October 5, 2023
By Editorial Team
Then Queen Esther answered and said, “If I have found favour in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue.” Esther 7:3,4
After Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in multiple wars ending in 586 B.C, many Jews were taken captive to Babylon. Jews integrated into the Babylonian/Persian culture there. That’s the setting of Esther. King Ahasuerus is construed to be Xerxes I (or Artaxerxes II) in secular history. Whichever be the case, we know that this is history, because of the graphical sprinkling of Persian culture, names, palace intrigues and the like. Mordecai (Marduka) and Esther (Old Persian stara = star) are Persian names. Hadassah was her Jewish name. The story happened in Susa, the winter capital, its ruins found next to Shush the modern town in Iran. Also the Jews even today celebrate the Feast of Purim.
We all know the story of how this beautiful young girl was pulled against her will into a beauty contest for the King. Vashti was removed from being Queen and a search was made across the kingdom for beautiful girls who could be future queen. The girl had no choice, and so kept her Jewish identity secret as instructed by her (foster) dad Mordecai. It was for her own safety. After 12 months of finishing school type – involving beauty and cosmetics, training in court customs, protocol, basic laws, etiquette etc the King chose a new queen -and it was Esther. Subsequent events show us that Esther was an incredibly intelligent, prayerful and a very courteous girl.
The King gave a great feast in honour of the Queen to all his princes, court officials, and servants, and Bible says “It was Esther’s feast (ESV), Feast of Esther (NKJV) (2:18).” What a beautiful way to describe it. It had Esther’s personal stamp on it, from the arrangements, food, invitations and what not. Vashti’s feast was for women only (1:9), but this was for the entire court, families and friends. Imagine the organization that was needed to have such a party. It is men who call for the parties, but its women who do all the hard work. Overnight Esther grew into the role of conducting a state banquet and impressing her sweet credentials and taste on this huge party. It was a happy occasion for King Ahasuerus, so much so that even tax remissions were given and royal gifts.
Things were going on well, and King loved Esther more than all the women (2:17). Then calamity struck: a wicked courtier Haman was incensed at one Jew Mordecai who refused to bow down to him, and so decided to take revenge on all the Jews. He put together a new legislation to annihilate all the Jews in the Kingdom. Even today laws are being passed in various places that go against the Gospel. The enemy is always blocking the telling of the Jesus story, because the gospel brings freedom to captives. Resistance can be spiritual conflict, intimidation, health issues, legal fights etc.
Mordecai is in mourning and sends word to Esther about this. He implores her not to be quiet and speak up for the Jewish people. She understands the nature of the impending murder and holocaust and requests for a 3 day fasting and prayer in Susa. She and her own servants will fast and pray and also seeks help from the other saints in prayer. Many times we give up a meal, but meal is not the important thing, but spending time in prayer. Also you can fast from internet, from mobile phone, from social distractions for a time to read the Bible and listen to God speak. Then we can hear uncluttered from Jesus and life comes.
The Persian custom of the day was that if anybody entered the Inner court of the Throne Room of the King without being called for, he or she would die, unless the King showed her the golden sceptre. Esther though being in such a cushy state of life, decided to risk her very life for her people. Time and again we are called to stand up for truth, sometimes it is secular truth, ethics in a company, or for the things of Christ in society.
Band up together: she prepared in prayer along with her immediate family. I don’t know how many families spend time in prayer today? Or even friends. Jesus called three of his friends closer to pray at the Garden of Gethsemane. Daniel called his friends home and prayed against an edict that would kill them all. Many of these battles are first won in prayer. The outside result is what transpires as a result of the battle in prayer. Still sometimes, you could lose the external situation. Then surrender it to Jesus and rest in Him.
How much time are you spending in prayer? And Prayer without Bible reading is of no use. And Worship is an integral part of these times. When in trouble, I fully read a Book or two from the Bible. I don’t mean a thin epistle with 3 chapters, but something meaty till the Lord speaks to me. It can take a few days, sometimes 2-3 weeks, till I hear him speak clearly.
We know that the King favoured her and she could save the Jewish nation from being annihilated. The very Haman who plotted to kill all Jews, was hanged on the gallows made for Mordecai. God cancelled the plot and gave them life, just because one girl stood for right in her own small way. Esther used her influence. What are you called to stand up for? What is your battle. Prophet Hosea describes Jacob’s fight at Jabbok, when he wrestled with a Heavenly man (Jesus). Jacob won the fight in weeping, he wept and sought his favour (Hosea 12:4). The fight was won in confession, prayer and weeping.
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