Welcome to Matchday 3 of the titanic clash between Love and Hatred. Matchday 1 was a household derby within the family of Jacob. The second day was a Mentor-Mentee avoidable clash between King Saul and his “boy” David that turned bloody until the former committed suicide. In both encounters, Love won convincingly but not without the usual suspense, stress and tension on the players and spectators. With the embarrassing scoreline in both games, one would have thought that Hatred would concede and turn down any of such encounters. Entirely predictable and customary of his side to steal, destroy and kill, Hatred doesn’t make a retreat nor surrenders easily. He aggressively engaged Love in another blockbuster encounter similar to a Champions League finals involving 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush (Esther 8:9).
There are individual lessons to glean from each of these encounters. The first game was a family issue, while the second relates to believers in a fellowship or Church. Matchday 3, however, broadly applies to the hatred that erupts amongst workers or professional colleagues within an organisation. Of course, the depraved nature of humankind would always be the match commissioner of such games with the devil as the sponsor, promoter or bankroller. It all started when Mordecai decided to keep to his Jewish beliefs of not kneeling to Haman after the latter was promoted as a senior officer in the palace (Esther 3:2b). Mordecai’s office colleagues drew Haman’s attention to the latter’s determination not to kneel when the former passed by. Indeed, Haman did not even recognize Mordecai until the office colleagues brought his attention to it and aroused him to hate Mordecai. Let us be careful mere gossips don’t steal our peace by loading us stuff that can only get us to hate others. They will be asleep when you can not find sleep for your eyes. Mordecai’s relatively lower rank as an officer did little to affect his dedication to their most cherished Jewish beliefs handed over to them by God. His status as a Benjamite in exile also did not influence him negatively but instead urged him to keep his trust in the God of their fathers. At this time, the Israelites or the Jews had become a sad race. They didn’t have a land, could not worship God in His temple, and didn’t have their freedom. Their ancestors had been removed from the Land of Judah many decades earlier and taken into slavery by Nebuchadnezzar.
It is, therefore, worth noting that hatred has no mercy for the exiled, depressed, the oppressed or the poor. If not, how could newly promoted and dignified Haman have time for “poor” Mordecai and his people? Esther 9:5 confirms that sheer hatred against God’s children or Love engineered the encounter between Haman and the Jews. At the exchange of pleasantries, the captain of Hatred’s side, signifying Haman, had the inscription on his armband, “The enemy of the Jews.”
Those who arouse us to hate others become the pallbearers who carry us in the coffin of disgrace in style to our graveyard at the referee’s last whistle. Resist, therefore, every influence by others and provocation to hate others.
Unfortunately, many have been drawn into an arena of hating others without any cause. Before this time, Mordecai, the gatekeeper, pre-occupied himself with the duties assigned to him per his appointment letter as security personnel at the King’s gate. He executed his task with the professionalism and diligence required of him when he reported the coup and assassination attempt on the life of his Boss. The King set a committee to investigate the intel, and it was found credible. The two masterminders were executed (Esther 2:22). Even though what was supposed to be his upliftment or promotion at the time went to Haman, Mordecai kept his composure and did not allow bitterness to take the better part of him. If you want the power of Love to be behind you, anytime Hatred brings it on, do the right thing even if you don’t see the reward immediately afterwards.
Esther 3:5-6, “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel or pay him honour, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead, Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the kingdom of Xerxes.” Anger, pride, self-aggrandisement, wickedness and murder had all made the first eleven for the side of Hatred against Love. Unlike the first two games, this encounter was characterised by many off-the-pitch incidents. Besides the captain’s armband for the side of hatred labelled “The enemy of the Jews”, they formed a circle in their goal post to cast Lot to find a suitable formation that would daze their opponents before kick-off (Ester 3:7). It is a lesson for Love and its supporters that deep-seated hatred is well connected to diviners, mediums and evil spirits who leave no stone unturned once they move upfront. Casting Lot to determine the most spiritually conducive time date and time to carry out the massacre of the Jews tells how far hatred can take people. Even before the kick-off, Hatred appeared to be winning the psychological bit of the game. At the blast of the referee’s whistle, Hatred swings a few passes together between Lies, Exaggeration and Propaganda when Haman told King Xerxes the Jews had no regard for him nor the customs of his Kingdom (Esther 3:8-9).
