image credit: utmost.org
When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. (Esther 3:5-6)
The Book of Esther tells the amazing story of the Jewish wife of King Xerxes during Israel’s exile under the first Persian Empire (modern-day Iran). Esther used her high position to do the right thing at the right time, and in doing so, she saved her people from destruction and found divine favor in the midst of significant hardship and uncertainty.
God is never mentioned in Esther, but His presence is evident throughout the book. Esther grew up under the care of her cousin, Mordecai, who took her in as his own daughter because her parents were dead. Esther was an ordinary girl whom the king favored and wed for her exceptional beauty. During that time, Haman, a eunuch, devised a plan to kill all the Jews because Mordecai refused to bow down to him. What he did not realize was that his queen was also a Jew and Mordecai’s cousin. Because of Esther’s fearless intervention, God thwarted Haman’s plan and he was eventually executed by order of the king.
From Esther’s story we learn that when we live in obedience to God, He will endow us with divine favor, and we will have influence among people.
Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. (Esther 2:17)
Esther was a very attractive woman; she found favor above any of the other virgins.
As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.” (Esther 5:6-8)
Because of her character, the king offered Queen Esther anything she wanted, as much as half of his kingdom.
Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.” (Esther 7:3)
In fear, Esther could have selfishly preserved her own life, but she used her position to save the lives of her people by risking her life to go before the king. At that time, the law stated that if you entered the king’s presence without being summoned, and if he refused to acknowledge your presence, you would be put to death. This even applied to the queen, but such was the risk Esther took in order to fulfill her greater purpose.
We can learn four lessons from Esther:
- Favor comes when you live according to God’s perspective.
We must base our lives on a fundamental belief in God’s providence. Know that nothing happens by chance, and all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). When you live in righteousness and holiness according to God’s will, the Bible says that He will order your steps (see Psalm 37:23).
- Favor comes when people pray and prepare themselves.
We must learn to pray specifically. Before she went before the king, Esther instructed the Jews to pray and fast with her for three days in preparation for the work of the Lord. The greater the difficulty, the greater the miracle. All we need is one glimpse of God’s glory. Esther embraced great difficulty, and so she became a vessel of God’s divine deliverance.
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. (Esther 4:15-17)
- Favor comes to those who act in faith.
Difficult actions require boldness, and we need to activate our faith in God by taking action instead of remaining silent. When you are silent, the world will ignore you, and you will make no lasting impact. Esther was bold in the face of death, and God greatly rewarded her faith, not only she saving her life, but the life of every Jewish person in the land.
- Favor comes to those who act favourably.
We must position ourselves in the face of adversity, aligning our behaviour with God’s will in the situation at hand. Here are some tips for accomplishing this:
Consult people whom you consider more spiritually mature than you, such as a pastor or elder in the Church.
Dress appropriately, for people’s perceptions about you are impacted by your attire. In your choice of clothing, always be respectful of others and mindful of your environment.
Speak well. Learn the art of speaking with the right words, remembering that your tongue holds the power of life and death. If necessary, learn to speak more languages so that you can better communicate with the people around you.
Out of respect for others, follow protocol if protocol is in place. Be mindful of your mannerisms, and have the right posture in your situations.
There is a time for everything.
When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. (Proverbs 23:1-5)
The following scriptures illustrate the diplomatic manner in which Esther approached the king to make her request. Notice how she turned the tables on her enemy by using the right words at the right time, along with her high position, graceful disposition and pleasant personality.
So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Impale him on it!” So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided. (Esther 7:1-10)
… as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. (Esther 9:22)
When you follow the instruction of God’s Word, He will turn your situation around as He did for Esther.