The Summing Junction

 

We first meet Saul of Tarsus in Dr. Luke’s historical account The Acts of the Apostles.

 

But they yelled at [Stephen] at the tops of their voices, blocked their ears, and made a concerted dash at him. They bundled him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses laid their cloaks down at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Now Saul was giving his consent to Stephen’s death.

That very day a great persecution was started against the church in Jerusalem…

-Acts of the Apostles, chapter 7 vs. 58 and chapter 8 vs.1.

 

The young man named Saul, born sometime 9-15 years after the birth of Jesus, lived in a first century milieu of Jewish tradition and Torah, of covenants and commemorating, of prayers and psalms and, of Sabbaths and synagogues. In such an environment Saul learned early on that it was God’s people against the goyim – the rest of the world (e.g., David vs. Goliath).

The Jews looked for and prepared themselves for the return of the Messiah who would save his people from world rulers – Rome in the immediate- and bring justice and restore God’s Temple presence among his people. Zealous for God and Torah, the Jews of Saul’s day were resolute in their desire to see this happen. Some of the zealous were “using force against force” zealous, recalling the zealous acts of Judas Maccabeus against the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes 200 years before. Jewish revolutionaries wanted to force change against Roman rule. Others, like Saul, sought to live pious lives in expectation of the salvation to come. They kept their simmering violent zealousness under lid until such time as needed.

Saul studied the Torah, every jot and tittle, under the Rabbi Gamaliel. Politically, Gamaliel was not eager to push an agenda. The Rabbi was more “live and let live” towards Rome. Young Saul was more how can one go on living like this when one knows these things?

We recognize Saul’s Rabbinic training from his letters written to new churches. As mentioned above, we first meet Saul of Tarsus at the onset of persecution of the truly revolutionary – the Christian. I find it interesting to wonder about what we don’t know about Saul in those times.

Before the stoning, did Saul hear Stephen speak as he stood before the religious council? (Acts 7) Did he hear Stephen recount Israel’s history as the people of God and God’s dealing with them, a stiff-necked people? Did Saul sneer when he heard those words? Did Saul hear Stephen proclaim, “Look! I can see the heaven opened, and the son of man standing at God’s right hand!” Did Saul gnash his teeth at such a claim? Was Saul one of the men who dragged Stephen out the door to the stone pit? We know from Dr. Luke’s account that Saul was the moral vestment check at the scene of Stephen’s stoning.

Where was Saul when Jesus was crucified? I would have little doubt that Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, had heard about the sky darkening and about the Temple curtain being rent in two. Both ominous events were sure to alarm any pious Jew.

Where was Saul when Jesus was resurrected? I have no doubt that Saul had heard the reports from all quarters of Jerusalem. This news must have been unsettling for someone who knew the Law and the Prophets and wasn’t able to see such a scenario depicted in the Torah. Even more unsettling, Jesus declared himself equal with God and Stephen claimed he saw Jesus as equal with God, standing at God’s right hand!

And, where was Saul on the day of Pentecost when God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven heard Galileans speaking words from the prophet Joel in their native tongue? (Acts 2) Such things do not go unnoticed by Rabbis.

From Acts, we know where Saul was on the day he encountered Jesus. Paul was riding a donkey on his way to Damascus. He was sent to silence the Followers of the Way forever. No Messiah, he was taught, would be crucified, die and rise again! And, certainly God would not be crucified, die and rise again!

I would consider it very likely that Saul, with a lot of time on his hands riding at 3.5 mph, thought about the events in Jerusalem. He would recall Jesus entering the city on a donkey. He would recall Jesus overturning the money-changers tables in the Temple yard and calling the Temple his Father’s house.

I ‘m sure with Saul’s’ connections that he had heard about Jesus standing before Pilate. And, about the Pharisee-swayed crowd trying to influence Pilate. Jesus had been given a thumb down by many of the same Palm Sunday crowd who waved Palm branches days before. Barabbas, a revolutionary and murderer, was given a thumb up. Jesus would be sentenced in his place. Jesus is crucified. Revolution squashed. But suddenly, there was news of the buried Jesus now walking the streets.

It is also very likely that Saul was also praying and meditating on scripture, perhaps on the visions of the prophet Ezekiel. Almost certainly Saul meditated on the Temple and the return of God’s presence to Israel. Like all “zealous” Jews, Saul was very much tuned into the Temple prophecies and eschatology. Could he have also been meditating on 2 Kings (vs. 11)? 

