A few random thoughts regarding Chapter 20 of The Story:
First, this chapter reminds us of how women were considered more as property than people. King Xerxes, like other kings of the time, had absolute control over his subjects. Whatever the king said, happened; whatever or whomever the king wanted, he got. Although many women in many countries have more rights and legal protections today, we must never forget that the tendency of our sinful hearts is still to treat both men and women as objects – things, really, to help us get what we want. Our prayer should always be that God, with the help of the Holy Spirit, would give us pure eyes and pure hearts to see and treat people as he sees them, as unique, special and priceless creatures crowned with his glory, made in his image.
Second, this story of Queen Esther is one of my favorite Bible stories, because the good guys win and the bad guys lose. Esther’s obedience to her Uncle Mordecai (and by extension, obedience to God) yielded a wonderful life-saving result for the Jews throughout King Xerxes’ kingdom.
But Esther risked her very life by going to King Xerxes without being summoned. She was quite aware that Queen Vashti had earlier been banished from the king’s presence for disobeying his command to appear before all his guests. She knew the king’s law, that anyone who came into the king’s inner court without being summoned was to be put to death, unless the king extended the gold scepter. She had no way to know if her effort to intervene on behalf of her fellow Jews would be successful. It took a big leap of faith to do what Mordecai had asked.
Third, Mordecai’s pivotal statement to Esther resonates deeply with me:
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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?”
This is a strong reminder to all of us that our station in life is no accident; we are where we are by the grace and sovereignty of Almighty God. Think about it: how much control did you have over which family, country, or year you were born into? Did you choose your parents or your siblings? Did you choose whether to be born in the 20th century or in a much more ancient culture? Did you choose whether your parents were financially well-off or mired in poverty?
Nope. Not one bit.
We fool ourselves with the idea that we’re in control of our lives, but when, in casual conversation, someone asks me, “Got everything under control?” I usually respond, “No, because control is an illusion.”
Both Mordecai and Esther had faith that God would deliver his people from harm. He had done it before, many times. They did not know how God would do it, but they placed their trust in the Lord of Heaven’s Armies to deliver them again, one way or another – ceding ultimate control of the situation to God alone.
Finally, Proverbs says that pride goes before a fall, and certainly there is no plainer example of that principle than in the arrogant and boastful life of Haman. We cheer when Haman gets his just desserts; that was a good day for the Jews. But it should also serve as a clear warning that pride is a sneaky enemy that can ruin and debilitate any and every area of our lives.
Many pages have already been written and many sermons already preached about Queen Esther, and for good reason; the lessons we can draw from this story are nearly endless. I encourage you to read this story more than once and let God’s Holy Spirit shine a light on your own life, to purge the evil and cultivate the good that he wants to grow in you.
Reading along with you,