Read Esther 4 -- 7
In Today's Reading:
Fasting among the Jews; Esther's banquet for Haman and the king; Haman forced to honor Mordecai; Haman executed.
Verses for Today:
(Esther said) Go, gather together all the Jews . . . and fast ye for me . . . 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 (4:16). After three days of fasting, Queen Esther walked into the inner court of the king's house (5:1)
About five years after Esther became queen, Haman was promoted above all the princes (Esther 2:16-17; 3:1-7). Haman became infuriated when Mordecai, a Jew, refused to bow down in reverence (3:2) to him, but remained faithful to God. So Haman planned to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews in the kingdom. Haman's plan was declared law. With the king's approval they cast lots called "pur" to determine the best day to execute all Jews (3:7-13). No one knew that Esther was a Jew because Mordecai had forbidden her to reveal her nationality.
When Mordecai perceived all that was done, [he] rent (tore) his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry (4:1). Rent clothes, sackcloth, ashes and loud wailing were customary acts of great sorrow among the Jews.
Although a decree made by a Persian king could never be repealed, Mordecai urged Esther that she should go in unto the king . . . to make request . . . for her people (4:8). Esther was fearful and reminded him that Persian law stated anyone who approached the king uninvited could be put to death. The risk was real, for she had not been called to come in unto the king (for) thirty days (4:11).
Esther could have reasoned: "If the king has lost interest in me, how could I favorably influence him?" But Esther believed that the risk of losing her prestigious position, as queen Vashti had done, or even losing her own life, was not as important as saving the lives of all Jews under Persian rule.
Esther stood before the king, waiting to see if she would face life or death. After the king offered to grant her request, Esther answered, If it seem good [to] the king, let the king and Haman come this day [to] the banquet that I have prepared for him (5:4).
The king accepted her invitation and, at the banquet [he offered her up to] half of the kingdom (5:6). But, saving her people meant far more to her than half of the kingdom. Esther invited the king and Haman to a second banquet.
At the second banquet, the king again asked Esther what her request might be. He was shocked to hear her pleading for her own life: If I have found favor in [your] sight, O king . . . let my life be given me . . . and my people . . . For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed. . . . The . . . enemy is this wicked Haman (7:3-6). After a brief time, the king said, Hang him. . . . So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai (7:9-10).
Esther is an encouragement to all of us to use whatever talents, popularity, or wealth we have been blessed with to tell a lost world that our King gave His life to save them from eternal hell. Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel's, the same shall save it (Mark 8:35).
By Esther, whose death was demanded by others although she was innocent. She went before the king's court willing to die for her people (Esther 3:6-14; 4:16). Jesus also was innocent and His death was demanded by others (Mark 15:13-14). He was taken before rulers, willing to die for His people and did die for them and for all mankind (Luke 23:8; John 10:18).
4:1 rent = tore, as an act of grief and mourning; 6:13 be of the seed of the Jews = is of Jewish origin; 7:4 countervail = justify, compensate, or make up for; 7:5 that durst = who dares to.
Government Officials: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY) and Del. Eleanor Norton (DC) · Pray for your Church · Country: Iran (65 million) in southwestern Asia · Major languages: Farsi and Turki · Hostile to all Christian activity · 98% Muslim; .4% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Pray for those who have hurt you (Matthew 5:44).
Optional Reading: Galatians 2
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 3:16