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

For Saul the Damascus road event wasn’t a conversion experience as Evangelicals would describe it today. And, it wasn’t a turn from Judaism towards Christianity or from the Law towards love. Rather, it was a game-changing, name-changing encounter with a new reality input into his life. I would call this encounter and its result “a summing junction”. Saul met the living Lord on the road that day and came out of that encounter a new creation.

Saul’s zeal for God, Torah and the Temple was ‘summed up’ with the resurrected Jesus. Saul’s hopes for a Messiah to return and bring change was summed up in Jesus. Saul’s prayers for the salvation of the Lord were summed up in Jesus. The sum of charges God could bring against Paul, the Persecutor, were summed against the work of the cross. Paul came out forgiven. His record, once scarlet, was now white as snow.

 This is one of many summing junctions that are recorded in Scripture. As I read again Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road I thought of Jacob. Jacob at one time was going in the opposite direction from his father’s God with his life and plans. At the river Jabbok Jacob encounters the angel of the Lord and Jacob puts up resistance. Jacob wrestles with the angel. In the morning the sum of his encounter is a blessing.

Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”

Here’s what happened to Saul when he encountered a greater resistance, as told to King Agrippa:

“While I was busy on this work [of persecution],” Paul continued, “I was traveling to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests. Around midday, while I was on the road, O King, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the light of the sun, and shining all around me and my companions on the road. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice speaking to me in Aramaic.

“’Saul, Saul,’ he said, ‘why are you persecuting me? It’s hard for you this kicking against the goads.’

“’Who are you, Lord? I said.

“’I am Jesus,’ said the Lord, ‘and you are persecuting me. But get up and stand on your feet. I’m going to tell you why I have appeared to you. I am going to establish you as a servant, as a witness both of the things you have already seen and of the occasions I will appear to you in the future. I will rescue you from the people, and from the nations to whom I am going to send you so that you can open their eyes to enable to turn from darkness to light, and from power of the satan to God –so that they can have forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among those who are made holy by their faith in me.’” (Acts 26)

After each summing junction encounter with the Lord, whether Jacob’s or Saul’s, lives were forever changed. Jacob is given a new name: Israel. Saul is renamed Paul.

I wonder. Does the summing junction encounter happen at the point of a person’s most resistance to God?

Paul of earth was ‘summed’ with Jesus of heaven so that the riches of God’s love and grace would be declared to all of his creation, which meant beyond the Jews. Now, instead of avoiding the Gentiles and being at odds with them Paul was sent to minister to them.

In the king, and through his blood, we have deliverance—that is, our sins have been forgiven—through the wealth of his grace which he lavished on us. Yes, with all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the secret of his purpose, just as he wanted it to be and set it forward in him as a blueprint for when the time was ripe. His plan was to sum up the whole cosmos in the king—yes, everything in heaven and on earth, in him.  The Apostle Paul, to the Ephesian churches, 1: 7-10

The cross is the ultimate summing junction. The Holy One of God took upon himself all of the world’s use of force against him and all of the powers of darkness. The outcome became multifaceted: Jesus gave us a new definition of power- dying to self; Jesus claimed victory over evil, Jesus’ resurrection claimed victory over death; there is a turning from darkness to light; we are forgiven our sins and are now able to forgive others. And, the Divine presence now fills temples of His creation.

While we are walking around on resurrection ground, we, like Paul, are to be witnesses of our own “summing junction”, both of the things we have already seen and of the occasions when Jesus will appear to us in the future. With a new name comes a new vocation.

 

~~~

A summing junction symbol:

No Stone Left Unturned

 

“Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”” Matthew 24: 1-2

~~~

jerichoA “Roll away the stone” anthology: Jericho’s stone wall fortifications fall under their own weight and with the help of a pro-God marching band. An adulterous woman, caught between a stoning and a hard place, looks to the Rock that is higher than her and her accusers. The man of God Stephen speaks aloud his rock-solid revelation while on trial and is consequently stoned to death by a PC jury of non-peers. Lazarus becomes memorialized forever, but not in stone. The disciples find that the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb has been rolled away – and pulverized! Even stones will cry out in praise to God if others are silenced! woman-caught-in-adultery

 

Urban fortifications, buttressed by Reason’s Redirects:

“…from the eighteenth century on, people have said that if you believe in modern science – by which they mean the Epicurean project of scientism, which claims empirical evidence for the philosophical worldview – then you can’t believe in the resurrection. This skepticism has, however, nothing modern about it. Lucretius, the greatest ancient Epicurean, would have scoffed at the idea of resurrection. So would Homer or Aeschylus or Plato or Pliny. The point is that the resurrection, if it had occurred, would undermine the Enlightenment’s self-congratulatory dream of world history reaching its destiny in our day and our own systems. That’s why the resurrection has been seen in scholarship not as the launching of new creation but simply as the most bizarre of miracles, then as an impossible miracle, then as a dangerous ideological claim. You bet it’s dangerous. If it’s true, other ideologies are brought to book. (Emphasis added) N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Scripture

Stephen being stoned (1)There are those, of course, who wish to remain under a rock, preferring to be entombed in “night’s predominance.” They would hate for anyone to turn over their stone and expose them to the “living light.”

