“Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
This is the courageous testimony of Queen Esther as she prepared to risk her own life in order to save the lives of her people. It was a capital crime for anyone to intrude into the king’s throne room unbidden, but she was willing to do so in order to do the will of God, knowing that “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
In the same spirit, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to enter the fiery furnace rather than to worship the humanistic gods of Babylon, testifying to Nebuchadnezzar that “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king. . . . that we will not serve thy gods” (Daniel 3:17-18).
God did deliver Esther and the three Jewish youths, but there have been many through the ages who have died for their faith rather than deny their faith. All the apostles (save John) died as martyrs, for example, and so have countless others throughout the centuries. “They loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11), if it meant denying their Savior.
Believers in many nations are suffering such persecutions even today, and the time is coming when the last great God-rejecting king of the earth (called the “beast” in Scripture) will “cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Revelation 13:15). If a similar choice should ever confront us, may God give us the grace to say with Paul that “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Philippians 1:20), and with Esther: “If I perish, I perish.” HMM
For Such a Time as This: Life Lessons from the Book of Esther
The Book of Esther in Review
What a tremendous book we have just completed! Not only is it a great story with all the drama and elements that a novel would contain, but it contains great lessons about how we should be living, conducting ourselves on the job, facing opposition, facing success, and looking ahead confidently to the future. Most importantly, it is the best “textbook” of the Scriptures about the providence of God, and how He works in the perfect way and the perfect timing to accomplish His purposes.
We began in the winter capitol of the Persian Empire, Susa, where we also concluded the story.Pride, lust, alcoholism, and the pursuit of power and dominance marked the Empire’s ruler, Ahasuerus (Xerxes). Ahasuerus sought to gain support for his campaign against Greece and then onward into Europe. However, his foolish partying cost him his marriage, and although Queen Vashti lost her crown, she kept her dignity as she refused the king’s immoral drunken orders. God used this providentially however to begin arranging His chess pieces for what He planned to do.
When Ahasuerus attacked Greece, despite all odds being on his side, he was badly beaten and returned to Susa in shame and depression, missing the wife he had divorced. His advisors hooked onto this, and began a search for all the beautiful virgins of the land to be brought to the king so he could find a substitute for Vashti. These women were sadly taken from their homes to never return again, but to be the concubines of the king. Again God was working providentially in this, for this also allowed Esther to get into the place He had for her to make a dramatic impact for Him.She was selected by the king as Vashti’s replacement, and this would be vital in the long run.