Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare
Her First Crisis As Queen - Esther 3:15b - 4:1-17
While Ahasuerus and Haman ate and drank together in the palace, the kingdom-wide edict just issued by Haman over the king's signature dropped like a bombshell on the city of Susa. Both Jew and Persian were shocked. Hadn't they lived in peace and harmony?
What suddenly provoked the king to take such drastic, cruel measures? Immediately, Jews were seized with fear. Fueled by rumor and suspicion, Persians grew increasingly antagonistic toward their Hebrew neighbors.
Often when calamity strikes, those who are stricken blame God for it. Cunningly, the devil plants negative thoughts against Him or others in peoples' minds that they believe are true. The rationale goes something like this: If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why is He letting this bad thing happen to ME?
Instead of turning to Him in their deep need, they turn their backs on God in anger or rejection. He gets blamed for things the devil engineers! Totally unworthy of such treatment, God extends His mercy to us anyway.
Undoubtedly Mordecai remembered the words of Jeremiah that prophesied blessing and prosperity on the exiles who went willingly to Babylon many years before. And he recalled the promises that the Jews would return to their homeland once again. That had already happened. Therefore, what had His people done to warrant this threat to their existence?
Mordecai didn't blame God for the edict. Had not Solomon declared, "If I shut up the heavens...and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
So he obeyed, tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and walked the streets wailing loudly in grief and repentance. He sought the face of God for his people much as the prophet Daniel had done some 60 years before him. Mordecai mourned before God.
Certainly he typifies the Holy Spirit in God's administration of His kingdom. We've seen how Mordecai became the intercessor for this woman, Esther, whom he had adopted and nurtured. Just so, the Holy Spirit seeks the uncovered face of God for those who claim His name, and drives intercessors to their faces and knees before Him in repentance and humility.
Now, in response to this dire thrust against the Jews, Mordecai again mirrors the heart of the Holy Spirit in His grieving for His people. But Mordecai could not effect their deliverance without Esther's intervention. He came as far as the palace gate, but, dressed in his mourning garb, he was allowed no farther.
Mordecai sent word to Esther through her maids and eunuchs. When she found out how distressed he was, she was overcome with anguish.
Yet notice what Esther did. She sent some 'decent' or respectable clothes to Mordecai so he could come into the palace. She tried to minimize his grief, to hide his mourning--to subdue him.
This same behavior is what believers often manifest when the Holy Spirit burdens them to pray or manifest His glory. They try to minimize His urgency by putting off praying or ignoring Him, because He makes them uncomfortable or His timing isn't right!
Mordecai refused the clothing. He refused to back down. He persisted, and so does the Holy Spirit when He wants our attention.
Esther didn't know the details of Mordecai's grief, so she sent Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, to find out. Mordecai told him the story about Haman, sent a copy of the edict for Esther to read, and also said she had to plead for her people before the king!
Chosen To Intercede
Until that moment, Esther had fought personal battles the enemy sent against her. Now Mordecai was calling her to intercede for the Jews of the whole realm. And she had to go to the king to do it!
In this particular situation, she was the only person who could do it. That is why she was chosen. Chosen to lay her life on the line for the sake of God's kingdom! That's what being chosen is really about!
A principle is at work here, one that God established at the creation. He will not usurp authority on earth--authority He gave man in the Garden--without man's active participation with Him. In other words God will manage the environment, but He cannot do His employees' work for them.
He chooses those who persevere to be actively involved in reaching the Kingdom's goals through utter oneness and agreement with the Holy Spirit. That is intercession.
Until that moment, Esther felt safe in the palace without disclosing her Jewishness. Now, with the edict fresh on everyone's tongue, her life would be threatened if she told.
Far worse was how to approach the king for her people. This was a legal matter that demanded she seek audience with him in his throne room. If he was inclined to receive her, she would do well. But if he was irritated by her coming uninvited and chose not to extend his golden scepter to her, she would die! It was the law of the Persians.
That is the ultimatum she sent back to Mordecai through Hathach. She might die!
Intercession Is Death
Her answer didn't faze Mordecai. Either she might die or she would die! Her personal safety and risk were inconsequential compared with the danger faced by her fellow Jews on whom hinged the plan of God for the Messiah!
Mordecai had great faith that God elevated Esther to be queen for such a moment. If she protected her own life, she would be safe temporarily. God would find another way to preserve the Jews, but Esther would ultimately perish without Mordecai's oversight and protection.
How vital it is that we obey the Holy Spirit when He burdens us, regardless of our own reasoning! If we do not cooperate with His will, we grieve Him and sever our intimate relationship with Him. Obeying Him in the face of overwhelming risk is what walking and living by faith is all about. When the security and protection gained through obedience are gone because of disobedience, the enemy has a legal right to attack us. The responsibility of being a chosen vessel of God, an intercessor, is an awesome, fearsome place reserved for the faithful!
Esther's habit of obedience prepared her well for her decision. Though she feared, she instructed Mordecai: "Gather every Jew living in Susa and fast three days and nights for me."
They were not to eat or drink anything! That was a serious fast!! Esther and her maidens would also fast. Then she would go before the king. "If I perish, I perish!"
What follows is a most startling verse. "So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him." We shall discuss that in the next article.