In William Shakespeare’s Othello, the character of Iago epitomizes evil. He will do anything to gain power, no matter whom he must destroy. He pretends to be sincere while manipulating others into committing terrible crimes. Iago deceives Othello into believing that his wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful, a lie that results in their tragic deaths. No matter how destructive his actions, Iago shows no remorse.
Today’s passage reads like a terrible nightmare. Haman, the vain and evil palace advisor, had secured the king’s permission to eliminate the Jewish people. The decree, signed and sealed during the first month, was to be carried out on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. The Jewish people had eleven months to live.
Within the timespan of a single day, they would be decimated. Note the viciousness of this plan: “destroy, kill and annihilate” (v. 13). The order did not just apply to the leaders of the Jewish people but to everyone: young and old, women and children. And, just as Haman had desired, they would “plunder” the belongings of the Israelites.
The decree was written in every language, delivered to every location, and distributed to every leader. It was sealed by the signet ring that King Xerxes had given to Haman. As the proclamation was delivered to the furthest locations and read in every tongue, shock and fear prevailed.
Meanwhile, Haman had no remorse. Instead, he celebrated: “The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered” (v. 15). He was willing to pay any price to soothe his own vanity. In eleven months, the Jewish people would be destroyed.
Apply the Word
Many of us have received devastating news—a job layoff, a terrible medical diagnosis, or a betrayal by a friend. Just like Haman’s pronouncement, these are truly horrible events, and God does not ask us to pretend otherwise. But thankfully we can know that devastating news never catches Him off guard. He is still present and still cares for us.