Esther 4 (NRSV)
Esther Agrees to Help the Jews
When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; 2he went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.
From here we learn that one should ought not enter the synagogue or study hall (“the King’s gate”) with a sad face (“wearing sackcloth”). Thus it is written (in 1 Chronicles 16:27): “Strength and joy are in His presence.”
–Rabbi Eretz Hachaim
3In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4When Esther’s maids and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. 5Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why.
6Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, 7and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.
9Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 11“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.”
Much has been made of Esther’s hesitation, with various commentators calling her cowardly or selfish. Please! Give her more credit! Considering what happened to Vashti when she did something Ahasuerus didn’t like, it seems reasonable, at the very least, for Esther to pause to think before acting here.
12When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”
Each of us is placed in a unique setting, with a specific sphere of influence, “for such a time as this.” Are we speaking the truth and doing the right things, as unto the Lord? Are we kind in word and deed with our family members? Do we appreciate the kindnesses done by others for us by expressing our gratitude or leaving a good tip? Do we regularly say “Please” and “Thank you” and “I love you”? These are simple yet concrete ways in which we can share the love of God with our world in “this” time.
15Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do.
THE OPPOSITE OF A PARTY!
Three days with nothing to eat or drink, for Esther and Mordecai and the Jews of the city. The name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, nor is prayer — but I think we can safely assume that these people were fasting and praying to the Lord!
Joel 2:12 (NLT)
That is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”
After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”
Romans 14:8 (English Standard Version)
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
–missionary Jim Elliott
“I am only one. But still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
–Edward Everett Hale, US author and clergyman (1822-1909)
17Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
HERE is “For Such a Time as This” (from Esther 4:14), written and performed by Janet Roller (Miss South Carolina 1997).
Quiet my soul
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.