I love the story of Esther and every time I read about her I am challenged to be more open to God’s use of my own life. In Esther’s story, we get a marvelous glimpse into how God works in the undercurrent where we can’t see His works becoming answered prayers.
King Ahasuerus had been on the throne for 3 years and had decided to make a feast for all of his officials and servants. On the 7th day the king called for his queen, Vashti, to join him, but she refused and it infuriated the king, but it was the beginning of God working in those undercurrents. After the king’s anger subsided, his servants suggested that many young virgins be brought in to him and from those women he could chose a new queen.
There was a Jew named Mordecai, a captive, and he had a niece, Esther, that he had raised after her parents had died and he loved her. Esther was very beautiful so she was gathered along with the others to be presented to the King. Esther was placed under that care of a eunuch named Hegai and he gave special attention to Esther. She got better beauty treatments, 7 servant maids, and was put in the best part of the palace. Again, God is working by allowing Esther to find favor in Hegai and she was bumped to the front of the line. Everyone who came in contact with Esther liked her and she found favor in all that met her. When presented to the King, he loved Esther above all others and was very pleased with her and chose her to become his Queen. Little did they know that Mordecai had instructed her not to reveal that she was a Jew and she had obeyed him and everyday Mordecai was at the King’s gate asking about Esther. He was looking out for his beloved niece.
Around this time Mordecai heard two of the King’s eunuchs, gate keepers, making plans to kill the king. He then told Queen Esther about the plans and she revealed them to the king on Mordecai’s behalf and the eunuchs were hanged. King Ahasuerus then appointed Haman to the position above all who served the king. This made Haman very proud and his ego became inflated and conceit grew in his heart. Now, the king’s people were to bow before Haman and all did except for Mordecai, he refused and this caused Haman to be very angry because, after all, he was important and Mordecai was being disrespectful! Haman discovered that Mordecai was Jewish so he decided to kill all of the Jews. So Haman went before the king and asked permission to do this evil deed, to kill all the Jew’s including children, and plunder their possessions and pay money into the king’s treasury. The king told him to do what he saw fit.
When Mordecai heard of the decree sent forth throughout the land, he sat at the king’s gate in sackcloth and ashes grieving. When Esther’s maids and eunuchs saw him they told Esther and she sent clothes for Mordecai. When they spoke to him he asked them to take a copy of the decree to kill all of the Jews to Esther and ask her to go before the king and beg for mercy for her people. Esther then sent word to Mordecai that no one is allowed to go before the king who has not been called by him. The punishment is death unless the king holds out his golden scepter and he had not asked to see Esther in 30 days. What if he’s in a bad mood, right?
This is the message Mordecai sent back to her: “Just because you live in the king’s palace, don’t think that out of all the Jewish people you alone will escape. If you keep quiet at this time, someone else will help and save the Jewish people, but you and your father’s family will all die. And who knows, you may have been chosen Queen for just such a time as this.” Wow. This may just be your purpose in life, Esther! God gave Esther incredible beauty and likability, the very traits that put her in the Queen’s slot! Now lets see what else God gave her.
After having gotten that very strong message, Esther sent word to have all of the Jews fast and pray for 3 days, this included herself and her maids. She was gaining spiritual strength for the task at hand. Sometimes a sacrifice is required to show God you mean business. She sent word that after 3 days she would go before the king, even though it was against the law, and her words were, “If I die, I die.” Imagine how frightening it must have been and the courage it took for Esther to dare such a thing! That gives me goosebumps! What courage! But Esther was smart and thought out her plan well. The king did offer the scepter to Esther and told her that she could ask for anything, even half of his kingdom, but Esther asked for a banquet and told the king to bring Haman and at that time she would tell him what she wanted.
Haman left the king’s palace happy at the invitation, but as he left the king’s gate there was old Mordecai refusing to bow. Haman was so angry, but he controlled it planning instead to plot against Mordecai. He went home and bragged about how wealthy and important he was, but he just couldn’t be happy because of that Jew’s disobedience so he took the suggestion of his wife and friends and ordered a gallows to be built for Mordecai to be hanged on.
God starts working again by causing the king not to sleep instead he asked the daily court order to be read to him and in it he learns of Mordecai’s disruption of the plan to kill him. The king then asks what has been done to Mordecai to honor him and was told nothing had been done. The king then calls for Haman and asks what should be done for a man that the king wants to honor? Well, Haman with his enormous ego thinks the king is speaking of him so he says to bring this man a robe that king has worn, put a crown on his head, parade him all over town on one of the king’s horses, and say,”This is what’s done for the man whom the king wants to honor!” The king thought that sounded wonderful so he instructed Haman to go get Mordecai and do all that Haman had suggested be done. What!? I bet Haman’s blood was boiling with hatred for Mordecai. After doing these things Haman went home embarrassed and was told by his wife that he was losing power, but no time for that at the moment because the king had sent for him. Haman had a banquet to go to.
The king and Haman go to the banquet together and the king asks Esther what she wants and Esther asks for her life. She confesses that the Jews are her people and she asks that their lives be spared as well. She tells the king that their lives have been sold to be destroyed and the king asked Esther who would do such a thing? Can you imagine Haman, sweat pouring, about right then? She reveals that it’s Haman and the king became very angry and left the table. Meanwhile, Haman begs Esther to save him because he already knows he’s a goner. He even falls on Esther, (where is your arrogance and pride now, Haman), and the king walks in and thinks Haman is assaulting the queen! The king’s servants then show him the gallows and tells him that Haman had prepared it for Mordecai and the king orders Haman to be hanged on that very gallows. Oh, the irony!. The king gave Esther everything Haman had owned and put Mordecai in his place and removed the death decree. What a wonderful ending!
Everywhere in this story you see God working in the unseen. What do you think was the reason Queen Vashti refused to go to the king when asked, therefore opening up the position of Queen? This was the starting point of the sparing of the Jewish people. Esther’s beauty was used to find favor in the king, that’s not accidental. God was working while forming Esther in the womb. Haman was an egotistical brat and God used Haman’s arrogance to thwart his own plan. God withholding sleep from the king so he could learn of Mordecai’s good deed to save the king’s life. Mordecai was a Godly man and didn’t cave in and challenged Esther to do the right thing instead of giving in to her protests of fear. Then he poses the question, “How do you know that this isn’t the reason you were placed in this position?” Maybe even why she was born. Esther’s purpose was to be the instrument to save her people and she was willing to die to accomplish it. All of this cultivating in the undercurrents to set in motion the destruction of an evil plan. That’s incredible when you think in those realms!
One of man’s biggest questions on life is, “Why am I here, what is my purpose?” If we are willing to have the heart of Esther and be courageous, we might just could find out. One of the shortest, but most encouraging stories of the bible is that of Esther. We need to be open when we are challenged by other Godly people. Once Mordecai put it in perspective for Esther her first impulse was to get down to business by fasting, praying, and carefully and wisely making a plan of action.
God is always working in the undercurrents of our life. Someone may be interceding on your behalf causing God to move in the unseen only to later reveal His perfect plan. Keep a heart of courage, be obedient, and take the challenge to be used by God for His plan for your life!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.