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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Commentary On The Book Of Esther--Part 9
Commentary On The Book Of Esther--Part 9 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John R. Respess   



After these things did Ahasuerus promote Haman, the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.

Haman was an Amalekite, the natural enemy of the Jews, between whom war had been declared from generation to generation. The Amalokites were descendants of Esau, and therefore the kindred of the Jews, the descendants of Jacob. Generated in the same womb, the struggle began with them before their birth, and was perpetuated in their descendants. They were the heads of two nations, one of which was beloved, chosen and blessed of God, and the other hated. Jacob and Esau, though brothers in the flesh, were as different in spirit as if of two distinct families. As the Primitive and Arminian or Mission Baptists, though alike in name and the letter of the faith, they are as different in the spirit of their faith as Jacob and Esau. They are two distinct nations, and there can he no alliance between them, any more than there could have been between the families of Jacob and Esau, or between Jacob and the family of Heth. Jacob could not intermarry with Heth as Esau could and did; he could intermarry only with the daughters of his own people. Some brethren have thought it not improper to receive the official acts, as baptism for example, of the Arminian Baptists, because they hold, with us, to the doctrine of immersion; whilst in reality, they are as different from us in the spirit of immersion as the Methodists are; and are more dangerous, because they seem more alike us, and hence are more apt to mislead us. To receive their official acts would be to say that Esau had the birthright with Jacob, or was with him equally invested with the official headship, or pre-eminence. In the family of Isaac, as in the elect nation or Church of Christ, there can be but one head, as there is but one name, given under heaven amongst men as her Saviour; but one to whom the preeminence is given amongst his brethren, and to whom all must how, both those in heaven and those in earth. From him, as the head and life of his people, flows all grace, which grace is made pre.-eminent in the faith, and works of faith, of the church or elect nation. His people are blessed in him as Abraham’s seed were blessed in Jacob; they are chosen in him as Isaac’s seed were chosen, not in Esau, but in Jacob, and he could, therefore, be the only proper head. To elevate Esau with him to the headship would be to do away with the election of grace in Jacob and substitute the works of the flesh for the works of the Spirit. This the Arminian Baptists do, and to it the Primitive Baptists refuse to bow, as Mordecai in the king’s gate refused to bow to Haman. To receive their official acts, therefore, though done right in the letter or form, and in that respect according to the king’s commandment, would be to elevate the letter or flesh, and Esau, to a higher place than the election of grace; would be to put works over grace; Esau over Jacob; Haman over Mordecai; the flesh over the spirit and the law over the gospel. But God always makes grace preeminent; it was made thuds in the call of Abraham, in the conception and birth of Isaac, in Jaco0b blessing Isaac—not according to his natural birth but according to the election of grace, before he has done any good or evil.

Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field. Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate his venison; but Rebecca loved Jacob. A as a trained hunter, Esau doubtless stood high in his day as Haman did in hid. Hunting, at that early age, was probably the best school for physical and mental development, and therefore, the avenue to honor and worldly promotion. Esau soon grew to despise his birthright---that is, to despise being a dweller in tents and a minder of flocks, and little, in any respect for their religion. It was too tame and pretentious for the ambitious hunter. There is sometimes seen in this day, the children of Primitive Baptist parents, who get up in the world become ashamed of the religion of their parents.

Poor weak Esau! If he had never gotten up in the world, he would not have been ashamed of his parent’s religion. His pride and vanity made that a curse that should have been a blessing to him; that which should have humbled him, and prepared for usefulness to his family. The boy to whom his father had given the advantages of wealth and education will sometimes look down upon his old-fashioned and unpopular religion; and esteem himself as too wise to give up the world for so poor a thing.

It is to be feared that even Christians may themselves become puffed up from their worldly advantages, to their own injury and the hurt of their brethren. But those whom God has bestowed the birthright of grace, will condescend to men of low estate and will not arrogate to themselves spiritual authority on account of worldly advantages. It is possible that it may be the parent’s fault that their child has so little respect for their religion. The Lord help us!

The father may love too well his son’s venison….he may unduly stimulate his child’s love for the honors ands riches of the world and those worldly pursuits that shall wean his affections from the father’s house. We may have so little home religion and so much love for this world ourselves, as to teach out children by example that the world is to be preferred to Christ. Our children are not as often seen at our meetings as the children of parents professing godliness should be. We remember once a brother who did not have time to go himself to meeting, but on the following Monday we saw that brother, with his wagon loaded with his family, whipping up his mules to the circus, in time to see the street parade.

