The book of Esther is one of the most intriguing books of the Bible. Never once is God’s name explicitly stated, yet God’s sovereign hand is shown as clearly as or even more clearly than anywhere else in the Bible. It shows how God works in mysterious ways and chooses to use ordinary people to accomplish His will, in this case being the preservation of His chosen people, Israel.
Before I elaborate on a verse that really stood out to me in my reading through Esther, I would like to provide a little background of what was happening.
Esther, a Jewish girl who had lost her parents, was raised by her relative, Mordecai. King Ahasuerus removed Queen Vashti from her position as queen, and then searched for a replacement. The initial criteria for his replacement as queen was beauty, and as a beautiful girl, Esther qualified. She quickly became the king’s favorite of potential replacements. During this time, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, but Haman had a pride issue. Everyone at the king’s gate bowed to him, except for Mordecai. Following that, Haman plotted to kill not only Mordecai, but also the entire Jewish people, and he managed to get the king to sign off on the mass genocide of the Jews on a specified date; however, it was not known to the king or to Haman that Esther was a Jew.
Upon receiving this devastating information, Mordecai sent the following message to Esther:
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (ESV, Esther 4:14).
As a godly man, Mordecai knew that God would provide relief and deliverance for the Jews. He would have been told and have read the stories of how God showed his power in preserving His people. He would have been well-versed in how Joseph was sold into slavery, but that God used him to preserve Israel in a time of great famine. He would have known that God performed the 10 plagues on Egypt. He would have been taught how God parted the Red Sea and supplied Israel with manna in the wilderness. He would have heard of how the walls of Jericho fell down. He did not know how God would do it again, but He knew that God preserved Israel in miraculous ways in the past and that He would again preserve Israel.
Not only would He have known how God preserved Israel in the past, He would have also known the promises that God had revealed up to that point. In Genesis 49:10, the Bible says that “the scepter shall not depart from Judah” (KJV). This is a prophetic verse referring to Christ in the Old Testament that Mordecai undoubtedly knew. Because the book of Esther took place prior to Christ’s coming, Mordecai recognized that the Jews would continue to be a people because of the promises in the Bible.
He knew relief and deliverance would come, one way or another. He had the history of God’s power and the promises of God to which he could cling. He just did not know through what means God would preserve His people again. But, if God could use someone like as timid as Gideon or as reluctant as Moses, He could use people from unfortunate circumstances, like a child who lost both parents early in life. He knew Esther could be used by God.
As I mentioned earlier, God works in mysterious ways. Esther would have never had the power to even have a chance at talking with the king about the plan to kill her people, unless Queen Vashti had not been removed from her position. And because the queen replacement was made mostly on beauty lines, it was even less likely that any one girl would have made the cut. Queen Vashti would not have been removed from office, had she decided to give into peer pressure to sensually entertain the king’s guests. She probably would have received even greater popularity. But Vashti’s knowledge of her own self-worth led her not to sensually entertain the king and his guests. God made Esther very beautiful and Vashti exceptionally moral in a secular society in order to accomplish His will.
Mordecai recognized that God may have placed Esther in her position “for such a time as this.” That purpose could be greater than just being the queen. God placed Esther there to play a role in preserving His people. Even though God has the ability to do everything by Himself, throughout history He has often chosen to use people to accomplish His will.
It required great risk by Esther to come before the king without first being summoned by him, as doing so could result in death, but she told Mordecai to have all of Israel fast and pray for her. It turns out that Esther was accepted by the king, she revealed Haman’s plot to kill her people, the Jews, and God indeed had placed her there at an important time for a very important purpose.
Many lessons can be gleaned from this story. First, having faith in God’s promises and recalling God’s provision in the past are crucial to handling difficult situations. Mordecai probably did not sit down and immediately read Jewish history of how God preserved His people in the past or about how the Messiah would one day come, but he had a deep-seated faith in God’s sovereignty.
Second, God places us all in important situations. We may feel that we are not particularly special. Perhaps we even feel disadvantaged. When placed in this emotional position, remember that there is a reason for everything, that God has placed you there for a reason, and that you should look around for how you can use your position to serve God. The situation may feel unbearable, but look at people like Esther who persevered in spite of the pain. God is sovereign over all situations, and He may have placed you in your position “for such a time as this.” Esther stepped out in faith when she knew what she needed to do. The question is: Will you step out in faith when you know what God wants you to do?