And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”
And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. – Esther 4:9-17 ESV
Desperate times call for desperate measures. When Mordecai sent word to Esther, his adopted niece, commanding her to go to King Xerxes and beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people, he knew he asking her to risk everything. He was well aware that she was going to have to reveal her long-hidden secret about her Hebrew heritage. There was no way to know how he might react to this news. But Mordecai knew that they had no other choice. The way he looked at it was that Esther was there only hope. And he viewed her presence in the palace as a literal godsend. She had been sent by God for such a time as this. Her position as queen had not been a case of good fortune, but the result of God’s sovereign plan. God had known all along what was about to take place. He knew the heart of Haman. He was fully cognizant of the fact that Haman was an Amalakite, the long-standing enemies of the Jews. God had not been surprised by the king’s edict. He was not up in heaven wringing His hands in despair, left to come up with a last-minute plan to save His people. He had been orchestrating His plan all along, long before Haman got promoted or had his feelings hurt by Mordecai, and well in advance of this latest man-made calamity. As the people of God, it is essential that we remember the words found in Proverbs: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21 ESV). In the book of Isaiah, we hear these foreboding, yet also comforting words from God:
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…’” – Isaiah 46:9-10 ESV
Mordecai was in mourning, but he was not morose. He had not lost hope. He had no idea why these events were taking place. His sack cloth and ashes were more a sign of submission to God than anything else. He was acknowledging to God his sadness over the king’s edict, and his complete dependence upon God’s help. His call to Esther to use her position as the queen to appeal on behalf of her people was an act of belief that God was at work and that Esther was part of His divine plan.
For Esther, the news was devastating. But the command from her uncle to use her position to beg the king’s favor was frightening. She could not simply walk into the king’s presence at any time. She had to be invited. And the passage makes it clear that it had been a month since she had last received an invitation into the king’s presence. To dare to enter the king’s inner chambers without his express permission meant death. But Esther recognized the wisdom of Mordecai’s words and the cold, hard reality that she, above all people, had the best chance of changing the king’s mind. So she boldly proclaimed, “I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16 ESV).
It is important to note that Mordecai and Esther did not leave everything up to God. They seemed to know that God was at work, but that He had placed them where they were for a reason. They both had vital parts to play. Mordecai appealed to Esther. Esther was going to fast and pray, then appeal to the king. She called on Mordecai to call all the Jews in the capital of Susa to fast and pray as well. They were to be active. They were each to do their part. But they were all putting their hope and trust in God. Even Esther knew that it was going to take an act of God to prepare the king’s heart to extend to her an invitation into his presence and a willingness to listen to her plea. She seemed to recognize that her ascension to her position as queen had been a coincidence. It had been a case of providence and the real purpose for her God-ordained role was now being revealed. She had been born “for such a time as this. The conquering of Judah by the Babylonians, the loss of her parents, her adoption by Mordecai, her exile to Persia, and her miraculous rise to royal prominence had all been the work of God. And the seeming method behind God’s madness was being made known. She had a job to do. She was going to be part of God’s divine plan to accomplish His will concerning the people of Israel. I am reminded of the attitude that young David had when he stood against the Philistine warrior, Goliath. Armed with nothing more than a sling and a few stones, he boldly proclaimed:
“Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” – 1 Samuel 17:46-47 ESV
It was the Lord’s battle, but David still had to fight. He would be the one to sling the stone that took Goliath’s life, but the victory would be God’s, not his. Like David, Esther was going to have to use the resources at her disposal and step into the battle. God had placed her there for a reason. She was going to have to step into the king’s presence, confident in the fact that God was with her and had actually gone before her. This was the Lord’s battle.