There are those, of course, who wish to keep people under a rock, preferring them be entombed in “night’s predominance.” They would hate for anyone to turn over their stone and be exposed to the “living light.” See the Ruling class and its humanist Kulturkampf war on the family, Progressives, atheists and others disposed to slither from rock to rock.

lazarus8

~~~

Truth-seekers turn over every stone until they find the Stone that was rejected by society’s builders. And regardless of what the culture is telling you, that Stone has become the cornerstone from which all things are to be aligned and made square.

 

Once you find that Stone, then like the resurrection you become “dangerous” and begin to turn the world upside down, stones included. The world will notice and protest vigorously…

Acts_of_the_Apostles_Chapter_17-6_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

“…they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,…” Acts 17:6

HOSHIANA Once and for All

sacrificial love

Roll Away the Stone from Your Mouth

 

“Take away the stone,” Jesus said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

Is ‘t night’s predominance or day’s shame

That darkness does the face of Earth entomb

When living light should kiss it?

Ross, Act 2, Scene 4, Shakespeare’s Macbeth

~~~

In the previous post Cow Bells Are for Fellow Travellers, the link presented Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s essay Live Not By Lies prefaced as follows:

Solzhenitsyn penned this essay in 1974 and it circulated among Moscow’s intellectuals at the time. It is dated Feb. 12, the same day that secret police broke into his apartment and arrested him. The next day he was exiled to West Germany. The essay is a call to moral courage and serves as light to all who value truth.

Solzhenitsyn’s polemical speech to Harvard was also a call to moral courage.

But what happens when moral courage is eschewed and truth is not uttered?  “Darkness does the face of Earth entomb.”

There has been a long history of “night’s predominance.” And you may think that you are a modern enlightened individual who can shed light on the road before you, but check your rear view mirror to see where you have been.

Epicurean philosophy, in vogue since before 300 BC, has denied the existence of a Personal God and, alternatively, has placed a high value on sensate feelings and friendship.  As a consequence, today truth is most often considered not to be Objective – the authority of an absolute infinite-personal God, but rather subjective, what our friends let us get away with saying.  Truth now lives with its ‘friends’ in the land of “Like” on Facebook and Twitter.

Epicurean atheists and agnostics posit science – Epicurean atomism – as the beginning and end of all knowledge, declaring revelation and immortality to be romantic nonsense or the effects of too much wine.

The Long March of Cultural Marxism up to the present day disregards any absolutes and even the verities of science.  President Barack Obama declares AGW to be “settled science” when in fact Obama has no published thesis or academic record to show if he is even worthy of us contemplating such an outrageous claim.

The Long March stomps out revered traditional values and Christianity wherever such Objective Truth-based morality is found, replacing them with immediate social consciousness sound bites. And thus, subjective truth becomes a milieu of Epicurean-based malleable “truth”, worthy of Karl Marx. Marx conceived of truth (only in political-economic terms, of course) as what friends contrive when amassing social consciousness. Later, French philosopher Foucault would say the same. Thus the importance our culture now places on social media, polls and majorities, and on discrimination instead of discernment, as opposed to Objective absolute Truth.

 

What happens when moral courage is eschewed and truth shunned?   There is a loss of liberty.

“You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” –Jesus. But the Ruling class elites want to define truth and set the narrative.

Professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, Angelo M. Codevilla’s National Review article Standing Up to the Ruling Class: What citizens can do to resist the ruling class’s redefinitions of moral and cultural norms speaks directly to the reality facing us, and those who have recoiled from truth-speaking:

“If you’re wondering what Americans can do as our ruling class sets about enforcing its redefinition of marriage, start by looking back at what it did to the citizens of Indiana when their legislature raised the possibility that someone might object to joining in celebrations of homosexual marriage…

Indiana’s Republicans, its churches, and conservatives in general pled for the liberty to speak and act according to religious faith. They did not and do not argue the worth of the Judeo-Christian religious beliefs that the ruling class deems odious.This has proved to be self-defeating. Appeals for tolerance of all beliefs in the name of America’s traditional freedoms fail because they concede the ruling class’s assertion of its own moral-intellectual superiority, as well as its underlying assumption that good and evil, better and worse, are just other words for its own likes and dislikes…

Consequently, if we wish to remain who we are in the face of threats and declamations meant to force us to honor intellectual and moral falsehoods, we have no alternative but clearly and loudly to distinguish between true and false, fully making the case for what we believe to be right. There is no viable alternative to confronting the ruling class’s fantasies and euphemisms substantively, in detail.

Peaceable behavior will not protect you from being hounded as a “hater.” A whiff of “offensive” attitudes is enough for the ruling class to make you as untouchable as the lepers of old. Nor is silence a refuge.” (emphasis added)

You will want to read the whole article, contemplate its message and summon moral courage.

~~~
Jesus stood before a member of the Ruling Class, Pontius Pilate:

“What is truth?” Jesus did not bear witness to what his friends wanted him to say. Jesus did not say, as French intellectual Michel Foucalt postulated, that truth is “regime” of beliefs and values linked to systems of political and economic power, a scientific, non-universal apparatus feeding into majority opinions.” 

In the days before his foretold crucifixion, Jesus told Pilate, and his disciples previously, that He came to bear witness to all that his Father does and says.  Crucifixion was invoked by the “Crucify him!” social consciousness to silence Objective Truth – what the Father does and says.  But then Objective Resurrection occurred and Truth was exalted to the highest place – God’s right hand.

 

Who is your father?  The father of lies who is the grand marshal of the Long March.  Or, is it the Father in heaven? Who do you testify about?

Have you ever seen the Father rejoice over homosexuality or homosexual marriage? Jesus at the wedding in Cana showed the Father’s blessing of his creation: male and female marriage. Never once has Objective truth ever endorsed homosexuality.

The unscientific paramours of homosexuality, psychology and psychiatry, add their voice to the loudest, angriest voices on social media so as “to raise awareness” and to alter the predominate consciousness of the natural union of male and female.

~~~

Speaking of the binary:  Truth-seekers need both reason and revelation.   Each informs the other. Both need to be declared. And, we must leave the nether land of sentimentality that keeps us entombed in darkness and ready to give up.

Start with the Objective historical facts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There were hundreds of witnesses to the resurrection. And like Paul, we have become witnesses of the Resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus revealed truth about the Father, that there is life beyond atomism. There is immortality; life is more than the body, and incredibly more than the packaging of identity politics.

A.D. The Bible Continues

Be not afraid. Roll away the stone from your mouth. Do not remain silent. And, did not Jesus say that persecutions would come when we spoke truth? Were these persecutions based on silent acquiescence so as discern whether to be “Liked”? No. Here’s what Jesus said:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

The Eternal Living light:

