Esther hesitates but Mordecai isn’t so easily put off. Perhaps she’s thinking, ″I’m the queen and safely tucked away in this palace. Anyway, if I keep my Jewish identity secret I’ll be safe from Haman’s decree.″
Mordecai stops that line of thinking immediately. He says, ″Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape″ (Esther 4:13).
″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″ (Esther 4:14). Most likely, Mordecai is suggesting that she will be punished for not acting.
In short, Mordecai says, ″You think your life is at risk if you go to the king? Your life is at risk if you don’t.″ Faced with that cold hard reality, Esther musters her resolve. She encourages her maids, as well as all the Jews, to fast for her before she approaches the king (Esther 4:16).
So far in the book of Esther, God hasn’t been mentioned. He won’t be mentioned in the rest of the book either. God’s control of events is not specifically stated, which has the effect of placing the spotlight on the roles of the Jews, especially Mordecai and Esther. One effect of hiding God and His actions is that it places more emphasis on us: our action, our initiative, our courage in acting.2
Sometimes we need to act with initiative for the sake of God and His people. God can fulfil His purposes without us. But often He chooses to use us. It’s not that He needs us or else His plans go out the window. And it’s not that He only intervenes in the affairs of His world when things go wrong. His hidden hand works even in the everyday events of life.
Often He chooses to use our initiative and our actions to accomplish His ends. But even if we don’t act, God will still accomplish His purposes. As Mordecai says to Esther, ″if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place″ (Esther 4:14).
2See Peter H. W. Lau and Gregory Goswell, Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth, New Studies in Biblical Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2016), 100-101.
What comfort is there in knowing that even if we fail to stand up as Christians, God will still accomplish His purposes?
Are there people we can ask to pray and fast with us as we face suffering for being Christians?