Esther: Heroes of the Faith
3 am You can be used for God's glory. And to always be courageous to what is right for God
3 am You can be used for God's glory. And to always be courageous to what is right for God
Do you like fairy tales? We all like to see the handsome prince come and whisk the beautiful, orphaned heroine off to become his princess. Did you know that the Bible has just that sort of story in it? This story is really true though, and you’ll find it in the Old Testament in the book of Esther.
So I am going to share wit you all the awesome story of Esther
We are going to go back in time to when the Jews were exiled from their home and King Xerxes was king of Persia and Media, and as our story begins.
he was giving a huge banquet in his palace at Susa. His queen, Vashti, was giving a banquet for the women at the same time, in another part of the palace. After several days of feasting and drinking too much wine, King Xerxes ordered some of his servants to bring Queen Vashti to him wearing her crown. Xerxes wanted to show off his queen, for she was very beautiful.
However, much to the surprise of Xerxes and his guests, Vashti refused to come. The king was furious! He was so angry he didn’t know what to do. So he called for his seven most trusted nobles to advise him. These nobles were concerned that Vashti’s disrespect for the king would spread to all the women of Persia. They decided to make an example of the queen.
They advised Xerxes to issue a decree that Vashti would be queen no longer, and was never again to enter the king’s presence. This advice pleased Xerxes, and he did what the nobles suggested.
Xerxes was king of Persia and Media, and as our story begins
Some time later, after the king’s anger had cooled, he began to think about Vashti and what he had done to her. Perhaps he even regretted his actions. Once again his advisers had an idea. A search would be made throughout all Xerxes’ realm for beautiful, young, unmarried women. These women would be brought to the king’s palace and put under the care of the king’s servants until Xerxes should choose one of the women to be his new queen. The king liked this idea and gave the command that it be done.
Now in the city of Susa at that time there lived a man named Mordecai. He was one of the Jewish exiles carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Mordecai had a young cousin living with him named Esther. Esther’s own mother and father had died and Mordecai was raising her as his own daughter. The Bible tells us that it was very pleasing to look at her. Because of this, she soon caught the attention of the king’s men and was taken to Xerxes’ palace along with many other beautiful young ladies. She lived with this group of women for over a year before she even saw the king. She told no one she was Jewish because Mordecai had told her to not do so. Every day Mordecai walked outside the palace, trying to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
At last Esther was taken to the king. Xerxes found her so attractive and so much more interesting than all the other women that he set a royal crown upon her head and made her queen. Through all of this, Esther still kept secret her Jewish blood.
Not long after, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, he learned of a terrible plot. Two of the king’s officers had become angry with him and were planning to murder him. Mordecai told Esther about the plot right away. Esther then warned the king, giving Mordecai the credit for uncovering the plan. The two officers were hanged, and the whole incident was recorded in the king’s record book, then seemingly forgotten.
Among King Xerxes’ nobles at this time was a man named Haman. He was ambitious and greedy, and did all he could to impress the king. He was successful in this, and Xerxes promoted him above all the other nobles. The king commanded that when Haman appeared, everyone was to kneel down and pay honor to him. But Mordecai would not do this because he would only bow to God. Day after day Mordecai refused to kneel down, until Haman finally noticed and grew mad with rage. Mordecai had told some of the men at the king’s gate that he was Jewish, When Haman learned of this, his mind began to hatch a very evil plot. He looked for a way to destroy not only Mordecai, but all the Jewish people in the land. He and his friends cast dice or "pur" to decide which day this would be done.
Haman had gained the confidence of the king. Now it was easy for him to set his deadly plan in motion. He told Xerxes there was a group of people in his kingdom who were different than everyone else and who did not obey the king’s laws. He urged Xerxes to issue a decree that these people be destroyed. He offered to pay the expenses of having this done. The king’s trust in evil Haman was so complete that he removed the royal ring from his finger and gave it to Haman, telling him to do whatever he wished with these people.
