Convincing Esther to Intervene
Text: Esther 4
Understanding What You Read
- Why didn’t Mordecai go directly to Esther or the king about Haman’s decree?
- Do a word study and see if you find out why sackcloth and ashes were used at times of great agony (Genesis 18:27; II Samuel 13:19; Job 42:6; Isaiah 58:5; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:6).
- Since Mordecai could not come to Esther, who did Esther send to Mordecai?
- What information was sent back to Esther?
- Why was Esther reluctant to go before the king?
- What did Mordecai predict would happen if Esther remained silent?
- How could Esther’s father’s house be destroyed if Esther is an orphan?
- Why did Mordecai think that Esther became the queen?
- What did Esther ask to be done for three days prior to her approaching the king?
When Mordecai found out what Haman had done, he went into mourning by tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth and ashes, and when about wailing. There was a rule that no one was allowed to enter the palace while wearing sackcloth, so Mordecai remained outside the king’s gate. Yet, the fact that he mourned by the king’s gate indicates that he was hoping to attract someone’s attention in the palace. He wasn’t the only one to mourn. In every providence, the Jews went into mourning on hearing the decree.
Esther’s servants told her what Mordecai was doing. She even sent out clothes so Mordecai could come in and talk to her, but Mordecai refused.
Finally, she sent out Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs to find out what was going on. Through Hathach, Mordecai told Esther of the plot and the money Haman paid to gain the king’s favor. He also sent back a copy of the decree, which she would not have seen inside the palace. Mordecai insisted that she ask the king to stop it.
But Esther was hesitant because she hadn’t seen the king in a month. If she went to the king while out of favor, she could be put to death if he chooses not to acknowledge her presence. This was probably was due to prevent assassinations, which was a problem in Ahasuerus’ reign (Esther 2:21-23). Assassins are not likely to schedule appointments. It isn’t that Esther is telling Mordecai no, but that she is indicating that the timing is not right for her approaching the king.
Mordecai’s reply becomes the key passage to the book of Esther. It is the only time Mordecai’s direct words are recorded in the Book of Esther. Just because Esther is queen, she should not think that this decree would not affect her. She is the last of her father’s children. With her death, her father’s lineage would come to an end. Mordecai is certain that God would rescue His people. There are promises that God has made which have not yet been fulfilled, such as coming of the Messiah, that requires the Israelites to continue to exist. Even if Esther doesn’t help rescue the Jews (James 4:17), God would still find a way to rescue His people but Esther and her lineage would not survive. Besides, who knows if the reason Esther had become queen was that God put her there to stop this very thing from happening, much like Joseph (Genesis 50:19-20).
This shows the nature of God’s providential care. God is clearly involved and watching over His people. Yet, we can’t see what God is doing or know what God is planning (Ecclesiastes 11:5). We can only do the best that we know at the moment and trust that God will handle the rest.
Esther 4:13-14 is also evidence against predestination. While God does plan far in advance, notice that what ultimately happens to Esther is dependant on her personal choice. God’s plans will succeed, but whether Esther survives is up to her.
Convinced, Esther calls for fasting (and by implication, prayers) for three days before she attempts approaching the king. She is not certain she will survive her meeting with the king, but at least she knows she will have tried. Her acceptance is much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Daniel 3:16-18).
Mordecai did as Esther commanded; that is, he assembled the Jews in the city and ordered a three day fast, which probably included supplication to God.