TUESDAY, JUNE 19
SCRIPTURE: ESTHER 4
As the chapter opens, Mordecai learned about what Haman had done and how he had convinced the king to sign what appeared to be an irrevocable edict to annihilate the Jewish people. What we know historically (not Biblically) is there were literally millions of Jews scattered throughout the Medo-Persian Empire. Even if the Jewish people fled the capital city, where would they go? After all, Israel was under the rule of this particular empire as was all of the territory between India and Ethiopia (Esther 1:1).
Mordecai’s solution to this was to put on sackcloth and throw ashes on himself. This was a symbol of either great repentance or great grief. In this case, it was almost certainly grief. But he did not grieve in solitude. He chose a most public place to express his grief. One of the effects of this public grief is it was evidence to the entire city that Mordecai was a Jew.
After Esther found out about her cousin, she sent one of servants, Hathach, to go find out what was going on. Part of what Mordecai told Hathach (see the very end of verse 8) pointed to the fact that Esther was a Jewess and would undoubtedly be killed in the carrying out of the edict.
Mordecai’s plea was for Esther to talk to the king about this. Esther’s reply was she couldn’t just rush in to talk to the king because that would mean certain death for her. This shouldn’t be taken as an excuse not to get involved. Instead, it is simply a statement of fact.
As the chapter closes we encounter what are probably the best known statements of this book. The first one is “for such a time as this”. The second is “if I perish, I perish”.
There are some important principles that we should consider before we move on to the next chapter. The first one is God is more than able to use whoever He chooses to accomplish His great and perfect will for His people. Throughout the Bible, we see Him using what is often nameless people as important participants in His plan. Also, throughout the Bible we see Him using what we would surely consider rather obscure characters to advance His plans and purposes. Hatrach is a great example of this. He had no idea what important role he was playing in this drama. And although people like Ahasuerus and Haman as well as Esther and Mordecai undoubtedly get first billing in this story, there is Hatrach being used by a sovereign God to accomplish a great work.
The second principle is we should remember that God’s plan is going to be fulfilled. His sovereign power is insurmountable. No one can circumvent what He will do. Even when it looks like the odds are against Him and everything is moving in a direction that is opposed to Him, His plan is still in place.
The third principle is the nation of Israel was and still is God’s chosen people. Throughout the centuries there have been many attempts to destroy the Jewish people. Although millions of Jews have in fact been executed, God has and will always protect a remnant of Jewish people from which the nation will grow again.
The fourth principle is that Esther’s statement of “If I perish, I perish” is not fatalism. It is a statement of trusting God – His plan is more important than our physical life on this earth. And if we are martyred for our faith, we have taken a good and right stand on our faith.