“…and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
During the exile, the kingdom had passed from the Assyrians to the Persians. Ahasueras was King of Persia and Media. He was a powerful monarch- ruling 127 provinces stretching ‘from India to Ethiopia’. As such he dealt with bureacracy, celebrity, special interest groups, traditions, and rebellions. He found himself with a problem with protocol involving his wife Vashti during the holidays.
They were feasting and drinking at the palace, when the King decided to call his beautiful wife down to the palace- to show her off to the aristocrats- and to bring some more scotch from the liquor cabinet:
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded…the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.
I know, the crown royal means the crown worn on the head, but I thought that was funny. Well, Queen Vashti was down the road at the royal house hosting a women’s get together. She didn’t feel like getting all dressed up in the royal garb and going and spending hours entertaining drunken aristocrats. She refused to go and caused a crisis:
But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him…Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times,…What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?
One of the princes advised that word would get out and there would be a feminist rebellion in the whole kingdom. He advised that Vashti needed to be publicly and openly replaced- to send a clear message to rebellious-minded women everywhere. The king agreed and set the replacement into motion.
Amongst the exiles in those days was a Jew named Mordecai and his niece Esther. Esther’s parents had died, leaving her orphaned, and Mordecai took her in and raised her. She grew into a beautiful young woman.
When the time came to find a new queen, Mordecai, who worked as a servant in the king’s gate, was able to get her a spot in the auditions. He walked by the house were the women were staying everyday to make sure she was doing okay and to see how things went. When her time came, “…the king loved Esther above all the women,…so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.”
Meanwhile, a man named Haman, was a rising star in the kingdom and was promoted to chief prince. If you are Jewish, you are undoubtedly familiar with the name. Haman is an infamous Jew-hater.
As the new chief prince, the servants bowed to Haman as he passed. Mordecai did not. This angered Haman- who plotted revenge. And he didn’t want to just punish Mordecai- Haman wanted a Holocaust:
And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them…If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: Then were the king’s scribes called..and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded…in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring: And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day,…
Kill all the Jews. Take all their property. A timeless endeavor. A popular theme.
Naturally, this caused great distress in the Jewish community. Mordecai put on sackcloths and sat in the gate- which was forbidden. Esther saw him and asked what was the deal. She was given a copy of the extermination order and Mordecai asked her to intervene with the king. Esther advised it just wasn’t that simple:
All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.
Bureacracy. Traditions. There was no time for this.
Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
So powerful and true were Mordecai’s words. Esther thought about how she had been a refugee orphan and was now married to the most powerful man in the world. She indeed had come to the kingdom for such a time as this:
Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
We know that Esther didn’t perish, but saved her people. Haman was hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai.
You are who you are and where you are for a reason: You have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. Whether or not you answer the call, God’s work will be done. You can do it, or let the chance pass.
You are needed for such a time as this.