Updated: May 11, 2020
Terry Casales - March 9, 2020
As we are in celebration of the Feast of Purim, we are reminded of the work that God did through Esther to save His people. We are reminded that obedience is better than sacrifice through Esther’s example.
In the story of Esther, God gave her an opportunity to partner with His plan for her life and the lives of His people. God gave her everything that she needed — the education, the beauty, the talent and the favor that she needed to step into her God-given destiny. God made room for her assignment — He gave her the favor she needed to give her access to the king! God blessed Esther with an uncle who served Him and who sought His wisdom. God gave him stewardship of Esther and the wisdom to raise her and teach her His ways.
Many of us who have walked with the Lord for a while have learned that everything that we have experienced in our lives has been in preparation for what He is calling us to do. When God prepares his sons and daughters, many times it is done in a place of hiddenness. It is in the seasons where we are overlooked and rejected by others — when it appears that we are not even advancing in life — where the promises of God seem impossible and far out of reach — this is where God is teaching us that nothing is ever wasted — not even our mistakes and detours along the way. We must keep in mind that these are the seasons where God has been preparing our minds and our hearts to carry the weight and responsibility that are associated with our Kingdom assignment. it is during these seasons of preparation that God is growing us and teaching us how to be completely surrendered to Him — dependent on Him and on His leading first and foremost.
We can see in the story of Esther that she was being specifically groomed for her assignment — first she was groomed spiritually (internally) and then she was groomed in beauty (externally) so that she would be favorably received by the king. God made Esther uniquely qualified to carry out His plans, placing her in the right family, the right place and the right time in history.
It is important to note that Esther’s true identity as a daughter and servant of God was not revealed until God’s kairos time (His perfect time). Mordecai, served the Lord faithfully as His steward, having been entrusted with Esther to train her in the way that she should go, to take care of her and to be her protector. The Lord prompted Mordecai to tell Esther not to reveal her true identity when she was sent to the palace:
Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it. - Esther 2:10 (NKJV)
Even in the palace, Mordecai remained ever watchful over Esther to ensure she was being taken care of properly. Mordecai never stopped being faithful toward God and toward Esther for he knew her cultural and spiritual heritage was all that she had known previously and it was completely different from the new environment she now found herself in. God had placed Mordecai there to help Esther navigate this new environment.
And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her. - Esther 2:11 (NLKV)
God in His infinite mercy, not only gave her favor with the king, but also with everyone she met there.
Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. - Esther 2:15 (NKJV)
The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. - Esther 2:17 (NKJV)
The thing about this story that resonated with me is that God could have chosen anyone for this assignment. Just like with Esther, God gives us opportunities to follow His leading in certain situations — He prompts us to step out of our comfort zone, to be obedient to do His will and to trust that He will be there to guide us — regardless of the seemingly insurmountable odds against us.
It is important to see in this story, during Esther’s time of grooming in the palace and receiving the favor of the king, she was not even aware of what her ultimate role would be in God’s plan for her life.
When Esther was made aware of the decree written by Haman to destroy all of the Jewish people, she was met with that reality and it shook her to the core. When she received a copy of the decree from Mordecai and learned about what had happened to him, she was faced with a very important decision. Mordecai called her to do something that would be very dangerous to herself — he called her to approach the king without her being summoned by him — which could lead to her death because it went against the king’s law.
Esther knew for her to plead to the king for her people to be saved, she would have to reveal her true identity — she would have to make herself completely vulnerable before him and be subjected to his mercy — in complete surrender to his will.
4 So Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her, and the queen was deeply distressed. Then she sent garments to clothe Mordecai and take his sackcloth away from him, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther called Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs whom he had appointed to attend her, and she gave him a command concerning Mordecai, to learn what and why this was. 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square that was in front of the king’s gate. 7 And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at [a]Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people. 9 So Hathach returned and told Esther the words of Mordecai. - Esther 4:-4-9 (NKJV)
Esther sent a message to her uncle, telling him of the risk involved - she informed her uncle of what the king’s law said would happen to her if she were to do as he instructed her:
10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a command for Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” 12 So they told Mordecai Esther’s words.
