The Queen’s Dilemma
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.
(Esther 4:9-17 NIV)
Esther understood Mordecai’s request, and felt the immediate gravity of the situation. She knew well the king’s law about approaching the king without an invitation – to do so meant possible death. Kings in this era had constant bodyguards around them, and used this law to prevent would-be assassins from approaching the king. The king would raise his scepter only to those he knew and welcomed their visit.
Esther’s hesitation to approach the king was also based on the fact that she did not know where she stood with the king – he had not asked to see her in more than 30 days. Had he grown tired of her, or was just having too much fun with his other concubine wives? Whatever the case, she knew the risk to approach the king was potentially life-threatening. Also, Esther thought that she was safe from Haman’s edict as the king’s wife. She had not told anyone that she was a Jew, just as Mordecai had instructed her to do.
When Mordecai heard Esther’s reply, he reminded her that she was not immune from the king’s law. Mordecai believed God’s promises (Ezekiel 37:21-28) and knew that God would step in to rescue at least a remnant of the Jewish population from Haman’s evil plot. But Mordecai was also concerned about Esther’s welfare. From the king’s actions with his first wife Vashti, Mordecai knew the king would not hesitate to depose Queen Esther and find another one to take her place. Mordecai reminds Esther that God may have put her in this place of power and authority for “such a time as this”.
So Esther heeds Mordecai’s plea, and asks Mordecai to gather the other Jews in Susa and join with her as she fasts (abstains from food) night and day for three days. Fasting was more than about not eating; fasting also implied prayer to God to intervene in these dire circumstances and spare the lives of the Jews living in Persia. Queen Esther, because she was sequestered to the king’s palace, could not put on sackcloth and ashes to grieve and show her state of mind about this impending doom, but she could abstain from eating to show her seriousness and use the time in prayer to the Lord.
Verse 17 tells us that Mordecai carries out all of Queen Esther’s instructions.
Once again, God shows His Providence in using both Esther and Mordecai as a team to deal with this crisis. Without Mordecai, Esther would not have known about the genocide against the Jews until it was too late. Without Esther, Mordecai would not have a line of communication to appeal the king’s decision. God used both of them, working together, to protect and preserve His own.
And so it is today – God works in the hearts and lives of individuals yielded to Him, then draws those same individuals together to affect change in the community. God starts with a dramatic change in each individual’s heart before He draws these individuals together and moves forward to change the world.
May our first desire be to have a fresh experience with the Lord, putting Him first and foremost in our lives, and be open to where He would use us after that.