Our congregation is walking through the Story. This week we are in chapter 20, and we are looking at the story of Esther. Esther is one of those books if your not careful,you would miss. It’s not a big book compared to Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah and of Ezekiel. But the size of the book doesn’t dictate it’s quality or importance. Esther is indeed an important book. Esther begins smack dab in the middle of Jewish captivity under the reign of Xerxes the ruler of 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. He was wealthy and his army was fierce. In other words Xerxes ruled the world. Smack dab in the middle of captivity in a far away land is a man named Mordecai, a Jewish noble who took care of his young cousin, Hadassah, and raised her as his own daughter. Mordecai was taking care of family. Little did he know that his baby cousin would be the salvation of the Jews. In addition to being faithful to his family, Mordecai was faithful to his God. More about that in minute.
The Book of Esther gives a behind the scenes picture of the royal court of Xerxes is the most powerful king on the planet. His word was law. His subjects obeyed or they were banished from his sight or worse, they were killed. When the king decreed, people listened. Except one time when the once former Queen Vashti disobeyed the king’s summon. Her willful rejection of the king lead to a kingdom wide search for a new Queen. Cue, Hadassah, also known as Esther. The Story text says she was beautiful in form and lovely in appearance. In other words, the author wants to stress that she will catch the King’s eye. She does and becomes Queen. But she has a secret. Queen Esther is Jewish.
But all is not well in the kingdom. Haman, a power hungry villian, held in high esteem by the King sets out to slaughter the Jews. In Jewish history the very people that Haman was descended from were the Amalekites, the long-time enemies of God’s people. So once Haman learns that Mordecai is Jewish and won’t bow down to him to show him honor he devises a plan to eliminate the Jews from the kingdom. As a Jew it’s not that Mordecai is incapable of bowing down to Haman, or showing him honor. Mordecai’s faithfulness to Yahweh prohibits his putting anything or anyone above God. Mordecai learns of this plan and summons Esther to approach the king to beg for pardon.
It’s in this moment of danger and threat of extermination we read these words, “and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this” (The Story, p. 232). Mordecai essentially sends Esther on an impossible mission. Her task to approach the king could end in her death herself. You couldn’t enter Xerxes presence without being summoned. Remember Vashti was summoned and she didn’t come. Now here is the new Queen daring to approach the throne of the king with a summons. Esther’s purpose was to be selected to be in a position of honor to save her people. While we may not be in a royal court, we too are strategically placed by God in schools, communities, neighborhoods, work places, etc., for such a time as this. In other words, like Esther, we can be a force for good in the world if we begin to sniff out the work of God in the world and seek to partner with Him in his endeavors. We too may get a chance to save lives, or share the story of Jesus with someone who has never heard. May we learn from the story Esther the importance of blooming were we are planted!