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Esther 3:2, 56; 4:5, 816comment (0)

February 8, 2007

By John A. Nixon

Related Scripture: Esther 3:2, 56; 4:5, 816

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

When Service is Risky
Esther 3:2, 5–6; 4:5, 8–16

A common but false assumption among Christians is that God’s primary function in the world is to protect, preserve and prosper His people.

We often tend to focus on Scriptures that affirm God’s love and care for His people assuming that God would not lead us to serve Him in ways that would make us uncomfortable, much less in ways that involve potential danger.

This approach to the Scriptures, however, blurs how God works through His people despite harsh circumstances and dangerous situations.

Over and over again in the Bible, God calls His people to serve Him at great personal risk. The lesson is clear: we are to put our trust in the Lord whatever the circumstance.

Haman’s Plot Against God’s People (3:2, 5–6)
The text describes Haman as “an Agagite” (3:10), a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag (1 Sam. 15:8).

The Amalekites were ancient enemies of God’s people. They had consistently opposed Israel, and God had commanded that they be destroyed (1 Sam. 15:2–3). Saul, however, failed to obey the Lord. As a result, the Lord rejected Saul as king over Israel and Samuel executed Agag (1 Sam. 15:33).

The text does not explicitly state why Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman. The writer, however, may give a clue in verse 8, where he describes Haman’s accusation against the Jews.

Thus Mordecai’s refusal seems to come from a desire to be obedient to the law of the Lord, as well as from his zeal for the Lord’s name as he refuses to honor one of the ancient enemies of God’s people.

Haman responded to Mordecai’s actions with rage and resolves to kill not only Mordecai but also all of his people, the Jews.

The Situation Unfolds (4:5, 8–9)
When Mordecai learned about Haman’s plans, he was overwhelmed with grief and horror.

Mordecai “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, went into the middle of the city, and cried loudly and bitterly” (4:1). His reaction was echoed throughout every province as the Jewish people responded to the news of the king’s command (4:3).

When Esther learned of Mordecai’s mourning, she took steps to learn what lay behind it.

Mordecai fully informed her of Haman’s plot and urged her to plead with the king on behalf of the Jewish people.

Esther Agrees to Intercede (4:10–16)
The writer describes the great risk that Esther takes in approaching the king uninvited (10–11). Moreover we have already seen the king get rid of a wife for disobedience (Esther 1).

Now Esther must disobey the king in order to save her people.

Mordecai’s words to Esther are important, “If you keep silent at this time, liber­ation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place” (14).

Although the story never mentions God, we see in these words Mordecai’s confidence in God’s providential care for His people.

We also see how God works through His people to accomplish His plans. In this story, Esther has the opportunity to become a part of God’s plan to save His people. God’s plan, however, is not determined by Esther’s decision.

Even if she did not go before the king, Mordecai was confident that God would save His people from Haman’s evil plan. Esther, however, chose to risk her life and went before the king.

In so doing, she became a part of God’s plan for His people.

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