Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Bible and Irony

One of my favorite genres of literature is suspense. More to the point, there's something about irony that I love. Maybe it's seeing the tables turned, maybe it's seeing the good guys win, or maybe it's the mere fun of it - I don't know. Anyway, this morning I was reading one of the most ironic stories in all of the Bible contained in the book of Esther.

Some of you know the story. Haman is out to get Mordecai because of his intense hatred for all things Jewish-and Mordecai is 100 percent Jewish! Under the guidance of his friends and his wife Zeresh, he has a gallows built that will soon be the means of death for Mordecai. Because of the great honor that Haman is being bestowed with, his confidence is soaring that King Xerxes will grant his request to have Mordecai hung in the morning. Why not?

What of all things happens next? The king is bored and can't sleep and so he has called for the book that chronicles the entirety of his reign as king and he asks for this to be read to him. Perhaps this was much like asking someone to read you the latest Tax Guide - almost a certain way of sawing logs in no time. However, what the king hears is that Mordecai never received the just due he was owed after exposing the plot to have the king killed. The king immediately calls in Haman and asks him what should be done for someone that the king wants to honor. And here's even more irony. Haman gets it in his head that, "of course, the king is referring to me," when in fact we the reader know all along that it's Mordecai that the king wants to honor.

To make a long story short, Mordecai is honored and it's Haman that is ordered by the king to grab the robe and is charged with leading Mordecai through the streets as one of honor. Haman can only go home at the end of the day with his head covered in grief. Thanks to the courage of Esther and Mordecai, the plot against the Jews is exposed and it's Haman that hangs on the very gallows that he himself had built. Now that's irony at its best!

I love it when the dark side is exposed and the good side revels in victory. Herein our very bibles lies such a story. You see, the bad guys don't always have to win.