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Queen Esther - A Woman Willing to Save Others

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The Jewish exile Mordecai knew the situation was dire and dangerous. Through a sinister plot, the Jews in Persia were secretly condemned to death (Esther 3). Mordecai pleaded with Queen Esther to risk her life: “If you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 Esther 4:14For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
American King James Version×
).

Esther set a remarkable example of personal sacrifice. Although understandably at first hesitant, she willingly risked her life so others could be saved. 

The story of Esther and Mordecai transcends time and culture. The situation they faced still applies and teaches valuable spiritual lessons.

Setting for the Story

Esther’s story takes place near the end of the events described in the Old Testament. The two kingdoms of Israel and Judah had fallen and been taken into captivity in Assyria and Babylon, respectively.

By this time, several hundred years after their fall, the descendants of Israel—the “lost 10 tribes”—had scattered and disappeared from the Middle Eastern map. The descendants of Judah, however, had maintained their beliefs and way of life while in Babylon. However, Babylon, too, had fallen, and now the Jews lived under the benign rule of the Persian Empire.

The Persians had allowed Jews willing to make the long overland journey the opportunity to return to Jerusalem and their homeland. Although many had made the trip, many more had decided to remain where were and put down roots.

The book of Esther is a complement to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Although those books describe life for the Jews who returned to Palestine, Esther is the only Bible book that offers a portrait of those who chose to remain in Persia.

The book of Esther introduces us to a great king of Persia known as Ahasuerus (Hebrew), or Xerxes (Greek). In 479 B.C. the Greeks defeated Ahasuerus in the battle at Salamis.

The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that the Persian king sought consolation in his harem after his defeat. He gave a huge banquet, lasting several days, for palace personnel (Esther 1:1-8 Esther 1:1-8 1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even to Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) 2 That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, 3 In the third year of his reign, he made a feast to all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: 4 When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days. 5 And when these days were expired, the king made a feast to all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both to great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace; 6 Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, on a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. 7 And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. 8 And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure.
American King James Version×
). At that time Queen Vashti— wife of Ahasuerus—gave a banquet for the women of the palace. On the seventh day of his banquet, the king commanded Vashti to appear before his court so everyone could behold her beauty (Esther 1:9-11 Esther 1:9-11 9 Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus. 10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, 11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.
American King James Version×
).

But the queen refused to appear before her husband. So Ahasuerus, on the advice of his counselors, decided to look for someone to replace her as queen.

The king’s servants came up with a plan: “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch … Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:2-4 Esther 2:2-4 2 Then said the king’s servants that ministered to him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins to Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, to the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: 4 And let the maiden which pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
American King James Version×
). The king agreed and looked forward to the prospect of a beautiful wife who could become his new queen.

Esther Becomes Queen

Mordecai was an older cousin of Esther’s who had helped raise her: “And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother” (Esther 2:7 Esther 2:7And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
American King James Version×
). They lived in Shushan.

The king’s decree brought to his palace many beautiful young women, but none was more beautiful than Esther. From the beginning Hegai, a eunuch and custodian of the women, favored Esther favor, “so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance” (Esther 2:9 Esther 2:9And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids to the best place of the house of the women.
American King James Version×
).

In turn, each young lady was presented before the king. When it came Esther’s turn, she was allowed to choose her attire. However, “she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her” (Esther 2:15 Esther 2:15Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in to the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked on her.
American King James Version×
). Hegai knew the king’s social tastes. She deferred to his advice.

Finally, Esther was presented before the king. “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king” (Esther 2:17-18 Esther 2:17-18 17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king made a great feast to all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.
American King James Version×
). Thus Esther became queen of Persia.

Mordecai Averts Assassination

One day Mordecai, now a royal official, found that two of the king’s doorkeepers planned to assassinate the king. Mordecai told Esther, who promptly warned the king. The king hanged the men. These proceedings, including Mordecai’s faithful disclosure, were “written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king” (Esther 2:23 Esther 2:23And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.
American King James Version×
).

Throughout this time Esther, on Mordecai’s advice, had not told the king of her family background or that she was related to Mordecai.

Haman’s Jealous Plot

Another chain of events then began that would threaten Esther and Mordecai.

King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, one of his officials, above all other officials and nobles. By the king’s order all the others were to bow and pay homage to Haman. But Mordecai, faithful to God’s instruction that prohibited the veneration of anyone but God (Exodus 20:5 Exodus 20:5You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
American King James Version×
), refused.

Others noticed Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman. They confronted Mordecai, who still refused. Then they told Haman.

Haman grew furious (Esther 3:5 Esther 3:5And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.
American King James Version×
). He determined that Mordecai was a Jew, prompting him to craft a plan to kill not only Mordecai but all the Jews throughout Persia—because of Mordecai’s refusal to honor him.

