“FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS”
Lord, You remain in complete control.
Read ESTHER 4
Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help
4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4 When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “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?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 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.”
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
New International Version (NIV)
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“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” (Phil. 1:9,10).
The storytelling skill of the writer of Esther is remarkable. Note the extra little insights that explain the situation—there is enough suitable material here for a great film! The news of Haman’s actions troubles Mordecai in the extreme. Is Mordecai’s anguish due to realizing the devastation to come, or because he is aware that his insult to Haman has brought on this dreadful outcome? We see clearly the isolation of Esther’s life—she has eunuchs and female attendants to support her but no idea of what is going on in the city—yet, she is kept informed of Mordecai’s state of mourning and is able to discover what is going on. We note Esther’s quick grasp of the situation, and it is interesting to note the way the story moves from Mordecai instructing Esther to Esther herself taking the initiative. The course of action she decides upon may be highly risky, but it is the only way forward.
“…for such a time as this” (14): this is probably the best-known verse in the book, but we can’t be sure whether Mordecai is really saying “maybe God has put you in this position so you can take this action” or is just making a general statement. Esther calls all the people to fast—normally in Scripture, fasting and praying go together, but fasting would be the way in that local culture to persuade the powers-that-be to give you what you want, and we can’t be sure whether the lack of mention of prayer here is incidental or significant. We do know that, whatever Mordecai or Esther’s level of understanding, God is concerned for those in Persia as well as those in Israel. Nevertheless, ambiguous narratives like this do challenge readers to work out for themselves the lessons that God might want us to learn!
The events are clear, their significance less so! Try making a list of all the different lessons that we might possibly be intended to learn from this story!
Lord, Your ability to place the right people in the right place at the right time never ceases to amaze us.
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