Esther is known by most Bible readers as the woman who bravely rescued her people, the Jewish people, from genocide. She’s often described in a way which would give us the idea she was a courageous hero jumping at the opportunity to save her people. Yet, although she was certainly used by God to save the Jews, Esther is not the hero of the story. As we dig a little deeper into this passage, we find that Esther plays a secondary role in the salvation of her people.
Let me clarify, I certainly think one can be encouraged and challenged by Queen Esther’s stand before King Ahasuerus for the Jews, but I don’t believe this is the main or even a major theme of this passage. After all, Esther’s first response to the idea of going before the king is anything but courageous. When her cousin Mordecai tells Esther to go before the king she replies by saying, ” All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days” (Esther 4:11). It seems Esther is more concerned for her own well-being than for the plight of the Jewish people (which is understandable!).
It is Mordecai’s following answer to timid Esther that allowed me to realize the true hero of the book of Esther:
“Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
Did you catch that? No, not the well-known line at the end. Look again at the first part of verse 14. Mordecai says if Esther stays quiet and doesn’t go before the king that, “enlargement and deliverance [will] arise to the Jews from another place.” He was saying whether or not Esther wanted to stick her neck out in order to help deliver the Jews, it was going to happen eventually. God was going to save His people at this point or at a later point; it wasn’t dependent upon Esther’s willingness because someone else would be used by God to save the Jews if she backed down.
As with all stories in the Bible, God is the hero. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, knew this truth. Long before Esther was born, God set out His plan to use the Jewish people to bring the Messiah, His dear Son, and ultimately usher in His plan of salvation for the world. Therefore, God’s plans weren’t contingent upon Esther’s obedience; He was going to deliver His people regardless of her actions because He is faithful.
This is true for believers today. God is working through the church, and as His people, He is letting us be a part of His plan to redeem the lost. Yes, it will cost us and we will often have to take risks, but if we don’t it doesn’t mean God won’t move on and use someone else. His work will continue. He is faithful and He will complete His plan. This is encouraging because it means God’s work isn’t dependent upon me. God will bring about His plan and He is doing the work of bringing salvation to the lost. What a relief and what a great joy to know I serve a faithful God who doesn’t need me, but who allows me to be a part of bringing the lost to Him! We can rejoice in our amazing God who is fulfilling His promises and doing His work of salvation in the world.