Esther 2: Lessons on God’s Grace From Esther’s Undeserved Selection as Queen of Persia

Introduction: In Esther 2, Esther became the Queen of Persia. She is often rightly portrayed for the courage of her faith when she later saved God’s people as Xerxes’ queen. But most fail to appreciate God’s grace in selecting her to become the Queen. Grace is an important part of God’s character. Grace is defined as God’s undeserved gifts, favor, or blessing. In contrast, God’s mercy is His withholding of the punishment that a sinner rightfully deserves. In this chapter, God reveals how Esther, Mordecai, and even Xerxes benefited from God’s grace. None deserved God’s grace. But God showed His undeserved favor or blessings upon all of them so that they could become His instruments to protect the Jews from Satan’s plan to destroy them.

First, God allowed Xerxes to experience humiliation on the battlefield against Greece to cause him to feel lonely and long for a queen. God used Xerxes’ servants to propose a beauty contest to select a replacement queen, a process that He would use to elevate Esther to the throne. God is sovereign, and His grace can work though even evil people like Xerxes. Second, Esther and Mordecai had passed on the chance to join the freed Jews who returned to the Promised Land. They loved their life in Persia and even had Persian names. Thus, Esther did not deserve to be elevated to a position of power. God’s grace can also work through undeserving people. Third, Esther was forcibly abducted into the King’s harem because of her beauty. This would have been a terrifying experience that she could have avoided if she left for the Promised Land. But God still protected her and gave her favor. God’s grace can also protect His people from harm or sorrow. Fourth, Mordecai urged Esther to conceal her Jewish identity to increase her chances to become queen. But God’s law prohibited His people from seeking out marriages with non-believers. Mordecai may have sought to benefit himself from Esther’s promotion. Thus, neither Esther nor Mordecai deserved God’s blessing. But God still blessed them. God’s grace can therefore work even through those who disobey His laws. Fifth, through God’s providence, Esther found favor amongst Xerxes’ officials. God’s grace can also allow His people to find favor amongst others. Sixth, Esther became queen and continued to conceal her Jewish identity, most likely when she had no further need to do so. God would use her actions, however, to later expose Haman and protect God’s people. God’s grace can therefore cause even bad choices to work together for good. Finally, Esther’s elevation to Queen also allowed Mordecai to be elevated into a position of authority. Through God’s providence, He used Mordecai to expose a plot against Xerxes. Xerxes was a prideful, cruel, idolater who did not deserve God’s grace. God’s grace on Xerxes shows that His grace is available to all.

1. God is Sovereign, and His Grace Can Work Though Even Evil People. Esther 2:1-4.

  • Xerxes’ advisors suggest that he look for a new queen to console himself. Following Xerxes’ humiliating defeat against the Greeks, God used his sorrow and loneliness to set in motion events that would lead to Esther’s selection as the Queen of Persia: “1 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done, and what had been decided regarding her. Then the king’s attendants, who served him, said, ‘Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king. And may the king appoint overseers in all the provinces of his kingdom, and have them bring every beautiful young virgin to the citadel of Susa, to the harem, into the custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let their cosmetics be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen in place of Vashti.’ And the suggestion pleased the king, and he did accordingly.” (Esther 2:1-4). Esther appeared before Xerxes in the seventh year of his reign (Esther 2:16). Thus, these events take place four years after his banquet at Susa in 483 B.C., the third year of his reign (Esther 1:3). In the spring of 481 B.C. Xerxes set out to fight the Greeks. From 480 until 479 B.C., Xerxes waged a war out of pride because the Greeks would not submit to him. In 480 B.C., after a small Greeks force blocked the Persians at the pass of Thermopylae, the outnumbered Greeks won a naval battle at Salamis, near Athens. In 479 B.C., his forces were routed at the battle of Plataea, Greece. He became the first Persian king to suffer major defeats on the battlefield. God used his sorrow to cause him to long for the Queen Vashi, whom he exiled in a drunken rage (Esther 2:1; 1:19-20). His advisors knew that she would execute them if he found a way to bring her back. Thus, they proposed a beauty contest to select a new queen. As a carnal man, Xerxes liked this idea. God then used these sinful men to allow Esther to become the Queen of Persia.

