By Lisa Ross, Crosswalk.com
The Bible book of Esther is a dramatic account which can give us insight into God’s special and purposeful plan for our lives. The story gives us six powerful lessons about courage, divine timing and God’s supreme love.
Story of Esther in the Bible
As scripture reveals, Esther is a Jewish woman living in Persia and reared by her cousin Mordecai. She was taken to the King of the Persian Empire to become a part of his harem—but because there was something special about Esther, he made her queen. Mordecai, however, didn’t tell the king about a major detail—Esther’s Jewish heritage.
I imagine Esther as a drop-dead gorgeous woman with flawless olive skin and a tantalizing personality. She charmed King Xerxes so much that after deposing his prior queen, he could have chosen any woman he wanted—but he chose Esther.
Of course there is a scoundrel in the story, too. Haman is a vengeful and egotistical advisor to the king. He hated Mordecai for refusing to bow down to him, so he plotted to destroy the Jewish people. Haman told the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them” (Esther 3:8 NIV). The king gave him authority to handle the fate of the Jewish people. In return, Haman announced a government-issued edict of genocide.
What could the queen do for her people? The king had not requested her presence in a month. Did his affection for her wane? Was she a powerless sex partner? Of all the Jews, only Esther had access to the king. Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people reminding her of her unique place in history and that silence is not an option. In one of the most poetic Biblical passages, Mordecai speaks of God’s purposeful timing: “Who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NIV). In other words, Mordecai lets Esther know that even her outer beauty was for a reason and would not go to waste!
Esther knew, of course, that going to the king unsolicited could be her death sentence. Anyone who came into the king’s presence without being summoned could be executed. So what does she do? Before making a life or death decision, she calls for the Jewish people to join her on a 3-day fast. Following the fast she put on her best royal robes, approached the king, and told him of Haman's plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, Haman was hanged on the same gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai, and Esther received Haman’s estate. This dramatic unfolding of events moves like a novel and played like a great chess game with several life lessons. Here are six lessons from the book of Esther that we can each apply to our living.
Lesson #1: God has a plan for our lives
Mordecai nailed it when he said, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the royal palace for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14 NIV). God loved the Jewish people. And, he didn’t create Esther’s beauty and finesse for her and her alone. Esther was placed in a royal position to assist in the delivery of God’s divine plan.
Lesson #2: We are given divine moments to alter circumstances
As believers, there are no such things as accidents or coincidences. God’s timing is providential. Esther’s divine moment of providence came by accepting her responsibility to go to the king. However, Mordecai was clear when he said to Esther that she could be the one who saved the people, or not. God will use you only if you’re ready—or he will find someone else.
Lesson #3: We must stand with courage
“I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16 NIV). Esther was willing to die to save her people. Sometimes we must stand in courage, even when it is not popular to do so, and risk it all.
Lesson #4: Fasting and prayer brings clarity and hope for deliverance
God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther even once. But Esther was clear that in this particular situation, a heavenly response was needed for an earthly situation. Esther needed direction. When we need God’s grace, fasting and prayer opens the portals for spiritual growth, removes distractions and places us on a path to humility.
Lesson #5: God demands obedience
Esther’s obedience saved God’s people from genocide. The reality is that Esther didn’t know what would happen when she approached the king. She acted in obedience and by doing so she saved a nation and received the best. We don’t get a pass on this one.
Lesson #6: God uses everything and everybody for his divine purpose
No part of our lives is untouched. God is in control of every aspect, whether we want him to be or not, and there is nothing that is not subject to him (Hebrews 2:8 NIV). And, the best thing we can do for our lives is to search for and surrender to his will.
Lisa Brown Ross is an author and award-winning writer. Her career spans radio and television reporting, public relations and public affairs consulting, motivational speaking and leadership development. She is a wife, mother, prayer warrior, poet and “Chief Inspiration Officer” for LisaRossInspiration.com. She serves as President of the LJR Group, Inc. a public relations and crisis communications firm located in Irving, Texas.