“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”  I John 1:2

~~~

 

Scripture urges us to “expose the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11) and avoid becoming partners with those “who deceive with empty words” (Ephesians 5:6). Colossians implores us not to be “taken captive by deceit.” We’re warned in 2 Timothy that the time will come when people will not want to hear the truth, so they will surround themselves with frauds who tell them what their “itching ears want to hear.” I believe we have arrived at that moment, and it is now urgent that we specifically identify these frauds and false teachers. This is not a fun or polite process, but it is necessary, so we must get on with it.” (emphasis added)

Let’s Remember The Cowardly Conservative Leaders Who Betrayed Us For Trump

Haman and Hate (and Hamas by Proxy?) meet the Hangman, Conclusion

Part One: A Feast for the Eyes

Part Two: Persia Meets Reality and Esther

Part Three: Haman and A Star is Worn

 

Mordecai sitting at the King's Gate-all ears and eyes

Mordecai sitting at the King’s Gate-all ears and eyes

 

 

Haman is booked

Haman is booked

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Four, Conclusion: Who Remains Silent in Times Like These?

 “The entire story of Israel, on one level at least, is the story of how Israel’s God is taking on the arrogant tyrants of the world, overthrowing their power, and rescuing his people from under its cruel weight.” N.T. Wright, “How God Became King”

 As we have learned so far, Persian King Xerxes and his right hand man Haman have issued decrees, edicts and proclamations. At the urging of Haman a death warrant for the Jews was sent throughout Xerxes’ vast kingdom.

 The edict, that genocide of the Jews was to occur on a certain day, is shouted from the citadel in the capital city of Susa. The targeted Jew’s days are numbered: on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar the Jews are to be annihilated, their property plundered.

 This horrifying declaration is soon answered by the Jewish population. The people mourn and fast. They put on sackcloth and ashes as signs of their distress. Xerxes and Haman, on the other hand, party on.

 But then banqueting tables are turned and the Jew’s great sadness is turned to rejoicing. Moving quickly though the events we’ll see how.

 Before we go on you should know this Resurrection Day that…The days of evil are numbered and the Day of Final Deliverance from Death is at hand. The empty tomb is the proclamation of our deliverance from both evil and death, on a certain future day. The Purim celebration would become a foretaste of deliverance. Resurrection day is the foretaste of the Day of Deliverance.

 From Chapter One of The Book of Esther: King Xerxes, in response to Queen Vashti’s no-show at the royal bacchanalia deposes Queen Vasti and sends out a decree to everyone in his kingdom, a decree proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household.

From Chapter Two: Esther is fast-tracked by the head eunuch to become Xerxes new queen. The king then gives a great banquet, “Esther’s Banquet” to show off his queen to all his nobles and officials. Xerxes proclaims a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with liberality. Mordecai’s salvation of Xerxes from an assignation attempt is recorded in the king’s record books.

 From Chapter Three: Xerxes honors Haman, making him his right-hand man. Haman is paraded about and is honored by all except a particular Jew-Mordecai. Haman’s ego is crushed. His anger turns to hate. Haman chooses to become anti-Semitic. Haman complains to Xerxes about a “certain people”.

 Xerxes to Haman regarding the Jews, “do with the people as you please.” A genocidal Death Warrant is issued after the king’s authority via his signet ring is handed over to Haman. A copy of the text of the edict is to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.  …couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued.”

Chapter 4: Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, hears about the edit. It is shouted from the citadel in the capital city of Susa. Mordecai is stunned. With sackcloth and ashes Mordecai let’s the world know, and more importantly, let’s God ‘know’ that he is mourning the loss of his family and his people the Jews. (Notice how Mordecai’s protest (like Job’s) is personal and self-effacing and not riotous, vulgar, angry and destructive like today’s demonstrations?)

Important to our understanding of The Book of Esther wherein there is no mention of God is the fact that God had promised Abraham in a covenant (see Genesis 15) that “a) Abraham’s seed would become as numerous as the stars of heaven, b) his family would be exiles in a foreign land and eventually be brought out, and c) his family would inherit the land of Canaan.” (N.T. Wright, “Justification”.)

Mordecai’s great distress is based, I believe, on his understanding of God’s promises to Abraham and his understanding of God righteousness–God keeping his promises-and the declared challenge to God’s faithfulness by an earthly tyrant. Sackcloth and ashes are man’s quiet submission to God: man is dust and will return to dust and that salvation alone comes from God. Let’s see what happens next.

Esther quickly learned about Mordecai’s distress. She sends him new clothes to put on, to comfort him. She did not know about the edict.

Mordecai responds to the eunuch sent by Esther. He hands him the edict to give to Esther. Mordecai tells the eunuch that Esther must approach the king and get him to rescind this edict. Esther receives the news with great dread. She replies to Mordecai that people who just show up at court uninvited are put to death. And, “…thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”(emphasis mine)

 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:  “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

