The Lord’s Message:  God Is at Work – Getting Punished for Doing Good

The Lord’s Message:  God Is at Work – Getting Punished for Doing Good
Date:  July 9, 2023
Where:  Kronsberg Park
Scripture Reference:  Esther 2:19-23, 3:1-11

You might have heard the phrase:  No good deed goes unpunished. How many of you have ever been punished for doing good? Tomas Lopez was a lifeguard on duty in Hallandale Beach, Florida. When he spotted a man who had swum out too far and was drowning. As any good lifeguard would do, Tomas went into action and swam out to the man. He got the man to shore with the help of some other beach goers. The man was not breathing, and Tomas started CPR on the man and continued the CPR until the paramedics arrived. Tomas filled out his incident report and was fired instead of being heralded as a hero. The company that he worked for said that the man was outside the restricted area and should have been left to drown. His fellow lifeguards stood up for him. They all said that they would have done the same thing that Tomas had done. They were all fired. Another example:  Property owners, Michael and Channel Keeley were arrested for doing the right thing. They had just learned that the tenants who were renting their home had been busted for meth possession. So, the Keeleys went to the property to clean it up and put it back on the market. While there, they found that their ruined house had eight bags of meth hidden inside the walls. The Keeleys immediately reported this to the police. But for some inexplicable reason, the police decided that this was all some strange ruse. “Tell the truth,” The reporting officer snapped. “We know no one broke into your house. You did this yourself.”  The officer then arrested the couple for “tampering with evidence” because finding evidence and immediately handing it over to the police is a form of tampering. They threw the couple in jail and threatened to send their nine-year-old son to child services. After it became a media circus, the police dropped the charges. But the couple spent two days in prison, had to pay $5,000 each to post bail, and saw their son become traumatized by an officer of the law before that happened—all because they tried to do the right thing.

If you think that this only applies to today’s events, let me remind you of Joseph. Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob. Jacob showed more love to Joseph than his other sons. Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors. This infuriated his brothers. When Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers, they tore his coat and threw him in a dry well and later sold him into slavery. All Joseph was doing was following his father’s instructions. Joseph was punished for doing good.

One more example from the Bible, David was anointed to be King of Israel, but he was punished by King Saul. Saul tried to kill him on several occasions and even sent an army after David to capture him. All David had done was defeat the enemies of Israel. David was punished for doing good.

            Let us pray.

            We pick up the events in the Book of Esther. If you remember last Sunday, Queen Vashti was deposed and after a beauty pageant, Esther is now the queen of the Medes and Persians. We pick up the story in verse nineteen with Mordecai, Esther foster’s father, sitting at the king’s gate. For Mordecai to be at this place must have because he was in some official capacity of the Medes and Persian Empire. It is at the city gates where legal matters are solved. In the Book of Ruth, Boaz goes to the city gates to settle the matter of property of Elimelech and his sons, including his daughter in law, Ruth, Ruth 4:1-4, 9-10. The standard practice of the time to settle property matters was done at the city gates with officials present to confirm the agreement between parties. So, Mordecai must have held a similar position especially for the Jewish people.

            A side tidbit, the name Mordecai is a Hebrew name meaning “follower of Marduk.”  Marduk was a Babylonian god who ruled with justice, fairness, and order. So, Mordecai must have been known by the Hebrews, Babylonians, and even the Medes and Persian as a person who was just, fair, and kept things in order.

            Mordecai is sitting at the city gates performing his government job, when he overhears two of the kings’ trusted eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh talking about assassinating King Xerxes, verse 21. Bigthan in Persian means, “Gift of God,” and Teresh means “to be revered.”  An assassinating plot to the king is not a gift of God and to be revered. God is at work. God has placed Mordecai in the right place at the right time to overhear about the assassination attempt. Esther is now queen. In verse twenty-two, Mordecai tells Esther about the assassination plot. Esther tells the king. In verse twenty-three, the plot is determined to be true, and judgement is handed out on the two eunuchs. This is recorded in the Medes and Persians record books.

Now, you would have thought that Mordecai would have received some honor from the king for foiling the assassination plot. Mordecai receives only punishment. Let us take a look at chapter 3.

Mordecai is back to sitting at the city gates when Haman walks by. Apparently, the king’s command is that everyone should bow to Haman.  The reason is that Haman has been appointed by the king over all the officials. Let us look at verses 1-2a. In verse 2b, Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman. The reason may be that Mordecai knows that Haman is not really concerned for the king, but for his own position of power. The second reason is Haman’s ancestry. The Bible mentions that Haman is an Agagite, a descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites, an enemy of the Jewish people. In Deuteronomy 25:17-19, Moses is giving final instructions to the Jewish leaders and people about the Amalekites. For whatever reason, Mordecai does not follow the king’s custom in regard to Haman.

This does not go unnoticed by Haman. In verses 5-6, Haman plots not just to punish Mordecai, but all the Jewish people. He goes to the king and tells them there are a group of people residing in the king’s territory that have their own laws and refuse to obey the king’s commands. He goes on to tell the king that the king should get rid of this group of people, verse 8. So, this is how Haman set out to punish not only Mordecai, but all of the Hebrew race. Look at verses 13-15. A letter was sent to all the provinces from the king’s secretaries to kill all Jews, young and old, women and children, and to take their possessions. Haman has declared war on the Jews. Haman is allowing the citizens of the king to carry out his dastardly plan. Mordecai saved the king from assassination and instead of being honored as a hero, all Jewish people are being punished for Mordecai doing good. God is at work. Next Sunday, we will find how God is always working for our good.

I am sure if Mordecai were to have it to do over again, he would do the same thing. I am sure that if Tomas had to do it over again, Tomas would save that man’s life from drowning. I am sure that if the Keeleys had to decide whether to turn the drugs over to the police that they would do it without thinking. Mordecai, Tomas and the Keeleys were punished for doing good, they would still do good anyway. As Christians, followers of Jesus, Peter gives us the way that we should live our life even if it includes being punished for doing good. This is what          1 Peter 2:20-24.

            The one that was punished the most for doing good was Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord and Savior. Jesus suffered the beatings. Jesus suffered the crucifixion. Jesus, the Holy Son of God, suffered the unholiest for your and my sins. God placed our sins on the Holy body of His Son, so that we would be free from the bondage of sin. Jesus was perfect in every way. He healed the sick, the lame, the blind and the mute. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. Jesus did good wherever He went. Jesus did not sin, but Jesus was punished for our sin. Jesus was punished for doing good. Why would we expect anything different in our own lives?

            If we are going to be punished, then let us be punished for doing good. Let us be punished for doing what God expects us to do. Let us be punished for helping the poor. Let us be punished for telling other the Gospel Message. Let us be punished for holding fast to the laws of God. If we are going to be punished, then let us be punished for living our life for Jesus.

            There is a statement that rings true today. If you were going to go to jail for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence in your life to convict you? God is at work. So, even if you are punished for doing good, do good anyway. Amen.

July 9, 2023 12:27 pm