Xerxes’ advisors suggest that he look for a new queen1

  • Everyone is in need of God’s grace. Xerxes and his advisors were in desperate need of God’s grace. Xerxes’ defeat was part of God’s efforts to humble him. Like Xerxes, every person is born into sin (Ps. 51:5). All are guilty of breaking God’s law and unable to atone for their own sins (Ro. 3:9-20, 23; 1 Jo. 1:8-10). A sinner who refuses the salvation that Jesus offers is even considered an “enemy” against God (Ro. 5:6, 10; 8:7, Col. 1:21). Without Jesus’ atoning blood, all sinners deserve death (Ro. 6:23).

  • Worshiping idols can bring defeat for an entire nation. When a nation like Persia embraces idolatry, God warns that He will eventually allow it to be defeated: “25 The Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; . . .” (Dt. 28:25; Lev. 26:17). When the Jews were disobedient to God, they were also defeated in battle (e.g., 1 Sam. 4:2, 10). If you refuse to follow God’s laws, you will not lose your salvation. But God may remove His hand of protection and allow you to experience setback and defeat.

  • God is sovereign and can control even evil men for His glory. Xerxes’ agreement to abduct women throughout his empire for a harem beauty contest was not something that God would ever condone. Yet, out of grace, God used the desires of this carnal king to control the outcome of history to protect the Jews from extinction. “To this point, the story of Esther also shows us that in the outworking of His plan, God can use the evil of man. God did not make Ahasuerus drunk, or make him demand that his queen present herself in an immodest way before the lords of the kingdom; yet God allowed this wicked action of man to fulfill a purpose in His greater plan. We find assurance in the truth that no other person, no matter how evil they are, can defeat God’s plan for our life, no matter what they have done to you or will do to you.” (David Guzik on Esther 2).2 God can control the heart of any leader to fulfill His plans: “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Prov. 21:1). In 538 B.C., God influenced King Cyrus I to issue a decree that gave the Jewish captives in Babylon the right to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13-17). God later controlled the heart of Xerxes’s successor, King Artaxerxes I (circa 464 to 424 B.C.), to grant the requests of both Ezra and Nehemiah (e.g., Ezra 7:6, 10; 7:27-28; 8:22, 31; Neh. 2:2-9). “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). Even when evil surrounds you, do you trust that God is ultimately in control and faithful to you?

2. God’s Grace Can Also Work Through Undeserving People Who Lack Faith. Esther 2:5-7.

  • God selects Mordecai and Esther to save His people. God used two unlikely people to save His people, two Jews who ignored the chance to return to the Promised Land: “There was a Jew at the citadel in Susa whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been taken from Jerusalem with the exiles who had been deported with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had deported. He was the guardian to Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young woman was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” (Esther 2:5-7). Following the death of her parents, Esther’s older first cousin Mordecai raised her in Persia. Mordecai “took for his own daughter. Not perhaps by a formal adoption, but by taking her to live with him, and treating her as if she had been his own child. This fact is related to account for the terms of familiarity between the two, which form an essential part of the later narrative.” (Pulpit commentary on Esther 2:7).3

Esther’s older first cousin Mordecai raised her like a daughter4

  • God’s grace in using imperfect people to accomplish His plans. Like everyone, Esther and Mordecai were imperfect people. When King Cyrus I issue a decree in 538 B.C. that gave the Jewish captives in Babylon the right to return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13-17), only 42,360 Jews were willing to return (Ezra 2:64). Josephus wrote, “many remained in Babylon, being unwilling to leave their possessions” (Antiquities XI, 8). Esther and Mordecai were among those who stayed behind. Their names also reflected their adoption of the ways of the Persians. Esther’s Jewish birth name of “Hadasseh” meant “Myrtle”. Like a myrtle tree, God would grow her faith and character. Yet, to blend in, she and her cousin Mordecai had her go by the name “Esther.” For the Persians, this would have appeared similar to their name for star “stara” or even the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. ‘“Mordecai’ is the Hebraized form of the Babylonian deity Marduk. Idolatrous names for devout Jews grew out a practice during the Diaspora of giving both a Babylonian and a Hebrew name to the same person (cf. Dan. 1:6-7). He is called a ‘Jew’, a word derived from ‘Judah’ that was used from the time of the Exile to refer to an Israelite.” (Frank Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 805). Their names reflected their worldly ways before God transformed them into heroes of the faith. The Bible warns not to love the things of the world more than the things of God: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jam. 4:4). “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 Jo. 2:15; Jam. 1:27). Have you adopted worldly ways? Or, you willing to be known as a devout Christian?

