It is with great limitations one would consider this important and, possibly, neglected topic on “great women” (2 Kings 4:8). We will beg our brethren to put their exploits and enterprises on the “pause” button for a little while and click on “new messages.” It is most instructive to view women whose roles in the work of the Lord are often critical to the success and advancement of the kingdom of God, but who often go unrecognized.
This series could well bear the caption, “Heroines of Faith.” We embark upon this intriguing and fascinating meditation with much dependence upon the gracious help of the Holy Spirit.
The heroic records of women, whether mothers, single, or widows, that braved storms, sickness, death, and martyrdom is most thrilling to explore. Some stood by their martyred husbands; some plowed a lonely path pioneering where no man had trodden, and others in their widowhood carried on the burden for the lost and perishing. History records many noble and gallant women and, where history has failed them, the records in heaven have faithfully noted their devotion, acts, and deeds. Think of the women who ministered unto our Lord during His earthly ministry! What joy to the heart of the rejected Christ! What high commendation Paul gave to Phebe and Priscilla! How gently he exhorted his true yokefellow to help “those women” who labored with him in the gospel (Philippians 4:3)! Then there is the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31: “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed” (v 28). We cannot overlook Matthew’s record of the woman who broke the alabaster box of fragrance and poured it on Christ’s head. What the disciples called waste, our Lord calls worship! This act of devotion is placed as an everlasting memorial.
Esther was a true heroine, a classic example of one who achieved one of the greatest accomplishments in history – the rescue and preservation of all the Jews in the Persian Empire. While there are the two towering heroes in the book, Mordecai and Esther, it is evident that Esther (the orphan girl) plays the major role in this great deliverance of the Jews. When she considered this humanly impossible task, she rose to the occasion. Esther has left us a rich legacy! What are you leaving dear sister? What are we all leaving behind?
The background of the Book of Esther is well known to all. Esther, or “star,” was a guiding star in the history of the Jews, and will shine brighter one day in glory, like the stars in the firmament. As we trace how she shines in this book, we admire her role in the awesome crisis facing her: the rescue of her people from extermination. The influence of her godly cousin Mordecai had a most telling effect upon Esther.
Esther never forgot her humble beginnings, even when she reached the lofty position of Queen; she retained her humility and honesty. We may call her Queen Esther, but somehow the name Esther rings more true! It is a great quality in believers when they never lose the sense of their roots! How quickly we can forget when our circumstances bring us to a higher station in life. A bigger house! A prestigious car! A higher social status! Shame on us if we let “ugly pride” make us forget the hand that fed us and the background from which we came! “Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed thee…” (Deuteronomy 15.15) is timely to us all. May this lesson be engraved deeply upon us ALL! Esther is raised to this high position of Queen in Persia and in truth “for such a time as this.” A crisis time! It is obvious that Esther’s history is marked by one crisis after another: the loss of her parents, leaving her homeland for a strange and pagan land, her identity hidden and then finally revealed when promoted to Queen.
We now focus on Esther’s greatest crisis in the palace where she moves with a martyr-spirit to intercede for her people before the King. She reveals her identity and her link with her people, the Jews. Mark well what precedes Esther’s appearance before his Royal Majesty – she urgently requests Mordecai, together with all the Jews, to pray and fast and she does likewise (Esther 4:16). Esther never puts demands on others that she would not put on herself! This is an important principle! In all service, dependence upon God is vital. No victory will be wrought without it! We cannot go out at our own charges. The “MUST” of prayer and fasting is an important factor in the crises of life. This also indicates that Esther was a woman of prayer; it was her consistent habit. Note the extent of her dedication. Many of us fall short of this high and noble sacrifice, the sacrifice of life itself! Esther was Paul-like, “I count not my life dear unto myself.” She went in before his Royal Highness, which was against the law, but she resolved with deep-rooted conviction – “If I perish! I perish!” (4:16). What a display of self-sacrifice! She was willing to lay down her life for others, fully aware of the consequences that if the King refused it would be death. Faith moves into the unknown, but not unknown to our God. She was like the three Hebrew children who said, “Our God is able to deliver us, but if not we will not worship the golden image.” Esther’s faith in God was honored and her request granted. Behind the king’s hand that held out the golden Scepter of acceptance was the invisible hand of the Almighty controlling the king’s arm that extended the golden Scepter. God was moving behind the scenes. What joy and peace must have flooded her soul as Esther viewed the protection and faithfulness of her God. If God be for us, who can be against us? Her wisdom and discernment in planning the banquet, followed by the overthrow of the wicked Haman and the final deliverance of the Jews, is one of the most intriguing stories in the Old Testament. Esther is truly a great woman!
The Book of Esther is known as a megillah (scroll) and is read each year at the feast of Purim to commemorate God’s deliverance of the Jews through Esther and her cousin Mordecai. Esther has left us a rich legacy in which we learn to trust our God to conquer the most adverse circumstances of life. There is no greater privilege than for a sister to lay her life on the altar for God and have a place among the great women of faith. Committed Christians are commended Christians.