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Esther - Chapter 4
Jewish Alarm, Verses 1-9
The catastrophic nature of Haman’s decree against the Jews was not lost on Mordecai. He knew his people were in very grave peril, for there was no way the law of the Medes and Persians could be retracted. His behavior was doubtless representative of the feeling of all the Jews, for wherever the decree was published the Jews went into deep mourning, with fasting, weeping, and loud wailing. The whole country must have been painfully aware of the Jews’ distress. Yet their enemies were of such number as to carry out such a decree when the day came.
Mordecai himself tore his clothing and dressed in sackcloth with ashes on him. He went out over the city, a spectacle to all of the Jews’ bitterness, and cried bitterly and loudly. Forbidden by his sackcloth from coming into the king’s gate, he nevertheless passed back and forth before it not escaping the attention of Esther’s maids and chamberlains. They told her of the distressing conduct of her foster father. She was, in turn, also distressed for him, and sent him fresh clothing and requesting the removal of his sackcloth, but he refused her offer.
Esther then realized she must contact Mordecai and find the reason for his anguish. She summoned one of her chamberlains, Hatach, and sent him to find out the what and why of his mourning. Mordecai told Hatach the whole story of the decree against the Jews and of the huge sum of money Haman had promised to gain for the king’s treasuries by their destruction. He gave Hatach a copy of the decree with command to carry it to Esther and to explain its content to her. He should then charge her, from Mordecai, to go in to king Ahasuerus and make supplication to him on behalf of the Jews. This Hatach proceeded to do.
Appeal to Esther. Verses 10-17
Esther answered Mordecai’s entreaty with hesitation, sending it back by Hatach. She reminded him that it was a well-known law of the king that no one should come before him unless he had been bidden by the king himself. Any who violated that ban would be put to death, with the possible exception that the king might grant him mercy by extending to the intruder his golden sceptre. While Mordecai may have thought Esther had ready access to the king she had actually not been called by him for thirty days. If she should presume herself to his attention she might well forfeit her life.
Mordecai thought the risk worth the effort. He admonished Esther that she was also under the wicked decree of Marian and the king. While they were not aware of her nationality it would doubtless be learned, and
when Haman had acquired the power an extinction of the Jews would gain him he would not hesitate to have the queen killed also. There could be no doubt his ultimate aim was supreme power in Persia. If the Jews were not saved through the intercession of Esther, God would preserve them in some other place and manner, but all those of Shushan, including the house of Esther’s father would surely be destroyed.
Mordecai ended his plea to Esther with words that are the best known passage in the Book of Esther., "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Likely both had often wondered about God’s purpose in allowing her to be chosen queen for the pagan king’s harem. If her choice was the culmination of Mordecai’s ambitious hopes, as some claim, he could see now how useful she would be in her place in behalf of the Jews. If he had agonized over her fate, as seems more likely, he could understand better why the Lord permitted her to be chosen. Her position was similar to that of Joseph, sold into Egypt by his brothers, and spending two more years in prison, after seeking the aid of the butler whose dream he had interpreted (Ge, chapters 37, 39ft). God’s children need to understand that He has a reason for every condition in which they find themselves (Philippians 4:11).
So Esther resigned herself to make the attempt on behalf of the Jews. She sent one more message to Mordecai, reminding him again of the awful risk she was undertaking. For this he was to gather the Jews of Shushan for a three day fast on her behalf. During this time they would neither eat nor drink, night or day. No doubt they were to be reminded their fate depended on her success, and they should pray for her to the Lord. She promised, after the three days, to go in to the king contrary to the law, saying, "If I perish, I perish." Mordecai was pleased with this answer and went into the city to gather people for the fast.
It seems when one is totally resigned to the Lord’s will all things work out for the best of the one resigned. Examples are to be found in Jacob’s surrender to allow Benjamin to go into Egypt (Genesis 43:14); the father of the epileptic boy (Mark 9:20-24).
Lessons from chapter four. 1) those without God’s help are in woeful and bitter state; 2) the flesh is fearful before the challenges of the spirit; 3) willful ambition knows no bounds except God’s limitation; 4) contentment is a great lesson to be learned by all the saved; 5) prayer to God is in order before any great undertaking.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Esther 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany