Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Who knoweth whether thou art come for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Esther was one of the bravest women in the Old Testament. This is because she risked her life in order to save her people from certain death. I wonder, could I ever be that brave? I once visited a Haunted House and a man dressed up as a monster jumped out and howled at me. I grabbed my twelve year old daughter and hid behind her. She still teases me about it.
God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us. It may not be as demanding and scary as Queen Esther’s mission but it may take as much bravery to accomplish. When we are faced with trials or great adversity in our life, we can draw strength from her story of faith, obedience and courage.
Esther’s life reads like a Cinderella story – born in obscurity she becomes queen over all of Persia, one of the most powerful empires in history. When we first meet her she is called by her Hebrew name, Hadassah. She is an orphan, who was raised in the household of her cousin Mordecai. They are of the House of Israel, who more than a hundred years before her birth had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. The Babylonians were then later conquered by the Persians. Now, after many years, her people were allowed to return to their homeland. However, many chose to stay in this foreign land (for it had become their new home). This choice to stay angered many people, some in very high places of power and authority.
The King of Persia, Aasuerus, sent his wife Vashti away for disobeying him. The king had ordered her to appear before him at a drunken feast he was hosting. Ahasuerus wanted her to unveil herself before his guest so that he could show off his wife’s beauty. To Vashti’s credit, she refused to obey his immodest and degrading request. To save face, Ahasuerus disposed of Queen Vashti and began searching for a new queen to take her place. Hadassah, along with all the other beautiful young maidens in the kingdom were then forced to appear at the palace for the King’s choosing.
Before Hadassah’s departure, Mordecai instructed her that she should not reveal her true identity as a Jew. He feared that should her heritage be known, she would not be treated well. He told her to go by the Persian name of Esther. Which means “Star”. Perhaps, he believed that if Esther could become Queen, she would somehow light the way for their people. Mordecai must have realized there was something unique in Esther's opportunity. Esther was a righteous woman and it had to be divine providence that she became the wife of the non-Jewish king. Mordecai was aware of the impending calamity that would likely befall the Jews. Could Esther be the one through whom they would be saved?
Esther heeded her cousin’s counsel and guarded her secret. During this time, she trusted in the Lord and magnified him through her words and deeds. When the occasion arrived, Esther was introduced to the King and he fell in love with her. Out of all who were brought to the palace, she was crowned Queen.
Mordecai remained in contact with Esther and sent messages to her as often as he could. Not long after her marriage, he heard about a plot to kill the king. He passed this information on to Esther, who in turn told her husband and saved his life. The king was grateful but soon forgot about it and life went on as before.
Haman, the villain in the book of Esther, was second in command to the king and everyone had to bow to him. But Mordecai would not bow to Haman. Maybe Mordecai saw it as false worship, dishonoring God. Haman hated Mordecai for not showing him honor.
When Haman discovered that Mordecai was a Jew he dreamed up a plan to destroy him. He told the King that there was a group of people in the land who held to their own laws and did not keep the Persian laws. Haman advised the King that these people, the Jews, should all be destroyed. The King agreed. He did not know that Queen Esther was a Jew.
Mordecai informed Queen Esther of the new law and asked her to go to the King and plead for the lives of the Jews. Mordecai thought the King would listen to her since he loved her and would change the law.
But Queen Esther was afraid. She also knew of another law that said if anyone dared to approach the King without being summoned by him, could be put to death. The only exception was if the King would hold out his golden scepter to them. She was worried that he would not hold out his scepter for her because he had ignored her for thirty days. Yet, she knew the only way to save her people, the Jews, from death would be for her to intercede for them.
She sent word to Mordecai to ask her people to pray and fast with her. The fasting and praying for guidance would last for three days. Esther must have realized that all that had happened in her life had prepared her for this moment in history.
Esther decided that she would have to reveal her heritage and appeal for deliverance for her people in a hostile court. Trusting in God she went to the king. Miraculously, he did hold out his specter to her. She then asked her husband, the King and Haman to a series of private banquets. At the last banquet she petitioned the King for his help. She revealed the truth about Haman and his plans to eradicate the Jews, which included her. The King was so angry that he had Haman executed. The King also made a new law that helped insure that the Jewish people could live safely in his kingdom from that time forward.
~The lessons that we can learn from Esther are faithfulness, trust in God, and a willingness to follow His will whether we are afraid or not. Esther’s act on behalf of the Jews is an emblem of sacrifice. Her story is a representation of what the Savior, Jesus Christ, would do hundreds of years later. Esther – Hadassah – was willing to sacrifice herself to save her people.
~The book of Esther is a very unusual book of the Bible. First, it's one of only two books in the entire Scriptures named for a woman (the other is Ruth). Secondly, the book of Esther does not mention God by name. However, the presence of God is easily seen in this story. Just because he is silent does not mean that he is not there.
Easter’s life was full of challenges and adversity but through it all God was there, molding her, preparing her and finally bringing her to her full potential. Sometimes in my own life, I feel like God is silent. I wonder where he is when I am experiencing challenges and even pain. Esther’s story reminds me that God never leaves us if we do not leave him. Sometimes he is testing us, stretching us and teaching us how to become a better person. If we remain faithful like Queen Esther, who knows what God has in store for us?

1 comment:

Nancy McCormick said...

I am presently studying the book. I was interested to know that Martin Luther and many others thought the book had no place in our Bible. As I study it more carefully, I'm impressed to the parallels to Jesus as he relates redemption and salvation to those who believe in him. I wonder if Martin Luther just "didn't get it?"
I have often wondered about the different books of the Bible and how they were chosen. I am a Christian, but not a scholar. I do think there is much to be learned from Esther and the times and circumstances in which she lived. I hope that I can be braver and trust God in more and more situations in my own life as my faith grows. I know God is with me even when I don't "feel" his sweet presence.