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The Cost of Separation

Esther 3 begins with an introduction to a man who was not previously mentioned in the preceding chapters. This man's name was Haman, and King Xerxes took it upon himself to exalt him to the highest position amongst all his nobles. The king also commanded that all the royal officials kneel to Haman in honor of his position. None of the officials failed to kneel to Haman—except for Mordecai. When the royal officials noticed that Mordecai did not obey the King's command, they questioned his disobedience. Though Mordecai’s exact response is not listed in scripture, I imagine it may have been similar to what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to King Nebuchadnezzar about kneeling before his golden idol. Just as they refused to bow to the king's command, so did Mordecai refuse to bow to Haman. Mordecai explained who he was, that he was amongst God's chosen people. He told them he was a Jew. And because of who he was, he refused to bow to a mere man. The royal officials spent days attempting to persuade Mordecai to kneel to Haman. But when they saw that Mordecai refused to take their advice, the officials decided to inform Haman of Mordecai's perceived disrespect. So, after Haman was made aware of Mordecai's refusal to bow to him, he intentionally watched Mordecai the next time he entered the gate to see if he would bow or not. And when he observed that Mordecai did not kneel, he was enraged.

The text tells us that when he discovered who Mordecai was, he not only wanted to kill him, but he wanted to kill his people too. So, Haman took his evil idea to destroy all the Jews in every province under the king’s rule to King Xerxes. He told the king, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws…” (Esther 3:8 NIV)

Haman asked the king to write a decree commanding the execution of all Jews on one single day. Haman even offered the king 10,000 talents of silver to seal his proposition. Think of how hateful and prideful Haman’s heart must’ve been if he was willing to pay loads of money to have a group of people killed… all because one man refused to bow to him. But because King Xerxes’s heart apparently wasn’t much better than Haman’s, he agreed to Haman’s evil plan.

A decree went out to all the king’s provinces with the order to completely annihilate all of the Jews—whether young, old, man, woman, or child-- the decree was to kill them all on the thirteenth day in the month of Adar. This decree was written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet ring as confirmation of the legality of the order. A copy of this order was sent to every household so that they would be ready to kill and plunder the goods of the Jews on that fateful day.

And after this harsh law went out to every province in the land, it is written that King Xerxes and Haman sat down to drink while the city of Susa went into confusion. This concludes Esther 3.

I find it simply amazing how quickly things went downhill after the introduction of one evil man—Haman. It also amazes me of how aloof and inconsiderate King Xerxes was in regards to an entire nation of people. The fact that they sat down to drink after making it a law to kill all the Jews illustrates how evil and cold they truly were.

But what I could not ignore is that this all happened because of Mordecai. It happened because he was a man who was sure of his identity. He was a man who had values, integrity, and boldness. He was a man who chose God and God’s decrees over man’s decree. And so, a law to kill the Jews happened because Mordecai was a child of God.

When Haman went to King Xerxes, he told him that the Jews were a people who kept themselves separate—a people who did not follow the customs of everyone else. This is what we are called to do today as God’s holy people. In fact, the term holy is defined as “set apart”. 2 Corinthians 6: 17 charges us to “come out from them and be separate” with the “them” being unbelievers. We know to be different and set apart from this world.

But being separate costs. For the Jews in this text, being separate threatened their very lives. And for us, being separate will costs us our lives as well. Matthew 10:39 states, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” To be separate and to give our lives to Christ is to also give up all of our desires for his desires.

If we confess Christ to be Lord over our lives, then he must reign over it all. This includes our interests, our careers, and our money. It includes who we choose as friends and spouses. If he is our Lord then he dictates every aspect of our lives, which is why it is said that we will lose our life. We lose it because when Christ is our Lord, we surrender all to him and our very life is no longer ours—but his.

And sometimes, quite honestly, surrendering all to God is like death. For it is the death of our will and the emergence of his. It costs to give up everything. But as Christ said, when we lose our life, we will find it. When we die to ourselves, we find ourselves in Christ … which is the most beautiful and safe place to be. And this is where Mordecai decided to be. He took a stand, remained separate, and chose God.

It is my prayer that we will do the same. Mordecai was sure of his identity. Let us be sure of ours. Mordecai did not keep up the customs of the world. Let us not be conformed to the world either. And Mordecai was bold in his belief. He chose God even when others tried to persuade him to choose man. I pray that we will always choose God over the world and its persistent persuasion.

Though Esther 3 concludes with the threat of death lingering over God’s chosen people, as the forth coming chapters unfolds, we see that God is faithful and he always works things out for the good of those who are called according to his purpose. And the same is true for us, no matter what may threaten us or our walk with Christ, in our forthcoming chapters, we will see, as we have always seen, that God is faithful.

Yes, there is a cost to separation, and sometimes the price may appear too lofty. But God promises that if we agree to the separation that he would receive us and that he would be our Father and we would be his sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 17:18). And to be children of the most wise, powerful, and loving King in the universe is, in my humble opinion, worth the price.


Quin Arrington is a wife, mother, and author with Christian fictional and nonfictional books available at

Thank you for your time. May God bless you and keep you!

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