This is the second installment in our Faith Heroes series. Last week, we met Ruth and saw the powerful story of redemption.
This week, we continue with the remarkable women of the Bible with Esther. The book of Esther in the Old Testament reads like a novel. It sits between the books of Nehemiah and Job.
To understand the importance of Esther, we need to know a little bit more about Esther. Esther was an orphan who was taken in by her cousin Mordecai.1
Esther was beautiful (Esther 2:7) – according to “ancient rabbinical writings position her as one of the four most beautiful women in the world, along with Sarah, Rahab, and Abigail.”2
In case you are not familiar with the other beauties of the Bible, here’s a quick recap:
- Sarah was the wife of Abraham
- Rehab was a prostitute who lived in the city of Jericho and aided the Israelite spies (Joshua and Caleb), and in return, her family was saved when the city fell.
- Abigail is known for interceding for Nabal, her husband, who disrespected David and planned to kill him. Nabal eventually died, and Abigail became one of David’s wives. 1 Samuel 25:3 “describes her as a “discerning and beautiful” (ESV) woman.”3
Let’s see how the story of Esther unfolds and why she is a faith hero.
Queen Vashti Is Out
At the beginning of the book, we see King Xerxes showing off his wealth with lavish parties. Queen Vashti gets in on the action and throws her party.
When the king calls for her, she refuses, which seals the end of her royal reign.
After four years, a search for the next queen went out to all the surrounding provinces. Esther was a striking beauty and was taken into the king’s court along with several other gals (somewhere between 400 and 1,460)5 – that would be the craziest Bachelorette series ever.
For twelve months, Esther received beauty treatments before she would be permitted to go before the king.
She had found favor with members of the court because God had granted her this favor.
At last, King Xerxes was pleased with Esther and made her queen.
The Plot Thickens
Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, uncovers a conspiracy to kill the king and shares it with Esther. She tells the king, and it didn’t end well for the conspirators.
The conspiracies keep coming, but this one would affect our heroine, except no one knew the secret she carried. Esther did not publicize she was a Jew. Over the years, Esther followed the advice of Mordecai and kept her heritage hidden.
Both of them (and their fellow Jews) were three generations removed from Jerusalem at the time of King Xerxes.6
Haman worked for King Xerxes, and one action that afforded him was that people were to bow down to Haman, especially the Jews, when he came through the area. As a Jew, Mordecai took a stand and would bow a knee to him.
At this point, Haman began formulating a plot to exterminate the Jews from the land.
Later, King Xerxes issued a decree to get rid of the Jews based on Haman’s recommendation.
Joining the Story
Mordecai is distraught. He won’t eat or drink and is wearing a sackcloth while sitting near the courtyard gates of the palace.
Queen Esther sends someone down to bring him fresh clothes and inquire about Mordecai’s distress.
He explains the situation to the attendant and encourages Esther to go before the king.
These days, you only were permitted to see the king when you were summoned. You never went before the king unannounced.
Mordecai says to Esther,
“Just because you live in the king’s palace, don’t think that out of all the Jews you alone will escape.” – Esther 4:13
As we have seen from our story so far, Queen Esther was placed in a unique position to save her people potentially.
What does this mean for us?
We may not be a queen or a prince, but we might find ourselves in positions of influence in our companies or schools.
God works to place us in positions for times when He needs us to act. As we will see, Queen Esther was in a unique position to request something of the king.
Our position may allow us to shape policy, care for struggling employees, guide generations, or take a stand against injustice.
God places us where He needs us most, but it may not be relevant when we first begin. Esther’s influence takes place over time, and we may not be called on to act for a similar time.
We must be prepared to act when the time is right, and God asks us to act. Use each day to build favor and trust with others so your light can shine when it needs to be the brightest.
For Such a Time As This
As we rejoin the story, Mordecai reminds the queen that she must act – she cannot think that harm will skip her because she is the queen.
Mordecai says to Queen Esther,
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14
Queen Esther was the only one who was able to go to the king and seek protection for her people.
She replies to Mordecai,
“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” – Esther 4:16
Esther acted on the information provided; however, she first came before the Lord to seek His counsel. She did not act instantaneously but acted after she prayed and fasted.
Many times, we make a move quickly without consulting the Lord. If we pause for just a beat, we allow God to guide us to the correct answer.
The answer may still be what you initially thought, but you take the time to ask God to guide your decision.
The End of the Story
We have arrived at the end of our story. Queen Esther approaches King Xerxes and asks for permission to throw a party. She invites the King and Haman.
For two nights, Esther throws a party for the king and Haman.
On the side, Haman is furious with Mordecai and prepares a place for him to die.
That night, the king is restless and has the record of his reign read to him and realizes he never honored Mordecai for saving his life from a conspiracy to kill him.
On the second night of parties, Haman and the king are dining. Once again, the king asked Esther what her request was.
“For my people and I have been sold to those who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us.” – Esther 7:4
The king replies,
“Who is he?”
And Queen Esther answers,
“This wicked Haman is our adversary and our enemy.”
At that moment, Haman’s fate was sealed. Haman would meet a painful death along with his family and co-conspirators.
In the end, King Xerxes reversed the order of Haman and gave the Jews the right to protect themselves.
As you have heard, Esther was in the right place at the right time to bring this plot forward that would have wiped out an entire people group.
This is why Esther is a faith hero!
She may have tried to hide her nationality, but when faced with the impossible, she risked her life to go before the king to save her people.
Many people are in places of honor and influence in their circles. As leaders, we cannot be silent. We need to speak the truth in love and use our influence to affect change.
Just as Mordecai advised Esther that she was in her position for such a time as this, this advice remains the same for us.
Who knows, maybe you are in your current position for such a time as this to influence and affect change for generations to come.
How will you make a difference today?
Lord, thank you for the example of Esther and Mordecai. Please give us the courage to affect change in our circles where we serve. Please help us make a difference in the life of one person today. Amen!
- You Were Made for This Moment – Max Lucado (book)
- Esther – Charles Swindoll (book)
- Made For Something – Alyssa Newton (video)
- Lucado, Max. You Were Made for This Moment (p. 6). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
- Lucado, Max. You Were Made for This Moment (p. 7). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
- Greenspoon, L. (2016). Abigail, Wife of David. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. ↩︎
- Lucado, Max. You Were Made for This Moment (p. 7). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
- Lucado, Max. You Were Made for This Moment (p. 35). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
- In 586 BC the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and deported about ten thousand of the city’s elite. In 539 BC the Persians sacked the Babylonians. By the time we meet Mordecai and Esther, the Jews were three generations and more than a thousand miles removed from their days in Jerusalem. Lucado, Max. You Were Made for This Moment (pp. 24-25). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. ↩
Note: The material in this podcast was originally created for a small group devotional series on a sister site.
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