In Luke 19:40 when the people are praising Jesus, the Pharisees deride him, and Jesus answers that if the people were silent, the stones themselves would testify of His greatness. As we continue the series on the simple proclaiming God’s greatness, there is an Old Testament passage where a pebble overthrows the edict of an emperor.
Imagine if you were a Jew in 5th century Persia, on your way to worship you pass by the market and hear the proclamation, “On the 13th day of the 12th month Adar, anyone of Jewish descent is to be destroyed, including women and children, and whoever destroys any Jewish inhabitant, can have their goods, homes, businesses, and livestock for their own. – Signed Haman by order of his Lord Sovereign Ahasuerus the King.”
Would you feel much like worshiping? It is very easy as a believer to watch as similar declarations that attack the moral fiber of our nation are made on a continual basis. It is no surprise that this world is not a friend of righteousness and in fact many in the name of love have vehemently persecuted and sought to destroy those who stand by the truths of Scripture.
As we continue the series on the greatness of God shown through the small things, I was struck by a phrase in Esther 3:7, “They cast Pur, that is, the lot….” What is taking place in this passage?
The Empire’s second in command Haman in a revengeful act planned to eliminate the entire Jewish race, but his superstitious nature would not allow him to do it without the blessing from the pagan soothsayers. After the lot is cast, Haman is told that the best time to have the blessing of the gods is on the thirteenth of the last month of the year. Haman gets the blessing and edict of the king, and begins to wait nearly 11 months to destroy the Jews. And this is a very good thing.
How is that a good thing? At the outset, God’s chosen people would be destroyed by an irrevocable edict from the king, but the Persian king’s edict is predicated by an even greater King’s edict. The Persian King Ahasuerus signed his edict with his signet ring, and commanded heralds to be sent throughout every province of his kingdom, the Heavenly king proclaimed His will with a little more subtlety, but with even more certainty.
Let’s take a quick look at the practice of the casting of the Pur. The word Pur is not Jewish, both times when the word is mentioned it is then explained as the Hebrew goral which refers to a rough object or pebble (Strong’s). Before the Jews even knew they were in trouble, Haman went to consult a bunch of rocks. The passage does not state the particulars, but it was common in ancient times especially amongst fortune tellers, to have a bag of different colored or shaped pebbles that when aligned or chosen could be interpreted by the priests.
“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:33)
Even amidst the horrendous decree, God is in control before the decree hits the Persian courtroom floor. Haman who refused to be ruled by God and set himself up as the ultimate authority in his life is still being controlled by God. Haman is living out the oft forgotten principle that, “It’s kinda hard to outrun Omnipotence.”
If we were to step back from the immediate context and work through a few details, we can see the unwavering hand of God. Why wait 11 months to kill the Jews, because the red pebble says so. Where did the red pebble come from, Shanbenezzer picked it up by the river. Why did the river deposit the rock for Shanbenezzer, because of the late spring flood. Why the late spring flood, because of the barometric pressure in the western mountains. Why the western mountains, because that is the way God sculpted the world. Why the topography of the earth….Because God knew Shanbenezzer needed to find the red pebble for Haman, because He loves His people. God was thinking about Esther and His people for a long time. And God is thinking about whatever red pebble seemingly dictates your life and mine.
In fact, God is a master at redeeming horrendous circumstances and trials in order to show Himself strong. The Jews had nearly 3 months to seek God’s face, repent, and pray before God moved to officially change the Persian king’s edict (Esther 8:9). But the fact remains that God is big enough to use a vengeful man, pagan priests, and a little pebble, to ensure that His power is known, because after all, God’s edict never changed.