Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. Esther 3:8
Today we feature the first in a series from a house church pastor’s sermon in China:
The Bible is written to persecuted communities, and we must learn from each community the peculiar blessings and dangers of persecution. I would like to draw your attention to some lessons from the persecuted community in the time of Esther.
Esther was Queen of Persia sometime after 483 BC. She was a beautiful woman with a secret—no one except her adopted father knew it. It was her racial origin. She was a Jew.
There came a great persecution. In Esther 3:8, we read that the king of Persia’s advisor says he should not tolerate a certain group of people. The king agrees, and issues a decree calling for the extermination of all Jews.
The Jews are devastated, including Esther. How they got into this situation, how they get out of it, and what happened afterwards all reveal great truths about suffering churches—of which we are one.
Where does persecution come from? What is its source? The text shows us clearly. Persecution is the result of pride. Pride on the part of the persecutor.
Haman is the culprit. He is humiliated because a Jew called Mordecai refuses to bow low enough to him. We are not given the reason why Mordecai would deliver such a calculated snub, but it makes Haman see red. Instead of just trying to get rid of Mordecai, though, he has to project his personal humiliation into something grand. He won’t admit it’s all just a personal grudge, but concocts an elaborate plan to get rid of all Jews because they are in breach of the king’s laws.
His plan is a good one. The Jews are different, he says. True. They are so different, they are not good citizens, he adds. False, but the king is right to be suspicious of any group that seems to have other loyalties than just to him. It’s the same in China. Our government persecutes us because we are different. We are honest, separate, and we have greater loyalties than just to the state. That makes us an object of suspicion.
But the root of it all is pride. The cause of the persecution was simply that Haman was angry. I have read that in Russia, the terrible persecutions that were visited upon the churches there came from the fact that Lenin’s brother was shot by the Tsar’s forces, and what galled him in particular was that a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the proceedings. He carried his personal hatred with him…It’s a pride matter. It always is. The source of suffering is always found in human pride.
RESPONSE: Today I will check my pride at the door and realize that God is still in control!
PRAYER: Pray that prideful leaders will humble themselves to acknowledge the God of the universe.