For my first official post, I chose Esther, Jewish Queen of Persia in the Old Testament. Many of you may be wondering why, for my first ever post, I chose have coffee with the woman who is the namesake of the ONLY book in the bible that doesn’t directly reference God.
Well I’ll tell you … I chose Esther because there are things to learn in this story for both men and women that were true then and are true now.
We are introduced to an orphan girl who was filled with patience and courage, who was wise, discerning, and honoring of authority. She is one of about 10 women in the bible that are called beautiful. The Bible says in Esther 2 that she was lovely in form and features. Uniquely, Queen Vasti was also one of the beautiful women of the Bible.
While studying, I found so many things that we can learn from the book of Esther. This isn’t a Disney story of rags to riches as it is sometimes portrayed as. It is a twisted episode of the bachelor gone horribly wrong. We cannot miss the humanity in this story, the King kicked out his wife while he was drunk then he made a decree commanding that young beautiful virgins have to go to the palace and be beautified. This will lead up to one night in the “fantasy suite” with the king. If he likes you, you become Queen, if he doesn’t you’re sent to a new home where you stay for life. Theres no group dates, no 2-on-1 dates, and no dinner dates. The women would go to the king at night and leave in the morning. Our girl had to endure this horrible process.
We aren’t introduced to our main character until chapter 2. We are told that she is an orphaned Jew living in Susa meaning she is among the many that were exiled Jews. Her story takes place between the first and second groups that traveled back to Jerusalem 103 years after King Nebuchadnezzar took the Jewish exiles away from their home and into captivity.
If you don’t know her, please allow me to introduce you, this woman is Esther, also known as Hadassah or Queen Esther of Persia. She has a cousin named Mordecai’s who raised her since she was parentless. The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened to her parents but when we meet her, she is being taken from the only family she has left – Mordecai – and taken to the palace. She was taken, please don’t miss that. It is easy to miss the hardships in her story because it doesn’t come out and say that this was rough and a complete tragedy. She is taken to the palace where she is kept for a year and put under 12 months of beauty routines. While there, she gains the favor of the man overlooking the haram aka place all the virgins collected are living until the fantasy suite.
In the middle of hardship and unimaginable hopelessness, Esther remains a woman who is charming and kind. She doesn’t see herself as a victim or sulk or protest. This is something I believe we need to bring to present day – in the midst of hardship, she remained true to her upbringing and honoring to the Lord. She didn’t lash out or she wouldn’t have continually found favor. with others. She respected authority, even when it hurt. She respected authority, we know this because she listens to Mordecai in numerous occasions – like concealing her nationality an d when she obeyed the degree and allowed herself to be taken. And ultimately she submitted herself to the Lord’s authority and His plan – even when facing death.
Men: Here is a great part of the story for you (great for women too). Mordecai manned up and raised Esther. After she was taken to the palace, the Bible said he went to the courtyard every day. Everyday guys. He didn’t get to see her but he went there to ask around regarding how she was doing. He also was a man of integrity and ethics. He found out there was a plot to kill the king. He reported it, it was found true, and he saved the King’s life. The very man who made the decree that took his family (Esther) from him. He also wasn’t rewarded for this immediately. Later we find out that between the first dinner and the second dinner Esther hosted for the King and Haman, the King discovers he failed to reward Mordecai. He didn’t do the right thing for the glory or for reward. He did the right thing BECAUSE it was the right thing and he was a Man of God. He also didn’t bow down to Haman. He saved worshiping for God alone. Don’t exalt others above God. God must be your number one and Only.
The rest of her story goes like this: she finds favor with the King who fell head over heels for beautiful Esther during her one evening & morning with him, he made her Queen of Persia. Soon, a horrible degree goes out that tells all of Persia they may kill their jewish neighbors – this decree is Haman’s doing. Haman did this because of his hatred of Mordecai. Mordecai goes to her and tells her to go to the King for help. She tells him that if she does, she will most-likely die. The King hadn’t requested her presence in 30 days and if you go into the king’s presence without him summoning you, the Law says you are to be put to death unless the king stretches out his golden scepter. Mordecai told her that she had to do it anyways because, even her, the Queen, will surely find death in this decree because she is a Jew. Her status would not save her. He says one of my favorite verses – Esther 4:14 “for if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you ave come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
This verse is huge. Esther has a moment of human self-preservation (RELATABLE) where she wanted to say NO. Absolutely not, that will be suicide and I want to live. Mordecai comes back saying you will die if you don’t speak but the Lord will deliver his people anyway, with or without you, BUT He may have put you in this place for this exact moment.
Everything you go through may be leading you up to one exact moment that is pivotal to God’s plan on this earth. Don’t miss out. Have Mordecai’s faith. He was essentially sacrificing his daughter for a chance to save her and their people. Yet he had the faith to step out and do it praying that it was God’s will to save them. Have faith that the Lord didn’t bring you this far to ONLY bring you this far. Esther had a purpose, Mordecai had a purpose, and according to Jeremiah 29:11 – YOU have a purpose. What you do in this life can have a monumental impact in God’s plan. Even if this means quietly and humbly living your life as an example, you can change the life of another who will live for God. Then your reach has expanded from 1 to two. Then the life of that person you showed God in their life and will reach the people in their life. Then the people in their life choose the Lord and the cycle continues. All based on the decision you made to live for Him and bring God glory.By doing this, you have created a ripple that completely alters other people’s eternity and that is everything.
Back to the story…. So Mordecai convinced her to go to the king – potential death for her if he doesn’t extend his scepter in grace versus guaranteed death for her and her people unless God steps in with deliverance in some way. Those were her two choices.
Her response was this: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me” … “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law, And if I perish, I perish.”
Follow God all the way to death, if need be. That was something I heard at church recently. God wants to give you the best, he wants to bless you and use you for His glory. Jesus came to this earth and healed people, preached, and then he died and rose again. For the Glory of God he gave his life. We are to give our life for him to and that will mean giving up instant gratification, money you tithe, time during your week to study the Bible or volunteer time, putting others first, forgiving people, fitting in this twisted culture. Or, perhaps even harder, giving up your life before Christ – partying, sleeping around, lying, addiction, selfishness, etc. Jesus says pick up your cross and follow me, and that means all the way to death. Not retirement but, like the apostle John, all the way into old Age and until the moment of your death.
Esther followed God all the way to death. Her mind was set with “if I perish, I perish.” Three days passed and our girl goes to her king and is accepted. He asks what she’d like and he even offers her up to half the kingdom. Learning moment for me: How many times do we look at our God and tell them how big our problem is? Look at your problem and tell it how big your God is. Esther was facing death when she walked into that room and then she faced receiving up to half the kingdom. She resisted that temptation and only requested dinner with her husband and the vile Haman. They go to dinner and he asks her again what she wants and offers her half the kingdom once more, she simply requests for another dinner the next night with both men. He says yes. The next night rolls around and he again asks Esther what her petition is, she asks for her life and the lives of her people. She built up the courage to ask the King for his help.
This story ends with the king being livid at Haman and killing him in the same way Haman was planning to kill Mordecai. Then Mordecai is raised up in position and with the help of the King, Queen Esther and Mordecai are able to save God’s people. Esther and Mordecai lived for the Lord and were both exalted to powerful positions and that is solely because of the Lord. Because of this, they saved all the Jews in Persia – look at the map, all of those people saved because the faith of a man and the courage of his cousin.
Read the book of Esther this week. It is only 10 chapters long and beyond worth reading. If you found something that I didn’t mention, please, share with me what you found. I’d love to learn what God spoke into your life. Please share with others and I look forward to sharing another coffee time with you soon.