Meanwhile, Esther, the King’s wife, was herself a Jew. After casting the Lot, it was not surprising Haman somehow managed to get the King’s approval to do whatever pleased him to the Jews (Esther 3:11). Is it not amazing that the King had been influenced to sign the death warrant of his own sweetheart in the person of Queen Esther without knowing? Was he under a spell? Similarly, only God knows the source of some organisational policies and laws that come to force at our various marketplaces. In hindsight, there was an order by the King to kill every Jew throughout the 127 provinces. Meanwhile, Haman or Hatred was the principal architect behind that supposedly Socio-Cultural ethnic cleansing.
Thank God Hatred does not and will never have a field day or blank cheque in his encounter with Love. When the King’s edict for the annihilation of the Jews went viral, the Bible says, “Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.” (Esther 4:1). However, Haman and his side, Hatred, were celebrating and drinking because the scoreboard had registered an early goal for their side (Esther 3:15). As the side of Hatred and their supporters kept on triumphing in the stands, Haman’s wife Zeresh and his friends advised him to finish the game by setting up a 75ft high pole to have Mordecai or Love hanged on it. Every wicked suggestion taken from friends and loved ones hook line and sinker confirms the assertion that Hatred is indeed very shallow, unwise and short-sighted. Little did they know that Love never walks alone even though his side is playing away in this temporal life.
The million-dollar question is, “Where were those who incited Haman to hate Mordecai when he was being hanged on the 75ft gallows? Where was Zeresh when Haman was hanging on the very gallows she designed for him to construct?
Those who incite us to hate would be nowhere when we drown in the deep waters.
In (Esther 4:8, 15-17;5:1), Mordecai expected Esther to use her feminine power and influence to negotiate with Hatred. Unfortunately, Hatred doesn’t understand any truce of such kind. His side is full of pretense at the negotiating table. It is worth noting that it doesn’t lie with humankind to unearth Hatred’s natural causes and roots. It is no secret that the makeup of women as designed by God offers them a certain edge over their male counterparts when looking for favours from them. As a celebrated beautiful Queen with a nice figure and eyes, as the Bible put it, Mordecai was not too wrong trying to remind Esther to play that card as the going was getting tough for them. After all, she was the King’s bedmate during their ordeal. Mordecai, therefore, tried pushing gentleness and lobbying into the “18” of Hatred, but the Holy Spirit intervened (Esther 4:8). Whiles Haman was boasting about his vast wealth and influence over King Xerxes, the bench of Love introduced Fasting, Prayers and Hope to take care of the midfield with Faith as the lone striker in the person of Esther. The game against Hatred is a serious game that cannot be won with one’s looks, talents or beauty alone. When the “Hamans” cast the Pur or Lot before starting the match, your husband may not see your beauty or fine-looking figure. It was, therefore, not surprising that for thirty (30) solid days, beautiful Esther’s husband had not felt like going to her or attending to her. She told Mordecai, “…But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” (Esther 4:11b). Therefore, the technical response from the bench of Love was apt and on point just before the halftime. Fasting and prayers must rise with increasing and legendary levels of hatred against us. Prayer procured for the Jews what Queen Esther’s beauty and night wares could not bargain for. After the 3-day fasting, at the resumption of the second half of the game, “Then the King asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the Kingdom, it will be given you.” (Esther 5:3). The scoreboard here credited Love their equalizer changing the scoreline to 1-1. Love then substituted hope with wisdom by Esther’s request for a great banquet with Haman as the guest of honor (Esther 5:4-8). Hatred took another lead (2-1) when Haman went rejoicing and boasted of his invitation to the King’s banquet (Esther 5:9-13). With all of Haman’s excitements, he told his wife and friends, “…All this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” Hatred does not know peace as long as Love is focused because no matter the honour bestowed upon Haman as the only invitee to the King’s table, he loses his peace and joy anytime he meets Mordecai sitting at the King’s gate. Haters, therefore, have no peace as long as Love is around their environment.
