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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Esther - The Study of Providence

Don Smith :: The Study of Providence - Esther 4

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Exposition of Esther - Chapter Four

How Was God’s Providence Received by God’s People?

  1. In God’s providence, Mordecai became deeply humiliated and troubled.
    1. Esther 4:1-3
      • When Mordecai heard the king’s edict, he publicly grieved.
      • Mordecai, like Job and many others, expressed his personal feelings of remorse by tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth and ashes.
      • It was an ancient way of grieving.
      • It demonstrated man’s identity with the curse of sin…returning to dust and ashes.
      • He also cried out with a loud and bitter cry, probably to the Lord, but not clarified here.
      • As an appointed judge, Mordecai knew the king would never tolerate any public demonstration of remorse or protest.
      • So Mordecai moved away from the king’s gate to publicly express his deep lamentation, but also his utter reliance upon the Lord.
      • Mordecai’s reaction is understandable.
      • He realized his civil disobedience of not honoring Haman may have been the impetus used by the king to destroy all Jews.
      • He grieved the death of his fellow Jews everywhere.
      • He was also painfully aware that the destiny of God’s Seed was endangered.
      • Being a Jew, Mordecai knew the promises of God to protect, preserve, prosper and propagate the Seed.
      • He may have remembered the Lord’s promise to bring forth a Son who would crush the serpent’s head.
      • Humanly speaking, this hope was in jeopardy.
      • When the provinces received the king’s edict announcing future genocide of God’s Seed, the Jews also began to fast, weep and lay on the ground in sackcloth and ashes.
      • It was a day of great mourning.
      • Jews put away their pride in the law and called out for God’s mercy and grace.
      • They needed a deliverer…where would he come from?
      • To their amazement, it would not be a “he” but a “she”…a chosen woman of the Seed.
  2. In God’s providence Esther’s heart was stirred to assist her grieving father.
    1. Esther 4:4-12
      • Esther’s maids and eunuchs informed her that Mordecai way lying prostrate in the dirt in front of the king’s gates with torn, dusty clothes and with loud cries of bitterness.
      • Not knowing at the time the reason for his grief, she ordered her servants to bring him fresh cloths.
      • When her servants brought the clean cloths, Mordecai rejected them.
      • His grief could not be requited…his life and hers, as well as all Jews were at risk.
      • The maidservants returned frustrated by his refusal.
      • Esther then commanded one of her choice eunuchs, Hathach, appointed to her by the king to investigate the reason for Mordecai’s public grief.
      • Hathach found Mordecai in the town square, in front of the king’s gate, spread out on the ground crying bitterly.
      • Mordecai then explained his grief as a reaction to the king’s edict of the Jews destruction.
      • He also informed the eunuch about Haman’s promise to fill the king’s coffers in return for the authority to kill the Jews.
      • To verify his concerns, he sent along a copy of the Haman’s edict for Esther to read for herself.
      • The fact she had no previous news of these things gives us insight into her relationship to the king.
      • Up to this point, she was very likely a figurehead of the king’s royal privileges and possessions.
      • Mordecai also made it clear to Hatach that he was to “command” Esther to go in to the king to make supplication on behalf of him and fellow Jews everywhere.
      • What he was asking of Esther was against the law of the Persians and Medes.
      • No one could enter the king’s presence unannounced or to make petition unless the king granted that privilege.
      • This was a privilege not even enjoyed by the queen.
      • Mordecai was also asking the queen to make supplication for a change in the law, even though the king’s edict under the law of the Persians and the Medes could not be broken.
      • When Hatach returned with a report from Mordecai, she learned the severity of the situation as well as the “command” given by her father.
      • Esther quickly commanded her servant to return to Mordecai with her response.
      • She reminded her father that what he was asking of her was not only improper for a queen, but dangerous as well.
      • Most likely her appearance before the king would mean death.
      • Esther’s only hope was for the king to hold out the golden scepter and not the sword.
