~Old Testament Scenarios~
When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed,
many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.
Esther 2:8 (NIV)
“And He Will Raise You Up”
Could the guttural screeching of parents and the soft whimpering of innocent children be heard from each town as people witnessed this tragic scene? Did anyone, even Esther, ever think that God had abandoned them? At times we may have silently thought this ourselves, though our “predicaments” may not be that of facing slavery, as these young girls were.
We can be a people who like to read books that begin with, “Once upon a time”, as well as watch romantic Hallmark-type movies. I know I am a sucker for a sweet fairytale. One thing we must not do when reading the book of Esther is to “gloss over” what the first part of the story tells us, so that we can quickly get to the heroic part. So let’s take a moment to imagine how Esther, as she is known in this story (Hadassah was her Jewish name) might have felt as she was “forcibly taken” to the palace.
We do know part of the heartbreaking story is that Esther lost her parents at a very tender age. As an orphan, she was raised by her cousin Mordecai. We can barely imagine how lonely and frightening that situation was for this little girl. We also know that she and Mordecai were Jews living in exile in the pagan land of Persia, far from their homeland of Jerusalem. In 485 BC, prior to the Persians conquering the Babylonians, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had captured and taken most of the people into captivity. Then after 70 years of captivity, and after Persia conquered Babylon, King Cyrus who preceded King Xerxes (present king in this story), allowed the captives to go free and back to rebuild their city that had been burned and left in ruins. For whatever reason, Mordecai and Esther’s parents choose to stay behind and live in the comfort of a pagan land rather than trek across the 900 miles to help rebuild a city that lay in ruins. Twenty years later from when Ezra took the first group back to Jerusalem, the families that chose to stay behind were now facing King Xerxes’s decree. The king ordered all the young virgins to be taken from their homes to participate in a “beauty contest”. From this group, the king would choose a possible queen for himself.
Esther was probably around 12 to 20 years old when she was among the young girls that had been forcibly taken from the arms of their parents and taken to the palace to face the king. Then, after a year of being prepared, one by one, each girl would be brought before the king for him to decide (after having sex with each girl) if she would be banned to a life of living in his harem or be chosen as queen. As we know from scripture, Esther was chosen to be the queen of Persia, not only for her extraordinary beauty, but also as her character shined through as she was quietly devoted to the Lord. She must have called on Hashem, The Name. This is what God said about Himself, “My Name will be there…” He tells us that He hears the prayers of His beloved children and promises to be present with each of us!
God used Esther in a way no one could have ever imagined. He used her in a miraculous way. When other decrees when out to kill all the Jews, Esther, who had kept silent about her heritage, was now in a position to ask favor from her husband and king to save the Jewish nation from genocide.
Is your situation the worst of the worst? Are you wondering what good could ever come from this? Remember, as God allows you to go through the fiery trials, He not only gives you His Spirit , but also will extend the grace to not only endure it but the power to rise up and mightily soar above them. Thank you Jesus. Though we may not always understand what we’re going through we can trust that God has a purpose for choosing us “for such a time as this” to be a part of enlarging the Kingdom of Heaven.
This is your day; God has given it to you. What will you do with it? In the impossible, will you call on “The Name”, the One who has promised to be with you and bring you out in one way or another?
“But the Lord is faithful,
and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV)