The Sacrifice of a Forerunner
When God is planning to manifest His presence through signs from the Kingdom of Heaven He sends a forerunner to prepare the way. King David tells us about one of the requirements for preparing the way in Psalm 50:23. "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him salvation."
Probably the most famous forerunner in the Bible is John the Baptist. The prophet Isaiah declared the call on his life, one of single purpose. "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:3) This prophecy is repeated in the gospels several times.
I would like to suggest that Queen Esther was also a forerunner who demonstrates how to prepare the way for God's people to have victory. In this case the victory was over the evil spirit of Haman. The sacrifices she made at a young age were effective and are astounding! Since Esther's day, the Jewish people have been celebrating Purim yearly. This year it falls on the eve of March 23 until the eve of March 25. Sadly, the spirit of Haman is still alive today. Let's look at how Esther's sacrifices gave her people victory over this spirit and led her people into freedom.
We learn from the book of Esther that there was a community of Jews in exile in Persia who were brought there by the Babylonians. At the end of the 70-year exile only a fragment of those Jews returned to their homeland. Shortly thereafter, the Persians overtook the Babylonians. Xerxes became king and was looking for a new queen after Vashti was removed from her position. All of the beautiful virgins in the kingdom were rounded up and became part of a harem at the citadel of Susa. Esther was living there with her Uncle Mordecai, a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, and was taken to the king's palace because of her great beauty. She had to complete beauty treatments for one year before being taken into the king. Scripture says, "...Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her." (Esther 2:15) King Xerxes selected Esther over all the other virgins and made her queen.
We are told that Esther had to hide her identity as a Jew. One of the king's nobles, Haman was given a position of honor and authority in the kingdom. Because Mordecai would not bow down to him, Haman decided to take out his anger on the entire Jewish population by having all of them killed. Esther is asked to go before King Xerxes without an invitation even though this could mean that she would be put to death. She called all of the Jews to join her in a 3-day fast and placed her life in God's hands as she went before the king without being summoned.
Ultimately, Haman's treachery is exposed when Esther reveals her Jewish identity. Haman and his sons are hung on the gallows meant for Mordecai, and Mordecai becomes the prime minister of the empire. The Jews were given permission to destroy their enemies on the day that they were to be killed. On the 14th and 15th day of Adar the Jews rested, feasted and celebrated their victory with great joy. The custom of celebrating yearly was established.
Esther, the forerunner, had to sacrifice much in order for God to bring victory and freedom to His people. She gave up her own freedom, her virginity and her future for the sake of her people. Without her willing sacrifices, all of the Jews in Persia could have been destroyed. Her Uncle Mordecai suggested that Esther was selected by God "for such a time as this." (Esther 4:14) Because of her willingness to partner with the Lord, the celebration of Purim takes place today and brings families and generations together as they remember what God did for them. I believe God is still looking for forerunners to prepare the way for Him in unique situations. Could you be one who is being called for such a time as this?
Joan E. Mathias