We’ve been studying the book of Esther recently at our church, which has caused me to reflect further on this wonderful story. I’ve written about Esther previously in this space (see Walking With God, July 7, 2020), but thought I would share just a few additional thoughts this week.
In chapter 4 of this very familiar story, we find the Jewish population of Babylon reeling following a public decree ordering their extermination. Queen Esther’s cousin Mordecai appeals to her to intervene on behalf of her people. Esther responds to Mordecai’s request with this statement:
“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter.” (4:11)
Even the queen herself, in all her royal finery, was not considered worthy to come into the presence of the king without an invitation.
We too serve a mighty King, whose sovereignty and holiness are far above any comparison with that long-ago king of Babylon. All through the Scripture, we see the reactions of those who came into the presence of this King. Moses encountered Him at the burning bush, and was told, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Ex. 3:5). Isaiah found himself in the presence of this King and cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.” (Is. 6:5).
Like Esther, we too are doomed if we enter the courts of this great and holy King without an invitation.
Esther approached her dilemma by fasting for three days and surrendering all to God (4:15-16). Three days of deprivation, utter humility, and death to self. Three days of waiting, while her fate hung in the balance. On the third day, she put on her royal robes and went boldly into the presence of the king. Her faith was rewarded as the king held out to her his scepter, the symbol of his royal power, and welcomed her into the court. (5:1-2)
Does that scenario remind you of anything? It should have a familiar ring to it.
Our King also has a scepter. An Old Testament prophet said, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” (Numbers 24:17). Jesus is the fulfilment of this prophecy, the Mediator between God and man. He came to earth and took on human flesh, living a sinless life; and then He suffered and died on the cross to pay for our sins.
While Esther rose from her fast on the third day and entered the presence of the king to plead for the physical salvation of her people, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day in order to accomplish eternal salvation for mankind, offering the invitation for all who believe in Him to freely enter into the presence of the King. He Himself is that royal scepter of power, extended to assure us of His everlasting welcome.
As a person who is broken and faulty, stained with the sin of the human race, I am unworthy to enter the King’s holy presence. But as a person who has touched the tip of His scepter and been clothed by His royal robes of righteousness, my reality is now that of Hebrews 4:16—
“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Esther walked boldly into the king’s presence by faith…and we can, too.