Picture it – a young orphan girl, brought up by her uncle in a foreign land where her people had been carried away as captives years before….She had known the sorrow of the loss of her parents, of poverty and hardship. But now she found purpose in looking after her uncle and hope in looking forward to a future as one day becoming a Jewish wife and mother, even in the foreign land of Persia.
But one day, the King of the land of Susa, where she was dwelling, issued a decree and this young lady, as well as some others, was brought into the custody of a eunuch in the King’s palace.
For the King was seeking a bride.
Imagine this young Jewess, Hadassah, in the King’s palace, gazing at the splendor surrounding her. The fierce might of the palace’s guards, the opulence of the furnishings. Everything so beautiful, so different than she had ever known. And what of her future hopes now? Would she ever become a wife and mother? Would this Gentile king cause her to have to relinquish her future and remain with him in his palace?
For one whole year this young lady remained in the eunuch’s care, and eventually Hegai, as he was called, became her friend, her helper, her adviser. Each day for twelve months she was prepared and beautified for her first meeting with the King. Each day she wondered what that one night with the King would mean for her and what her future held. And as she soaked in the oil of myrrh, tears as bitter as that herb flowed down mingling with the oil and softening the harsh callous places of her skin.
After six months of the oil of myrrh preparation, Esther, as she was now known, was led by Hegai to begin the beautifying preparation with perfumes. Soft and supple now, her skin had been made tender by the bitter treatment of myrrh.
But that wasn’t the only thing that had changed. Soaking in the myrrh Esther’s heart and character had also been softened by the bitterness of her own “death”. Death to her future, death to her own plans, to what she had desired for her own life. But even further, the tender treatment and counsel of her constant companion Hegai had taken her through that bitterness of death and brought her into something new, something fresh, even…exciting. Now she was filled with a different hope, a different expectancy for the future that was laid on the foundation of a humble yet mature character wrought through endurance.
The perfume preparation complete, Esther was now ready to enter the King’s presence. Having come through this next stage of preparation Esther had become even more dependent on her friend Hegai and sought his counsel as to what she should take with her to the King. He, after all, knew the King and the King’s taste.
It was Esther’s turn. Hegai took her to the King and “the king loved Esther more than all the other women and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen….” Esther 2:17
Esther, now as the King’s bride, settles into life as a Queen. She of humble origins, an orphan, now the Queen of 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia.
One day Esther receives some troubling news from her uncle. Haman the Agagite has decreed to exterminate all of the Jews, her people, and her husband the King has authorized this decree! Her uncle tells her to make a plea to the King for her people.
Deeply distressed, Esther hesitates. She knows, as does her uncle, that to enter the king’s presence unbidden brings the immediate sentence of death. Yet she loves her people, her heart yearns for her people with every day that goes by. Her uncle’s heart breaks, he loves her and knows her dilemma – yet he must utter these words:
““Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13, 14)
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:15, 16)
If I perish, I perish
As her tears had rolled into the waters of myrrh long ago Hadassah had known that her life was no longer her own. It was then that she had perished. Long ago she had been prepared for this.
And it was because she had perished then, that she could intercede now for those who were perishing.
OH Lord, make us into a people like Esther, who would die to ourselves, our plans and our own lives. Make us into a prepared and beautified Bride, who will come boldly before the throne of grace in Your presence and plead for the lives of those around us who are perishing. Father we thank you for Your Son, Yeshua, the ultimate intercessor, who did give up His life for us, who stood in the gap for us, so that we should not perish but have everlasting life. OH Lord, help us to be led by Your Spirit only, to seek You only and Your will. May we be brave and stand in the gap, even in the midnight hour. In the Name of Yeshua Hamashiach, Amen.
Happy Purim everybody!