So Mordecai went and carried out all of Esther’s instructions. The Jews in every corner of the kingdom fasted for three days.

Submission takes the high road.

Maybe you have noticed by now that submission plays a big role in this and other Biblical narratives. Putting on sackcloth and ashes and fasting are forms of submission. Replying, “If I perish, I perish” is another. Recall Mary’s submission to the angel regarding her being impregnated by the Holy Spirit? “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered, May it be to me as you have said.” And, we must recall our Lord’s submission to the Father’s divine purpose: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

 The act of submission to a sovereign God even when God’s presence and His direct intervention are not evident is described for us in a ‘genealogy of faith found in Hebrews chapter 11. There we read of the “By faith…” accounts of individuals who submitted themselves to God. That submission is faith in the righteousness of God. It is saying God keeps His promises and that He does so no matter what men do to affect them, even up annihilation of those promises personified in God’s people the Jews.

 Submission to a scepter

After three days of fasting Esther puts on her royal robes and presents herself to the King. She appears in the hallway within direct view of the king. She anxiously awaits his invitation. Xerxes scepter is offered to her. Esther touches the tip of scepter showing respect and submission to his authority.

Civil disobedience and submission

Civil disobedience and submission

 Now imagine for a moment being Queen Esther. Xerxes, the King of his household had, had by proxy decree allowed for the annihilation of her people the Jews without giving it second thought. Queen Esther no doubt felt that her life hung in the balance, one side of the scale weighted against her. But then the finger God was upholding her.

 The king asked Esther “What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

Esther’s response is not direct. She invites Xerxes and Haman to a banquet that same day. The banquet happens, the wine is poured and again the king asks Esther what her petition is. And again, Esther, faltering in courage, suggests another banquet the next day and “Then I will answer the king’s question.” On to banquet number two and a swelling ego.

 With banquet number one under his belt and banquet number two written into his day planner Haman is pretty impressed with himself. He brags to his wife and friends that it was only the King and himself who were invitees to the Queens banquets. Haman boasts of his great connections and vast wealth. Yet, there was something sticking in his craw-that Mordecai who is mourning everyday at the gate in sack cloth and ashes.

 Haman’s wife, knowing that Mordecai was the decreed king of his household offered a solution to Haman’s hangdog demeanor.

“Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy.” In other words, “Don’t Worry. Be Happy!” Haman liked the idea and had the gallows built. Problem solved.

 Sleepless in Susa

That same night the king couldn’t sleep. This was due to too much wine at the banquet or perhaps God’s purpose was the pea under the mattress. Whatever the reason the king ordered his favorite book to be brought in-the king’s chronicles. These books were records all of the king’s doings, perfect for nights like these.

The king ordered his favorite book to brought in-the king’s chronicles. These books were records all of the king’s doings, perfect for nights like these.

 Lo and behold, what was long ago forgotten was still in black and white on the parchment- Mordecai had saved the king by exposing an assassination plot. The king then asked his attendants what had been done for Mordecai. Such an act of respect for the king’s life should be honored. His attendants answered, “nada” (I don’t know Persian for “nothing.”) The king wanted to settle up with Mordecai immediately so he asked his servants, “Who is in the court?”

 Lo and behold, Haman, the proud, is, at that very moment, standing in the outer court hoping to get permission from the king to have Mordecai hanged. Haman, too, wanted to settle up quickly as possible.

 Haman enters the king’s presence and immediately the king asks Haman “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

 Haman, already full of Haman, thinks the king is, of course, talking about whom else but Haman. Haman, with great flare, then details a litany of delights that the king should lavish on such a man.

 The king commands Haman, “Go at once.” “Get the robe and 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.” Oh, the irony.

 Haman did as the king commanded. He paraded Mordecai through the city streets proclaiming as he went, “This is what is to be done for the man the king delights to honor!”

Carpe the irony:  Haman is leading Mordecai through Susa

Carpe the irony: Haman is leading Mordecai through Susa

 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate (nothing had changed; a curious ride through the city on horseback does not a decree rescind). Haman returned to his wife and friends and gave them the low down.

 Zeresh, Haman’s wife, taking the reins away from Haman decides, like many others had in recorded history, that it is time to stop messing with the Jewish people. In her mind the Jews’ God defends them. He is real. Enough already, Haman, your pride is plaguing us. Be done with this man and his people.

 While she is talking Haman is whisked away to banquet Number Two

 No Fear (well maybe some)

 King Xerxes and Haman, knees knocking I’m guessing, dine with Queen Esther a second time. And, a second time the king asks Esther, “What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

 “Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation.”

 Well, king Xerxes is greatly troubled by such a statement. He wonders out loud who would do such a thing “Who is he?” ”Where is the man who would dare do such a thing?”