Haman and his accomplices cast lots to determine the best day to massacre the Jews. They decided the best day to carry out their perfidy would arrive some 11 months later. Haman presented his plan, couched in deceptive language to hide his motivation, to the king.

“There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king’s treasuries” (Esther 3:8-9 Esther 3:8-9 8 And Haman said to king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. 9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.
American King James Version×
).

The king, alarmed at this perceived threat, foolishly agreed: “The money and the people are given to you, to do with them as seems good to you” (Esther 3:11 Esther 3:11And the king said to Haman, The silver is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.
American King James Version×
). The decree gave any Persian the right to kill Jews and loot their property. The city of Shushan and the palace were in confusion over this bizarre decree.

Mordecai’s Sacrificing Service

When Mordecai heard of the decree, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of tragedy and mourning. He walked through the city crying bitterly (Esther 4:1 Esther 4:1When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the middle of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;
American King James Version×
).

Esther’s servants relayed the news to her. Not yet understanding the gravity of the situation, she sent clean garments to Mordecai. He refused them. Esther then sent her servant Hathach to discover why Mordecai refused the garments. Mordecai sent details and proof of Haman’s heinous plan to destroy the Jews and urged the servant to ask Esther to approach the king and plead for the lives of the Jews.

When Esther heard of Haman’s plan and Mordecai’s request, she was at first undecided over how she should proceed. She knew that to come before the king without a formal invitation, even though she was the queen, could mean she would be put to death (Esther 4:11 Esther 4:11All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whoever, whether man or women, shall come to 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 scepter, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.
American King James Version×
). She sent word of her predicament to Mordecai.

Mordecai’s advice was sobering yet filled with faith. “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14 Esther 4:13-14 13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with yourself that you shall escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
American King James Version×
).

Yes, Mordecai told her, Esther would risk her life if she approached the king uninvited. But if she didn’t she and her relatives would be killed in the coming slaughter, he warned. Mordecai knew God would ultimately preserve the Jewish people and pointedly asked Esther to consider whether her influence could provide the deliverance of her people from catastrophe.

A Fateful and Faithful Decision

Esther knew what she must do. First she requested that the Jews in Shushan join her in a three-day fast to humble themselves and seek God’s intervention. She would then approach the king, willing to accept the consequences, “and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16 Esther 4:16Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast you for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in to the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
American King James Version×
).

Still fasting, Esther dressed in her royal robes and called upon the king, unsure of her fate.

Immediately the king held out his golden scepter to her, welcoming her presence.

“What do you wish, Queen Esther?” the king asked. “What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half my kingdom!” (Esther 5:3 Esther 5:3Then said the king to her, What will you, queen Esther? and what is your request? it shall be even given you to the half of the kingdom.
American King James Version×
).

Esther answered the king wisely and humbly: “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”

The king reacted promptly: “Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said” (Esther 5:4-5 Esther 5:4-5 4 And Esther answered, If it seem good to the king, let the king and Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for him. 5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther has said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
American King James Version×
).

King Ahasuerus and Haman were obviously thrilled to attend Esther’s banquet. The king again invited Esther to state her request. Her reply: “If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said” (Esther 5:8 Esther 5:8If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king has said.
American King James Version×
).

A Sudden Turn

Haman was beside himself. He excitedly relayed the news of his unexpected good fortune to his wife and friends: “Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared; and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king.”

Nevertheless Haman was still jealous and bitter: “Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate” (Esther 5:12-13 Esther 5:12-13 12 Haman said moreover, Yes, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king to the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited to her also with the king. 13 Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.
American King James Version×
).

Haman’s wife and his friends had an idea sure to cheer up Haman: “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits [75 feet] high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet” (Esther 5:14 Esther 5:14Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends to him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak you to the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go you in merrily with the king to the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.
American King James Version×
).

Haman’s sullen face suddenly erupted in a wide grin. He immediately ordered the gallows built.

On the night before Esther’s banquet, however, the king couldn’t sleep. He told one of his servants to read to him the royal chronicles.

The king’s servant read aloud how Mordecai had averted the earlier plot to assassinate the king (Esther 6:1-2 Esther 6:1-2 1 On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
American King James Version×
). Reminded of this event, the king asked his servants, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The servants responded that nothing had been done (Esther 6:3 Esther 6:3And the king said, What honor and dignity has been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered to him, There is nothing done for him.
American King James Version×
). This shocked the king. This oversight could forever tarnish the king’s otherwise magnificent reign.

The king asked if someone of high rank might be present in the court to help correct this oversight. Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace. His jealousy and anger toward Mordecai had moved him to approach the king late at night. Ironically, both Haman and the king had Mordecai on their minds.

The king’s servants said that Haman had just entered the court. “Bring him in before me,” said the king.

When Haman approached, the king asked him: “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” (Esther 6:6 Esther 6:6So Haman came in. And the king said to him, What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honor more than to myself?
American King James Version×
).

