When the Jewish people were facing the threat of mass extinction, a courageous young woman named Esther answered the call and stepped forward to save them. Esther had been chosen as queen over the Persian empire to replace Vashti. While no one knew that Esther was Jewish, the identity of her cousin Mordecai was known. He earned the enmity of a powerful official named Haman. Ahasuerus had promoted Haman and ordered everyone to bow when he passed by, but Mordecai refused. In keeping with his Jewish faith, he would bow to no one but God.
This infuriated Haman, and instead of taking revenge on Mordecai alone, he decided to annihilate the entire Jewish race. “And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai”(Esther 3:6). Haman cast lots (pur in Hebrew) to determine the most auspicious day to carry out his attack, and when he had selected a day, he went to Ahasuerus and put his evil plan in motion. After falsely accusing the Jews of disloyalty to the king, he received permission to have them killed.
Once this news became known, there was sorrow and mourning among the Jewish people across the Persian empire. They were not certain what to do. The decree had been sealed with the king’s signet ring, and thus it had the full authority of the throne behind it. And under Persian law, such a decree once issued could not be altered or amended.
Mordecai sent a message to Esther in the palace instructing her to go to the king and reveal her secret, asking for some means of deliverance for her people. Recognizing the danger of his plan to her personally, Esther refused, pointing out that anyone who entered the king’s presence without permission was in danger of immediate death, and that it had been a month since she had last seen the king. Mordecai then issued the famous challenge, reminding Esther that God had placed her in her position “for such a time as this.”
In her response, we see Esther’s faith in action demonstrated. She told Mordecai to gather the Jews together and fast and pray for a period of three days. She and her royal household did the same. Esther believed that God would work in response to the serious, urgent intercession of His people. She was willing to risk her very life on her belief in the power of the God of Israel. As a result of her faith in action, Israel was spared. Today, it is our turn to answer the call and take our stand for God’s Chosen People.