Beware the destructive power of hatred
The book of Esther has a huge caution for anyone with feelings of hatred towards others.
There is much that can be discussed and learned from reading the Old Testament Book of Esther.
Often times we take away from it lessons of courage, faith, and God’s sovereignty. But what about the story’s villain, Haman?
Looking from Esther’s perspective, we see a story of triumph and God’s control. From Haman’s perspective, we see the sad consequences of what happens to someone when they’ve become so consumed with hatred and prejudice.
Who is Haman?
Haman is introduced in the third chapter of Esther after he has been promoted to a ranking so high that everyone in the land must pay homage to him and bow.
The trouble begins when Haman he sees Mordecai, a follower of God, refusing to bow down...
“When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing down or paying him homage, he was filled with rage. And when he learned of Mordecai’s ethnic identity, it seemed repugnant to Haman to do away with Mordecai alone. He planned to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout Ahasuerus’s kingdom.” –Esther 3:5-6 CSB
Haman didn’t just want Mordecai dead. In his rage, he wanted the entire Jewish race slaughtered. And when Haman's wife, Zeresh, suggests he builds a gallows to execute Mordecai, it says that this delighted him. (Esther 5:14 NIV)
What happened to Haman?
Haman made a bloodthirsty plan to execute Moredcai, but in the end it backfired spectacularly.
First, Mordecai's plot was uncovered. Second, he was forced to honor his enemey Mordecai publicly. And finally, the king ordered that Haman be hanged on the very gallows he built to execute Mordecai (Esther 6:11-12, 7:9-10).
In fact, not only did Haman’s hatred get himself killed, but his family suffered as a result too.
God's warnings against hatred
God's Word is full of warnings for those who act like Haman.
- In Psalm 10, we read, “In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises... [but] You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror." (vs 2, 17, 18)
- In the book of Micah, the prophet condemns those who plot evil, and God says they will be repayed for their hatred: “I am now planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity.” (Micah 2:3)
- Proverbs 3:34 warns against the arrogance of people like Haman saying, “The LORD mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.” (NLT)
Replace hatred with love
So how are we to live instead?
The Great Commandment, given by the Lord Jesus, states that we are to love God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). And we are also told that every one of us will have to face Jesus someday and be held accountable for what we’ve done. (2nd Corinthians 5:10)
Now it may be easy to think this doesn’t apply to us so much because we’re not as evil as Haman was.
But we need to remember that God knows our hearts. He knows our unkind and unloving thoughts.
Personally, I’ve had to ask myself several times if I am doing my best to love everyone, just as Christ called me to. Often times I have to confess my sin and repent. I have to ask God if there’s any favoritism or pride that is holding me back from Him.
Even if there’s just one person at school, church, or my job that I hate, that is disobeying what Jesus instructs me.
All it took was Haman hating just one person, and look how that turned out.
Let's thank God for His salvation that covers our sin and changes our hearts, and look to individuals like Esther and Mordecai for inspiring faith and courage. But let us also remember Haman, and the sad truth of what blind hatred can do to a person.