Mordecai Wins; Ananias Loses
Today’s reading: Esther 1-3; Acts 5:1-16
15 The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. Esther 3:15
11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. 12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Acts 5:11-13
The presence of God’s people within an unbelieving culture can be a cause of great impact and the society does well to consider how God will deal with those who touch the apple of His eye.
The Jews, because of their unfaithfulness to God’s covenant with them, were taken into captivity in Babylon which by the time of Esther was under the rule of the Persians. Through a fascinating series of circumstances, Esther, a Jew, becomes the queen, Haman, the Agagite, becomes second to the king, and Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and guardian, causes Haman to become infuriated by his refusal to show him homage. Haman, learning that Mordecai is a Jew, decides to use his newly acquired power to exterminate, not only Mordecai but, all the Jews in the empire. With the decision announced, the king and Haman relax with a cool drink while the capital city is thrown into chaos. Details are not given, but the order to commit genocide and plunder the property of the Jews must have raised questions about where this kind of policy might be heading.
The early church was alive with passion for the gospel and with love for its members. Enter two hypocrites, Ananias and Sapphira, who attempt to impress the church by pretending to give all their wealth to the apostles. Instead of impressing, they are struck dead for their lie. The news spread and fear gripped everyone both inside and outside of the church. This group of believers was not to be trifled with. No one dared to join them, but, on the other hand, “…the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women…” (vs. 13b-14). The point is no one joined them unless they truly believed. You would not join a group where you might die if you were a phony.
Do you, like me, long for a revival in the Church of Jesus Christ, where the level of commitment to God and His people is such that hypocrisy would melt away? We may see that in coming days as the society around us heads toward the establishment of secular relativism and the intolerance of any kind of moral absolutes. Be ready. Mordecai wins. Ananias loses. God is glorified.