If you read her story, Esther is presented as hesitant, as hiding her faith and her cultural identity for fear of personal backlash, and then as a self-centred coward.
She pretended not to have a Jewish faith-culture because she would be disadvantaged in Babylon and would probably never have become queen if her true identity were known. By keeping quiet about her faith she had a chance of being queen to one of history’s most powerful kings, King Ahaseurus.
She is everything your Sunday School teacher never painted her as being – except for one thing; her sweetness of nature. Everyone who comes into contact with Esther is charmed.
But having got the coveted invitation to come to the palace, she displays her ignorance of occasion by relying on a servant to choose even the clothes she should wear. Esther had nothing of her own to boast about and relied on what she was given by the King.
But I could never understand why Esther was held up as a paragon of virtue.
At a time of national crisis for her people, the Jews, she dared not approach the King of Babylon without an invitation. She was advised of their plight by Mordecai, her adoptive uncle, and the Revised English Bible says she sent the message back. “All the courtiers and people in the king’s provinces know that if any person, man or woman enters the royal presence in the inner court without being summoned, there is but one law: that person shall be put to death, unless the king extends to him the gold scepter; only then may he live.” She could be put to death for approaching the king so and she refused to ask for an audience. She was a hopeless coward.
It was only when Mordecai reminded her that if the Jews were exterminated, she also would be exterminated, that she was goaded to approach the King.
Spurred on by fear, but summoning all her faith, she dressed in her royal robes and hesitated before entering the throne-room. She was fully aware of her own inadequacies, and awaited the King’s recognition. Pleased to see her, he held out his gold scepter for her to come into his presence.
The Babylon of Esther’s day is a picture of today’s society. It tells us to hide the Bible and ridicules our belief and the culture based on it. But the Bible represents the King’s wardrobe and Esther represents the church. The church, like Esther, must wear the wardrobe provided by her King.
The servant who advised Esther about her clothing is the Minister of the church. As servant, he does not go shopping to search the racks of fashion. He trusts the King and chooses from the wardrobe provided by the King.
The King is our Saviour who welcomes us in the clothing He has provided for us, delighted that we come to Him.
Esther is clothed for the Royal Visit and I begin to understand hope for the hopeless in the ancient gospel history of Esther.
(To access the entire “The Book of Esther” mini-series, please click here.)