Have you ever looked back and were so very grateful you didn’t act on impulse? That was definitely the case for me a few summers ago when it was the beginning of another SMCW’s Beth Moore summer bible study. This study was on Esther. My reaction – “Who is Esther?” You may even be asking the same question. When I learned God was not mentioned in the Book of Esther, I almost didn’t register. Yet throughout the book we see God’s effective activity behind the scenes. Sharing Esther’s story with you is a privilege – she is one of my favorite women in the Bible. What a courageous, faithful, Jewish woman on a mission to save her people with absolutely no concern for her own life.
As an orphan, Esther was raised by her older cousin Mordecai, a prominent figure in the exiled Jewish community where she lived in a community of exiled Jews in Babylonia. She was a Jewish foreigner; her people were dominated by pagan Persian rulers. Esther’s story started when the Persian King Xerxes disposed of his queen for her disobedience. He later held a contest to find a new queen and Esther, beautiful and clever, was chosen.
“But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.” Esther 2:20
Sounds like a fairytale unfolding until her King appointed Haman, who despised Jews, as second in command. While all Jews were expected to bow down to Haman, Esther’s cousin Mordecai refused to bow down to him. This so enraged Haman that he seeked revenge to massacre all the Jews in Persia. Neither the King nor Haman knew that Esther was among the people doomed by his revenge.
While Esther’s intentions were to do the right thing, doing the right thing could very easily turn out wrong. Such was the case with this courageous queen, who finds herself facing a decision she must make knowing the potential consequences of her actions. Should she risk her own life to save her people? Not only that, her king had no knowledge his queen was Jewish. While God may not be mentioned in the Book of Esther, let me tell you that He is all over it, through it and in it! We see Him work through different individuals who are willing to trust Him. God brought Esther to a position of influence at just the right time and gave her the courage to act. There is no doubt Queen Esther relied upon her faith to make the most dangerous decision in her life. Not only did Esther need to ask the King for a favor, she would have to disclose her identity as a Jew.
King Xerxes was not the ideal husband as months would go by when Esther did not see him. He could be a ruthless king as he was known to depose or kill the people close to him at a mere whim. Being close to Xerxes was anything but a comfortable position. Esther, one of God’s chosen people, must have often wondered why she had become queen. Esther risked her life by approaching her king, without an invitation, to plea with him to have mercy on her people. Before doing so, however, she called for a three-day fast by all the Jews in the city. This showed Esther trusted God and spent those three days in prayer for Gods protection as she went unbidden before the king. Esther put on her royal robes and entered the king’s court falling down at his feet and begging him with tears to stop the evil plot devised by Haman. Her prayers were answered with great victory. Within a few days, Esther had succeeded in delivering her people from death.
While Esther may not have initially known why she was chosen to be queen, God made His reason known enough…she was there to save her people from destruction. God used Esther and Mordecai to work His will in a difficult situation. We may not know why we are in certain circumstances, but God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. God may use us, as powerless as we may feel, to work His will in the lives of many.
Most of us will never find ourselves in exactly the same situation as Esther. But we all face challenges in life and it’s comforting to know that no matter the danger, God has a plan for our lives.
Is there something holding you back? Are you willing to walk on a tightrope for God?