What Gets You Growing?June 4, 2012 - 5:00 am
“So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.” — Esther 3:10
In a cryptic statement, the Talmud tells us that when King Xerxes took off his ring, it did more to move the Jews toward repentance than all of the words of the prophets from centuries before. Let’s understand the context.
The story recorded in the Book of Esther took place during the time period just after the expulsion of the Jewish people from Israel. For hundreds of years the prophets had been tearing their hair out trying to get the nation to repent. The Jews had turned toward idolatry, murder, and promiscuity. They were warned about what would befall them if they failed to return to the Lord. But it was all in vain.
Life was good in the Holy Land. Most years saw abundance and security. The idea that it all could disappear was inconceivable. The nation continued down its corrupt path until they were forced to leave when the unthinkable happened — they were conquered by the Babylonians and the Temple was burned to the ground.
Decades later, the Jews had adjusted to life in Persia. Then along comes Haman – a villain, but also a gift. Incensed at Mordecai the Jew who refused to bow down to him, Haman decided to annihilate every last Jew in the Persian kingdom. He made his pitch to the king, and it was then that Xerxes took off his signet ring and gave it over to Haman.
This one act gave Haman the authority to do whatever he wanted with the Jewish people. It was at this point that the Jews finally realized that they were about to be ruthlessly slaughtered. They cried out to God and mended their ways. After months of intense national repentance, the Jews were saved. They were also profoundly and permanently changed. What centuries of prophets had failed to accomplish, Haman succeeded at in one fell swoop!
Here’s the thing: Like the Jews in the Book of Esther, most people change and grow only out of desperation. But it does not have to be that way! The alternative? Inspiration! Spending time with God, in His word and in prayer.
What gets you growing? Don’t wait for the tough stuff in life. Study, take a walk in nature, pray – whatever connects you to God and leaves you inspired to be a better person. A person who is already alert and actively pursuing a better course in life doesn’t need a jarring wake-up call!