Isaac was proud of Esau; and it is natural that a Christian father even should be proud of a son who had achieved honor in the world, and risen to be a Governor or member of Congress. He overlooked plain, simple Jacob, whose fame had not spread beyond the family circle, whose care had not exceeded the bounds of his father’s flock, and whose struggles with beasts had been only with the enemies of his father’s lambs. His days passed silently away in the obscurity of his mother’s tent; his struggles, wrestlings and cares were hid from all eyes save God’s and his mother’s. To his mother’s sympathizing heart he no doubt poured out his sad complaints, thinking too little of himself to parade them before others. He was not above his people, but loved them and reverenced their religion in his humble way, and gave himself for them. If he had aspiration to achieve honor, as Esau, in capturing game in distant field or mountain, it was struggled with and suppressed for the sake of his mother and her God. Whilst Esau was capturing and making a prey of wild beasts, and feeding his father with his own renown, Jacob was struggling with and keeping self under, to the glory and praise of God’s grace. He learned to be gentle with ewes great with lamb, and to lead the flock beside the still waters and into green pastures. Not for the flocks of Heth was Jacob concerned, but for his father’s flock. The Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him as with Esau.

Esau’s meat (religious food) was prey taken by his own strength, stratagem and dexterity, with sling and bow; his study was the haunts and habits of the beasts of the forest, and he had learned to out-wit, out-wait and entrap them. In this he achieved honor. In this profession—which was self-gratifying—he endured cold, hunger, fatigue, and many privations; he suffered as Jacob did in keeping Laban’s flock—drought by day and frost by night—but in a very different spirit from Jacob; Jacob’s was from necessity, or of faith, and was a denial of self, as David’s was when he guarded his father’s flock in the wilderness, and rescued the lamb from the lion and bear. Esau’s strength, dexterity and endurance were of the flesh; there was no self-denial, dependence and helplessness in his struggles, and no praise to God in his triumphs. If he delivered lambs, or the helpless and defenseless, it was not because he loved and pitied them, but for the honor of doing it; if he brought savory meat to his father, it was not for love of his family, or their God, but for the love of the honor and praise it got him.

But he grew to be a prince among men, for he who has learned to tame, subdue and control wild beasts, (his own passions) has learned to control men, and men become his prey. Thus did this strong man run well; but it come to pass one day that he came in weak and faint; he had taken no venison, and his endurance was put to the test; he was weighed in the balance and found wanting. Disappointed in his expectations, his pride and vanity were so mortified that he was ready to die. He came to Jacob’s tent, and his pot was boiling, and he fain would eat of Jacob’s pottage. And shall it be that the simple-minded shepherd shall prove wiser and stronger than the accomplished athlete and cunning hunters. And wherefore, save for the wisdom given him from above, according to God’s eternal purpose? And thus the timid dweller in tents takes the prey that the practiced artisan, the nimble-footed and dexterous archer failed to overreach; and Esau, so famed in hunting, so familiar with danger and death, so inured to fatigue and hardship, lays all his spoil down at the feet of plain Jacob—giving it all for one mess of pottage. How superior, when tested, is Jacob’s wisdom to Esau’s! And how weak and foolish is the wisdom of the world, when compared to the wisdom from heaven! How poor the training of man and the flesh to the teaching of the Spirit; and the trust in man to the trust in God. Esau, trained in the flesh, of long endurance, of practiced eye and inflexible nerve, crouches, subdued by hunger as the wearied deer had crouched to him; and at last, in whose worldly wisdom had overwrought his inferiors, and beguiled them to his feet, is himself entangled in his own toils at Jacob’s feet; so that after all the sacrifices he had made, and the sufferings he had endured to establish his own wisdom and righteousness, he lost the birthright by the very means be employed to secure it; and for Jacob the election obtained it, so that he knew it was by grace and not, of works, and thus boasting was excluded from his heart, which is indeed the birthright of grace. But Esau was ready to die if he could not boast, and so his birthright went for a mess of pottage. Jacob preferred the birthright to the pottage and Esau preferred the pottage; grace was a necessity to Jacob, but not to Esau. Jacob desired a good thing, and Esau an evil thing, and as, therefore, condemned for selling his birthright; and the church is warned against such fleshy conduct, and charged to look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright; for ye know how that afterwards, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

