INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN OF THE BIBLE
In part two of this four part series on Queen Esther, we will look at Esther 3-4, dig into the lives of the characters, and have real talk about what is happening is the book of esther.
Esther in the Bible
LET'S TALK ESTHER CHAPTERS 3-4
If there’s anything we can learn from Haman, it’s that racism is destructive and inherently evil. Haman is driven by hate; hate for another race and religion. The author of Esther mentions that Haman is a descendant of a people group that had a long running contention with the Jews, and it seems like that could be at the root of his hate. Haman was blinded by the lie that a person can be of less worth or value than another because they have a certain skin color, have a certain heritage, or follow a certain religion. He believed that lie to the core of his being. This racism and prejudice is what derails Haman’s life, career, and ultimately kills him.
The lie you believe may not be racist, but we as people tend to believe lies, even if we know God’s truth. Sometimes we listen to the lies and just want to hear what they have to say. It’s incredibly easy to go from listening to a lie to believing it, and it happens in the blink of an eye.
The lies I often listen to are lies like “you’re not smart, you’re not pretty, you’re not talented and therefore you have no value”. Let me tell you something, the devil trying to convince us that we are dumb is literally the oldest lie in the book: In Genesis 3:1-5, Satan lies and convinces Adam and Eve that they aren’t smart, they didn’t understand God correctly, and that they won’t really have value or be with it unless they eat the forbidden fruit. I know the truth of God deeply in my heart, I read the words, I have them memorized, but I still listen to Satan’s lies sometimes. Sometimes I let myself believe them.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Sometimes those lies cause me to have fear or act in certain ways I shouldn’t. Those lies leave me fearful, lonely, and lead me to sin. The only way to combat a lie is with truth, and God is the ultimate source of truth. I have to actively combat those lies, sometimes minute by minute, by speaking the truth of God to myself.
Back to Esther: a few years go by, and Esther has probably acclimated more and more to royal Persian culture and life being a queen. It seems like Esther and Xerxes are on the struggle bus, or maybe the king was just spending his time with his concubines more, but the Queen and King haven't seen each other in a month. Mordecai learns about Haman's plot to annihilate all Jews in Persia, tells his queen cousin, and Esther is terrified, rightfully so.
Imagine Esther's life: She has to be called by her husband to see him, and if she shows up to his office uninvited, she could be killed just for being there. Mordecai gives Esther some real talk. Mordecai, Esther's mentor, spiritual leader, and guardian for what was probably the majority of her life, explains to her that if she doesn't risk her life and beg for Haman's decree to be reversed, she and all of her people will die. The fate of her family, her adopted father, and all Jewish people is in her hands.
Mordecai speaks some very wise words to Esther. He believes in his heart that God keeps his promises. He knows that God promised not to let the Jews be destroyed, and he knows that God will be faithful to that. He also recognizes that it may look like him and his Jewish neighbors in Persia dying, but believes God will deliver the Jews somehow, someway, sometime. Mordecai relays this to Esther, telling her she could be the one to save the Jewish people of Persia, but if not, God can find someone else. He lays down more wisdom telling Esther that this could be her calling: he thinks out loud and says maybe this was the reason God let all of these crazy things happen to you. Maybe God let you get taken away from your home, forced to enter a contest to be the King's new wife, and chosen to be the queen because of this reason: so you could save the lives of your entire people group, God's chosen people.
How often do we talk ourselves out of God’s direction and leading on our lives? I think it happens a lot more than we think; we talk ourselves out of giving more because we need more money, we talk ourselves out of a dream to do something for Jesus because it’s unrealistic, we talk ourselves out of sharing an idea God placed in our minds because people won’t like it. We’re scared so we don’t share the gospel. Our fear keeps us from starting our ministry. We worry that people won’t like us so we water down our message or sermon to keep it less controversial. Those fears are understandable from one human perspective to another. But, we serve a God who constantly reminds us not to worry or fear:
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Romans 8:14-17 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
1 Peter 3:6 “like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”
Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Matthew 6:25-30 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”
It’s not hard in our humanness to be anxious, to worry, to say “no it’s not possible God”. It’s easy to look at Esther in that moment with Mordecai, sharing her fears, and say “obviously she was put in the palace for that exact moment. Obviously God was going to use her and had put her there to save the Jews”, but we say that on the other side having seen the whole story. When it’s us, when we are afraid with everything in our souls, we think that we are the exception and God won’t take care of us. Or, we believe our hardships were all in vain and think “there is no possible way on this planet that God can use and redeem this horrible, awful thing that’s happened for his glory”. But, God’s ways and thoughts are so far beyond our tiny human heads.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.””
We don’t see the whole picture, but God does. God wrote the whole picture before time began, and if He is calling you to something, He has a reason. Even if your way or ideal isn’t the end result, God will not waste a drop of it.
Here is a distinct difference between King Xerxes and Esther: they both are afraid, but they handle it in completely different ways:
Xerxes is afraid that people won’t like him. He’s afraid of rejection. He’s afraid to be alone. He constantly is asking those around him what they want and does it without asking a single question, even if it’s obviously not a good choice to make as a leader of a nation. Xerxes wants love. He wants security, validation, and friends. Xerxes is trying to fill the need for God in his heart with things that aren’t God.
Esther was also clearly initially afraid in her conversation with Mordecai. Esther was probably afraid a lot throughout this season of her life. If you were taken from your home and forced to compete to marry a man [a man who banished his last wife] who doesn’t share your faith or beliefs, and then were chosen by him to be queen, forced to marry him, had to hide your identity from him, and couldn’t even visit him without risking death, you would probably be afraid too. Even if you ended up falling in love with this guy, there is a lot of uncertain death and many unknowns to face. If you were in Esther’s shoes, you might even ask God “What are you doing? Why are you putting me through this? Why did you pick me for this?” And when we look back, we can see why: God used a Jewish woman, who cared about her people, to save their lives because her cousin who works for her new husband found out about an order for their people’s genocide.
This is a situation that was perfectly worked out by God. God used the scary, unideal, not-in-the-plan circumstances to ensure that his people would be saved. It wasn’t random or by chance that Esther was in the situation she was in. Mordecai was right. God chose her to be the queen for that exact time and situation. God was calling Esther to save His chosen people because it was His will for her life and His will for the Jews that they be saved. If Esther said no because she was paralyzed by fear, God could use someone or something else. But Esther says yes, facing death, because she trusts God and is willing to risk her life for others.
WHAT are the lies you believe? What sins do you commit or come back to because of the lies you believe? What does God say about those lies? What are God’s truths?