Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The Making of A Queen
As a child, I loved to hear the stories of the heroes and heroines of the Bible. I would lose myself in their exploits and was awed by the way God would always intervene on their behalf. While my favorite heroes were Moses, Samson, and David, there was only one who remained my heroine---Esther.
I first heard the story of Esther in my Sunday School class at the age of nine. My teacher told her story as part of the lesson but it was Mother who later brought the story to life. She not only read me the scriptural account, but explained Esther's significant role in God's plan for delivering His people from certain death. I was captivated by the way a young Jewish girl, not much older than myself, played such an unbelievable role in Biblical history. I read and reread the story, sometimes putting myself in the place of the young queen and trying to imagine what it would be like to stand in the presence of the King. It was, and still is, a magnificent story.
Esther was orphaned as a child and left to be raised by her cousin, Mordecai. That within itself would grab my heart. As much as I love, and am loved, by my mother and father, my young heart could not imagine how awful it would be to not have parental love. I remember telling my mother how sad Esther must have felt without her mother and father. But how much Mordecai must have loved her to step in and accept her as his own child--to provide her with love and caring. Mordecai, as the story unfolds, was quite a man.
When Queen Vashti was exiled from the palace for failing to appear before the King, Esther became one of many young girls summoned to the King's court. What remained unknown was Esther's heritage--her lineage. Mordecai had urged her not to reveal this to anyone and, so, she remained silent--for the time being. How difficult this all must have been for Esther. Having lost her mother and father and, now, to be separated from the one who had raised her and sheltered her under his care. How her heart must have cried out within her--how lonely she must have felt for the strong arms of Mordecai, her foster father.
And, what about Mordecai? The scriptures teach us that he walked past the court of the house where she was placed everyday. How he must have yearned for just a glimpse of the young girl he now looked upon as his daughter. I am sure he prayed every day for her safety. I am certain he asked for the watchcare of the God he served to be upon her. What an awful experience--to have the only child you have ever known to be taken from you--even if it was to go to the King's house. No matter where Esther was taken, Mordecai's heart would still have yearned for her return. What a true father he became!
When the time came for Esther to appear before the King, the scripture states that
the King loved Esther above all the young women who passed before him, "...so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.". Still, Esther had not revealed that she was a Jew. Her time for that had not yet come. I wonder how she felt when the crown was placed on her head? Did she know that she was about to be used of God to save her entire race? Did she know that she was a key player in the plan of God? I wonder.
Next in the story comes the evil Haman--a Bible-day Hitler, whose idea to destroy the Jews stems from his hatred of Mordecai. Hatred that springs from Mordecai's refusal to bow to anyone other than the God of Israel. The same hatred that runs rampant in the world today and seeks to destroy every effort put forth for the Kingdom of God. But, God intervened in the least expected way. Haman had convinced the King to issue a decree to kill all the Jews in the kingdom. This would have caused the death of Mordecai and the death of the new Queen as well. God, however, was not done with the young Queen. Isn't that just like our precious God? Though we view our adversity with a human perspective, God only sees His marvelous plan for our lives being fulfilled one event at a time.
Mordecai, grieved because of the decree of death to his people, appears outside the King's court in sackcloth and ashes. Esther sees him in this condition and sends a servant to inquire of the reason for his behaviour. He sends the servant back with a copy of the decree and the following words: "...think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the King's house,more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether hold thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?". In other words, Esther had the responsibilty to go before the King and beg for the lives of her people.
What an awesome request of the young Queen. Could you and I have the strength to stand in the face of what could be certain death so that God's people and His work could be preserved? I pray that I would have such strength should I be put to such a test. Oh, how I want to stand strong for the Lord! How I want my life to be an example of what God can do in the yielding of word and deed into His hand. I want to leave behind a life that would inspire others to love and trust my Beloved Saviour!
When I got to the last words of Esther, before she goes in to see the King, my soul was stirred and I waited to know what would happen to Esther. To go in to see the King uninvited was a risk, but, if he held out the golden sceptor, it was safe to come before him with one's petition. Knowing this Esther decided to go before the King and, in her words, "...if I perish, I perish.". What courage in one so young. That captivated my young heart and still does.
So, Esther comes before the King, he holds out his golden sceptor, and she comes into his presence. Esther had received the Queen's crown many days before this appearance, but she became a true Queen when she took the first step towards the King. With that step, Esther became a Queen of renown, a young woman who became the vessel of deliverance for an entire race, a young woman who would risk all for the God she served--the God she loved--the God she believed.
As I read this story now, I find myself still awed by the hand of God in the affairs of man. How He comes into our desperation and, through people and events, moves us into His will. I once made the statement to a dear friend, "I go kicking and screaming into the will of God, but He makes sure I go.". Esther reminds me that it is not popular to stand for what is right, but it is worth it. We may not be the world's most eloquent, or the most beautiful, or have the opportunity to impress a King. But, we can still be used by the King of Kings. We may not be in the limelight, but we can remain in the Lamb's light. My human nature prays to never be put to the test of life and death for the cause of Christ. My human side fears being placed in a position where I must stand or die. But, oh, my spirit says that God will be with me and that He will hold me up when I feel I will fall.
God, help us take the steps towards your will that will make us true children of the King. May we all remember that if we don't stand for something, we will fall for anything. Who knows whether we are brought to the cross of Christ for such a time as this?