 “Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.” 

Esther points out the evil.

Esther points out the evil.

In a rage, knowing that he had been used by Haman, Xerxes got up from the dinner and went into the palace garden. In the mean time, Haman knowing that his life is over throws himself at Esther’s feet and begs for his life. The king returns and finds Haman now clawing at Esther. His rage grows.

As it is written, one of the eunuchs attending the king, Harbona, pointed in the direction of Haman’s house. He told the king that Haman had erected a seventy-five foot high gallows on which to hang Mordecai, “the same Mordecai who helped my lord.”

 The king didn’t ponder this at all. “Hang Haman on that same gallows”. Then his fury subsided. Problem solved. Seventy-five feet: my how the mighty have fallen! 

Evil begs for mercy and finds none.

Evil begs for mercy and finds none.

The tables are turned

 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman. Esther told the King of her uncle and how he adopted her after her parents had died. The king took off his signet ring and put it on Mordecai’s finger. Mordecai was appointed the head of Haman’s vast estate by Esther. But, a decree was still out there and could not be rescinded. Something had to be done before the day of annihilation.

 Déjà vu all over again but this time Sovereignty steps in.

 Esther once again approached the king weeping and pleading for the life of her people. She asked for a counter decree to be issued. King Xerxes answered both Esther and Mordecai, “Write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you.”

 So, all the same secretaries who were summoned once before to write out the Jew’s death warrant were summoned again. Mordecai’s counter decree would allow the Jews to defend themselves from all enemies and to take their plunder. The edict was dispatched via multiple couriers to the 127 provinces of king Xerxes.

 “The couriers, riding the royal horses, raced out, spurred on by the king’s command. And the edict was also issued in the citadel of Susa.” The response is celebration in each Jewish community.

 “In every province and in every city, where ever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.”(emphasis mine)

 Hate has its day in the People’s Court

Haman’s day of holocaust, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month of Adar, finally arrived. But the Jews had prepared to defend themselves. Mordecai’s edict gave them the power to stand against their enemies and take their plunder. And so the attempt at genocide began throughout the kingdom.

 It is written about the Jews, “No one could stand against them, because the people of all other nationalities were afraid of them. And all nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews because fear of Mordecai had seized them….The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them…But they did not lay hands on the plunder.”

 In summary, the last two Chapters of The Book of Esther detail the extent of the Jews self-defense against hatred. Various numbers of deaths occur in different places within the 127 provinces. In one verse (16 of Chapter 9) it is written that seventy-five thousand enemies of the Jews were killed. That is seventy-five times one thousand deaths or one thousand deaths for each foot of height of the “Haman Gallows”

 Speaking of justice by extrapolation, Haman’s ten sons, the ten acorns that don’t fall far from the tree are hanged on their father’s gallows. The Jews understood that evil is passed down from generation to generation. The sins of the father, in this case anti-Semitism, would continue to manifest its ugly hatred if not nipped in the neck. 

Haman meets the end of his rope.

Haman meets the end of his rope.

After all of the fighting had stopped and the Jews enemies vanquished, Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in every province of King Xerxes. He declared these days of Adar to become an annual celebration, “as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned to joy.” These days would become known as The Feast of Purim, “For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction.”

 The balance of The Book of Esther tells us that all of the prior events were recorded for posterity in the king’s books. Mordecai was held in high esteem by all who knew his name.

 

 Something to think about this Resurrection Day

You may cast your lot with those who hate the Jews but the outcome will be the same as those enemies of the Jews in the Kingdom of the Media and Persia. This historically proven pronouncement includes Hamas, the anti-Semitic Boycott-Divest & Sanction (BDS) groups, Iran-The Islamic Republic, ISIS, anti-Semitic Europeans and all those who hate the Jews. So all such, you are forewarned. And, nuclear bombs are no threat to the God who created the vast universe, the infinitesimal atom, a particle’s chirality and also allowed man to find quantum mechanics among the mysteries of life. God knows the number hairs on your head. Did you think that he doesn’t notice the hatred raging in your head?

If you cast your faith on God’s sovereignty you will find that God is faithful to his covenant promises. Make a stand with God and you find God standing with you (read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel). Esther’s life is an exemplary illustration of submission to God’s sovereignty.

 Esther, in an act of civil disobedience came before King Xerxes and spoke truth to power. It took Esther a couple of banquets to ramp up the courage but Esther made a stand for herself and for the people of God.

Esther is also an example of one life given as a ransom for many (see the Gospel of mark, chapter 10, vs. 45 regarding these words spoken about Jeshua, Jesus).

 It has been said that the degree of anti-Semitism in a society is an indicator of its health. Look at Europe to see where the U.S. is heading.

