Summary: Though Haman is dead, the decree authorized by the king for the mass slaughter of the Jews is still in place. Mordecai and Esther move quickly by the king’s authority to authorize their people to defend themselves against their enemies on the fated day set by Haman. Exactly the opposite result that Haman planned unfolds as the Jewish people successfully defend themselves.
The Transforming Power of Hope
Dread and fear debilitate, hope and opportunity invigorate.
You’ve experienced it haven’t you? The threat of harm or oppression causes a dark cloud to shroud your thoughts and feelings. You are beaten down and defeated long before anything actually happens. Suddenly a ray of hope appears. There is a chance; an opportunity to overcome and emerge victorious. Again, before anything actually, happens your disposition has been changed completely. The dark cloud is gone. Hope and possibility replace dread and woe.
Under Haman’s threat, the Jews were “fasting, weeping, and lamenting” (Esth. 4:3). Given the opportunity to defend themselves they had “light and gladness and joy and honor” (Esth. 8:16). Again, nothing had actually yet happened, but hope and opportunity changed everything.
Is this not precisely what God provides; hope and opportunity? That changes everything, even before God has done anything.
Summary: The drama further unfolds and Mordecai convinces Esther to take action on her people’s behalf. Haman’s fool proof plan unravels in a matter of hours as he looses not only his powerful position but also his life.
Silence Is Not Golden
Sure, there are times when silence is not only appropriate but very beneficial; a golden blessing. But not always.
Mordecai urged Esther to not remain silent, but speak on behalf of her people (Esth. 4:14). Her silence would have been a disgrace and tragic. Our silence could be same.
Silence is tragic when…
the strong do not open their mouths on behalf of the weak (Prov. 31:9)
one’s given responsibility to watch do not warn of impending danger (Ezek. 33:7)
one generation fails to tell the next of the goodness of God (Psalm 78:3-4)
words of comfort and encouragement are kept from the discouraged and downcast (1 Thess. 4:18)
the gospel is not preached (Mark 16:15).
Mordecai further suggested that Esther was where she was for this very purpose.
It is true. No matter where or with whom we are, something needs to be said. Don’t be silent.
One excellent piece of advice is to do what you can, with what you have, from where you are. It is quite easy to become paralyzed because of what we’re convinced that we cannot do. So, because we can’t do something we might think needs done, then we end up doing nothing. That’s horrible. Maybe it is that we think our resources are insufficient. If we just had more time or money or some effective leader then, we think, we could do much. But we should never allow what we don’t have to prevent us from using what we do have. Whatever that is, use it! But maybe we think we are in no effective position to take action. Has not God shown, not just His ability but His propensity to use the most unlikely of persons to accomplish His will? No greater example exists than that of Mordecai and Esther to do what we can, with what we have, from where we are.
Questions to Ponder:
How did Mordecai overcome Esther’s hesitancy? (4:13-14)
Up to what limit was the king willing to grant Esther’s request? (5:3)
Is it far-fetched to think that some of the Jews who had been taken off into captivity by the Babylonians were bitter against God for allowing such an awful fate to befall them? I don’t believe it is far-fetched at all. People do that. It’s a common response when bad circumstances come into their lives; especially if they have seen themselves as people of faith–ones who have trusted in God. Here’s the thing about bitterness–it’s very selfish. It’s an example of excessive inward focus stimulated by a sense of injustice and victimization. The problem is that bitter people are of no help to anyone, especially themselves. Neither Mordecai or Esther show bitterness. Consequently, they are able to serve a very useful purpose in God’s plan. So, if negatives have come into your life, bitterness is about the worst response you could have.
Questions to Ponder:
What rationale was given for deposing Vashti as queen? (1:17)
What was the relationship of Mordecai to Esther? (2:7)
What information did Esther withhold? (2:10)
What common mistake of logic did Haman make? (3:4-6)
There is no way for this to happen. The opposing forces are too great. The leading adversaries are too highly placed. Actions and plans are authorized by the most powerful possible source. The victims are too weak, too vulnerable, and too powerless. All that is precisely true except for one factor—God. There is only one way for the plots of wicked men wielding the greatest human power on the authority of the highest rulers to be thwarted, overthrown, and turned back upon themselves by the weak and helpless—that is by the work of God. So, what insurmountable problem do you face? What is troubling you now and for which you see no solution? What question do you face that appears to have no answer? What part are you allowing God to play as you contemplate and think about these things?
Questions to Ponder:
How did the Jews respond to the king’s decree? (4:3)
What happened to anyone who approached the king unbidden? (4:11)
Esther made what she was available to God’s service. Quite notably she possessed physical beauty. She had “a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at” (2:7). Think about it; had she not been queen she would never have been able to take the action she took to save her people. Had she not been selected over all the other potential candidates she would have never become queen. Had she not been a “beautiful, young virgin” she would never have been among the candidates to become queen. She did not act like she was not pretty, neither did she flaunt it. She used what she was to be able to be in a place to be useful to God. God expects us to use what He’s made us the best we can, whatever that is. He’ll do the rest—whatever that is.
Questions to Ponder:
Why was Vashti deposed as queen? (1:10-12)
From whom did the king get counsel? (1:13)
What did Esther keep secret when she became a candidate to be queen? (2:10)
Though Haman is dead, the decree authorized by the king for the mass slaughter of the Jews is still in place. Mordecai and Esther move quickly by the king’s authority to authorize their people to defend themselves against their enemies on the fated day set by Haman. Exactly the opposite result that Haman planned unfolds as the Jewish people successfully defend themselves.
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The drama further unfolds and Mordecai convinces Esther to take action on her people’s behalf. Haman’s fool proof plan unravels in a matter of hours as he looses not only his powerful position, but also his life.
The book of Esther is odd. Not one time is God explicitly mentioned in this entire book. Not once. But neither is the presence of God any more evident than in the events unfolded in its pages.
“God” is nowhere in Esther and God is everywhere in Esther.
A memorable cartoon pictures two figures sitting at the bar of a saloon. One of them is impeccably dressed; broad brimmed large cowboy hat, rhinestone studded and colorful western-cut shirt with pressed jeans held up by a belt sporting a very sizable, shiny buckle and tucked into highly polished pointy-toed boots. The other wore a crumpled hat, wrinkled shirt, sagging jeans, over dusty, mud (or something else) caked boots— generally disheveled look. The latter says wryly to the former, “I see by the way you are dressed that you are a cowboy.”
Externals are sometimes—not always—superficial. Externals get noticed. Externals can be seen by others. Externals can also be deceptive. The appearance they give can belie the reality within.
A cowboy is evidenced more by what he does, not what he wears. The presence of God in Esther is not measured by the number of times He’s called by name in that book. Our place as a follower of Christ is not established by the jewelry we wear, the t-shirt logos we sport, or even the assemblies we attend or how loudly we praise Him. It’s His presence in our lives. It’s His love reflected to others. It’s His compassion for people in need. It’s His commitment to fulfill the Father’s will.
“God” isn’t in Esther but He is, just as Christ must be in us.