Lesson 100 - Elementary
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16).
Crowning the Queen
A little Jewish girl named Esther was left alone when both her parents died. Mordecai, a kind cousin, took her into his home as his own daughter. Later on, when the king wanted a new queen, he chose Esther, out of many young women, for she was very beautiful. The king set a royal crown upon her head and she became the queen in the land of Persia. Mordecai told her not to let anyone know that she was a Jewess, for the Jews were not liked by the people of this land. Although Esther was an orphan girl living in a strange land, God had a great work for her to do.
The King's Helpers
Mordecai was a very faithful man who seemed to work at the king's gate as watchman. The king liked him and trusted him with an important place. There was another man, Haman, who was given power in the kingdom. Everyone bowed down before Haman, for the king had commanded the people to do so. But Mordecai, the Jew, loved and worshiped the Lord and would not bow down before any man. Of course, that hurt Haman's pride and made him angry at Mordecai and all the other Jews. So Haman went to the king and said that the Jews were not obeying the laws of the land. He asked the king to give a command that all the Jews should be killed. He said he would pay a very great sum of money to the government if the king would give that command. The king believed Haman's words and gave consent to have all the Jews destroyed.
The Sad News
Letters were sent to all the people saying that on a certain day all the Jews should be killed; not one was to escape, but every man, woman, and child was to be destroyed. The king put his seal upon the letters. When the Jews learned the sad news they became very frightened. There was much weeping throughout the land. When Mordecai heard of it he tore his clothes from him and put on clothes made of sackcloth, for that was what people wore when they were sad. He stood in front of the palace and cried bitterly. He was sorrowful not only for himself but for all the Jews as well. The queen heard about Mordecai's sorrow and wanted to know what had happened. As she saw him sitting near the palace, dressed in sackcloth, she sent him some better clothes to put on. She loved her cousin and had not forgotten his kindness to her in taking her in when she was a little orphan girl. It made her feel bad to see him in such sorrow.
But Mordecai did not accept the clothes she sent. He sent a message to her telling of the plan to kill all the Jews; and, since she was a Jewess, he said she need not think that she would escape. He said that she and her people would all be destroyed. But, he said, perhaps it was for just such a time as this that she had become the queen. He felt that God had let Esther become queen so that she might save the lives of her people. Mordecai loved God and knew that God loved him and all the Jews. If we have faith to trust God, He will never fail us. He did not fail Mordecai, as we shall soon see.
Risking Her life
Mordecai told Queen Esther to go to the king and ask him to protect the Jews. But the queen told her cousin that there was a law that if anyone came into the place where the king was without being asked to come, that person should be killed, unless the king held out the golden sceptre, or staff, to him. It would be very dangerous for her to go before the king when he had not called for her. But she told Mordecai to have all the Jews pray for her and not eat or drink for three days and nights. She said she and her maidens in the palace would also fast. She wanted God's protection as she went in before the king. She knew that only God could soften the king's heart to hear her request. No doubt Mordecai had taught her to pray when she was a little girl. She purposed to go in before the king, although it was against the law to do so unless called for. She would plead for the life of the Jews. She said, "If I perish, I perish."
Surely she had the love of God in her heart for her people, the Jews. If the king would not hold out the golden sceptre to her, she would be killed, but she was willing to risk her life for her people.
After three days of fasting, the queen put on her most beautiful clothes and went to the king's house. When the king saw her timidly standing in the court that day in all her beauty, he was pleased with her. Can you imagine the joy she must have felt when he held out the golden sceptre to her? She came near to him, and with her hand touched the top of the sceptre. The king asked her what her request was. He said he would give her anything she asked, to the half of the kingdom.
Queen Esther was very happy that the king did not send her away but he listened to her story. Thus far the Lord had helped her. She probably wondered whether the king would really grant her request and spare the lives of her people. She did not tell at once of the great sorrow in her heart. She asked that the king and his friend Haman come to a great feast that she was preparing for them. They promised to come.
The next night as the king lay on his bed he was unable to sleep. Perhaps he was thinking about the letters that had gone out saying that all the Jews were to be killed. It may be that some of the weeping among the heartbroken Jews had reached his ears. The Jews were God's people and it was not His will that they should be destroyed. Doubtless it was the Lord who kept King Ahasuerus awake that night in order that his heart might be turned toward the Jews. Then the king asked that a book of records be brought and read to him. There in the book they found written a story of how Mordecai had saved the king's life some time before. Then the king asked if anything had been done for Mordecai for this great deed. The servants answered that nothing had been done for him. So the king commanded that fine clothing should be given to Mordecai, and a crown placed upon his head. He should be given a horse, and should ride horseback through the street of the city and be highly honoured.
All this made Haman very jealous of Mordecai. He hurried home in shame. He had hoped that he should be the one to ride through the streets of the city dressed in the king's clothes. He though he should have been the honoured one instead of this humble Jew. He had carefully made his plan to have Mordecai and all the Jews destroyed. But God on the throne saw it all. He always takes care of His own people.
As yet, the king did not know that the lovely queen was a relative of Mordecai. But at a great feast, Queen Esther perhaps told the king that Mordecai was her cousin. She fell down at the feet of the king, and with tears in her eyes begged him to spare her people from death. Again the king held out the golden sceptre to her. Then she rose and stood before the king. The king kindly listened to her plea and granted her desire. He sent letters promising protection for the Jews. The letters were swiftly carried through the land. That was a happy day for all the Jews: God had heard and answered their earnest prayers.
Mordecai was given a high place in the kingdom. God knew the heart of the wicked Haman, and he was punished for the terrible things he had planned for the Jews.
Sorrow Turned to Joy
The whole city rejoiced and the Jews were very happy that the beautiful queen had saved their lives. Every year the Jews held a feast of thanksgiving to God for His mercy in saving them from their enemies. God had used Queen Esther as a means of protecting His people, the Jews. Their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning "into a good day." Many of the Jews today still hold this yearly feast of thanksgiving to God, which is called the Feast of Purim.
Faith and Courage
Sometimes it takes courage for us to do exactly as the Lord wants us to do. But if we pray, and trust the Lord as Esther did, He will help us to do His will. God has work for every person to do, young or old. God has a purpose in letting this orphan girl become the queen. He knew that she had a heart full of faith and courage and that she would carry out the plan He had for her. Let us pray that God will help each and every one of us to work for Jesus and fulfil His plan in our life.
1. Why was Haman angry at Mordecai? [EST:3:5].
2. What did Esther ask the Jews to do before she went to talk to the king? [EST:4:16].
3. Did the king hold out the golden sceptre to Esther? [EST:5:2].
4. Were the Jews spared? [EST:8:11].
5. Do you remember the story of another captive maid who worked for the Lord? [2KG:5:1-27].