Born For Such A Time As This

Esther was a young Jewish girl who lived in Persia. Her parents had died and she was brought up by her cousin Mordecai, as you can read in Esther 2:5-7

Now there was in the citadel of Susa, a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

At that time king Xerxes ruled over Persia and he wished for a queen to be beside him so many young girls were brought to the palace for the king to choose a queen from among them, including Esther, as you can read in Esther 2:8-11

When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. The girl pleased him and won his favour. Immediately he provided her with beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem. Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. Every day he walked to and fro near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

So young Esther has been taken from the safety of her cousin Mordecai’s home to the palace. To be honest, neither she nor Mordecai have any say in the matter. Their separation has been enforced upon them. It must have been a frightening experience for Esther to be suddenly placed in this unknown environment. Moreover, she has to keep secret the fact that she is not Persian, but is of Jewish descent. However, we will learn that God is very involved in Esther being placed at the palace, even if she does not know that and may well have wondered at times if God actually cares about her having been taken to the palace, since she is just a young girl and He has, very likely, many more important things to take care of than consider her situation and do something about it.

But God does care and God has allowed her to be there for a very special reason as you will find out later on.

One day Esther is presented to the king, as you can read in Esther 2:16-17

She was taken to king Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. Now the king was attracted to Esther more than any of the other women, and she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

God touches the heart of the king so he chooses Esther to become his queen. After all, the heart of the king is in the Lord’s hand, as you can read in Proverbs 21:1

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.

And so Esther becomes queen and lives a very pleasant life, no doubt far removed from any difficulties, any challenges. In the meantime, God allows her cousin Mordecai to uncover a plot to kill king Xerxes. He tells Esther about it. She, in turn, mentions it to the king and this event is recorded in the annals, as you can read in Esther 2:21-23

During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate king Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows. All this was recorded in the book of annals in the presence of the king.

Now Esther has told no one, including the king, that she is Jewish. However, the day comes that she has to reveal her true identity, even to the king. This all happens because of a plot to kill all the Jewish people. Since Esther is Jewish her life is in danger too, as you can read in Esther 3:1-6

After these events king Xerxes honoured Haman, son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honour higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials knelt down and paid honour to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honour. Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behaviour would be tolerated for he had told them he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honour, he was enraged. Yet, having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of only killing Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

The king has raised a certain man named Haman to a high position and Haman is to be treated with great honour. But Mordecai knows that, as a Jew, he can only kneel down before his God. Haman becomes so enraged at Mordechai’s behaviour towards him that he decides to have him killed. However, Haman’s hatred is not just directed towards Mordecai but towards all of Mordecai’s people; the Jews. Therefore, Haman sees an opportunity to not just get rid of Mordecai, but to get rid of all Jewish people. All he needs is to get the king’s consent. Sadly, the king cares so little about the Jewish people in his vast Empire that he is willing for them to be killed off, as you can read in Esther 3:8-11

Then Haman said to king Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.” So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman, son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

Now the king has absolutely no idea that, with these words, he has sent the queen to her death. While this meeting takes place, Esther will have been in the palace, completely unaware of the fact that her life is being threatened. To her, life is very pleasant and comfortable. She has found favour with the people and with the king. As far as she is concerned, nothing can possibly happen to interrupt her wonderful existence.

But it is time for Esther to realise that God has a purpose for her being queen. He, therefore, allows Mordecai to learn about the plot to kill all the Jewish people, and Mordecai is able to send a message to Esther’s servant Hathach, as you can read in Esther 4:6-11

So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and to explain to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and to plead with him for her people. Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said.

Esther learns from Mordecai about the grave danger all her people are in. She is challenged by him to go before the king and plead for mercy for her people. However, Mordecai is obviously not aware of the fact that she cannot go to the king unannounced for, very likely, that will mean her death, as you can read in Esther 4:10-11

Then she instructed him (Hathach) to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold sceptre to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

Esther is fully confident that her words of explanation will make Mordecai change his mind about her going to the king unannounced, for surely he loves her so much that he does not want her life to be endangered. But that is not what happens, as you can read in Esther 4:12-16

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back his answer. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Mordecai does not change his mind. On the contrary, he sends a more forceful message back to Esther. Mordecai understands why Esther has been given the position of queen, and Esther needs to understand it as well. Thankfully, after reading Mordecai’s latest message, she begins to grasp the reason why God is allowing her to live at the palace. She is not there so she can enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. No, God is allowing her to live at the palace in order for her to plead for her people before the king, even if that means she will die, as you can read in Esther 4:15-16

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather together all the Jews, who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Esther knows that her life is really in God’s hands, and not in the king’s hands. Since God has allowed her to live in the palace, He is the One who will protect her as she goes before the king without his permission. However, she knows she needs to spend time in preparation first, and so she arranges a three-day period of prayer and fasting before going to see the king. Then the day arrives for her to see the king, as you can read in Esther 5:1-2

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of his sceptre.

God touches the heart of the king and he stretches his gold sceptre to Esther to let her know she is welcome to enter his presence. Esther is allowed to live and speak to the king. She invites the king over for a meal, and the king accepts her invitation. At the meal, all Esther asks for is that the king return for another banquet the next day, and he accepts. The next day the king returns for another banquet, and this time Esther pleads her case before the king, as you can read in Esther 8:3-8

Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman, the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold sceptre to Esther and she arose and stood before him. “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favour and thinks it is the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman, son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”

King Xerxes replied to queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows. Now write another decree in the king’s name on behalf of the Jews as seem best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring – for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”

Esther finally shares with the king her concerns for her people. The king hears her plea and has another decree written, which states that her people will be able to defend themselves against any attack of their enemies.

God, who knew that one day Haman would try and attack His chosen people, had chosen a young Jewish girl, an orphan living with her cousin, to be taken into the palace to become queen. so that she could come before the king and be His instrument to save her people. Esther did not know this when she was forced to enter the palace. Neither did Mordecai know that this was God’s plan for his cousin Esther. But God knew. And when the time came for Esther to act she was prepared to be obedient to her calling, no matter what the cost.

God wants to use the story of Esther to encourage you, for He wants you to know that He has a plan for your life, just as He had a plan for the life of Esther. Now, His plan for your life will not be like the plan He had for Esther’s life. His plan for your life will fit your circumstances, just as God’s plan for Esther’s life fitted her circumstances. But I do want you to know that the God, who loved Esther and cared for her throughout her life and gave her strength, ability and wisdom to do what He had for her to do, will do the same for you, because He loves you and cares for you. So He will strengthen you in your circumstances, and enable you to do whatever it is you are to do for Him. Moreover, God will give you wisdom to do whatever He has for you to do so you can do it well. For God wants your life to be a testimony to His goodness and mercy, just as Esther’s life was a testimony to the goodness and mercy of God.

Weak And Foolish