AN UNLIKELY CHOICE...
By Jeannie Horton Life Christian University Theology Student
By Jeannie Horton Life Christian University Theology Student
In the eyes of the world, God often calls those who seem to be the least likely candidate to do His will. The condition of our hearts, not our performance, is what is important to Him. He works through our imperfections and supernaturally intervenes on our behalf. He wants the world to know that the amazing work being done is Him working through us, and they will glorify Him. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” Mathew 5:16). Because God is omniscient, He knows all about us: He knows everything we’ve ever done in our past, every word spoken, every sin and He knows what we will do in our future. God knew what He was getting into when He adopted us into His family. He still chose us! God has a unique and individual plan for each of us that can only be fulfilled by the person He calls. He shows us continuous favor and He wants us to be obedient to Him when He calls us to do His will. Even at times when it seems as if God is not moving and working on our behalf, He is. He is always there. God called Esther, a young orphan Jewish girl (possibly a teenager) to bring deliverance to the Jews.
I. ESTHER INTERVENES ON BEHALF OF HER PEOPLE
I can’t imagine what it was like for Esther in the time in which she lived. She lost her parents at a young age and was being raised by her uncle Mordecai. Esther was born during a time of slavery, wars, polygamy, concubines, and women were often treated like property. In the story of Esther, she leaned on God, obtaining His strength in her obedience to Him. She put aside her own purpose and plan for her life and sought to do God’s will. “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose” (Romans 8:28).
In the book of Esther, the King of Persia King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) divorces his wife, Queen Vashti. She had refused to show off her beauty to his friends during a party that lasted several months. The king was angry and afraid the queen would set a bad example for the other women in Persia. So not only did he divorce Vashti, he wrote up a letter and had it sent out to everyone in the kingdom. It said that all men were to be masters in their homes.
After some time, the king’s anger subsided. He was beginning to feel lonely and decided he wanted a new wife. After getting advice from his staff, he had many young girls placed into a harem (likely against their will) as a possible replacement to the queen. They would go through a yearlong preparation of beauty treatments to get them ready for one night with the king. He would then pick the girl that he liked the best and she would become the new queen.
I think it would be very easy to judge Esther and the situation she was in. We could call her nothing but a concubine. We could say that she was weak for not fighting back when they took her and placed her in the harem. The Bible doesn’t mention Esther’s thoughts or feelings or what her life was like when she was taken. Maybe she was completely upset and terrified at her new predicament? The king had to be at least twice her age! Or maybe she saw it as an opportunity? Was it a chance to win the heart of the king and a chance for status and power? She was in a possible bad situation. Yet, having favor already with God, Esther had favor with everyone that she came in contact with. She was picked by the king to be the new queen of Persia.
King Ahasuerus promoted a man named Haman to be second to him. Haman became used to people bowing to him whenever they saw him. However, Esther’s uncle Mordecai refused to bow down to him. This greatly angered Haman who was very prideful and easily angered. Haman sought the rewards of the world. He liked having status, power, and fame. He expected others to accept and respect him. However, Haman was truly never satisfied. The rewards of this world are empty. Our satisfaction, acceptance, and reward truly can only be fulfilled by Jesus. “For He satisfied the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good” (Psalms 107:9).
Haman knew Mordecai was a Jew. He decided that having only Mordecai killed wouldn’t be enough to satisfy his wickedness. Haman met with the king to discuss having all the Jews in the empire destroyed. Haman told the king that he would pay 10,000 talents of silver into the king’s treasury. So a decree was written, signed with the king’s signet ring and sent out to all the empire. People all over the land were in mourning at the news that they would be destroyed in one year, including Mordecai. Mordecai who through one of the king attendants, pleaded with Esther for help, saying: “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?” (Esther 4:14). Esther had already put aside her own interests and plans for her own life when she was placed in the Harem. But now God’s will for her life became apparent when she learned that her people were about to be destroyed.
Esther knew that she needed to use her position to take the chance to save her people. She had to step out of her comfort zone and step into obedience to God, regardless of the consequences of doing so. She would have to go to the king without being invited, putting her own life in jeopardy. “Then I will go to the King, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). She instructed Mordecai and all the Jews in the empire to fast and pray for three days prior to her going to the king. On the 3rd day, she put on her royal robes and went to the king. He saw her in his court and he held out the scepter for her.
