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The Enemy

"After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes" (Esther 3:1).

Haman is now brought upon the scene. In order to understand the reason for Mordecai's unyielding attitude in regard to Haman, it will be necessary to look into the history of the Amalekites. Agag was the name given to the kings of Amalek, the first of Israel's foes. In Genesis 36:12 we find that Amalek was the grandson of Esau, who in Scripture is always a type of the flesh. Even before the birth of the twins Esau and Jacob, they struggled together—a picture of the flesh warring against the Spirit.

In the seventeenth chapter of Exodus, God provided water for His people by having Moses smite the rock. A lovely picture, surely, and easily understood in the light of two New Testament Scriptures. "That Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4). "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink … this spake He of the Spirit" (John 7:37-39). It is at this moment that we read: "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel" (Exodus 17:8).

And so the lusts of the flesh will always come in to hinder the believer's enjoyment of the refreshing influences of the Holy Spirit. The Christian is beset by a tireless and hateful foe who makes it his business to defraud him, if possible, of the blessing that is rightfully his. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:16,17).

It was on this first occasion of Amalek's hatred and attack against His people that the Lord said, "I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven … the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." (Exodus 17:14-16). In Numbers 14, Israel was defeated when they disobeyed the word of the Lord, and presumed to go up in their own strength to meet the Amalekites. Likewise, the moment a believer gets out of God's order he exposes himself to the power of the flesh. There is no safety except in obedience to the Word.

Balaam foretells the doom of this haughty foe in Numbers 24:20. Moses, too, in his last charge to the people, reminds them of Amalek's opposition and appointed doom (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Study Judges 5, 6, and 10, to learn more from Israel's struggles with and victories over Amalek. Notice that whenever the people rose up in the energy of faith and the lowliness of self-judgment, all of Amalek's power was broken.

The inspired account in 1 Samuel 15 of God's command to destroy Amalek and Saul's failure to carry it out is most instructive in connection with our study of the book of Esther. Even though Saul gained a wonderful victory, he spared Agag; Haman is witness that he likewise failed to exterminate the rest of the royal family. Had Saul been true to God, and yielded implicit obedience to His Word, Haman could never have appeared on the scene. Saul's unfaithfulness made the plot of "the Jew's enemy" possible, and exposed the chosen nation to destruction.

There is a solemn lesson here. Sin unjudged, and evil tendencies allowed to remain alive today, will result in grave trouble later for the Christian. Is the reader conscious of indulging some fleshly desire—something, perhaps, that seems hard to put to death? Rest assured, it will be the cause of serious disaster if unjudged. It may go on unnoticed for years, but the day will come when it, like Haman, will rise in its power, and will eventually work to the undoing of your discipleship, and to the breaking down of your testimony.

—Adapted from Notes on the Book of Esther by H.A. Ironside.

Haman's character provides the perfect illustration of the things God hates:

"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16-19).