Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
….Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16)
King Xerxes reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. At that time Xerxes ruled his empire from his royal throne at the fortress of Susa. In the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. He invited all the military officers of Persia and Media as well as the princes and nobles of the provinces. The celebration lasted 180 days—a tremendous display of the opulent wealth of his empire and the pomp and splendor of his majesty.
On the seventh day of the feast, when King Xerxes was in high spirits because of the wine, he told the seven eunuchs who attended him to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted the nobles and all the other men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman.
But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. (This must be God’s plan.) This made the king furious, and he burned with anger. After Xerxes’ anger had subsided, his personal attendants suggested, “Let us search the empire to find beautiful young virgins for the king. After that, the young woman who most pleases the king will be made queen instead of Vashti.” This advice was very appealing to the king, so he put the plan into effect.
As a result of the king’s decree, Esther, along with many other young women, was brought to the king. And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti. To celebrate the occasion, he gave a great banquet in Esther’s honor for all his nobles and officials, declaring a public holiday for the provinces and giving generous gifts to everyone. Esther was a Jew, but following Mordecai’s advice, she kept it secret. Mordecai is Esther’s cousin.
Sometime later King Xerxes promoted Haman over all the other nobles, making him the most powerful official in the empire. All the king’s officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by. But Mordecai refused to bow down to him. This made Haman greatly displeased, and he found out Mordecai was a Jew. So he decided that it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes. Even he set a day that he would execute the plan.
Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. If it pleases the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 talents of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury.”
Without knowing the Haman’s plan, the king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his signet ring from his finger and giving it to Haman. The king said, “The money and the people are both yours to do with as you see fit.” Now, Haman got the full power of the king, and started executing his plan.
Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day. Then the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa fell into confusion.
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. Mordecai, tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth, and mourning before God, sent a help to Esther. Esther replied, “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.” (Esther 4:11)
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14) If we were Esther, what would be our answer? Trying to seeing the king without his permission was risking our own lives.
The Bible continues: Then Esther sent reply back to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” (Esther 4:16) What a faith Esther had! She decided to go in to see the king although she was risking her own life.
Mordecai heard Esther’s faith and her determination. So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. He called for fasting: all Jews of Susa not to eat or drink for three days, night and day. Two great faiths of Esther and Mordecai met, and committed to each other to be faithful before God although their faith costed their own lives. It is a great example of how believers support each other – encouraging, sharing lives and faith, and committing together to God.
On the third day of the fast, as promised and prayed about, in faith, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court while waiting for the king’s invitation, he suddenly welcomed her and held out the gold scepter to her. So Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter. God heard Esther and Mordecai’s prayers in absolute faith, and God saved the Jews.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
Give thanks to God for giving us a great example of faith and how to keep the faith even before the extreme situation of being killed! “I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” Esther chose her faith rather than taking a momentary and fleeting comfort that the palace provided. Please help us to choose you over anything that the world can offer. Amen.