Women of faith! How exciting to share some favorite women of faith from the bible. There are so many to choose from and some that are not as well known as others. Of course most of us have heard of Mary the mother of Jesus, Sarah who was well past child bearing years when she had her first child Isaac, Rebekah, Isaac’s bride, Ruth a young woman who followed her mother in law Naomi to a land she was an outsider in, and that is just to name a few.
One that stands out is Esther. Her story can be found in the book that carries her name. She was a young woman who was chosen by God to save her people the Jews. The king of that time had just banished his wife Queen Vashti because she did not obey him when he requested she come and show off her beauty during a party he was having. He was angry and took advice from people of his court that he latter regretted but had to live with. The interesting thing here is that even though he listened while angry and took advice he later thought better of God was positioning everything for His glory and that of His people.
After the exile of Queen Vashti, King Ahasuerus [Xerxes] was in search for someone to take her place. This is where Esther comes in. She was a young beautiful Jewess who lived within King Ahasuerus’ kingdom and when he asked for all of the beautiful young virgins to come for what amounted to a beauty contest she was taken to the king’s palace and was placed in the care of the king’s eunuch Hegai who was in charge of the women.
When Hegai met Esther he was very pleased with her and hurried to make sure that she received everything she needed for her purification. He also made sure that her and her maids that he had provided from the king’s palace were given the best apartment in the harem. So already Esther has received favor in the eyes of the one who is in charge of all the women who are to be brought before the king. She is given everything she needs and more and all is done very quickly because she has found favor with Hegai.
Esther didn’t have a choice in whether or not she would go to the palace to participate in this for lack of a better term beauty contest she had to go. Instead of trying to find a way out of it she did what was expected of her and she obeyed her cousin Mordecai who had taken her in as his own daughter when her mother and father died. Mordecai told Esther not to reveal to anyone that she was a Jewess. Mordecai worked in the king’s court and was most likely very well aware of the dislike for his people the Jews by some of the king’s council. With this in mind and the leading of God because Mordecai feared the Lord he instructed Esther to keep her nationality a secret from everyone which included not letting anyone know she was related to him.
This is such an exciting story full of intrigue and suspense. Esther was a beautiful young woman who was respectful of her guardian Mordicai and reverent and faithful to her God. She obeyed Mordicai and followed what God had set in place for her life. It must have been so scary to be in a palace full of other beautiful women who were excited to meet the king and who also wanted the crown of queen. When you stop and think of her situation she had to be a very strong faithful woman. A strong woman of faith! She was in an environment that was not only foreign to her but she was also getting ready to be paraded in front of the most powerful man in the land at that time. How could she know what to expect? How nerve racking it must have been to be a young virgin who was not only in a new and strange environment but was also hiding her true identity.
Esther found favor in the king’s eyes as well as all those who laid eyes upon her. In fact in Esther 2:17 it reads; “And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the maidens, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” (Amplified version of the Holy Bible). Not only did she obtain favor in the king’s sight but “grace”, now that speaks volumes. Grace is something that is freely given and is one of the greatest gifts that our Heavenly Father gives us.
As the book continues we find that Esther being crowned queen is not the end of this wonderful story but really only the beginning. She is made queen of this massive Persian kingdom but as yet no one except for her cousin and guardian Mordecai know she is Jewish.
Now a villain enters the story by the name of Haman. Haman is promoted to be above everyone except the king himself. Haman is very power hungry and enjoys all of the attention that this position brings. He enjoys very much having people bow down to him so imagine his disdain when he comes across Mordecai who refuses to bow down to him. Of course this makes him very angry but he doesn’t want to single out just Mordecai so he forms this elaborate plan that includes the entire Jewish people. Haman goes before King Ahasuerus and tells him how horrible the Jewish people are and what a threat they are to his kingdom and laws. King Ahasuerus believes him and gives him all the authority he needs to do with the Jews as he wishes.
Mordecai warns Queen Esther of what is happening and informs her that she has been put in this place for a reason and that is to save her people the Jews.
The fear and adrenaline Queen Esther must have been feeling during this time was surely unbearable. She was a young woman who knew what she had to do but the reality of it is she did not have to do it she made a choice to save her people. She could have continued living as Queen without anyone finding out her real identity. After all no one except her and Mordecai knew she was a Jewess. But Mordecai made it clear to her that God also knew this fact and if she were to turn a blind eye to her people God would provide someone else to save the Jews but she would surely perish for her lack of faith. (Esther 4:13-14 Amplified version)
The plan was for Esther to go before the king and ask him to attend a banquet she would have for him and Haman. It doesn’t sound like a big task but it was actually life or death because to go before the king without an invitation even if you were the queen was a death sentence if he did not extend his golden scepter. With this weighing heavy on her mind Queen Esther dressed in her best robes and prepared herself for what was to come. She must have been in nonstop prayer just to help calm her nerves and help her to think clearly and do as God intended her to. When the time came she did as God instructed her and that was to go in front of the king even though she had not been invited. God was with her and rewarded her faithfulness because when King Ahasuerus seen her standing in the court he was well pleased and she received favor in his eyes. Imagine the relief Esther must have felt when she seen him extend the golden scepter. It was probably so overwhelming that she was nearly in tears or at least shaking at the knees.
Two banquets were given for the king and Haman and at the second Esther begged the king for her life and that of her people. She told him of Haman’s evil plot and the king became angry with Haman and had him hanged on the gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordecai.
Because of Esther’s brave and bold move to come before the king she was able with the help of Mordecai and the favor of God to save her people. Esther is indeed a great example of a woman of faith. She expressed her concerns showed her humanity and managed to keep her faith through a very scary time in not only her life but the lives of her people the Jews.