13 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” - Esther 10-14 (NKJV)
We can see from Mordecai’s response to Esther that he had received revelation from the Lord that all of Esther’s preparation was for this kairos time! Everything leading up to that point in time was part of God’s plan to use her as the vessel through which He would save His people!
It was the Lord’s plan to bring her to the point where she had to completely depend and trust Him with her life — to be prepared to sacrifice her own life — to do whatever it took to save her people — regardless of how impossible the odds were!
Esther had to make a very vital decision. Mordecai was very direct with Esther, basically telling her that if she does not obey the will of God in this situation, His will be done regardless of whether she chooses to obey Him or not.
In addition, Esther was presented with the consequence that, if she chose not to obey, the favor of God will be removed from her and she will perish along with her father’s house, which, includes Mordecai, the uncle who raised her. Either way, God was going to have His way. Here God was inviting her to partner with Him and letting her know that there are consequences tied to her decision regardless. It was a very clear cut decision that was set before her — either obey and trust God or disobey and suffer the consequences.
No doubt this was a test of faith for her. So many times when we reach a place where the Lord is leading us to make a risky decision, without knowing the outcome, this is where God gives us an opportunity to partner with Him in faith. He is giving us the opportunity to trust that He will lead us and give us the wisdom that we will need to overcome.
In Esther’s case, because she chose to obey the Lord’s instructions, He gave her His wisdom and strategies on how to approach the king, using her to reveal Haman’s plans to destroy her and her people:
5 Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the [a]house. 2 So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.
3 And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!”
4 So Esther answered, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
6 At the banquet of wine the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!”
7 Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and request is this: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and [b]fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” 9 - Esther 5:1-9 (NKJV)
It was before the next banquet that the king was made aware of Mordecai’s discovery of the plot that was set against him:
That night [a]the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written that Mordecai had told of [b]Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 Then the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” And the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”
4 So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
5 The king’s servants said to him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.”
And the king said, “Let him come in.”
6 So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?”
Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman answered the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal [c]crest placed on its head. 9 Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then [d]parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’ ”
10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.”
11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” - Esther 6:1-11 (NKJV)
The moment of truth came for Esther to take that leap of faith in the Lord and reveal her true identity before the king:
So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther. 2 And on the second day, at the banquet of wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!”
3 Then Queen Esther answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. 4 For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss.”
5 So King Ahasuerus answered and said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?”
6 And Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!”
So Haman was terrified before the king and queen. - Esther 7:1-6 (NKJV)
At this point, Haman was fearing for his life, pleading for his life to Queen Esther, while the king left the room and was processing the truth of what he had just learned about Esther and about Haman’s plans to assassinate his queen and her people:
7 Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. 8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” - Esther 7:7-8 (NKJV)
Then things grew even worse for Haman as his plans to hang Mordecai — the one who had exposed the plot against the king — were also exposed:
9 Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, “Look! The [a]gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.” - Esther 7:9 (NKJV)
By this point, the king was so enraged, after finding Haman on Esther on the couch, and then learning from the eunuch about his plot to hang Mordecai from the gallows he had prepared for him, that he sentenced him to death right then and there:
Then the king said, “Hang him on it!”
10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided. - Esther 7-10 (NKJV)
In summary, we learn that it was Mordecai’s faithfulness to God and Esther’s obedience to God that led to the enemy’s plans being exposed, the justice of the Lord being served and the people of God being saved — God made a way for them to be able to defend themselves and be vindicated!!
8 You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, [a]as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” 11 By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives—to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions, - Esther 8:8, 11 (NKJV)
It is all too easy to believe that what we do in this life is insignificant to God but nothing could be further from the Truth. God’s plans for us are perfectly designed for us to be at the right place, and at the right time because, while God will use us, His plans and ways are higher than our ways, even when we don't see them nor understand them.
God has created the big picture and He sees the end from the beginning! When we choose to obey Him, it can lead to something much greater than anything we could have every imagined possible!!
Obedience is better than sacrifice in the eyes of God!! Just look at Jesus’ perfect example:
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. - Philippians 2:8 (NKJV)
As Jesus was obedient unto God the Father, so we are called and expected to follow His example as His sons and daughters In Christ!!