  • God uses transformed sinners to deliver others. Some might object to thinking of Esther and Mordecai as sinners. But all have sinned before God: “Indeed, there is not a righteous person on earth who always does good and does not ever sin.” (Ecc. 7:20). Some of the greatest leaders of the faith started off as terrible sinners. Abraham was an idol worshiper before God called him (Josh. 24:2). Moses murdered an Egyptian (Ex. 2:11-12), and Saul murdered Christians before God transformed him (Acts 8:1; 9:4). Do you write off sinners and judge them? Or, do you pray for their transformation?

  • God would use the faith of one Benjamite to correct the sins of another. Every detail in the Bible has meaning. The fact that Mordecai was from the tribe of Benjamin is no exception (Esther 2:5). Saul, the first King of Israel, was also from the tribe of Benjamin (1 Sam. 9:1). Through the prophet Samuel, God later ordered King Saul to wipe out all the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:2-3). But Saul also allowed the Amalekites to survive (1 Sam. 15:9). God then judged Saul and removed his kingdom from him (1 Sam. 15:26). In 597 B.C., God allowed for King Nebuchadnezzar to take Mordecai’s great-grandfather Kish into exile along with the Jewish King Jehoiachin (Esther 2:5-6; 2 Kgs. 24:14-15; 2 Chr. 36:10). God later used Mordecai to correct King Saul’s sins. Through Mordecai, God judged the antagonist Haman, an Agagite (Esther 3:1). The Agagites were descendants of the Amalekites, whom God had judged for their sins (Ex. 17:14; Nu. 24:20; Dt. 25:19). The Amalekites attacked the Jews, and the Jews defeated them during the battle of Purim.

  • Be thankful that God remains faithful, even when you are not faithful to Him. The Bible is filled with accounts of God’s mercy and grace towards wicked people. God keeps His promises, even when you fail to do so: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). How are you thanking God for His faithfulness to forgive you when you repent of your sins?

3. God’s Grace Can Also Protect Undeserving People from Harm or Sorrow. Esther 2:8-9.

  • Esther is abducted into Xerxes’ harem but finds favor with his officials. Because Esther stayed behind, Xerxes’ officials abducted her. But God still protected her from harm: “So it came about, when the command and decree of the king were heard and many young ladies were gathered to the citadel of Susa into the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken to the king’s palace into the custody of Hegai, who was in charge of the women. Now the young lady pleased him and found favor with him. So he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and food, gave her seven choice female attendants from the king’s palace, and transferred her and her attendants to the best place in the harem.” (Esther 2:8-9). According to the historian Josephus, Xerxes adopted 400 women from across his empire for his harem beauty contest (Antiquities XI, 200). If Esther had left for the Promised Land, she would not have likely suffered the same fate. But God still protected her and used her to fulfill His promises to deliver His people from destruction.

  • Esther’s abduction was not a fairytale come true. The story of Esther is often glamorized as an exciting beauty contest. But it would have been a terrifying experience for every girl and family involved: “Though this sounds like a beauty contest, it was not a very happy assignment for most of the women. They were uprooted from their communities, which implied confinement to the king’s harem, and moved to what would actually be perpetual widowhood. . . . Xerxes had great appreciation for beautiful things. Unfortunately, ‘things’ are exactly what Xerxes thought women were.” (Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, Vol. 10, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 314). “The whole verse shows, as conclusively as anything could do, in how degrading an aspect Eastern women were, as a whole, viewed. It was reserved for Christianity to indicate the true position of woman, not man’s plaything, but the help meant for him, able to aid him in his spiritual and intellectual progress, yielding him intelligent obedience, not slavery.” (Ellicott’s Bible commentary on Esther 2:1).5

  • Unrepentant sin can lead to bondage. The Persian king placed these women into bondage because his heart was in bondage to sin. Those who misuse God’s grace as a license to sin may also find themselves in a place of bondage. “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” (Ro. 1:24). “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.” (Ps. 81:12; Eph. 4:19). To avoid descending into the bondage of sin, you must renew your mind each day and focus on God (Ro. 12:2). You must also put to death your carnal desires: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Col. 3:5). Are you misusing your freedoms by placing yourself back into bondage?

