Is it all just random?
Have you ever wondered if life is just a series of random events or if God really is at work in in your life? When you look at Esther’s remarkable story in the Bible, it is clear that God is very much at work in our lives!
Esther was a Jewish maiden who became queen of the massive Persian empire in about 483 BC, marrying King Xerxes and later saving her people from annihilation. King Xerxes had decided to choose a new queen after he and Queen Vashti had a big disagreement. Esther was among the hundreds of potential candidates for queen.
Years earlier, when her parents had died, Esther had been adopted by her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as his own daughter. When Esther was selected as a candidate for queen, Mordecai told Esther to keep her Jewish heritage a secret for the time being. They stayed in touch, with Mordecai visiting her daily in a courtyard near where she was prepping for her turn to appear before the king. When her day finally came to meet the king, Xerxes was smitten with her and immediately made her his new queen.
Sometime later, while hanging out near the king’s gates, Mordecai overheard an assassination plot against Xerxes by two of the his officers. Mordecai told Esther, who told Xerxes. The plot was investigated and the men responsible were executed. All this was recorded in the king’s annals, but at that time, Mordecai received no recognition for what he had done to save the king.
Not long after, King Xerxes elevated an evil man named Haman to be his right-hand man. Haman’s position would be the highest in the kingdom, other than the king’s of course. He was to be highly regarded and it was required that everyone bow to him when he entered the king’s gate. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. Esther 3:2
Why wouldn’t Mordecai bow to Haman? We know that Jews customarily bowed before their kings; but when Persians bowed before their kings and officials, they were honoring them not as men, but as divine beings. Mordecai would not give such honor to anyone other than the Lord, which leads us to our first lesson… Lesson #1 - There may be many who deserve our respect, but there is only One who deserves our worship.
I don’t want to comment too much here other than to say that we should be very careful in choosing who or what we bow down to or bend a knee to. The truth is that only our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ deserves our worship and adoration.
Haman was livid that Mordecai would not bow to him; so much that he convinced the king to write an edict calling for the Jewish people to be destroyed. (Esther 3:8-9). When the news reached Mordecai, he immediately sent word to Esther to please go to the king and beg for him to change his mind. But Esther was afraid to go, knowing that anyone who went into the king’s presence without being summoned would be executed!
Here is our second lesson… Lesson #2 - We can respond to fear with courage, fully trusting God or with self-preservation.
What is your natural response when you are afraid? Yours is probably just like mine… to run, cower or hide out! When we are afraid, we are in “self-preservation” mode. So to react courageously, we must respond to fear intentionally… that is fully trusting God!
Have you ever faced a situation where you were afraid to take a stand for Christ’s sake because you feared being ostracized or ridiculed? We all face those “fear crossroads” in our lives where we have a choice to make… go the way of self-preservation or go the way of courage, fully trusting the Lord. Which way will you turn at that crossroads?
Esther had a choice to make, risky as it was. Mordecai challenged her with some powerful words that helped her understand why God had put her in a very unique position. “…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:12-14
Lesson #3 - God often positions us strategically in His sovereignty to make an impression and leave a mark for Him!
Mordecai was clear that God’s will would be accomplished, with or without Esther’s help; but he wanted her to consider that she wasn’t in this position in her life by accident. God had been at work over a long period of time, making sure that Esther was strategically positioned, not accidentally, but providentially, for a purpose… to save her people!
And God is at work in your life too, carefully positioning you, not accidentally, but providentially to be used by Him to make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ. I want to challenge you to open your eyes to how God might be at work around you, putting people in your path for a purpose… maybe even to have a life-changing faith conversation or, at the very least, to invite them to join you for worship at church!
When Mordecai challenged Esther, she was committed to take the courageous option; but she was smart enough to know she needed help, so she asked those close to her to pray for her, then she would go talk to the king.
Lesson #4 - It is encouraging and necessary to invite others to pray with us when we are facing a major life challenge! That is one of the wonderful perks of being a part of a church family… having people lift you up in prayer. At Watermark, that happens best in our life group setting. Esther knew she needed prayer to take the courageous, risky choice… and you and I do too!
The rest of this story is remarkable! For much more, you can read Esther in your Bible and can click here to listen to:Heroes - Part 11 - Esther - The Fearless Empress.