The Dread of Mordecai. It almost sounds like a disease to avoid or a powerful dictator. It is neither. It’s a phrase I recently encountered when reading through the book of Esther:
“Even all the princes of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and those who were doing the king’s business assisted the Jews, because the dread of Mordecai had fallen on them,” (Esther 9:3 NASB).
A lot of drama played out before the story gets to the “Dread of Mordecai”, but it’s worth recounting in a somewhat condensed version. The main players in the story are as follows:
- Haman – a man who was promoted to high position just beneath the king who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. (Haman was arrogant and self-absorbed.)
- Mordecai – a Jew brought from Jerusalem and lived in exile in a foreign country. He was a servant at the king’s gate and uncle of Esther. (Mordecai was a devout follower of God.)
- Esther – Niece of Mordecai, and a Jewess who was taken into the king’s harem. She found favor and became the king’s wife.
As the story goes (remember this is condensed), King Ahasuerus is looking for a wife after “dismissing” his first one because of her insubordination. Afterwards he gets sentimental and decides he needs another woman in his life. The search is on! Many of the fairest young ladies from all over the land were brought to the palace to be pampered and vie for the king’s affection. One of the women was Mordecai’s niece, Esther who, in the spirit of Walt Disney, was the “fairest one of all” because the king picked her.
Now, while all this was going on, Haman received a grand appointment from the king. He was feeling extra good about himself until he encountered Mordecai who worked at the king’s gate. Unlike ALL the others who bow down to the big-egoed “grand poobah”, Mordecai refused to bow down, because he was devoted to God. Needless to say that did not go over well with haughty Haman.
Haman devised a plan to take down Moredcai . . . and while he was working evil, he decided to “fix” all the Jewish people in the land by drawing the king into a scheme to allow their destruction. Little did King Ahasuerus or Haman know that Esther, the queen was Jewish.
Long story short, Esther, with much encouragement from Uncle Mordecai formulated a plan to save the Jewish population from annihilation and send Haman to his own death on the impressive gallows he intended for his nemesis. Life with God has a way of taking crazy turns. Mordecai was in trouble, but Haman ended up on the receiving end of the destruction he planned for Mordecai and the Jews. This is where the phrase “The Dread of Mordecai” enters the story.
On the day the decreed destruction, which allowed citizens of the kingdom to legitimately kill Jews, people had taken notice of the events that saved Mordecai. Between Mordecai and the divinely inspired decree issued by the king (a direct result of Queen Esther’s actions), the king issued a second decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves. The non-Jewish people realized there was something affiliated with Mordecai that they did NOT want to mess with. God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, but His work is obvious. He was the “Something” the people didn’t want to mess with, and it was referred to as The Dread of Mordecai.
You see, that’s what often happens when it looks as though God’s people have no hope. They are vilified by those who, like Haman, hate anything that goes against self-serving egos. Power blinds. Ego deceives. Sin takes over, and civility becomes a casualty. Some things never change. Look at the way Christians are treated today, much like modern-day a Mordecai.
What does the Haman/Mordecai drama look like today? You may or may not be fans of the people I mention, but there are definite parallels. Sarah Palin was vilified in the 2008 election. People mocked her of because of her Christian and family values. She was ridiculed for accurately stating Russia was visible from an Alaskan island when her opponents twisted her words¹. What about Tim Tebow? Fan or not, this young man is devoted to God. He gets shot down when his less-than-gracious peers from the National Football League rarely get a critical word for miscreant behavior. I also think it’s interesting how one of the first things attacked in Communism and dictatorial regimes is Christianity. Vilifying Christians and squeezing God from the public notice is a way to suppress Truth and squash the public’s’ hope.
Yeah, there are plenty who cannot/do not WANT to handle the Truth and don’t want others to have hope. Where Truth and hope exist they become The Dread of Mordecai to many. To me, this dread leads to either 1) vilification or 2) events showing glory of God. Christians are subject to both. The dread, here, is really a fear of Jesus. Jesus scares some and threatens many, but He always comes out on top in the end.
We cannot know all the reasons people hate Jesus and His followers, but we know that Jesus predicted it (Matthew 10:22). The same phenomenon that created The Dread of Mordecai still exists today. However, unless we Christians live the life of Truth and hope like Mordecai, others won’t see it.
Bottom line, don’t be afraid to be devoted like Mordecai and brave like Esther — instruments of God who made a difference.
©2013 Shona Neff