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Basic Bible: Esther’s Bold Faith

Esther 3:2-3, 5-6a; 4:7-16

The book of Esther is history because it is a record of that which transpired in Esther’s day. The book is scripture because God speaks to us through that which He caused to be recorded.

“But Mordecai . . .” (v. 2). Readers of God’s word know that Mordecai was a Jew and the relative of Esther. We know that Mordecai reared Esther as his daughter (Esth. 2:7). We also know that Mordecai served as an official in the king’s gate (Esth. 2:21).

We know through God’s word that Esther, an orphaned Jewish maiden, was elevated from a lowly state to become queen to king Ahasuerus (Esth. 2:17). We are told that Esther became queen before Mordecai entered into service in the king’s gate (2:19). All that which is recorded in the first two chapters of Esther serves as a scene setter to the unfolding picture before us.

“But Mordecai bowed not . . .” Every official who served in the king’s gate was commanded to reverence Haman and to bow to him. Haman had been placed over all other princes in the kingdom. He was second in power only to king Ahasuerus. Mordecai refused to obey the king’s command. Mordecai’s reason for not bowing is revealed in verse 4. Mordecai stated that he was a Jew. Mordecai was a member of the tribe of Benjamin by birth (see 2:5). Mordecai’s refusal to bow, while provoking Haman, was not intended to provoke. Quite to the contrary, Mordecai feared the Lord. Mordecai feared that his bowing to Haman would provoke the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

When Haman learned of Mordecai’s refusal to bow, he thought it wise to deal with every Jew (v. 6). Every Jew meant every Jew in an empire that stretched from Ethiopia to India. Haman’s plan, if successfully implemented, would result in the death of every Jew in the Persian Empire along with the seizure of their property. The property seizure would enrich the treasury of the king and enrich Haman personally. The planned genocide and property seizure never succeeded because God intervened. God had placed Esther into a position by which she might influence king Ahasuerus and move him to reverse the evil that Haman thought to unleash.

A quick review of Esther’s life up to this point is in order. She grew up under the direction of Mordecai who served as a substitute father and mentor. She was young virgin and very beautiful to look upon. She obtained grace in the eyes of king Ahasuerus. At the time in which Haman was preparing to implement his plan, Esther was living a life of isolation and unparalleled luxury in the king’s palace. She was separated from Mordecai and was unaware of his distress.

Esther’s world changed quickly. Mordecai made Haman’s plot known to her and instructed her to go before the king and make supplication to the king that he spare her people (v. 8).

Esther balked to go before the king. She made it known to Mordecai (and to us) that going before the king without being summoned was a sentence of death unless the king were to extend his golden scepter to her (v. 11). Esther had good reason to fear that the king would not extend the golden scepter. She and every inhabitant in the kingdom knew that Ahasuerus had deposed the previous queen because she displeased him. Esther knew that appearing before the king was an act which might well displease him. Esther feared to put her life on the line.

Mordecai helped Esther to think clearly. He replied, “Think not . . . that thou shalt escape” (v. 13). Mordecai assured Esther that God would raise up a deliverance for the Jews from a different source if she did not act. Mordecai made it known that she and her father’s house would not be part of any alternative plan that God might implement. Mordecai then posed the question: “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Mordecai’s question might be rephrased to read: “How do you know that God has not placed you in your current position for His purposes?” Esther was placed in her current position by grace and grace alone. Esther knew beyond all doubt that she was the beneficiary of God’s grace. The real question which Esther needed to answer was: Do I respond or not respond to the grace which God has extended to me?

Esther’s answer is found in the words: “so will I go . . . and if I perish, I perish” (v. 16). Esther did not cast God’s grace aside. She trusted the Lord to use her for His purposes.

New Testament believers are, like Esther, the beneficiaries of God’s grace. We have been lifted from death unto life by God’s unmerited love. We, like Esther, have a choice. Do we respond or not respond to the grace which we have received? New Testament believers are doubly blessed in that the Comforter has come and brought the words of our Lord and Savior into remembrance. The Lord has said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).

We know the manner in which we are to respond to His grace. We are to love one another as He loves us (Jn. 13:34). We are to abide in Him that we might bear fruit (Jn. 15:4). Let us do as we have been commanded.

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