We were speaking not long since to some persons dear to us, and said, “You have been living in Butler several years, and have had opportunity of hearing the truth preached at least three times a month, but you have hardly averaged twice that sum in a year; and the opportunity is passing away, and the time may come when you will desire to see one of the days of the son of man and shall not be able.” A short time ago we got a letter from a young kinsman in Texas, who wrote in substance that he hadn’t heard a Primitive Baptist sermon in several years; that he would have gone fifty miles to hear Elder Rowe when he was there, but did not know of it until the time had passed; and that now it seemed to him that he could set and hear us preach a whole week. He was raised to manhood in this county, and in access to gospel preaching every Sunday, but then the opportunity was not appreciated. Thus, in a sense, many despise their birthright, selling it for a morsel of worldly ease and pleasure. And Christians are warned of this spirit and reminded that Esau, though he sought to get back what he had lost, could not recover it. How like Esau many of us have been; and many have been the tears vainly shed over lost opportunities. The many opportunities, with the ability we have had, to minister to others in their poverty and distress, and have let them slip, passing away forever, leaving to us vain regrets over a wasted life. How many have died regretting on their death-bed that they had never joined the church! But Esau did much, and Jacob did comparatively little; but the little Jacob did was more than all Esau did. The little that Jacob did honored his mother and showed his love for her; Esau went to distant field to honor himself with honoring’ his father; but Jacob staid at home and minded the flock because he loved his mother and her God. Esau showed in the works he did that he loved the praise of the world; Jacob in not doing them that he loved his mother better than the world. Though the bargain was made, and sworn to by Esau, yet he struggled to evade it, and to influence his father to bestow the blessing upon him anyhow; and Isaac would, no doubt, have done it had it not been for Rebecca, to whom the Lord revealed before their birth that Jacob was the chosen and beloved of God, and that Esau should be subject to him. Rebecca’s work was therefore a work of faith, and by it Isaac was convinced so that he bestowed the blessing upon Jacob contrary to the flesh. Jacob afterwards bowed to Esau, but it was simply rendering obeisance to him as a worldly prince; a rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. This Jacob does yet. It is not the thing done we have so much objection to, but the design of it and the spirit prompting it. Works for worldly purposes and the good of society we respect and render aid to; but if these works axe given a religious character, and are done as means of soul-saving, then we dare not bow to and reverence them; because they are substituted for Christ. We believe in and advocate temperance and sobriety, and detest drunkenness, but if we must advocate temperance and oppose whisky lest some soul for whom Christ died should be lost by it, then we dare not cooperate with such religion; because it is fleshly and dishonoring to Christ, as making abstinence from whisky more efficacious in the salvation of the sinner than his righteous obedience. But we believe in temperance in Christians, and that their temperance should honor Christ; and we try, as a people, to discourage intoxicating drinks as a beverage, and to be used mainly as a medicine, as Timothy was charged to use them for his often infirmities.

The execution of Bigthan and Teresh for their evil works gave Haman, who doubtless made himself conspicuous in their trial, a good opportunity for elevation in the king’s court by his zeal and good works for the king’s safety. Mordecai was overlooked whilst Haman was in exaltation; and it is always the case that when works are done in the flesh, and men are honored in the flesh for doing them, that the spirit of the truth is unknown in them; and, like Haman, works are set up over grace. Not that the works are wrong if in the right place and spirit, hut wrong because in the wrong place. The servant on foot is useful and the prince on horseback useful, because each is in his right place. But put the servant in the prince’s place and the prince in the servant’s place, and God’s order is overturned, and both are injured as well as society—the servant is puffed up and the prince dwarfed. Put grace first, as God does, and works under grace, and all will be right; the works will then glorify God and humble man. But put works as the cause of grace and we put the cart before the horse; and the, cart can as easily pull the horse as works cause grace; but put the horse before the cart and the horse moves the cart. Ye are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that ye should walk in them. It is very easy to unduly elevate works and become vain of them instead of grateful for them. Primitive Baptists have reason to be thankful to God for the character he has given them for honesty; but if they become vain of it they will be scourged for it. One is not a Christian because he pays his debts, but he pays his debts (if he is able) because he is a Christian. Good works are not the cause of grace but the result of grace; but when Haman is exalted they are set up above grace, and to this the Jew will not bow.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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