ESTHER'S CHANGED HEART

by Sam Nadler

"Jobs, status, wealth and connections are not our security,
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.

~ Esther 4:11 ~

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 big doors.

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 silent!

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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 features may
be found at Word of Messiah's website,
http://www.wordofmessiah.org.

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