      • She explained her ignorance of Mordecai’s plight as not having even been called to be with the king for thirty days.
      • Esther’s servants then ran to tell Mordecai of her predicament.
  3. In God’s providence, Mordecai applied his faith to this crisis.
    1. Esther 4:13-14
      • Mordecai instructed Esther’s servants what to say to their queen.
      • He warned that Esther’s abdication of responsibility to petition the king for fear of death does not guarantee her escape anymore than all the other Jews facing this imminent danger.
      • In other words, Esther’s silence would be escaping God’s tap on her shoulder to act by faith.
      • Faith in God’s good providence is no excuse for silence or doing nothing.
      • Her silence may mean her death, as well as her father’s household, in particular Mordecai.
      • Mordecai then shared his complete confidence in God’s promises to preserve His Seed.
      • He believed if Esther didn’t step forward to answer the call, she would be neglecting her ordained purpose for becoming the queen.
      • He also strongly believed, however, that her avoidance of responsibility to plead for the lives of millions would not thwart God’s plan and purpose.
      • If she abdicated her duty to God and His people; He would raise up someone else to take her place, demonstrating once again that God’s purposes are never hindered, nullified or frustrated by human will.
      • He also asks a rhetorical question that hints at his own belief in God’s providence in Esther’s life…“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
      • Here we learn what was in Mordecai’s mind…God was behind all the circumstances leading to her enthronement.
      • This was her moment to realize and grasp the opportunity to fulfill her ordained purpose of petitioning the king for the salvation of many souls.
        1. Theological Considerations: Mordecai believed God sovereignly accomplishes all He ordains.
          • He was suggesting God had purposes for everything that preceded this crisis.
          • For example, God used the death of Esther’s family and Mordecai’s adoption of her to bring them to Susa and make her queen.
          • This was God’s provision for her and God’s Seed.
          • Therefore, God ordained Esther’s rise to become queen.
          • He also ordained that she had to choose to obey or disobey what God called her to be and do.
          • God not only knew the final outcome of all that would come about but even determined to use the faith of Esther to fulfill His purposes.
          • Hypothetically, if she had not obeyed God’s calling on her life, He would have raised up someone else to do His bidding.
          • Esther was given the challenge of living by faith and obedience.
          • How comforting to realize, “If it is to be, it isn’t up to me…it’s up to God!”
          • When we chose to abdicate our life purpose we hurt ourselves, not God’s plan.
  4. In God’s providence Esther decided to surrender her life to His purposes regardless of the risks.
    1. Esther 4:15-17
      • Esther sent her servants back again to Mordecai to give her final answer.
      • She was willing to approach the king only if she was supported by the prayers of God’s people.
      • Esther asked them to pray and fast for three days.
      • Esther also promised she and her maidservants would be joining them in this time of fasting.
      • For these three days she considered herself dead.
      • Whether she lived or died would be decided on the third day.
      • The third day has historically been typified as “resurrection day.”
      • On the third day of creation God caused the dry ground to rise up out of the sea to become the earth, out of which would bring forth vegetation and life.
      • The Lord commanded Abraham to take his only son Isaac to the land of Moriah.
      • For three days he journeyed considering his son as dead.
      • On the third day God provided a lamb.
      • The Lord delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt.
      • On the third day out Pharaoh’s mighty chariots rumbled after Israel to destroy them.
      • But on that day, God opened the “Reed Sea” so His people could walk over on dry land.
      • Jonah was in the belly of a whale for three days.
      • It was as though he were dead.
      • On the third day, the fish God created spewed the reluctant prophet on the shore near Nineveh.
      • The three days of fasting by Esther and her people, before she presented herself to the king, could be viewed as if she were dead.
      • On the third day, resurrection day, God’s providence would be revealed.
The Study of Providence - Esther 3 ← Prior Section
The Study of Providence - Esther 5 Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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