The book of Esther tells of a remarkable young Jewish girl who became queen of Persia and Media. The story is full of intrigue with colourful characters and a plot line with many twists and turns. It is well worth sitting down and reading all of the 10 short chapters in one sitting!
Esther was a Jewish orphan (2:7) brought up in exile in Susa by her cousin, Mordecai. King Xerxes was looking for a new queen and, through a rigorous selection procedure, Esther was selected as queen (2:8-20).
Haman was one of Xerxes most-trusted advisors who developed a hatred of the Jews (3:1-6). He designed a scheme for annihilating the Jewish people (3:7-15) which he managed to get approved by the king. The massacre-date was set down in law and notification sent to every province informing them of when the people of each province could ‘destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children…and seize their possessions as plunder’ (3:13).
Mordecai heard of the plan and sent word to Esther. He begged her to speak to the king on behalf of her people, the Jews. The problem was that custom dictated that no-one, not even the queen, could go into the king freely. In fact, if Esther did approach the king uninvited she would die unless he chose to hold out his golden sceptre towards her. At this point Esther had not been summoned to the king for 30 days (4:11).
However, Esther recognised the severity of the situation and agreed to approach the king. She asked Mordecai to gather people to pray and fast for her and she and her friends did the same (4:15-17). On the third day Esther approached the king (5:1) who graciously welcomed her into his presence. Eventually disaster is averted (9:1).
Esther was willing to risk her own life in order that there was a chance others could be saved. She gathered others around her to fast and pray and then faced death for the salvation of others. Jesus in Gethsemane gathered some faithful friends around Him to pray as He faced death for the sake of others.
But whereas Esther was spared death and saved many, Jesus had to endure death in order to save.
‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).
Further reading: Romans 5:6-11 1 Timothy 2:5-6 1 John 2:1-2
To think about:
We often quote the phrase ‘for such a time as this’ in relation to our impact on people or on an event. Think about the occasions when you have felt that you were precisely where you were supposed to be in God’s plan for your life?
|Journal page by Bernice|
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