For those familiar with Veggie Tales movies, the story of Esther is well known from an early age. She has forever been immortalized as a woman of courage and of grace. Every year many Christians and Jews get together to celebrate a feast known as Purim. This usually takes place in February or March depending on the year because the Lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendars don’t line up. One thing that is often done during this celebration is the reading of the book of Esther. God’s story of rescue and preservation of His persecuted followers. And one central figure to the entire story is none other than the woman that the book is named for. Esther is one of only two women in the entire Bible to have a book named after them. Generally, the titles are reserved for the authors or initial recipients of the letters. Not so here.
Esther is by far my daughters’ favorite heroine of the Bible. When they get to choose the bedtime Bible stories they almost always pick this one. My five year old could probably recite the entire thing for you. Her’s is the real-life princess story. No not Disney’s version, even though I love Disney movies. Her’s is a story with good overcoming evil at both a personal and national level. There were very real dangers that could have cost her, and millions, their lives. Esther’s story has importance for the entire Jewish and Christian faiths. Which is why we celebrate her, and God’s faithfulness in her story, today.
Esther had a lot of disadvantages from the very beginning. She had no parents. As an orphan child, she was adopted by her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as his own. Her original name was Hadassah. She was a Jewish girl living during captivity in a hostile empire called Babylon. No one would suspect her for the one who would be used by God to save an entire people. But that’s exactly what happens.
One day the King issues a decree to have all young virgin women of the empire rounded up for a selection process to be his new bride. Hadassah is one of them. That could not have been an exciting prospect for her. It must have been terrifying. But God is using this situation to bring about His future redemption. This is but one of many moments for Esther where she had to display tremendous courage and faith. She left the only family she knew and became the Queen of the most powerful empire in the world. But her challenges do not end when she becomes Queen. When a plot to destroy the Jewish people is uncovered by Mordecai, Esther has to decide whether or not she will go before the King, uninvited, and reveal her true identity along with the evil plot.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
Esther 4:14-16 NIV
Once again, Esther chooses to put her own life on the line in order to serve God’s will. Trusting in the Lord, she steps out in faith, uncertain of what lies ahead. As the story went on, Esther bravely went before the king, foiled the plot, and saved her people. Her entire story is one of courage and faith. Choosing not herself, but her calling. Even as a Queen, she was still a servant. Her faith never changed no matter her station in life. At so many points in her life, she could have lost focus and lost hope. But she endured, undoubtedly because she was a woman of incredible faith.