Do you like drama, intrigue, and plot twists? Then this story is for you! Esther was chosen to be Xerxes’ latest queen by winning a beauty contest. However, the Book of Esther reveals she was more than just another pretty face…
A Plot Worthy of a Mini Series
Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman, had been chosen by Xerxes to be Queen of Persia. The fact that she was Jewish was not known publicly. A pompous court official named Haman resented Esther’s uncle Mordecai because he refused to bow to him, so Haman obtained an order from Xerxes to have all of Mordecai’s people killed (not knowing that this death warrant would include the beautiful young Queen…).
After Esther was told about Haman’s evil scheme to kill all of the Jews, she had two options: One, she could hole up and stay incognito in the palace and take her chances that she might be spared because of her beauty and connections. Or two, she could help Mordecai try to thwart Haman’s plan by going before Xerxes and bringing it to his attention.
A Bad Day to Have a Bad Day
The real problem with that was if Xerxes (being an all-powerful potentate) was in a bad mood, he could have ANYONE who approached him unbidden killed just for making an appearance. So, for Esther this was not an easy choice. She could ignore the plot, and perhaps survive if she was not identified as a Jew; or she could approach Xerxes uninvited and die at his whim.
Her uncle Mordecai laid this out before her in no uncertain terms: she could go before the King, but it could indeed cost her life. After giving the matter some consideration, she made her choice: “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:15-16, NKJV).
By choosing to risk forfeiting her own life in going before Xerxes without permission, Esther became one of the great heroes of the Hebrew people, stepping out in faith to identify with them (and with God), rather than depending on mere worldly values to offer her protection. The young and beautiful queen voluntarily assumed the worst (a death sentence), so that by approaching the despotic king, she had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
We often do the opposite. We ignore our inevitable death sentence and try to hold on to something temporary rather than to embrace something eternal. Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jesus chose to die for every one of us; perhaps we will realize great reward if we each take the risk and choose to die for Him. As Jesus said in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Good advice for Esther. Good advice for us.
Xerxes ruled with random lust; his court approached with fear,
His whimsy might be cruel or just: and Haman held his ear.
Haman’s murderous, hateful heart was full of selfish pride,
Which turned against the man who worshipped Yahweh: Mordecai.
Haman lied to Xerxes, and his evil, twisted ruse
Convinced the King to grant the execution of the Jews.
Mordecai told Esther, then, of Haman’s vile plan,
Since her position in the court might thwart this evil man…
But if she came to Xerxes’ court from the harem where they kept her,
He might decline to see her with a gesture of his scepter,
And this declining gesture would mean death to good Queen Esther.
How could they escape this bind? How to change the monarch’s mind?
Approaching him, she just might find that her request would be declined.
Uncertain now, she wavered as she tried to count the cost;
Mordecai said, “Esther, if you don’t go, you’ll be lost—
God will save us either way, despite the turns and twists:
Who knows if you were put where you are for such a time as this?”
So Esther left the harem, and approached the Royal hall,
Willing to save her people by being willing to risk it all.
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