VERY OFTEN, TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
I’ve read the Book of Esther in the Bible many times and I’ve often wondered why Queen Esther invited King Xerses (also called Ahaseurus or Artaxerses) and his favourite noble, Haman, to a feast two days in a row before presenting her request for the deliverance of the Jews from destruction.
She had all the Jews in Susa fasting on her behalf, according to her directive to Mordecai, plus herself and her attendants.
“12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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 your royal position for such a time as this?’
“15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 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 attendants 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.’
“17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.” – Esther 4:12-17 (NIV)
She had waited till the third day of the fast before approaching the inner court where it was forbidden for anyone to go without being sent for by the king. The king graciously spared her life and clearly declared, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you” (Esther 5:3).
Why didn’t Esther present her request immediately and plead for her people? Why did she risk asking the king to come to a banquet?
Historical records reveal that Xerses was cruel and capricious, according to Mark G. Pearse in his Bible Hub article, “Character of Ahaseurus.”
“This is the man who was hospitably entertained by Pythias of Lydia when on his way to Greece, and helped by an enormous contribution; but when the old man, who had given all his other sons to the service of the king, pleaded that the eldest might stay with him, Herodotus tells us that Xerxes in a fury commanded that the son should be slain, and he made his whole army pass between the severed body,” Pearse adds.
Why didn’t Esther launch into her appeal on that first day? Instead, she not only asked Xerses and Haman to attend her banquet once, but twice! This in spite of the fact that Xerses repeated his earlier offer to grant her request, even up to half the kingdom.
Why did Esther not grasp any of these offers? What was at stake was too much- the lives of the Jews, not only in Susa but in Xerses’ entire empire with its 127 provinces.
Anything could have happened to swing the mercurial king from bestowing benevolence to decreeing merciless punishment.
When I saw the answer in my daily Bible reading yesterday, it dawned on me that Esther’s delay was inspired.
You see, something needed to happen to make King Xerses feel beholden to the Jews enough to send dispatches that will override the earlier edicts for their annihilation which he promulgated on Haman’s request. And that crucial thing didn’t happen until the night following the first banquet.
“1 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.” – Esther 6:1-2
Wow! Mordecai, a Jew, had saved the life of King Xerses! It was there in the royal records in black and white!
I believe at this point the clouds had gathered and Haman was inexorably swept to his doom.
Why have I taken the time to describe this situation in detail? Very often, we’re raring to make a move or do something we consider momentous and time is running out. The pressure to act and settle the matter- to avert impending doom or release something glorious- may be so much. But it is terribly important to be led before making that all-important move.
Have you received a spiritual green light? If not, it may be that everything is not yet in place for the outcome or outcomes you desire. Let me also quickly add that these outcomes should be prayerfully determined, not unilaterally or whimsically.
Because Esther read the atmosphere correctly (and I believe this was a result of her fasting and not acting in the flesh), she not only got an unpredictable king to spare her life and that of her family, but the lives of all the Jews in the vast realm of the king. More than that, she got the king to give the Jews such an upper hand that they were not only safeguarded by the same authorities who were meant to eliminate them, they were permitted to slaughter their enemies.
The fear of the Jews (who had been marked for destruction) fell on the peoples in Xerxes’ empire such that “many people of other nationalities became Jews.” And for the Jews, what would have been their decimation and inconsolable mourning turned into exuberant joy and merriment enshrined in the celebration of Purim for their generations (Esther 8:17, 9:20-28).
What a reversal of fortune! What a heartwarming turnaround we get when we key in to the right timing for what we do!
The scriptures in this post are from the New International Version of the Holy Bible.
Character of Ahasuerus
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