Read Esther 4
Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help
When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4 When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
Throughout the book of Esther, there are reminders of God’s providential care for His people (without a mention of His name). It is suggested that this is a literary technique to draw the reader to look for God in each event. At this point in the story, Mordecai is mourning publicly the dangerous plight of the Jews due to Haman’s edict to slaughter all of them. Esther’s awareness of this dreadful plan through her servants results in Mordecai’s direction for her to plead with the king on behalf of her people. Esther explains that this is a really big ask of her, placing her in a life-threatening position. Mordecai counters with a remarkable statement, pointing her and us to God’s sovereign care of His people. He recognizes that the Jews’ deliverance will arise, even if Esther is silent, from somewhere, but her position as queen could be for such a time as this. Esther’s response calls for all Jews to join her in a three day fast. She then boldly commits to approach the king, imploring him to save her and her people. In v. 16, Esther reveals a brave resolve and trust in God’s providential care.
During this fluid account, one can observe reminders of God’s providence, accomplishing His purposes in the lives of Esther and Mordecai. God faithfully brings about His plan through the lives of imperfect people. Esther’s story is a powerful reminder, and a great encouragement, that God can and does use even those who do not acknowledge His power to accomplish His plan.
In a world that ignores or blatantly rebels against God, a reminder of God’s providence offers Christ followers comfort, peace, hope and courage. The challenge is to remember who God is, recall His great faithfulness, and act in trust as we face situations that God has placed us in for such a time as this. Like Esther, Jesus placed Himself in a life-threatening situation willingly and boldly. Unlike Esther, He humbled Himself by dying on the cross, and, as Timothy Keller suggests, His words are not “if I perish, but when I perish.” Jesus’ surrender to God’s plan accomplished God’s purpose – to redeem and restore His people.
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, confidently trusting in His ability to accomplish every purpose He designs.
- How would viewing your current life situation through the lens of “it is for a time such as this” influence your actions?
- When have you experienced God’s providential care? (Stop and give thanks to Him) Who may be encouraged to hear that?
- Where do you need to replace fear with courage and trust, taking bold steps to identify with Christ and share the gospel?
We learn a lot about Esther’s faith in Esther 4:16 when she says, “If I perish, I perish.” Want to read more about the significance behind that statement? Check out this article from GotQuestions.org.
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