  • God’s grace can protect you when you take refuge in Him. After being abducted, Esther was forced to take refuge in God. Out of God’s grace, that is where she found His protection: “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5). “As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” (2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 3:3). If you are under attack, ill, or without work, take refuge in Jesus and ask for Him to be your shield of protection.

  • To find your life in Christ, you must lose your earthly one. Esther lost everything before God could use her. Like Esther, you must lose your worldly life to find your spiritual one: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39; 16:25). “‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” (Lk. 9:23; Mk. 8:34). “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phil. 3:7; Heb. 13:13). Do you value most worldly things or the things of God?

4. God’s Grace Can Even Work Though Those Who Disobey His Laws. Esther 2:10-11.

  • Esther conceals her Jewish identity to marry Xerxes. Mordecai urged Esther to conceal her Jewish identity to marry Xerxes, even though this was contrary to God’s law: “10 Esther did not reveal her people or her kindred, because Mordecai had instructed her that she was not to reveal them. 11 And every day Mordecai walked back and forth in front of the courtyard of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.” (Esther 2:10-11). At the beginning of Xerxes’ reign, the Samaritans wrote slanderous letters against the Jews in Jerusalem who were seeking to rebuild the Temple and accused them of treason: “Now in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.” (Ezra 4:6). “To have confessed that she was a Jewess would probably have roused a prejudice against her, or at any rate have prevented her from being received with special favor. Mordecai, knowing this, had instructed her to say nothing to Hegel on the subject, and no one else, it would seem, had enlightened him.” (Pulpit Commentary on Esther 2:10).6 Mordecai’s pacing at her place of incarceration showed his genuine concern for Esther.

  • God’s purity laws for marriage were meant to protect His people. Mordecai had Esther conceal her Jewish identity to increase her chance that Xerxes would marry her. Yet, Xerxes’ mistreatment of women, including his last queen, were well-known. The fact that Mordecai quickly received a place in Xerxes’ government further suggests that his own ambitions were a factor. But he also cared for his cousin Esther as his adopted daughter. What was Mordecai to do? There is no evidence that he prayed before giving Esther his advice. If he decided to consult a rabbi or read God’s Word, the answer would have been clear – God prohibited His people from marrying pagan nonbelievers. God wanted His people to remain holy and separate from the nations around them (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7). To keep His people holy and from turning their hearts away from Him, God prohibited the Jews from marrying any pagan person (Dt. 7:3-4). He was also clear that the Jews were not to adopt the sexual practices of the pagan nations (Lev. 18:1-3). When the Jews did these things, they “defiled” themselves (Lev. 18:24). God warned that pagan spouses would pull believers off their walk with Him (Ex. 34:16). This is exactly what happened to the Jews during the time period of the judges (Jdgs. 3:6; Ps. 106:35). This again happened with King Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:4). Yet, out of grace, God used the sinful decisions of Mordecai and Esther for His glory to save the Jews.

  • Esther’s decision to marry Xerxes would also set a bad example for other Jews. Under the reign of the next Persian king, King Artaxerxes I, Ezra came to Jerusalem and found that many Jews had ditched their Jewish spouses for pagan ones (Ezra 9:1-2). This grieved Ezra so much that he ripped his clothes. He then led the Jews in prayer of concession and had them swear an oath that they would not do this again (Ezra 9:3-15). But Nehemiah later again found that the Jews were again marrying pagans. He had them again swear an oath to God (Neh. 10:30). But the Jews again broke these vows, and Nehemiah rebuked them (Neh. 13:23-28). Imagine how hard it was for Ezra and Nehemiah to encourage the people to follow God’s laws after Esther married Xerxes.

