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-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Keith Gerner <AVMuk@aol.com> http://www.avmworld.co.uk
EDITORS:Fred Pekkonen, Teresa Seputis

Studies In Intercession from the Book of Esther

By Keith Gerner

Lesson 6
Planning By Faith Or Fate?
Esther Chapter 4

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

In the last lesson we saw the beginning of the Devil's move to exterminate the Jews by promoting Haman to Grand Vizier. (Esther 3:1-2). We saw how witchcraft was a part of the preparation for the attack (v.7) against the Jews. A decree for their destruction was published after it had been backed by bribes (v 12). We must conclude that it is only by trial and tribulation that God's people win through to victory.

Victory Begins With Mourning And Burden In Prayer

Esther 4:1
When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. NIV

Mordecai led a national movement in fasting and prayer (verse 3). This involved a type of mourning where the people remove their comfortable clothes and dawn sackcloth, similar to how they mourn the death of a loved one. Sackcloth was a garment made of goats' hair, resembling a sack with openings for the neck and arms. This type of garment was often worn by captives and prophets (Rev 6:12). It was a symbol of sorrow and humility (Nehemiah 9:1). This attitude (repentance and humility) was acceptable to God, even when adopted by wicked Ahab (1 Kings 21:27-29).

David was prepared to wear sackcloth, even to bless his enemies! (Ps 35:13) Daniel used the same method to seek the Lord and received angelic visitation and the prophecy of the 70 weeks (Daniel 9:3). Mordecai may have followed his example.

Many of the Jews might have gone back when Cyrus made the opportunity, but they had missed this chance to escape. This decree would have borne hard on them. Anti-Semitism was rampant against them. In fact, this Anti- Semitism may have been the reason that God's name was omitted from the book of Esther.

In lesson 4 we learned that people who dressed as though they were in mourning were not allowed at the gates. Mordecai may not have been welcome at the gate because of his grief, yet he was able to come boldly to the Lord. We have this same confidence, Hebrews 4:16 "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Mordecai's business with God was very serious, and he needed God to answer his prayer. Esther, in the seclusion and protection of the castle, apparently had not heard of the decree against the Jews, even though it had been published throughout the kingdom. She became aware that her uncle was in great distress because her maids and eunuchs told her about it. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. The situation was too serious, so Mordecai refused comfort from her. He remained focused and diligent in seeking God for deliverance.

Victory Involves Making A Bold Request

We see a principle of prayer demonstrated in Mordecai's report to the queen: Prayer must be specific. In Esther 4:7-8, Mordecai told Hatach the full story of what had happened and the sum of money involved, together with giving a copy of the decree. He asked that Esther go in to see the King. This is a specific request.

We also see that prayer must be serious. The stakes can be high when we enter into serious intercession. In Esther's case, she would have to risk her life to go into the Court. Esther explains this in 4:11, where she says, "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."

Personal safety may be sacrificed, if we are to "pray through" to God. Esther had to risk her life to intercede to the king on behalf of her people. Many Christians of like faith, are being martyred today. However, the Lord hears the cries of His people (Ps 34:15, Ps 34:17). We need to realize that we are in the Lord's hands (1 Chronicles 21:13).

Our prayer must be sincere. Esther states the problem that she has not been called into the royal presence for some time, and she could be put to death for appearing without summons. Despite that, she is willing to go and intercede on behalf of her people. Likewise, Christians must not give up praying when the answer seems delayed (Luke 18:1) or the risk high. Even the heart of the King is in the hand of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1). We must keep our eyes on the invisible God rather than be discouraged by what we see and hear.

Mordecai urges Esther to seek her security based on God rather than based on natural means. In fact, because of her Jewish heritage, Esther was not safe from this decree, if she trusted in natural means, she was doomed to failure. In Esther 4:13 Mordecai sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape." Esther was due to die anyway, so why not make the effort? We are often involved in situations, whether we like it or not. So why not pray and prepare to be a part of God's solution to the situation that is driving us to pray in the first place!

We must think of it as a privilege to be selected by God to enter into intercession and participate with Him in His plans. When God selects us, He does not force us. He is looking for willing servants that He can use. It remains our decision whether or not we will accept His assignment. Esther faced this choice. She could risk her life and approach the king, or she could remain silent. Mordecai put it to her this way in Esther 4:14 "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Mordecai was sure God would deliver, but he would use somebody else if she was unwilling! It is a privilege to be used. But if we fail to answer the divine call, God may pass us by in favor of somebody else!

Prayer may involve a summons from God, such as the one Esther received in 4:14. Like Esther, you are a person of destiny with a plan for your life! (Romans 8:17, Romans 8:28-30) We have been carefully placed in our particular situation for prayer and intercession. Are we using our privileges appropriately?

Also notice that prayer may require the support of others. We see this illustrated in Esther 4:16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

Joint prayer is stronger than individual effort and we need to be aware of this fact. Chap 9 records the Jews slew 800 of their enemies in Susa, and so there must have been a fair number of Jews to back her up. United prayer is key to revival.

Victory Involves Making A Covenant With God

Esther had real determination to go through with God in prayer at any price. This is essential. She had a rich spiritual inheritance and godly examples to draw from. For instance, Abraham made a sacrifice to God and watched over it through the night until God made a covenant with him to give him the land (Genesis 15). Moses interceded for the nation after getting the second tablets of law (Exodus 34:9-11). Ezra got the people to pray and make covenant (Ezra 10:3). Nehemiah got the people to covenant to do what was right by God & man (Nehemiah 9:32). Isaiah got a Holy Ghost covenant for his whole family! (Isaiah 59:21).

Esther 4:17 records Esther's dedication and covenant with God. She would seek Him through prayer and fasting, joined in intercessory support by the other Jews. Then she would lay her life into God's hands (remembering that God had explicitly placed her in this situation for "such a time as this"). She would trust God to keep her alive rather and submit to His will .. no matter which way He chose. That is why she said, "if I perish, I perish." She was covenanting to leave the choice in God's hand. No matter what He decided, she would obey Him.

Like Esther, we must follow the Lord, even unto death!

-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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