ESTHER'S CHANGED HEART
by Sam Nadler
"Jobs, status, wealth and connections are not our
but mere opportunities to share the Messiah."
The story of
Esther is celebrated every year at the Feast of Purim. Traditionally, Esther
is seen as a hero for saving her people from extinction. But we need to be
edified by the text and not mere tradition, careful to observe how the
Scriptures portray her.
The Book of Esther is unique in the Bible in that the name of God is never
mentioned. Why? Perhaps those who will not identify with Godís call are not
identified with Godís name. The events in the book took place fifty years
after Cyrus permitted the Jewish people to return to Israel (2 Chronicles
36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). So the book of Esther is written about those Jews who
did not heed the call of God and return to the land of Israel. Esther and
Mordecai were among those who, out of convenience or preference decided to
remain in Persia and not return to the land of Israel. Neglecting Godís call
led to the downward spiritual spiral we see in Estherís life. Consider her
response to Mordecai when given the news that her people were to be
destroyed by official decree, and that she is their apparent hope:
|All the kingís servants and the people of
the kingís provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the
king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that
he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden
scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to
the king for these thirty days.
With her peopleís existence threatened, why did Esther
respond in such a selfish manner? As may be true for any of us, Esther was
concerned more for her own safety than the safety of her people.
From the beginning though, she was indifferent to Scriptural details. Since
Esther was Jewish, she would have kept dietary restrictions according to the
Law of Moses. However, the food that would have been provided in the Kingís
palace was definitely not kosher. When she was provided with food she did
not refuse (Esther 2:9). In the Babylonian captivity, Daniel was faced with
a similar situation, and remained faithful, refusing to eat food that would
have been sacrificed to idols (Daniel 1:8). The first step in moral failure
may seem small, even inconsequential, but it is not. Small hinges can open
Identified With A Sinful World
Esther did not make known her people or her kindred
(Esther 2:10). Though Moses, to his financial and political loss, chose to
identify ďwith the people of GodĒ and the faithfulness of God, Esther
thought otherwise (Hebrews 11:24-26). She accepted counsel to hide her
identity as a Jew, and therefore, her identification with the God of Israel.
Perhaps Esther reasoned, ďWhy raise these problems so early? I can always
tell the truth after I have the job.Ē Yet even after being chosen Queen she
still hid her identity (Esther 2:20). Her omission was not just the
practical matter of getting the job: It was sin.
To be chosen as queen, a young woman would be interviewed with the king at
night, and in the morning she would return to the
second harem (Esther 2:12). If you ever go to a job interview
where they tell you to visit the boss in the evening and leave in the
morning, donít take that job (1 Corinthians 6:18)! Joseph refused
fornication as a means to advance his career, but Esther submitted to the
immoral protocol of the day (Genesis 39:8).
Esther won the beauty contest and was taken to King
Ahasuerus and was made queen instead of Vashti (Esther 2:17). To
be ďunequally yokedĒ with a non-believer not only sins in the present, but
commits to a lack of testimony in the future (2 Corinthians 6:14). During
these five silent years, one can only imagine the many occasions for
idolatry to which Esther submitted herself for the sake of her queenly
career (Esther 2:16; 3:7). In contrast, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went
to the fires before submitting to idol worship (Daniel 3:17-18). Esther
accepted idol worship as a part of the state functions since it came with
the job. So what changed in her life? God permitted a Haman, a vicious
anti-Semite to shake up Estherís world. Mordecai exhorted her to intercede
with the king on behalf of her people, as Esther wanted no part of any plan
that would endanger her.
|Do not imagine that you in the kingís
palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent
at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from
another place and you and your fatherís house will perish. And who
knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?
~ Esther 4:13-14 ~
First, he challenged the false security of her perception:
Do not imagine that you in the kingís palace can
escape any more than all the Jews. Esther could not live in a
fantasy world where her cowardice would provide a means of escape. Mordecai
then challenged the false security of Estherís passivity:
If you remain silent at this time, deliverance will
arise for the Jews from another place and you and your fatherís house will
perish. Finally, Mordecai challenged the false security of
Estherís position: Who knows whether you have not
attained royalty for such a time as this?
Jobs, status, wealth and connections are not our security, but mere
opportunities to share the Messiah. Our only true security is in our saving
relationship with God. Estherís position turned out to be an opportunity
providentially given by God. And in the end, God made her into a real hero!
God is faithful to keep His people and will use any ordinary person. God
wants to use you today just as He used Esther long ago. Perhaps Mordecaiís
Purim challenge to Esther is Godís challenge to us as well. Do not keep
Sam Nadler is director of Word of Messiah Ministries in Charlotte, N.C. This
article is reprinted
with permission from Word of Messiah's Shmooze Letter of February 2011.
Many other fine articles and other
be found at Word of Messiah's website,
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