Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare
Preparation For Spirit Warfare - Esther 4:17-5:8"So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him."
Thus far our study of Esther has shown that as a child Esther learned submission and obedience to Mordecai, her adoptive father. Her obedience continued even after she became the queen of Persia. It did not stem from weakness and passivity, but from great strength of character.
Why, then, did God so carefully include this verse about Mordecai's obedience? What dynamic impelled him to do exactly what Esther commanded? Although her crown elevated her above Mordecai, Esther obeyed him even after moving to the palace. Therefore, her position is not the reason he obeyed her.
To understand his action, we need to examine the facts thus far in the saga:
- The king didn't know Esther was Jewish.
- No one in the palace knew Esther was Jewish.
- No one in the palace knew Mordecai was her father.
- Haman knew Mordecai was Jewish, but didn't know Esther was.
- Esther learned how to live with grace married to a heathen king and living in a pagan palace and nation.
- Esther chose to risk her life in obedience to Mordecai by interceding with the king for her people.
- The king had not summoned Esther for 30 days.
- Esther could be killed if she appeared in the king's outer court uninvited--unless he extended his golden scepter to her.
- Esther was afraid for her life.
- Esther's parting words for Mordecai were, "Fast and pray for me and my maidens and I will fast, too."
Mordecai knew that he had raised Esther to be submissive and obedient to him . Now she was in a position to act that demanded a new level of courage and obedience. So he interceded FOR her.
Mordecai's View of Esther
Though Esther continued to obey Mordecai because she was his daughter, his relationship with her changed. She had ascended to the throne because she met the tests of obedience in childhood and while being in the harem and succeeded in being chosen.
More importantly, since becoming queen, Esther had lived in the palace for five sequestered years. During that time she grew in her knowledge of the king himself and subjected herself to him in deeper, intimate ways. She learned the ways of the kingdom. In it all she maintained her faithfulness to God, to her father and to other people in the face of paganism and a totally heathen culture.
Esther had met the tests of being called, chosen and faithful or persevering. Therefore, Mordecai trusted her faithfulness and her word in such a grave situation as Haman's diabolical scheme against the Jews.
Recall our look at the proving of those who were good soil in the parable of the Sower (Part 4). They became fruitful when they had met all the tests, also. The Holy Spirit, just like Mordecai, recognizes the ones He can trust with the burdens of the Kingdom. These are the ones who are fitted for Spirit warfare.
Fast and Pray First
So Esther and her maidens went into seclusion to fast and pray for three days, knowing other Jews were doing the same thing for her. That she persuaded heathen attendants to fast food and drink for three days and nights to pray to God testifies to Esther's godly influence on them.
It also illustrates that each person in the Body of Christ fills an essential place. Esther's coming before the king to intercede for the Body was no more important than the petitions and fasting of those who prayed for her. In God's kingdom there is no competition or hierarchy of importance among its members and their functions.
Paul's discussion of the various organs of the body shows that their diversity is necessary to complement the functions of each other in completing the whole, whether in the physical or the spiritual body. Jesus said the leader must be servant of all: the greatest is the least, and the least is the greatest.
Then Comes Intercession
With her own life in jeopardy, Esther became servant of the Jews when she interceded for them before Ahasuerus. On the third day of the fast she put on her royal robes in all their splendor. She did not appear before the king looking hungry and thirsty, but she was. Nor was her face sad and tear-stained, though she must have prayed and cried day and night.
Instead, she bathed and preened, so she looked her best when she went to see King Ahasuerus. Her face bore a supernatural glow and strength that comes only from self-denial coupled with burdened, agonizing petitions.
Many fasts are described in God's Word, one being the drastic Esther fast---complete abstinence. Other fasts associated with different biblical personages differ according to their duration or the foods they selected. God's people deny themselves great victory and spiritual power by neglecting the practice of fasting.
Esther stood in the courtyard leading into the throne room of the king. God records that when Ahasuerus saw her, "she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand."
First, the sight of Esther touched his heart as they made face-to-face eye contact. Then the king's heart moved the hand that held his royal scepter. There is the secret of intercession: touch God's heart first, and His hand extends in favor. How many look for God's hand without first making eye contact with Him in intimate recognition based on prior fellowship and oneness? Do you love Him for Himself alone or only for what He provides?
Esther moved to where the king sat, and in honor and recognition of his power she touched the top of his scepter. Then Ahasuerus asked what was troubling her and what she wanted him to do. Even before she told him, he promised her up to half his kingdom if she needed it.
When God has tested and knows He can trust us, when in His throne room we have made intimate eye contact and His hand extends in favor, He makes ALL the power of His kingdom available to us according to the need!
Rather than announcing her intentions before the whole court, Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet she hosted that same day. The king sent for Haman and together they went to the palace to please Esther. As they ate and drank wine, the king asked Esther what was on her mind, again offering up to half his kingdom to please her.
Esther's reply was three-fold:
- If I have found favor
- If it pleases the king to grant my petition and do what I ask,
- Then the king and Haman will come to another banquet tomorrow. I will tell all then.
Banquets certainly are a sub-theme in the book of Esther!
- King Ahasuerus had a banquet in the third year of his reign.
- He hosted a second one 180 days later.
- Queen Vashti entertained the women at the palace.
- The king held a banquet for Esther's coronation
- Esther hosted two banquets for the king and Haman
Esther found favor with the king, and she pleased Haman by inviting him to dine! Some commentators believe Esther was weak and fearful, because she had a second banquet before she was brave enough to confront Haman!! To the contrary, her actions were a direct effect of prayer and fasting, ordained by God to complete His purpose. That's what we shall look at next time!
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