  • Do not be unequally yoked in your walk. It is common for many Christians to incorrectly assume that Jesus made the lessons of the Old Testament irrelevant. In this case, the warnings are repeated in the New Testament: “Do not be mismatched with unbelievers; for what do righteousness and lawlessness share together, or what does light have in common with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). If you allow yourself to be unequally yoked, you also risk being slowly pulled off your walk with Jesus to pursue worldly interests.

5. God’s Grace Can Allow His People to Find Favor Amongst Others. Esther 2:12-16.

  • Esther finds favor with Xerxes’ officials. Even though Esther did not pray or do anything to merit God’s protection, God still caused her to find favor amongst Xerxes’ officials: “12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after the end of her twelve months under the regulations for the women—for the days of their beauty treatment were completed as follows: six months with oil of myrrh and six months with balsam oil and the cosmetics for women— 13 the young woman would go in to the king in this way: anything that she desired was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would enter and in the morning she would return to the second harem, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. 15 Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther was finding favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus in his royal palace in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.” (Esther 2:12-16). Like Joseph’s time in jail, Esther was in a dark place. But God was silently there protecting her from harm. Like Joseph, God molded her through her trials for future greatness.

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606-1669) “Esther is Introduced to Ahasuerus” (1655)7

  • The year of beauty treatments preceded a life of misery for most of the women. The 12 months of beauty treatments may have sounded glamorous. But they were designed to ensure the virginity of the women before a life-time of misery. Josephus claims that Xerxes abducted 400 women. Whatever the number was, 99 percent of them would live as widows locked away for the rest of their lives. And for the person selected to become Queen, that woman would live with a man who could order her killed at any moment. He would also continue to grow his harem and show no faithfulness or real love to her.

  • God’s grace can cause even evil people to become compassionate. After being abducted, Esther first found favor with Xerxes’ eunuch Hegai. He treated her well, gave her food, cosmetics, and servants (Esther 2:8-9). Xerxes’ chief eunuch Shaashgaz again showed favor to Esther (Esther 2:15-16). The kindness that Esther received is repeated throughout the book to demonstrate God’s sovereign hand (Esther 2:8-9, 15, 17; 5:2). As part of His grace, God can force evil people to be compassionate: “He also made them objects of compassion in the presence of all their captors.” (Ps. 106:46). God’s grace also allowed Joseph to experience kindness in prison (Gen. 39:21, 39:2; Acts 7:9). God’s grace likewise allowed Moses to find favor with the Egyptians (Ex. 11:3; 3:21). God’s grace further allowed Daniel to find favor as a captured servant in Babylon (Dan. 1:9). If you are being mistreated, pray for God’s grace to transform the heart of your tormentor.

  • Find peace with your enemies through Spirit-led conduct. If you are being mistreated, showing God’s love back to your tormentor is one way to transform the person’s heart: “When a person’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He causes even his enemies to make peace with him.” (Prov. 16:7). “And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?” (1 Pet. 3:13; Prov. 12:21). Do you respond to evil with God’s love?

6. God’s Grace Can Cause Even Bad Choices to Work Together For Good. Esther 2:17-20.

  • Esther becomes queen even as she continues to conceal her identity. Even though Esther showed no courage in her faith after becoming Queen, God would still use her for good: “17 The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal turban on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. 18 Then the king held a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his officials and his servants; he also made a holiday for the provinces and gave gifts in proportion to the king’s bounty. 19 Now when the virgins were gathered together for the second time, then Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Esther still had not revealed her relatives or her people, just as Mordecai had instructed her; for Esther did what Mordecai told her just as she had when under his care.” (Esther 2:17-20). In 479 B.C., a Jewish girl became Queen of the most powerful nation on Earth. God showed that He was in control by elevating Esther. He then elevated Mordecai into authority. Yet, even after marrying the most beautiful woman in his empire, Xerxes was not content to be with just her. Thus, he continued to build his harem to feed his covetousness.

