God Positions His Agents

Esther 4:1-17

God had prepared his servants, actions that had occurred over many centuries and culminating in our present story at Susa during the reign of Ahasuerus. In Chapter 4 it becomes apparent how God has precisely positioned his agents – Mordecai and Esther – to serve his purpose in protecting and building his church.

New faces on an ancient animosity – Amalekites and Jews – Haman, a descendant of Agag the Amalekite king whose life Saul disobediently spared, and Mordecai a descendant of Saul’s father Kish. Amalekites without provocation attacked Jews early in their journey to Canaan, something that God took “personally”: “The Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation”. Ex. 17:16 When Haman discovered Mordecai’s ethnic heritage (because Mordecai refused to show “proper honor” to Haman in his new position), old enmity revived and plot took shape to annihilate not just Mordecai but all Jews within Persian-controlled territory.

So it isn’t just two men duking it out because they can’t get along, it is the outbreak of animosity between two hostile nations – Amalek, a nation under divine curse, and Israel; between two kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Once again the seed of the Serpent, unregenerate followers of Satan work to do his bidding and destroy the seed of the Woman and attempt to frustrate God’s divine plan to send his Son into the world.

Yet God is sovereign here on the world stage as well as in heaven; he knows the end from the beginning and he will carry out his purpose. God had positioned Mordecai in exactly the right place to be of use in the plan of redemption; likewise, Esther had indeed “come to the kingdom for such a time as this”, a time when God would use her in her position as Queen for the astounding good of his people and defeat of his enemies.

A. Mordecai

a multi-faceted role

hearing v.1

Mordecai, along with fellow Jews, heard/read decree

Esther unaware of what was happening (see verse 5); insulated from current events either by virtue of being in the harem or because it didn’t concern her – supposedly a “Persian” queen

Mordecai privy to secret negotiations between Haman and Ahasuerus – gave him insight into character of both men, useful in persuading Esther of gravity of situation

communicating v.7-8

provided copy of decree along with background information to Hathach

took some risk of his own – didn’t know for certain if Hathach would remain loyal to Esther

communicated well enough that Esther got the point, …to a point – not adequately convinced to go unbidden to the King

guiding v.13-14

because of prior relationship, Mordecai had credibility to persuade Esther

because of God-given insight and confidence, could see how Esther was providentially positioned to help her people

had weight of influence, able to effectively “pressure” Esther to do the hard thing

encouraging v.17

Mordecai had position of some influence even at this time with Jewish population in Susa

able to “muster the troops” for time of fasting and prayer

as show of support for Esther

as time to plead with God for success on Esther’s part and deliverance for His people

no one else had access both to the information and the Queen; only Mordecai was positioned in the precise place for that access

B. Esther

a multi-faceted role v.8b

go to the king

break the law v.11

sometimes what is right is not lawful; in this case, obeying the law would contribute to immense injustice

hence, “we ought to obey God rather than men” Acts 4:19;5:29

risk death for breaking the law

risk King’s disfavor – Esther had been ignored for 30 days; perhaps also a sign of lost influence

implore his favor

intercede with the King on behalf of the Jewish people

beg him to be gracious to those who had no real claim on his favor

basing her request on personal relationship – “if I have found favor” Est. 5:8,7:3,8:5

trusting his heart was better than his head! – affection for her would overrule desire for money and points with Haman

plead with him personally

not relying on the persuasive powers of an intermediary

using the full effect of her personal charms to bring about good

beauty, mystique, sincerity

identify herself

Mordecai instructs Esther to plead for her people

if she gets this far, past the first risk of death only to face another great risk

according to Zoroastrian Avesta, also Herodotus, queen was to be of Persian descent

to reveal her true identity risked Ahasuerus’ anger (already seen directed toward Vashti)

subsequent demotion or even death if King’s decree stood

conversely, could provoke Ahasuerus’ anger toward the one who put the object of his affection in danger

her response v.16c

you (Mordecai and other Jews) plead for God’s assistance – unprecedented 3 days of fasting and prayer

I will do likewise

then I’ll do the hard thing – the result is in God’s hands

no one else had heart-connection with both the King and the people at risk; only Esther out of the entire kingdom fit that description. Consequently, only Esther had the position to out-persuade the king’s favorite court official and avert disaster for the Jews.

C. Us

Mordecai’s challenge to Esther: God has placed you in your particular position for the good of others.

The challenge to us today: God has placed you in your particular position for the good of others.

the connecting link between the first and second commandments: Love God, love your neighbor.

the true child of God has a heart-connection with both the King (King Jesus) and the people at risk (our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers)

Will we show our love for God by doing good to others?

by doing the greatest good we can?

pointing them to the only one who is truly good, God

showing them the love of God

being used by God

for the good of the church

to save the lives of those headed for death and destruction

to bring glory to God

as we carry out the ministry of reconciliation he has given us

2 Cor. 5:18-19 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”NIV

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