Have you ever asked yourself why you were born into the family you belong to, into the country you live in? Have you ever asked the question, ‘Why did you choose me Lord to be Your very own? Why out of all the people in this world rushing down the wide path to Hell, did You choose me?’
When I first presented this talk I asked this question; ‘Why are we gathered here today, ladies from different backgrounds, different experiences of life, meeting with those who, if we were not believers, we would normally never come across or befriend?” The answer is that we were gathered together in that place and at that time because God had ordained it from the beginning. In God’s agenda there is no such thing as coincidence, no such thing as happenstance. Make no mistake about it God intended for each one of to be present at that time and on that particular day. I think that is amazing.
Having said that however, nobody forced any of those ladies to be there, they chose to come, and there may have been ladies who were unable to be there for various reasons. Thank You Lord that we do have the freedom to choose. Life is all about choices, but sometimes it seems as if there is no choice and we are forced into things we don’t want to be a part of.
Think about Esther and the position she was forced into. Her freedom to choose was taken away. There is no way that she could ever have imagined the circumstances she suddenly found herself in.
“After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s servants who attended him said: ’Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.’ This thing pleased the king, and he did so.
In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamiite. Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And Mordecai had had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So it was when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women.
Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favour; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women.
Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it.
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.
Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women. Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace. In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go into the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name.
Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go into the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all who saw her. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favour 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 2:1-17)
The account you’ve just read hardly does justice to the sorrow and pain caused to all those young women rudely snatched away from their families and homes. All hopes of a future with a husband and family were denied them, albeit that most marriages would have been arranged. All of them, and it’s hard to imagine, would be used once and then relegated to the royal harem, rejected and ignored for the rest of their lives. Some, who knows how many, would have become pregnant as a result of their night with the king; at least they would have earned some prestige……if their child was a boy!
A life spent only with women and eunuchs. Can you imagine the bickering, the quarrels, the complaining? And Esther was one of them.
It seems, however, that she was held in high regard by those appointed to prepare her for her night with the king. I imagine her quietly and with dignity accepting her fate. It would seem that Esther was not only beautiful to behold but was beautiful inside too. She certainly won the king’s approval. We are told that Ahasuerus loved her, more than all the others. So she became his wife and queen, but still, it must be remembered, at the expense of her personal freedom and at the king’s beck and call. Not for her the excuse that she be left alone because she had a headache. He could use her or not as the fancy took him. The bible doesn’t tell us if she loved him. We just don’t know, but she did respect him.
Mordecai her cousin and guardian, who loved her and mourned her departure from their home, was able to get word to her of Haman’s plot to eradicate every Jew in the Persian empire. Thousands upon thousands of innocent people were destined to be murdered because of this sycophantic man, who had managed to wheedle his way into the king’s favour, and gained for himself the position of prime minister. He hated the Jews because he hated Mordecai the Jew. But there was more to than that simple fact. Haman was a type of antichrist in that he desired to do Satan’s work and wipe out the Jews so the Messiah could not come. He was descended from King Agag of the Amalekites whose life was spared by King Saul against God’s command and was then killed by Samuel. Saul was to have destroyed all the Amalekites and he did not. It would seem that children of King Agag survived and thus here we have Haman, one of his descendants, filled with bitterness and hatred towards the people who were responsible, as he saw it, for what had happened all those years before.
Samuel’s words to King Saul at the time say it all, ‘Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams, for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.’
Saul’s disobedience led to this horrible situation with Haman. Consider that if Haman’s plan had worked and all the Jews had been wiped out then the destiny of the world would have been vastly different, no Israel, no Messiah, a lost world. Every action has a consequence.
Esther, though she probably would never have realised it played a huge part in paving the way for the coming of Jesus. Mordecai pointed out to her that she was in her position, ‘for such a time as this!’ Esther ch 4
Her courage in coming into the presence of Ahasuerus the king, even though she was his wife and queen…..positions which actually held little status apart from the king’s permission, was huge. Even she had to be accepted and acknowledged by the king holding out his golden sceptre towards her. He hadn’t asked for her for thirty days.We don’t know why, but we do know that he could certainly call on other women to please him and possibly did. A man like him, indulged, fawned upon, having everything he wanted at a whim could certainly have rejected her as he had Vashti, the queen before Esther. No, there was no certainty that she would be accepted; but thankfully she was and her plan to expose Haman was successful. Remember she fasted and prayed for three days before she approached the king. She went prepared for whatever happened, to live or to die, for death was the penalty for anyone who came before the king without being acknowledged by him.
As a result of her actions the Jewish people were saved and the Feast of Purim is still celebrated by the Jews today in memory of Esther, Mordecai, Haman and Ahasuerus and how the lot, or pur, was cast to decide the fate of the Jews.Also because of Esther and Mordecai, who became the prime minister after Haman was executed, the way was paved for Ezra and Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and begin the building of the temple and the city.
Can you see how despite being put in a position which was anything but what Esther would have chosen for herself, she was used by God in a way that saved her people from the works of the evil one and ensured her memory forever. She didn’t look for it, she simply, ‘bloomed where she was planted’.
God’s plan is so much better than ours. If we are faithful then He will use us wherever we find ourselves, whatever our circumstances happen to be.
God’s richest blessings,
Next time, Facts, Faith and Feelings