Esther met with the king and requested that he and Haman have dinner with her. During dinner, she didn’t tell the king that she was a Jew per Mordecai’s advice. Even after the king asked her what she was requesting, even offering her up to half the kingdom. She only requested that he and Haman have a second dinner with her. They both agreed. I believe Esther showed patience, tact, and grace in not just blurting out what she wanted and this impressed the king.
God has a book of remembrance. It is a book of every good deed we ever do, and every good word we ever speak to others or in prayer. “Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name” (Malachi 3:16). King Ahasuerus wasn’t able to sleep the night that he had dinner with Esther and Haman. Like God’s book of remembrance, the king had one. He ordered the book to be brought and read to him. He learned Mordecai had saved his life, yet nothing was done to reward him. I believe this was an important moment in Mordecai having favor with the king and could likely be a reason the king was so agreeable to Esther when she asked the king for help.
During the second dinner with the king and Haman, Esther told the king all about Haman’s evil decree against her people. The king was very angry and had Haman assassinated using the same device that Haman intended to kill Mordecai with! Esther was then given Haman’s estate and put Mordecai in charge over it. Esther begged the king to help her and her people:
If it pleases the king and if I have found favor in his sight and the thing seems right before the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come upon my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred? (Esther 8:5-6).
Because the original decree could not be reversed, the king agreed to a second. It was written and signed with the king’s ring. It stated the Jews could defend themselves and fight back. And with God on their side, they did. “What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]” (Romans 8:31). During the battle, the Jews’ enemies were overpowered and slain, including Haman’s 10 sons.
To celebrate their victory against Haman’s evil plan to destroy them, the Jews celebrated. They had a feast which became a holiday known as the Purim:
To command them to keep the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and also the fifteenth, yearly, as the days on which the Jews got rest from their enemies, and as the month which was turned for them from sorrow to gladness and from mourning into a holiday-that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days of sending choice portions to one another and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:21-22).
Mordecai was promoted, being made the king’s new second to him. He cared for the well-being of others and had favor with his Brethren. He and Esther both refused to quit, putting their lives on the line to see that the Jews were saved. They relied on, trusted in, and were obedient to God.
II. CHRIST IN ESTHER
Even though the book of Esther doesn’t mention God, He is present everywhere. He intervened supernaturally by orchestrating the events that took place. Esther and Mordecai already had favor with God. They were a team, being led by Him the entire time to bring deliverance to the Jews. God caused Mordecai and Esther to have favor with man so His promise of deliverance would not come back void. The following lists some of the ways that Mordecai and Esther are a type of Christ:
· * Haman had a book of remembrance that lists the memorable deeds of the people in his empire, and God has one for us.
· *Christ was obedient to do the will of His Father. Esther put aside her own purpose to do God’s will.
· * Even when Esther was in danger of losing her life, she was willing to die for her people. Christ was also willing to die for His people.
· * Esther saved her people from death just as Christ saved mankind when He died on the cross for our sins.
· *Christ was kind, sympathetic, and faithful to everyone. Mordecai and Esther were faithful, kind and sympathetic not only to each other but to their people.
· * Mordecai was paraded on horseback in the city by his enemy. Jesus too was paraded on a donkey by the same people who would a few days later demand his crucifixion.
· *Just as Christ was honored and promoted to High Priest, Mordecai and Esther were also honored and promoted. Mordecai was promoted to the king’s new second. Esther was given the house of Haman’s estate.
· *Mordecai and Esther displayed Christ-like character.
God promises to never leave nor forsake us. When bad things happen, God can turn these things into good for His glory. We were created for His glory and to glorify Him. We can see God’s glory in His wondrous hand throughout the story of Esther. Esther displayed a lot of courage in how she displayed herself with the king and her obedience to God. She glorified God in her actions. The plans that we have for ourselves don’t always go as we like. Sometimes we need to change our plans and help God. We ought to actively seek to do the will of the Lord. To carry out his plans and purposes, He needs us! True fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy can only be found in Him. Trust in Him and be obedient like Esther, saying “Yes Lord, how can I help?”