Submission and Obedience
Spirit Warfare

October 28, 2004

Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare, Part 5

Preparation for a Pageant - Esther 2:7, 10, 20

Serena and Venus Williams did not become tennis stars overnight. Their training began when they were young girls under the supervision and tutelage of their father. Wimbledon was their goal long before they reached it, and they prepared with winning in mind.

In a similar manner, the story of Esther the queen begins with a little Jewish girl named Hadassah. When her parents died, she was adopted by her older cousin, Mordecai, to be his own daughter, and he raised her with her future in mind.

We learn much about how Hadassah was raised from verse 20:"...for Esther did what Mordecai told her as she had done when under his care." In other words, as a child growing up, Hadassah learned to be obedient. It is implied that Mordecai made clear what he meant and was consistent and reasonable in his expectations. Because Hadassah then had no reason to question his authority, she knew obedience pleased him, maintaining peaceful agreement between them.

Mordecai taught her to submit to him as her father. Though the Bible doesn't say so, Hadassah must have learned to be submissive and obedient to God, as a result. Children need to be compliant to their parents to learn how to properly fear and worship God.

Surely Hadassah had temptations to overcome. We don't know how old she was when her parents died, but if she was aware of the events at all, she had a deep grief from her loss...or she might have felt sorry for herself. According to testimonies of people who were adopted, they have often felt like second-class citizens among siblings who were their parents' natural children. Surely Hadassah was tempted to become bitter or tied up in grief or self-centeredness, but she overcame them with Mordecai's help and discipline. And, as she allowed Mordecai to direct and mold her life, submission and obedience became her attitude, her way of life and thinking. It became her character.

We know that Mordecai was an attentive father from reading verse 11: "Every day Mordecai walked back and forth in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and how she fared." It's true we're getting ahead of the story by introducing this verse, but it shows the man's love and concern for his daughter, who by this time was a young woman. Certainly he did not exact submission from Hadassah by violence or force, but rather by intense love, a love that disciplined and molded his child for future goals, not just for the moment.

Mordecai and Esther were in a unique situation. Being Jewish exiles in a foreign country was difficult, because Jews worshipped the one True God amid the rampant idolatry of the Persians. Perhaps Mordecai's household observed their Jewish practices and feasts privately, because in verse 10, we are told: "Esther did not make known her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make them known." In other words, the Jews did not flaunt their Jewishness.

In light of last week's article, a look at Hadassah's childhood reveals many parallels between her life and events in the Sower and the seed:

  • Hadassah was adopted by a relative, her cousin. So that He could bring us into God's family as His siblings, Jesus became our Elder Brother and gave His life for our redemption, then sows the seed of the Gospel so we can hear and be adopted!
  • Left as an orphan, Hadassah was called by Mordecai to be adopted into his family. We, too, have been left orphans by sin (the devil has no family and hell will be a lonely, unimaginable place of suffering with no comforters!), but God adopts us into His family through the call of the Holy Spirit and our obedient response.
  • While growing up, Hadassah had to resist and fight temptations as she learned to be submissive to Mordecai, her adoptive father. As God's children, we also learn submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit by listening to and obeying Him and resisting temptations.
  • As she learned obedience to the call and disciplines of Mordecai, Hadassah learned the depths of his great love for her, but she did not take that love for granted and grow careless in her obedience. We, too, learn the greatness of God's love for us only as we obey the Holy Spirit in ALL things and submit to His disciplines and tests. Yet, we can never allow other things in life get us so involved or overwhelmed that we grow careless in our seeking of God and living for Him or we lose our first love!
  • Even as Hadassah had the full privileges of family in Mordecai's household, so, too, we who love the Trinity are co-inheritors with Jesus of all that is God's. We are not second-rate step-children in God's eyes! But we come into the fullness of our inheritance through perseverance and faithfulness.

So we've seen that Hadassah learned submission and obedience after she was adopted into Mordecai's family. In much the same way when we are truly adopted into God's family, we are led and disciplined by the Holy Spirit to obey Him as He corrects and changes us more into the likeness of Jesus.

Next time we'll follow Hadassah as she moved into the harem where she became known as Esther.