The king loved Esther more than all the women” (Esther 2:17)8

  • God exalted Esther as Queen to save the Jews. Normally, kings selected a queen to build a foreign alliance or solidify internal power. For example, Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Egypt by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kgs. 3:1). The elevation of Esther, a lowly Jewish woman with no parents and no importance, to become Queen showed that God was in control. Hannah prophetically proclaimed: “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the garbage heap to seat them with nobles, and He gives them a seat of honor as an inheritance; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He set the world on them.” (1 Sam. 2:8). “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” (Ps. 75:7). “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” (Da. 2:21). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). Do you trust that God is in control, even when evil surrounds you?

  • God can use the actions of evil men for good. God did not condone Xerxes’ conduct. Nor did He condone Esther and Mordecai’s decision to have her conceal her identity to violate His marriage laws. But God used their sinful actions for His glory to save the Jews: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28). As a believer, you are not exempt from experiencing pain. But it does mean that you can trust God.

  • Have courage in your faith to proclaim Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If Esther had a reason to fear being passed over for Queen because of her Jewish heritage, that reason passed after God made her Queen. Yet, she continued to conceal her Jewish identity (Esther 2:20). God would use Haman’s plot to kill the Jews to cause Esther to grow in her faith. Unlike Esther, Jesus calls upon you to confess your faith before non-believers: “32 Therefore, everyone who confesses Me before people, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before people, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32-33). Are you willing to proclaim your faith in Jesus, even when you are mocked or when others criticize you?

7. God’s Grace is Available to Everyone, Both Jew and Gentile. Esther 2:21-23.

  • Mordecai saves the King. Even though Xerxes was a vile sinner who did not deserve God’s grace, God still showed him grace by using Mordecai to uncover a plot to kill him: “21 In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s officials from those who guarded the door, became angry and sought to attack King Ahasuerus. 22 But the plot became known to Mordecai and he informed Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s name. 23 Then when the plot was investigated and found to be so, they were both hanged on a wooden gallows; and it was written in the Book of the Chronicles in the king’s presence.” (Esther 2:21-23). Mordecai’s position at the gate suggested that he held a government position. The gates of a city were frequently where judges heard disputes. Esther most likely used her influence to place Mordecai in this position. God then ordered the events to allow Mordecai to hear a plot against Xerxes. This plot most likely stemmed from Persia’s defeat against Greece. Being a selfish man, Xerxes would do nothing to thank Mordecai. But God would also use this fact to later elevate Mordecai to a place of great importance.

Mordecai discovered a plot to kill Xerxes9

  • Serve with honor wherever God places you. Mordecai served with honor, even though he served a pagan king. God also called upon you to serve with honor, regardless of your leader’s faith: “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Pet. 2:17). “My son, fear the LORD and the king; do not get involved with those of high rank,” (Prov. 24:21). Your honor allows you to be a witness to be Jesus’ light (Matt. 5:14). Are you a faithful servant to anyone you serve, even if they are undeserving?

  • God’s grace is available to everyone. If there is anyone who was less deserving of God’s grace, it was Xerxes. Yet, God still used Mordecai to spare his life. This shows that God’s grace is available to everyone. Jesus came to die on the cross to offer everyone salvation: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies,”’ (Jo. 11:25). Are you sharing Jesus’ good news with others? (Matt. 28:16-20).

  • Although grace is universally available, sinners must still repent. God’s grace is not without limits. The conspirators against Xerxes were killed. Also, even though God spared Xerxes’ life here, another assassination would later succeed. This allowed Artaxerxes I to take the throne. Xerxes failed to repent and humble himself. When you sin, Jesus also wants you to repent and return to Him: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15). “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19). The Church must also lead people into repentance.

  • If you confess your sins, Jesus will forgive you. During Old Testament times, when a believer became aware of sin involving their ears, mouth, hands, or eyes, the believer was required to make a “guilt” offering (Lev. 5:5). This was either a female lamb or a female goat (Lev. 5:6). If the person was poor, the sinner could offer two turtledoves or two young pigeons. (Lev. 5:7-10). If the person was extremely poor, the sinner could offer “the tenth of an ephah of fine flour.” (Lev. 5:11-13). Today, you do not need to make a physical sacrifice to be forgiven. Jesus did that for you on the cross. He further promises to forgive you if you will confess your sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). Will you confess your sins to Jesus when the Holy Spirit reveals them to you?