Please read chapters 3 and 4 of Esther.
Yesterday we read that the king loved Esther above all the others and crowned her queen. The king gave a large feast and gave gifts to many.
It was during this time that Mordecai sat at the city gate. He heard two chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, who were angry and were looking to harm the king. Mordecai got word to Esther, who let the king know, and the two were put to death. The king knew that Mordecai was the one who saved his life.
Sometime after, Haman was promoted to a high position in the kingdom. A decree was given that everyone would bow to Haman because of his position, and everyone followed it. That is, everyone except Mordecai. It came to Haman's attention that he would not bow, and the fact that Mordecai was a Jew.
Position sometimes inflates the ego, or in a phrase from back in the day (and yes, I'm probably dating myself with this) Haman got the big head. He wasn't about to let this pass. No way. Haman went to the king and told him that there was a group of people in the kingdom that don't follow the king's commands. They are different from everyone else. It's not good for the king to let these people live. I'll pay ten thousand talents of silver to the kings treasuries if you'll let me kill them.
King Ahasuerus thought this was a good idea, and a decree was sent out. On a certain day, all Jews, young and old, male and female, would die. This sent everyone into mourning, including Mordecai. He ripped his clothes and dressed in sackcloth and ashes and set himself up at the city gate, wailing and crying.
Word of Mordecai's mourning came to Esther. She sent clothes to him and asked that he remove the sackcloth and ashes, because no one was allowed inside the gate unless properly dressed. Mordecai refused the clothing. He sent word to Esther news of the decree and asked that she intercede to the king.
It had been a few years since she had be crowned queen, and she still had not revealed her heritage. Because of all the favors she had garnered, she was probably fairly well settled in her lifestyle. Or maybe she was just hesitant to risk the wrath of the king. No one, not even the queen was allowed in the court without a summons from the king. If you did show up unannounced, you were most certainly put to death unless the king held out his scepter to you. Esther reminded Mordecai of this fact.
Cousin Mordecai sent back word: Don't think that just because you now live at the palace as queen that you will be spared once it's known that you too are a Jew. Don't be selfish. What if this is the very reason you became queen, so that you could prevent this slaughter?
Esther's words to Mordecai show her true strength of character. Tell everyone to pray for me, and to fast, night and day, for three days. Don't eat or drink anything. My maids and I will do the same thing. Then I will go see the king. If I perish, then I perish.
That's a pretty heavy responsibility, knowing that the lives of so many people rest on your shoulders. But Esther, though hesitant at first, is willing to try and save her people. She knows that prayer and fasting will give her strength. She's trusting God to see her through this. I think that's one of the reasons why I like the book of Esther so much. She shows such strength even though her first thought is to shy away from trying.
I love hearing your thoughts on this.