by Ray Tetz—
The note from her uncle trembled in the young queen’s hands. She fought back the tears and shook her head fiercely as if to shake off the meaning of the words Mordecai had written. And then Esther, a queen far too inexperienced to be tested so dramatically, straightened her shoulders, took a deep breath, and turned back to the messenger to render her reply.
The world that she lived in was being roiled by political intrigue and turmoil. Unchecked selfishness and ego had already cost the faithful queen Vashti her life. Esther, the new queen, had been thrust into the spotlight through a series of seemingly impossible events. And yet here she stood, at the very portal of extraordinary influence. She had only begun to realize how powerful she could be, and there were those within her queenly court who were quite willing to help her wield that power—including, it seemed, her uncle and guardian, Mordecai.
But the appeal that he made in the note she held in her hands was not for prestige or power. Esther’s predicament was not about the nation; it was about Esther. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, NIV).
Yes, it was a dark time for the people of God. Gone were the days when their wisdom was sought after and their character and righteousness valued and revered. The falsity of human ambition and domination could now be seen and heard in the unbridled rhetoric of the king’s court and in the callous manipulation of the law of the land for selfish and devilish purposes.
While Mordecai’s note to Esther acknowledged this situation, it was not his primary focus. Mordecai knew that God would save His people. He believed that the survival of the people of God was not in Esther’s hands. It was in God’s hands. If Esther was not the means to help bring God’s purposes to pass, most certainly another means for their salvation would be made clear.
As her uncle and her guardian, Mordecai wrote to Esther not on a matter of state but on a matter of personal importance. He sought to focus her attention on the single most important thing in her life: her own destiny.
Mordecai was not concerned that God would fail to bring His purposes to pass. He trusted God. But he was concerned that Esther would not be a part of God’s redemption and that the purpose of her life would be unfulfilled. His message was not meant to save God’s people; God had already taken care of that. His message was meant to save Esther.
“For such a time as this.” It was an appeal for Esther to remember who she was, and where she was, and the grand purpose that God had for her life. It was a call to embrace the purpose of her life. It was an invitation to view all that happened through the eyes of faith.
And so as Esther turned her attention to the response she would send to Mordecai, her eyes were shining with the recognition of God’s great purpose for her life and her heart was pounding with excitement that her destiny was truly in God’s hands.
While her earlier responses had seemed to indicate a quizzical or even reluctant attitude, Esther responded with courage and clarity to this message, just as Mordecai had hoped she would. “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:15-16, NIV).
The die was cast, the pathway chosen, the decision was made. Not only would the people of Israel be saved but Esther would be counted among them as one of the faithful. Youth and beauty notwithstanding, it is clarity of purpose and personal courage that Esther would forever be known for. She saw the way forward, and placing herself completely within the abundant care of God, she resolutely took up her destiny.
Ray Tetz is the director of communication and community engagement for the Pacific Union Conference.