The side of Love crossed a deep ball into the “18” yard box of Hatred, which caused the King to suffer a sleep disorder while Mordecai was probably asleep (Esther 6:1-3). So, on the eve of the banquet, the King could not sleep. He called for the book of the chronicles, which culminated in his decision that night to honour and recognize Mordecai’s hard work in uncovering the coup plot. At that ungodly hour, Haman had visited the King’s palace to discuss how Mordecai would be impaled on the pole he had set for him. The King asked him how he could decorate the one he delights to honour. Thinking he was the only contender for that category, he outlined four (4) awards for decorating that nominee. He told the King, ” For the man, the King delights to honour, have them bring a royal robe the King has worn and a horse the King has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the King’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the King delights to honour and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, this is what is done for the man the King delights to honour! ” (Esther 6:8-9). The King commanded Haman, “Go at once, get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the King’s gate.” Wow! So Haman went sadly from the King’s court to bestow all the listed honour on Mordecai. Within minutes, the scoreboard credited four (4) own goals against Hatred and for the side of Love bringing the score to 5-2 in favour of Love.
In Esther 6:12-14, Hatred’s loyal supporters started hooting and booing them from the stands. Haman’s wife and advisers shouted from the popular stands saying, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him-you will surely come to ruin!” (Esther 6:13) Hmmm, what a late admonishing! This is the loneliness Hatred goes through when the going gets tough. It is, therefore, not worth allowing yourself to be deceived into hating anyone for whichever cause. It is simply not worth its salt. When Haman heard Esther mentioning his name to King Xerxes, he became terrified at the King’s rage and tried begging Esther for his life. The King returned from the garden to see Haman falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The referee, close to the action, whistled for an indirect free kick in the “18” yard box of Hatred. (Esther 7:8). Love converted that set-piece to a goal taking the scoreline to 6-2.
Haman took an early shower from the game when he was given a red card and impaled on the same pole he had prepared for Mordecai. Haman’s estate was bequeathed to Mordecai making the scoreline 7-2. The side of Hatred was now playing 10 against 11 during the game’s dying minutes. The King signed a new mandate that gave the Jews the right to self-defence. (Esther chapters 8-10). At this time, Hatred’s spectators turned around, cheering the Love side from the stands looking at how organized and composed they were playing. “…And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” (Esther 8:17b). Love scored their last goal to take the scoreline to 8-2 when the Jews struck down all their enemies and all who hated them (Esther 9:5). Mordecai was again lifted and promoted as the second in rank to King Xerxes, whiles Haman and all his ten (10) sons were executed. Love is, therefore, wiser and far more potent than Hatred on any given day.
From these three matches played so far, it will be realized that, no one can avoid clashing with Hatred since he is playing home in this temporal life. If you manage to prevent him within the family setting, you will meet him in Church. If you swerve him in the body of Christ, you are most likely to clash with him at the workplace or in your organization. Instead of becoming exhausted and frustrated with such encounters, let us instead be encouraged in the strength and winning power Love has over the fighting spirit of Hatred. At the return league on Love’s home soil at the culmination of the age, it will be all joy because every hassling, sweat and tears from our eyes will be wiped away (Revelations 21:4). Watch out for the grand finale in my next write up, which is the last in the series of Love versus Hatred dubbed “The Easter El-Classico”.
Team Sheet of Love: Patience, Kindness, Humility, Hope, Perseverance, Truth, Trust, Peace, Joy, goodness, Self-Control, Faith, Resurrection Power, Selflessness, Respect, Forgiveness, forbearance, gentleness, Unity, Compassion, Prayer and faithfulness.
Team Sheet of Hatred: Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Pride, Slander, Selfish Ambition, Unforgiving spirit, Strife, Bitterness, Worldliness, Wickedness, Hypocrisy, Greed, Dishonesty, Lies, Nepotism, Rebellion, Death, factions, witchcraft, Propaganda and racism.
Written by Pastor James Orhin Agyin (email@example.com)