 Finally, Orthodox Christian theologian Charles Malik who was also a Lebanese diplomat, political theorist, philosopher and president (1958) of the U.N.’s General Assembly wrote a book titled “Christ and Crisis” (1962).

 Malik’s definition of crisis: “the crisis is simply the fact that Jesus Christ is the Lord and is judging.”

 Malik warned that “The greatest weakness of Western strategy is its relative neglect of the intellectual and spiritual dimension.”(emphasis mine)

 When facing a crisis at any level, in any context we must confront it with courage and the cross.

 In 1962 Malik wrote,

“There are three unpardonable sins today, to be flippant or superficial in the analysis of the world situation, to live and act as though halfhearted measures would avail; and to lack the moral courage to rise to the historic occasion.”

 Esther understood “crisis” and acted with sober courage to avert a holocaust that was decreed with hatred within the shadow of a gallows. (See also the life of Dietrich Bonheoffer.) 

Who Remains Silent in Times Like These? 

***

For current information regarding the increasing anti-Semitism in our world bookmark this website: LegalInsurrection

 Here is a sample post: Vienna, “Free, Free Palestine” chant becomes “Kill, Kill the Jews”

 

 

Resurrection Doesn’t Stop There

white lilies

 

Heaven

 

Beyond “Imagine“,

There, You Are.

 

Before me

Unbound Substantive Reality, The Living Word

Lifted from gilded pages to eternity’s masthead: “Alpha and Omega.”

 

He now walks among us with beard and white gown,

A purple sash hides a pierced side,

He is the only Disfigured One among us,

The walking Redeemed.

 

He is Truth Unfiltered,

Full-Colored, not developed black and white,

Heaven’s Endless Searching Light,

Light once diffused and then restored,

Among prisms of white calla lilies.

 

Heaven,

A hope not disappointed, no longer dot-to-dot discovered, And,

A harvest, garnering displaced ones into

The dancing embrace of the Triune God:

“That where I am, there you may also be.”

 

Beyond “Imagine“,

Here I am ~ a harlot,

My redemption once hanging by a Scarlet Thread,

Now I’m dancing in the streets!

 

Holy, Holy, Holy. Trisagion.

 

Come, Lord Jesus.

 

 

© Sallyparadise.com, 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

White lilies from www.flowers-magazine.com

Wait Here and Watch

After saying these things, Jesus went forth with his disciples beyond the torrent of Cedron, where there was a garden…” (John 18:1) “According to his custom” adds Luke.

“And they came to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I pray.’ And he took with him Peter James and John, and began to feel dread and to be exceedingly troubled. And he said to them, My soul is sad, even unto death. Wait here and watch.’…”

A terrible sadness overcomes our Lord ~ sadness “unto death” says the Holy Scripture. Then Jesus tells also the three to wait~perhaps they are surprised to hear him say they should watch with him; it is probably the first time he has ever asked them to. Alone, he advances a few paces, falls on his face and prays…

 jesus-in-gethsemane

What does faith tell us? Before all else who this man is there on his knees – the Son of God in the simplest sense of the word. For that reason he sees existence in its ultimate reality.

 Wherever we encounter Jesus, it is as the Knowing One, as he who knows about man and world. All others are blind; only his eyes are all-seeing, and they see through to the very ground of human depravity.  The forlornness Jesus beholds there embraces the whole of human existence.  And he does not see it as one who has broken through to spiritual health and clarity with the help of grace.  Jesus’ knowledge of sin is not like that of fallen mankind;  he knows about it as God knows – hence the awful transparency of that knowledge.

Hence the immeasurable loneliness.  He is really the Seer among the blind, sole sensitive one among beings who lost their touch, the only free and self-possessed one in the midst of general confusion.

 Jesus’ consciousness of the world’s corruption is not grounded in the world and therefore the prisoner of existence.  It springs from above, from God, and enfolds the whole globe, seeing as God sees:  around existence, through existence, outwards from existence.  Moreover, Jesus’ divine consciousness, before which everything is stripped and lucid, is not extrinsic, but intrinsic, realized in his living self.  He knows with his human intellect, feels the world’s forlornness with his human heart.  And, the sorrow of it, incapable of ripping the eternal God from his bliss, becomes in Christ’s human soul unutterable agony.  From this knowledge comes a terrible and unrelenting earnestness, knowledge that underlies every word he speaks and everything he does.  It pulses through his whole being and proclaims itself in the least detail of his fate.  Here lies the root of Christ’s inapproachable loneliness. What human understanding and sympathy could possibly reach into this realm in which the Savior shoulders alone the yoke of the world?  From this point of view Jesus was always a sufferer, and would have been one even if men had accepted his message of faith and love; even if salvation had been accomplished and the kingdom established alone by proclamation and acceptance, sparing him the bitter way of the cross.  Even then, his whole life would have been inconceivably painful, for he would have been constantly aware of the world sin in the sight of a God he knew to be holy and all love; and he would have borne this terrible and inaccessible knowledge alone.  In the hour of Gethsemane its ever-present pain swells to a paroxysm.

 ****

Selections from the chapter Gethsemane, from the The Lord by Romano Guardini

****

Lord, I will wait and watch with you this day.

There Is No Greater Love

Sacrificial Love

By Chuck Asay – March 30, 2013