
But we meet a new person in today’s passage: Haman the Agagite. He was promoted to an elevated position in the court by King Xerxes, “higher than that of all the other nobles” (v. 1). To reinforce Haman’s status, the king ordered that everyone must kneel and pay honor to Haman.
Mordecai refused to obey. His repeated act of civil disobedience was soon noticed by others. From verse 4, we can assume that Mordecai chose to reveal his Jewish heritage as a way to explain his refusal to pay homage to Haman. People urged him to go along with the new order, to just bow down. When Mordecai resisted their peer pressure to kneel before Haman, they reported his insubordination.
Right away we see Haman’s character revealed. He could not tolerate one man who refused to bow before him. He decided to target not only Mordecai but also all his people—a vendetta that would destroy the Jews.
APPLY THE WORD
Mordecai’s action reminds us that we serve first and foremost our heavenly King. His commands guide our actions and give us courage to stand up for our beliefs, no matter how unpopular they may be. Ask God to give you a heart that is open and obedient to His leading and willing to bear witness to Him no matter how uncomfortable the situation.