Haman couldn’t believe his ears. How could things get any better for him? Now, finally, others would be forced to acknowledge his greatness.

Haman replied without hesitation: “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’ ” (Esther 6:7-9 Esther 6:7-9 7 And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king uses to wear, and the horse that the king rides on, and the crown royal which is set on his head: 9 And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man with whom the king delights to honor, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.
American King James Version×
).

Ahasuerus was pleased with Haman’s suggestion. He instructed him to hurry and perform what he suggested, to take the robe and the horse “and do so for Mordecai the Jew …! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken” (Esther 6:10 Esther 6:10Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as you have said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sits at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that you have spoken.
American King James Version×
).

Haman was astonished. Yet he was so full of pride, so intent on currying favor with the king, that he did exactly as he was told.

Haman found himself forced to honor the man who would not bow to him. He told his wife and friends of this bewildering turn of events. Listening carefully, they predicted where things were headed: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him” (Esther 6:13 Esther 6:13And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife to him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom you have begun to fall, you shall not prevail against him, but shall surely fall before him.
American King James Version×
).

Shortly afterward, the king’s eunuchs found Haman and whisked him away to Esther’s banquet.

Haman’s Downfall

For the second time the king and Haman dined with Queen Esther. The king repeated his magnificent offer to grant her any request, up to half of his kingdom. Finally Queen Esther presented her request: “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss” (Esther 7:3-4 Esther 7:3-4 3 Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: 4 For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for slaves and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage.
American King James Version×
).

The king was furious: “Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?” (Esther 7:5 Esther 7:5Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said to Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that dared presume in his heart to do so?
American King James Version×
).

Esther turned and pointed toward Haman: “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” (Esther 7:6 Esther 7:6And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
American King James Version×
).

Haman was mortified. How could things have gone so wrong? The king was so angry he could not speak. He stormed out into the palace garden. The desperate Haman began begging Queen Esther for his life. So distressed was he over the turn of events that he lost his equilibrium and fell across the couch on which Esther was seated.

Just then the king, his temper having cooled somewhat, reentered the banquet room only to see what appeared to be a clumsy attempt by Haman to molest his beloved wife, the queen of Persia! He roared, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” (Esther 7:8 Esther 7:8Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen on the bed where on Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.
American King James Version×
).

One of the servants exclaimed to the king: “Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman” (Esther 7:9 Esther 7:9And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who spoken good for the king, stands in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon.
American King James Version×
).

“Hang him on it!” the king commanded.

Immediately the king’s servants hanged Haman on his own towering gallows, and only then was the king’s anger abated.

Esther informed the king that Mordecai was her cousin. Immediately the king summoned Mordecai and gave him Haman’s signet ring. Queen Esther appointed Mordecai to oversee the house of Haman.

Esther’s Countrymen Delivered

Even so, the potential annihilation of the Jews throughout Persia still threatened. According to Persian law, once the king had issued a decree and sealed it with his signet ring, it could not be revoked.

Esther reminded the king of Haman’s deceitful plot to destroy her people; she pleaded for their lives. Although he could not revoke the earlier decree, the king allowed Esther and Mordecai to write a counterdecree that would enable the Jews to arm themselves and band together against any who would attack them.

When the fateful day arrived, the Jews overcame their enemies (Esther 9:1-11 Esther 9:1-11 1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;) 2 The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell on all people. 3 And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. 5 Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would to those that hated them. 6 And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. 7 And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, 8 And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, 9 And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, 10 The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand. 11 On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king.
American King James Version×
). To express their thanks to God, the Jews instituted the Feast of Purim. The name of this feast is a reminder of Haman’s casting of lots ( pur means “lot”) and God’s deliverance of the Jews from their enemies on the day they were to be annihilated (Esther 9:17-32 Esther 9:17-32 17 On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelled in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another. 20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters to all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 To establish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, 22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned to them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. 23 And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written to them; 24 Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; 25 But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Why they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come to them, 27 The Jews ordained, and took on them, and on their seed, and on all such as joined themselves to them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; 28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. 29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. 30 And he sent the letters to all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, 31 To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. 32 And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.
American King James Version×
).

Esther, Jewish queen of gentile Persia, set a remarkable example of personal sacrifice. Although understandably at first hesitant, she willingly risked her life so others could be saved. In this respect she prefigured the sacrifice of the coming Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who willingly gave His life so each of us could have the opportunity to receive God’s gift of salvation, eternal life in His Kingdom.

Similarly, Christ expects His followers, His saints, to be willing to put their lives on the line to follow Him (John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
American King James Version×
).

Speaking of His followers, God’s Word describes them as having overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11 Revelation 12:11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.
American King James Version×
).

Like faithful Esther and Mordecai, we should have godly, loving faith built on a loving, trusting relationship with Him. To see how you can develop such a relationship with your Creator, be sure to read the Bible study aid You Can Have Living Faith .

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