The book of Esther has always been a favorite of mine, a familiar story set in a decadent time of Persian history. A pretty young girl was suddenly chosen as the Queen of the land~ a fairy tale come true.
“So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him…so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen…” ~ Esther 2:16-17
Alas, like a fairy tale, danger and death loomed when Queen Esther’s God-fearing uncle Mordecai got on the bad side of the corrupt and wicked official, Haman.
“When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.” ~ Esther 3:5-6
The king signed an edict written by Haman ordering the execution of all the Jews in the land of Persia in the upcoming month of Adar without even bothering to read it (Esther 3:10), and without knowing that his fair Queen Esther was herself a Jew.
There was much wailing and mourning when the Jews heard the horrible news (Esther 4:3). Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1), which was brought to the young Queen’s attention. She sent one of her servants “to learn what this was and why it was.” ~ Esther 4:5b
“And Mordecai told him all that had happened…He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict which had been issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show Esther and inform her, and to order her to go in to the king to implore his favor and to plead with him for her people.” ~ Esther 4:7a, 8
Esther reminded her dear uncle that if she appeared before the king without first being summoned, the king could order her put to death, per the law of the land (Esther 4:10-11).
Mordecai was a wise man. We can glean much from his response to his niece.
“Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?'” ~ Esther 4:13-14
I have heard these verses many times, yet I was struck by several things as I read them again.
First of all, Mordecai knew Esther would be revealed as a Jew, and ALL the Jews were to be annihilated. She should not think herself safe and secure, tucked away amongst the riches and comforts of the palace.
Next, Mordecai had deep and unwavering faith in his God. “Relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place”- it will come. God promised to take care of His people, and Mordecai believed that promise would be fulfilled, with or without Esther.
Last, Mordecai saw how God could use the position that Esther had attained as Queen for His glory. She alone was in a place to approach the king and plead with him to stop the murder of her people.
But what a dangerous place it was. She recognized that, and she also recognized the truth in Mordecai’s words.
Esther’s response to her uncle: “‘…And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.'” ~ Esther 4:16b
And if I perish, I perish. She faced death as one of the condemned Jews if she kept silent. And she faced death approaching the king without first being summoned, unless he granted her mercy. She was at the king’s mercy either way.
Yet really, Esther was in the hands of God, at His mercy. He is the One Who prepared her “for such a time as this”. He is the One Who called her to be brave and obedient, to surrender her life.
“If I perish, I perish.” As Christians, we are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24).
Each one of us was created and placed in this time and this situation, “for such a time as this”. Are we ready to pick up our cross and obey, and “if I perish, I perish”?
Read the book of Esther. There is a happy ending to this true “fairy tale”. 🙂