Focal Passage: Esther 4
“Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” — Mordecai to Esther (4:14).
A study I once read indicated that a significant number of preachers are the firstborn sons of willful mothers, thus high-achieving, more compliant than rebellious, and having a strong need for approval. I fit the profile (mostly). But does that mean the calling I felt as a college senior that led me into the ministry was not also the voice of God?
Events in the book of Esther are building. Queen Vashti is deposed; Esther is chosen.
The egotistical Haman is prime minister. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and adoptive father, angers Haman by refusing to bow to him.
Haman retaliates by bribing the king to order all Jews exterminated. God’s people are in mourning.
But there is one person the king values above Haman: Esther. With nowhere else to go, Mordecai gets a message to her inside the palace, where she remains blissfully ignorant of Haman’s scheme. “You’ve got to help!” Mordecai says. “Besides, your life is in danger too, once the king learns who you are” (4:8, 13).
And then the most famous line from the book, the closest it comes to acknowledging the hand of God: “If you don’t do something, deliverance will come from somewhere else. But who knows? Maybe this is why you’re there in the first place.”
God rarely appears to us in a burning bush or a blinding light on the road. If we’re going to find God where He is, we have to take Him as He comes, whether in a pagan king’s choice of a queen or a budding minister’s family of origin.
“If I perish, I perish.” — Esther to Mordecai (4:16).
Esther agrees to intercede, but there’s a problem. To protect the king, the Persian Secret Service forbids approaching him unsolicited.
The penalty is death. And the king hasn’t asked for Esther in a month (4:11).
Why does Esther agree to risk it? Despite Mordecai’s warning, nobody, not even Haman, suspects she is a Jew until she reveals it herself (7:4). She might have gotten away free.
Instead this seems like an act of courage, of determination, of taking her fate (and her people’s) into her own hands, of serving a higher cause and answering to a higher power, regardless of the cost. “If I perish, I perish” is not really that far removed from “Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done.” God’s activity often requires the cooperation of God’s servant, even to the point of sacrifice.
The Bible has only two books named after women. Esther is one of them. Surprised?