This Day in History: 0000-08-21

August 21 – Esther 4:10-16

Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai:
“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter.
And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.” 
So Hathach gave Esther’s message to Mordecai.

Mordecai sent this reply to Esther:
“Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed.
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?

Then Esther sent this reply 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.”

How I desire to have the bravery and faith of Esther and Mordecai! These two iconic Bible characters didn’t find themselves in the middle of a fairy-tale story. Not at all. In fact, I think we often overlook how really disturbing their story is right from the beginning.

Their family had been brought to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar as part of the group of exiles from Jerusalem. In other words, they were living during a time when the Jews were suffering the consequences of their idolatry and rejection of God.  Esther’s parents had died, and her older cousin, Mordecai had adopted her. As both a Jew and a palace administrator, Mordecai had to walk the line of respecting the king and the laws of the land, while maintaining his integrity to honor God and follow the Jewish laws as well. His decision to put God first and refuse to bow to Haman put his entire race in danger.

My point is, we shouldn’t look at this story with stars in our eyes, thinking this was some glamorous situation. No, Esther and Mordecai lived a difficult life, just as many of us do. It was marked with all sorts of trauma. Yet, they remained faithful.

When Haman tricked the king into sentencing the Jews to death, both Mordecai and Esther were able to keep their heads and act in faith. I genuinely admire the way Mordecai handled the entire situation. I’m impressed by his candor with his beloved cousin. I appreciate that he stood his ground and really challenged her to follow through in obedience to something that could have cost her life and his.

Mordecai causes me to stop and check myself. Am I living this way? Are you? Can the people we love most count on us the way Esther could count on her cousin? Do we have the courage to tell it like it is, or are we more likely to try and candy-coat the world for others? What good does that really do? After all, it’s really just lying. Let’s do our best to be people who shoot straight and don’t pull any punches. Not in an abrasive, goading way. Rather, in a way that simply lets people know we’re telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth at all times.

I also want the people I love to be able to count on me to spur them on to spiritual obedience, like Mordecai did for Esther. I want to find the line between trying to take the place of the Holy Spirit, and having the courage to lovingly challenge my fellow believers. Are the people we love more likely to succeed spiritually because we’re in their lives? Do we sit in silence when someone we love is very obviously making a bad choice, or do we speak up with gentleness and love using the truth of Scripture? Let’s have the courage to speak up! Let’s challenge our fellow believers the way Mordecai challenged Esther, reminding them that God’s purposes will prevail, with or without their obedience, but perhaps this very situation is the one for which they were created!

Finally, I want to be the kind of woman who can be counted on to surround the people I love with prayer and fasting when they need the favor of the Lord. Esther had complete confidence, not only that Mordecai would support her in this way, but that he would gather a whole community together to do the same. What an amazing reputation! Let’s be people who pray! Let’s cover our families and our churches, and the entire body of Christ in humble prayers to the One who fought for Esther and Mordecai. The One who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. The One who is working all things together for our good and conforming us into the image of His Son.

(Check back tomorrow for the Esther side of this story.)