And if I perish, I perish.

Queen Esther as portrayed in this photo from wikipedia

Those were the brave words of Queen Esther in the Book of Esther  4:16  when she mustered up all her courage to foil a plan to annihilate the Jewish people living in Susa during the reign of King Xerxes of Persia.    She went into the inner court of the palace where the king was sitting in his throne to invite him and Haman- whose idea it was to kill all the Jews- to a banquet.  Chapter 4 tells us that everyone,  without exception,  was forbidden to approach the King in the inner court without being summoned and violation of this law would mean death unless the King extends his gold scepter.  After asking her people to pray and fast for her, Esther ignored this royal edict knowing that her people’s lives could depend on her.

The Book of Esther is very interesting for several  reasons:  First,  it is the only other book in the Bible that is named after a woman( the other one is Ruth); second, the protagonist is female ; and third God worked  just as mightily in the life of Esther.

Esther was a simple Jewish girl who allowed herself  to be used by God to save His people.  She was an orphan and  was brought up by her cousin Mordecai.   Esther, as the Bible says,  grew up to be a beautiful woman and, to cut the story short, was later chosen to replace Queen Vashti.   Esther’s arrival at the Persian palace was  divinely  orchestrated, as much as her  being chosen to replace Queen Vashti was never a coincidence nor a handiwork of any human.  She came to the picture at a time when  God’s people were threatened to be massacred, thus  also “the future existence of God’s chosen  people, and ultimately the appearance of the Redeemer-Messiah.”[1]    Although she hesitated for a moment, in the end Esther did what she was there to do.

Stories how biblical women actively participated in the redemption plan of God is both refreshing and encouraging.  Accounts of the other women like Ruth, Deborah, Jael, Hannah, and the others   put women on the roster of people to whom God gives the important task of expanding His Kingdom on earth.  These stories place women at the forefront alongside men in the over-all salvation plan of God.  In the Book of Genesis, after sin came into the picture God cursed the serpent and declared that the offspring of the woman (Jesus Christ) will crush satan’s head. [2]  It is quite apparent that it was never God’s intention to leave women in the background while the men are busy expanding His Kingdom.  Any one, woman or man,  regardless of color, nationality or profession,  who received Jesus Christ into his or her life is given the mandate to “go out to the ends of the earth” and preach the good news of salvation.  Each one has been equipped by the Holy Spirit to do what is assigned to him/her.  But like Esther, we have to be willing enough to let the old self perish and be clothed with the new one as part of our  spiritual rebirth.  Or as Mordecai said, “For if you [Esther] remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place…”[3] and one will have missed the privilege of being  part of the great harvest.


[1] Holy Bible, New International Version. International Bible Society, 1984.

[2]Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

[3] Esther 4: 14 (NIV)

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