"Your mission, should you choose to accept it..." Every "Mission Impossible" TV show started with this statement and then went on to describe the mission. As I re-read the story of Esther in celebration of Purim (which occurred on Thursday and Friday) I thought about the difficulty of Esther's mission. She was asked to do two unthinkable tasks.
Because Esther's parents had died, she was adopted into the family of Mordecai. His family had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon along with many from Judah. They lived under the rule of King Xerxes who had banished his queen for refusing to obey him. He was in search of a new queen and decided to pull her from a group of beautiful, young virgins living in the kingdom. An agent of the king found Esther and brought her into the royal harem at Susa.
Part 1 of the mission meant that Esther would have to lay down her life as she knew it. Her nationality and family background had to be hidden. She would be subjected to 12 months of beauty treatments; her sole purpose in life would be to please the king. She would lose her virginity and become the possession of King Xerxes, a man who was surely old enough to be her father or grandfather. What a sacrifice she made! With the help of God, she was able to please the king so much that he made her his queen.
Part 2 of the mission was life threatening for Esther. King Xerxes promoted an Agagite named Haman to the position of prime minister. He gave him his signet ring, allowing him to make decisions and decrees. All the king's officials were required to bow down to Haman as he passed by. Because Mordecai refused to do this, he, along with every Jew who lived in Xerxes' empire, was targeted to be destroyed. Lots were cast (called Purim) to determine the time when the Jews were to be killed. The lot fell on the month of Adar, the twelfth month, about one year later. Sealed letters were sent to the leaders of each province that decreed that all Jews must be killed on one day. The decree was made known to all the people so that they could prepare to follow the decree on the appointed day.
Can you imagine the horror felt by the Jewish people? Great mourning took place among the Jews. Mordecai sat in the courtyard in sackcloth and ashes. The Jews needed an advocate. Mordecai asked Esther to be this person even though he knew that anyone who appears before the king without an invitation is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. (Esther 4:11) However, he also recognized that Esther might be the only one who could petition the king for mercy. Mordecai told her, "And who knows that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)
God has a unique plan and purpose for every person on the face of the earth. Robert Henderson, in his book, Courts of Heaven, describes the interaction between the courts of heaven and the earthly realm. He explains that "in the counsel of the Lord decisions were made about destinies in the Earth...This all occurred before time began...God wrote in a book the decisions made that would be our Kingdom reason for existence on the planet." (Psalm 139:16) We must find our purposes. Then we have a choice: We can agree with God's desires or we can lay them aside. Henderson says that God grants us opportunities to fulfill His ultimate purpose for us. "When decisions in earth agree with the decisions in heaven powerful things occur." In addition, "When we find our purpose God gives us the grace to fulfill it.”
Esther agreed to walk out her mission and was given the grace to fulfill it. The king extended his gold scepter to her. The Jews were delivered and saved, and their enemies killed. Yearly, the Jews celebrate what God did for them in the festival called Purim. God's desire is for all of us to fulfill His purposes. May we all delight in discovering them and living them out. This will be a cause for rejoicing in the earthly and heavenly realms.
Joan E. Mathias