Are you familiar with the story of Esther in the Bible? If you aren’t, allow me to give you a brief summary. There’s this beautiful (Jewish) girl , orphaned, who is transported from her homeland to another country, where she is raised by her cousin, Mordecai . The king banishes the previous queen on a frivolous charge, and is looking for a replacement. He sends out his people to find the most beautiful girls in all the kingdom. Our girl Esther, is forcibly taken from her home (and admonished by Mordecai to keep mum about her heritage ). She’s subjected to beauty treatments for 12 months , at the end of which she spends one night with the king. The king who has spent the previous several (weeks/months?) nights with different girls until now, is so enchanted with Esther that he chooses her to be the new queen.
With me so far?
Then there’s a jealous man, Haman, who wants obeisance from everyone, everyone, and Mordecai doesn’t bow down, ( remember he’s Jewish, he’s not going to bow down to anyone except God), thus angering Haman. Now Haman is so completely enamoured with himself, that this insult enrages him, enough that he decides to teach the entire race a lesson. Being crafty, and having the king’s ear, Haman devises an elaborate scheme, he’d pay from his own coffers into the king’s treasury, and the king’s soldiers will kill all the displaced Jewish people on a single day. The best part of this plan? they put up notices , and criers all over the country, told the people the decree, over and over again, so that they can wait for and anticipate their own death.
Now Mordecai and the people , mourn and weep, and dress in itchy, scratchy, uncomfortable, ill-fitting, horrible-looking sackcloth. Esther who so far, hasn’t heard anything disturbing, being safe at the palace, is completely shocked at Mordecai’s loss of countenance, and sends new clothes to him through her servants. He refuses to put them on. She sends an eunuch assigned to her, by the king, to find out what’s going on. Mordecai tells her, actually orders her ( the queen!) , to go to the king and plead for the lives of HER people. This is the same man , who told her not to mention her heritage, now seems to be shouting it out for all to hear. He’s speaking to the king’s man , after all.
Esther, who is distressed, sends back a reply ( presumably through the same eunuch), that she can’t do anything, the king who seemed so taken with her, has now NOT SENT for her in thirty days!!! She who has not been called, cannot enter the presence of the king and expect to live, unless he grants her mercy and extends the royal scepter to her. Mordecai, now delivers a message, that has become so iconic now. In his words, “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?” (Esther 4:13-14) . For such a time as this. Esther , suitably chastened, replies with another message, which is also equally well-known. Here it is, 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.” (Esther 4:16) . If I perish, I perish.
What happens now? The king spares Esther. She reveals the diabolical plan. The villain dies on the same scaffold that he built for Mordecai. Since a king’s edict can’t be reversed, the Jews are given the right to bear arms and defend themselves ( remember they are a captured people, and scattered among the conquerors) from death. Beautiful story right?
So why am I talking about Esther? Recently a guest pastor, brought this familiar passage to life in a very thought-provoking way.
Esther was given (1) an opportunity to save God’s people. She had (2) a price to pay and then was given (3) a direct challenge. She was asked to do something so phenomenal, that terrified her. She faced losing her life (if she entered the king’s presence uninvited), and again if he was as disgusted with the Jews as Haman was , and ordered her death. She received a direct challenge from Mordecai ( if she dint do it, relief would come from elsewhere, but she and her father’s house would perish, this after admonishment to keep quiet about her race!!!!!). What she did went down in history. This account made Esther significant, and well-known. But the life ( and legend) of significance did not come without a risk, without a sacrifice.
So what about me? What about you? Are you longing to be known? To do something significant? To achieve something great? To be remembered for something extraordinary?
Listen to the Holy Spirit.
Do what He asks you to do .
Follow into the unknown.
Pay the price.
He will reward you, and lift you up, and honour you, and bring greatness and yes, significance to your life. He only asks that you hold nothing back from HIM.