Monday, July 27, 2015

The times, they’re not a’changing

What if you were the vice-regent of an empire and the command of the king was that everyone should bow to you? And what if one man in the capital city, a Jew, refused to bow? What would you do? That was exactly the scenario in Susa, circa 478 B.C., when Mordecai would not bow to Haman. Haman was filled with fury at one man’s actions, so he plotted to destroy every Jew in the empire. What?

That would be like having your foot smashed by an overfilled grocery cart pushed by a little old lady at Aldi’s, and because she doesn’t even turn around or say she’s sorry, you make it your goal to eliminate every little old lady in the state. A counselor might call that an “inappropriate response.”

What was Haman’s problem? Let’s cut to the chase, here. He was a racist. He had been raised a racist. He came from a long line of people who were racists. He was taught as a child to hate Jews, perhaps hearing his father say often, “Jews are different, Jews are not the same as the rest of us, Jews are not good people.” In fact, maybe he was taught that Jews were not really people at all. Listen, racial prejudice is as old as mankind, an ugly sin with incredible power to destroy.

What seared the conscience of a 21-year-old man to the point that he could sit for an hour and have prayer with the nine people he was about to murder in cold blood, simply because they were black? How could Dylann Roof get to the point, even while so young, to write this in his journal: “I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

How could Dylann do this? The same way Haman could. They gave themselves over to the power of darkness. You want to know the scariest thing of all? It could happen to anyone not walking in the power of God’s grace. The Bible says about each of us who are now believers, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of the world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”

Haman was a son of disobedience, seeking to do the bidding of his father, Satan, and to destroy the seed of the coming Messiah. He was not satisfied in just a personal vendetta. He wanted to institutionalize his racism. He sought to use the political machine at his disposal in Persia to make genocide a matter of public policy. He even said to the king, “it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them (the Jews).”

Chilling words. I wonder which groups in our world have become “unprofitable?” Which religions, or races, or ethnic groups, or even age groups, from the womb to the walker, are in the crosshairs of those who seek to institutionalize their removal?

Sorry, Bob Dylan. The times, they’re not a’changing.

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