he sent back to her this reply: "Do not imagine that because you are in the king's palace you alone will escape the fate of all the Jews.
I. DIFFICULTIES DO NOT DAUNT THE STRONG. Mordecai quite understood the force of the twofold barrier to Esther's appealing to the king. Yet if it had been a hundredfold he would have urged her to face it. Neither a legal folly nor any amount of personal risk could justify irresolution or inaction when a whole people might be saved by a bold attempt. Obstacles that seem insurmountable in ordinary times dwindle much in presence of great emergencies.
II. IF WE ARE TRUE TO GOD OURSELVES WE SHALL WISH AND PRAY THAT OUR BELOVED ONES MAY BE TRUE ALSO. No being on earth was so precious to Mordecai as Esther, but his very love would long to see her faithful to her God and country. Esther would have been to him no longer what she had been in the past if now she had failed to undertake the mission which God seemed to lay upon her. Parents send forth their sons to do battle for their country, and they would much rather that they should die on the field than prove recreant to honour and duty.
III. A FAITHFUL LOVE IS RATIONAL IN ITS DEMANDS. We should neither make sacrifice ourselves, nor ask sacrifice from others, without good cause. In such cases we should be clear in our faith and judgment. To Mordecai Esther seemed the one appointed instrument of thwarting Haman and saving Israel. The reasons of this conviction he stated to the queen with great simplicity and force. Let us look at them.
1. As a Jewess, her life was already doomed. Let the edict once be put in force, let blood once be shed, and even she would not escape, any more than Vashti, the immutability of Persian law. Better to risk life in trying to prevent a dreadful iniquity than to expose it by a timid quiescence to almost certain death.
2. If she failed, deliverance would come by another. Here was an expression of a strong and prophetic faith; and in it we learn the secret of Mordecai's persistent opposition to Haman. He trusted in God, and had a firm persuasion that God would yet deliver his people. Esther and her house might be destroyed, but some other saviour would be raised up to testify to the faithfulness anal omnipotence of the God of Israel. God is not dependent on any one instrument, or on any multiple of one. He raises up and casts down at will, and chooses his servants. Amidst all the weaknesses of his people his covenant stands sure.
3. She might have been raised to the throne just for the purpose of saving her people at this juncture. The circumstances of her elevation were peculiar. There was a mystery in them which indicated to the thoughtful Mordecai the hand of God. To some extent the mystery was now explained. Esther was the instrument provided by God for the "enlargement and deliverance of Israel." Every opportunity of doing good is virtually a Divine call. When God points the way we should pursue it, at whatever cost, as the only right way. The providence of God is often remarkably shown in the occasions which demand from us special service for him and his people.
IV. A MIND THAT CLOSES ITSELF AGAINST CONVICTION IS ITS OWN ENEMY. Whether from fear, or pride, or evil inclinations, many harden themselves against the demonstrations of reason and experience; they shut the window of the soul against any fresh light. They take a stand which implies the impossibility of any change or advancement. Reasoning is lost on them. But Esther at once felt and acknowledged the force of Mordecai's argument. She could not resist it, and did not try. Her heart was convinced, and in the answer she returned she frankly confessed it. An openness to conviction is a condition of growth and usefulness; stubborn prejudice is a bar to wisdom and its fruits.
V. CONVICTIONS SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT IN ACTION. We are often tempted to act in opposition to the dictates of our inward judgment. The will may fail to be governed even by the deepest conviction. It is sad when acknowledged truth and actual conduct are at variance with each other. Esther affords us an example of loyal obedience to conviction, in face of the weightiest temptation to set it aside. Having been convinced by Mordecai's representations, she resolved to do what these urged upon her as a sacred duty. And in the words by which she conveyed her purpose to Mordecai she gave a remarkable display of -
1. Piety. The three days' fast which she laid on herself and her maidens inside the palace, and on Mordecai and the Jews of Shushan, was a humble and prayerful casting of the whole matter on Divine help. No mention is made of prayers, but the fast was all a prayer. The queen knew her own weakness; she knew also the true Source of strength; she felt that the work was God's, and that she was but a feeble instrument in his hands; and, therefore, she desired her countrymen to unite with her in humiliation and supplication before the God of Israel. Trial achieves much of its purpose when it brings a soul thus to the feet of God under a sense of dependence on his merciful succour. Victory is really won when endangered weakness feels itself under the shadow of the Almighty.
2. Heroism. All irresolution had now faded from Esther's mind. Having appealed to God, she was no longer doubtful; strength had already been given her. She was prepared for the sacrifice. "If I perish, I perish. A godly heroism! - one inspired by God and fed by communion with him. Esther's words were not emotional, or self-confident, or desperate; they were the result of earnest meditation, and must not be separated from her proposal of a three days' fast. We are reminded by them of the words of our Lord when communing with his Father before he went to the cross: Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." Esther is a type of Israel's Messiah. We see in her conduct at this time the working of that Holy Spirit who led God's Son to the sacrifice of himself for the salvation of men.
VI. THE WAY INTO THE PRESENCE OF THE KING OF KINGS is open and free to all who truly seek him. To the earnest suppliant or loving child the Divine majesty is not hedged round by formalities that create distance and terror. God is near to all who call upon him. He dwells with the humble and contrite. All may come to him by the way that he has consecrated in his Son, and come at any time. None are refused a hearing and a welcome. There is joy in the presence of his angels over every one that seeks his face. - D.
Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther.
(A. M. Symington, B. A.)
Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews
(J. S. Van Dyke, D. D.)
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