We continue our chronological study of the Bible with today’s Scriptures reading. Esther 4 and 5. Our prior study pitted a wicked usurper named Haman, an Amalekite living in Persia (3:1), against Mordecai (a godly, influential man of Jewish descent, 2:5-6). Providentially, it was this same Mordecai whom God chose to adopt, raise, and prepare Esther to be queen of Persia (2:7-11).
Haman, a proud and vengeful man, was promoted by king Ahasuerus to serve second to him over Persia (3:1). Though the king decreed for all his servants to bow and reverence Haman, Mordecai, a man of spiritual integrity, “bowed not, nor did [Haman] reverence” (3:2).
Haman was enraged, and not only despised Mordecai, he determined to kill all the Jews (3:6). Courting the favor of the king that might seek to avenge the slight he suffered, Haman convinced Ahasuerus the Jews were a danger to his kingdom (3:8). Lacking discernment, the king sealed an edict penned by Haman, setting the day for the annihilation of the Jews, and the plundering of their possessions. Copies of the king’s death decree were taken by couriers, and apart from divine intervention, all Jews would be killed (3:13-15).
Mordecai’s Grief (4:1-3)
Receiving news of the king’s decree, Mordecai despaired, realizing his refusal to bow to Haman was the catalyst for the evil that was sworn against his people. Overcome with sorrow too great to be concealed, Mordecai rent his clothes, put on rough sackcloth, and heaped ashes on his head (4:1b). He cried and wailed in the king’s gate (4:2), for he understood all was lost without God’s intervention. News of Mordecai’s public display of grief spread until “there was great morning among the Jews” (4:3).
Esther’s Distress (4:4-14)
Queen Esther, sheltered in the safety of the royal palace, learned of Mordecai’s distress and sent him new clothes which he refused (4:4). When she sought to know the cause of the great mourning among the Jews, she was sent a copy of the king’s edict (4:5-8), and a challenge from Mordecai: She must “go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people” (4:8).
Mordecai’s challenge to Esther was a crisis of faith, for to enter the king’s court uninvited, would be at the risk of one’s life (4:11). Mordecai warned Esther, her throne would not spare her life when her Jewish ancestry was divulged (4:12-14). Giving testimony to divine providence, Mordecai appealed to Esther, “Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (4:13-14)
Esther’s Courageous Decision (4:15-17)
Heeding Mordecai’s counsel, Esther requested, “fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day” (4:15-16a). Notice also the profound influence Esther’s testimony was in the palace, for her own attendants (“maidens”) would also fast and pray, as she set her heart to risk her life by going to the king. With the words, “if I perish, I perish” (4:16b), Esther prepared her heart to face the king and her fate.
Esther 5 – A Courageous Queen
Esther’s Daring, and the King’s Devotion (5:1-8)
Risking her life, for not even the queen was allowed to enter the king’s court without his invitation, Esther came before the king (5:1). Seeing his queen, Ahasuerus greeted her and invited her to approach his throne (5:2a). In the providence of the LORD, the king extended his sceptre to Esther and offered to grant her whatsoever she desired (5:1-3).
As wise as she was beautiful, Esther set in motion her plan to save her people. She requested the king would summon Haman for a private dinner with she and the king (5:4-8). Haman gleefully accepted the invitation for a private dinner with the king and queen (5:5, 9). Esther, knowing the trap for Haman was not yet ready, delayed her petition to the king, and requested a second dinner with the two men (5:6-8).
Haman, A Proud Fool (5:9-14)
Blinded by pride, Haman left the dinner “with a glad heart,” until he came to the king’s gate and Mordecai refused to stand up or greet him (5:9).
Returning home, Haman boasted to his wife and friends how he had been honored (5:10-12), and dined with the king and queen (5:12). Still, it was Mordecai’s refusal to acknowledge or revere him that burned in his soul (5:13). Rather than caution him, his wife and friends encouraged Haman to construct a great gallows (one that would stand 75 feet tall), upon which Mordecai might be hanged (5:14).
Closing thoughts: God might have chosen any means to save His people: however, Mordecai believed the LORD chose Esther “for such a time” (4:14). Confident in God’s sovereignty, he believed the LORD would providentially save His people, but it would require Esther to trust the LORD and risk all.
Closing challenge – God blesses and promotes us that we might serve Him. Mordecai warned Esther, should she fail to serve the LORD, He would turn to another and she and her household would be destroyed (4:14).
Luke 12:48 – “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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