The news spread quickly. On the thirteenth day of the month, the people of Persia were ordered to kill every Jew in the land, old men and women and children included, and to take everything they owned. Everyone in the kingdom heard the command and many were confused by it. And Others looked forward to the destruction.
As you can imagine, when the Jews learned of this, they were frightened and sad. They put on mourning clothes and fasted. Mordecai himself was seen outside the king’s gate tearing his clothes and crying out his grief. What a scene it must have been! In spite of this seemingly hopeless situation though, God was already at work in the hearts of those he would use to deliver his people once again. Esther heard about Mordecai and sent her servant to ask what was wrong. The servant returned and told Esther about the
decree Haman had issued in the king’s name. He told Esther she must go before the king and beg for mercy for her people. Esther was very frightened. She sent a message back to Mordecai, "Everyone knows that any man or woman who approaches the king without being sent for will be put to death. That is the law. The only exception is for the king to extend the golden scepter to that person and spare his life. But the king has not asked to see me for thirty days.” Mordecai sent back this answer, "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, God will find another way to save the Jews, but you and your father’s family will die. And who knows, maybe you have come to this royal position for just this time.” Esther thought about what Mordecai had said. Though she was frightened, she realized God had given her an opportunity to plead for her people that no one else had. Perhaps this was why God had allowed her to become Xerxes’ queen. She sent a message back to Mordecai asking him to have all the Jews in Susa fast for her for three days. Then she would go before the king, no matter what happened. On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes and walked to the inner court of the palace, her heart pounding and knees shaking. She stood in the entrance waiting for Xerxes to notice her. There he sat on the royal throne, facing her. Their eyes met.
Slowly Xerxes raised the scepter to Esther as a smile came on his face. It seemed he was pleased to see his queen. Esther approached and asked Xerxes to come to a banquet she had prepared for him and Haman. The king immediately sent for Haman and they went to Esther’s banquet. As they ate, Xerxes asked Esther what her request was, for he knew she would not have risked death by approaching him if it were not important. But Esther asked him and Haman to come to another banquet the next day, when she would reveal her request. Haman was flattered that the queen herself should invite him, of all the nobles, to a special banquet. The next day, Xerxes and Haman went to the banquet, and the king again asked Esther for her request. This time she told him, "I want you to spare my life and the lives of my people. We have been sold for destruction and slaughter. That is the only reason I would have dared to disturb the king.” Xerxes could not doubt the truth of her words. "Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” "Here he is, right here," replied Esther. "The enemy is this vile Haman.” Then Xerxes realized how he had been tricked and how his trust in an evil man had almost cost him the life of his queen and many others in his kingdom. Xerxes ordered Haman to be hanged on the gallows Haman himself had built to hang Mordecai.
Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews was now uncovered, but there was still a problem. The king’s decrees were law and could not be changed or done away with. There would still be those who attacked God’s people on the thirteenth Adar and it would be legal for them to do it. Esther and Mordecai came up with an idea. They asked Xerxes to write a second decree that would give the Jews the right to protect themselves and to kill anyone who wanted to kill them. The decree was sent out, and all through the kingdom the Jews celebrated with joy as they recognized God’s protection of them once again. When the day arrived, some did try to attack the Jews but were overpowered, and many became frightened as they saw the king’s favor rested on Esther and Mordecai and their people. Soon the fighting was over. The Jews celebrated their victory, and to this day they observe the Feast of Purim (remember "pur"--the dice?) and remember how God delivered them from death in Persia.
Throughout history there have been Hamans planning the destruction of God’s people. In the pages of the Bible we see again and again God’s protection and care of His covenant people. He used Esther, who was so frightened by what was asked of her but found the courage to risk death for her people. What would you have done in her place?
Today courage can sometimes be hard to find. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is doing what God wants in spite of your fear. We gain a little courage every time we trust God enough to do something He asks of us--something that may be a little uncomfortable or scary. It does not matter if you are a boy or a girl, man or women, young or old just trust in God and watch how He works in your lives.