When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
There’s a lot going on in Esther chapter 4 but the gist is that the Jews were scheduled to be “annihilated” because of one man’s (Haman’s) hatred of another (Mordecai).
When Mordecai hears about the decree to destroy his people he becomes filled with anguish and distress and comes up with a plan to have Esther (his niece and also the Queen) approach the King about the matter and, “to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.”
Esther informs him that “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives.”
Mordecai kindly lets Esther know that with or without her help the Jewish people will receive relief and deliverance, but that maybe she is in this position as Queen, “for such a time as this.”
Esther’s response is nothing short of inspiring, “if I perish, I perish.” Esther is all in. She decides that the cause is worth the risk. She decides to choose the hard thing. It would have been very easy for her to continue to hide her nationality…to decide that her life is safe…to not “stir the pot” or risk her life for a people she isn’t even sure she can save. (She is the Queen after all and her nationality isn’t known).
We can read ahead and see that her choice paid off for her, for Mordecai and for the Jewish people, but can you imagine the internal struggle she must have wrestled through? Absolute security and anything she wanted as Queen…or risk her life for her people, likely being put to death and her people perishing anyway??? Esther knew the right thing was the hard thing.
We face choices every single day. Some easy like, “should I have a cup of coffee?” (Yes, the answer is always yes to coffee!) Other choices, not so easy, like, “should I tell the truth when I know lying will get me what I want or out of trouble or that promotion or make me look good?”
Most of us will never be put in a position quite like Esther’s, but it doesn’t mean our choices are any less important. What’s more…if you are a believer you have God’s promises to hold fast to.
While Esther and Mordecai did believe in God’s promises, they lived in a time before Jesus. They lived in a time in Israel’s history in which God was quiet because of their continual moral compromise. In fact, God isn’t mentioned even once in the book of Esther (though his presence is evident). His perfect plan unfolded with the help of an imperfect person.
Living on this side of heaven, we inevitability face hard choices. We fight desires. We fight addictions. We fight the urge to cheat, lie, steal and/or take the easy way out. We face disappointing the people we love, we face the consequences of our actions and we face risking our character and/or identity in Christ through our choices (right or wrong).
So what’s it going to be for you today? Tomorrow? A year from now when you find yourself at a crossroad…one road going in the direction of the hard but right choice and one road going in the direction of the easy but morally/Biblically wrong choice? None of us know what we will ultimately choose when faced with the hard stuff but we can remember Esther. We can fast. We can pray. We can meditate on God’s promises for us and for His people. We can think about what waits for us at the end of the road we are thinking about traveling down.
My wise husband always says, “truth prevails.”
Turns out, it’s Biblical, too. Isaiah 56:1 says:
Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.
God is for us and God is with us. No matter the choice or the outcome of that choice, His perfect plan will prevail. Are you willing to take the risk? Are you willing to make the right choice when it’s also the hard choice? Decide now to become a person willing to say yes to what is right.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us the example of Esther. Fill us with the strength and courage to be able to make the right choice even when it is the hard choice. Help us fight the temptation to fall into sin when it seems so easy or when we want to put our human desires ahead of your will. Remind us always that truth prevails and your promises never ever fail. Amen.
Today’s post was written by Amanda Sanders.
Amanda has been married to her high school sweetheart, Matt, for 12 years. Together they have three kids ages 10, 8 and 5. In this season of life, Amanda spends most of her time drinking coffee, teaching children, doing laundry and repeating herself. Occasionally, she has some time for working out, reading for leisure and writing. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Kaley campus.