If you have the time, read the book of Esther in the Bible. Many have viewed her as the epitome of a queen, who stood courageously before the king for her people. However this is not the full picture presented. She was a Hebrew, Hadassah was the name given to her at birth but due to circumstances she adopted the Persian name Esther. Living in a foreign land and married to a foreign King, it was easy to hide who she was but as circumstances changed she had to reveal her true identity. A Jew who serves the God of Heaven.
Esther was amongst a multitude of Jews living in the reign of the Medo-Persian empire after being taken captive from their motherland Israel. After years of bondage, Cyrus the King of the Medes and Persians made a decree permitting the Jews to return back to their motherland; but only a handful decided to return. Some years later, another decree was instilled by the new monarch, Darius. This gave the Jews who remained another chance to return. Even though they were instructed to return back to their homes to restore their ruined nation, some made themselves comfortable and relaxed resulting in them remaining in the land where their forefathers were kept in captivity. Even though the second decree was as favourable as the first, many Jews still willingly chose to stay in the pagan land: which was filled with idol worship, as well as customs and practices that were contrary to their beliefs and ways of life.
Amongst those blending in with the customs and practices of the empire was Esther who “had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it” (Esther 2:10), in other words she hid her identity.
One day, the king had arranged a feast for all the nobles and princes of the land to array his greatness and glory that he had accumulated. After indulging in much alcohol to celebrate the occasion, the king thought it fit to parade to his subordinates his prized possession – his beautiful queen Vashti. This was so his inferiors would admire her beauty but Vashti was a woman of integrity and understood her worth, so she rejected the king’s command. Vashti because of her decision lost her position as queen: so the king then sought a wife and queen to reign in her place.
After counsel from his servants, the king put in place a plan to find a new queen which would please him and “be queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:4). As the custom and practices of the Medo-Persians, it was ordered for the most beautiful young virgins of the land to obtain the king’s favour. This was done by giving time for “beauty preparations” (Esther 2:3). Then after some time, they would go to the king one by one: each virgin would sleep with the king and after, be placed in the house of the concubines to wait for the king’s response. The aim of this game was for them to please the king by allurement, then the chosen one would be called back by name to be made his queen (Esther 2:14).
The ultimate aim of the chosen virgin women was to become queen. A year of beautifying prepared the women for one special night to please the king, with the opportunity to attain the highest position a woman can obtain in the land. Although this sounded appealing and exciting it had its detrimental consequences. You see, compromise is often presented in such a way; it seems desirable and innocent but the outcome has long lasting effects.
After much effort to look the part, to be accepted, to feel valued in the sight of the king, the important day came. These beautiful, virgin women went from one house where the fairest pure virgins of the land were situated to then move to the house of the concubines, after an evening spent in the king’s court. From the king’s court to the house of the concubines these women had to wait in anticipation to find out whether they pleased their majesty; so in essence you see these women being devalued in a period of time. The women went from free and untouched to now becoming used property of the king.
The women had a year of preparation just for one night to showcase themselves to the king, to show him that they were worthy enough. But everything is not always as it seems: what’s not usually presented is the internal emotion and struggle of the women who were not chosen, because the reality was that there could only be one queen. After a laborious year of preparing themselves and not being chosen, the deep reality sunk in that they were not good enough for the king. After losing their innocence in the hope of approval, it resulted in the women being ashamed, broken and bruised. After the pursuit of the highest position, these women sunk below to mere objects and became property of the king’s pleasure and leisure.
As for Esther however, “the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set a royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:17).
The pivotal point of Esther’s life was when a decree was made threatening the genocide of her own people (Esther 3:8-13). As a queen, the wife of the king she had access to the power that could change this predicament that her people were about to face. Esther had to choose. To either stay quiet and deny her identity, letting her people perish or reveal her true origin and attempt to save them.
Esther for years neglected her origins by conforming to the Persian palace; for a time concealing but then revealing her true heritage in a time of crisis. By choosing to reveal her true origins, it later gave her the courage as she was able to finally be at peace with herself and through her, the Jews were saved.
Your life may resemble that of Esther’s, sacrificing principles in order to get ahead and conforming to society’s unattainable expectations. When this occurs you can easily get trapped into the cycle of this world and lose sight of your true worth and identity in Christ; “for you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20) Christ died for you. Once you truly understand and accept not only your purpose and identity but your worth then you may fully live a fulfilled and content life.
But you may not know who you truly are, you may not fully understand how priceless you are in the sight of God or what God has called you to be but know this; “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Before you even knew what love was, God loved you and has expressed to you that “before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jeremiah 1:5) you are “the apple of His eye” (Zecharias 2:8), you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
Although this book of the Bible is one that does not mention God, He was still present as He moved in the life of Esther. Although Esther did not live up to the life that God intended for her at first, God did not forsake her but was working everything together for His ultimate purpose. Like Esther, you may have conformed to this world but know this; God still loves you and cares for you. He can still use you if you make that choice to be used by Him.
At this moment in your life, maybe you feel broken and you are tired of chasing what this world has to offer and feel as if there is no hope. Maybe you have done things in the past or are doing things right now that you regret but know that there is hope for you. The greatest hope is in Christ. It is promised that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Are you willing to come to Christ who offers forgiveness and a newness of life with Him, enabling you to achieve the purpose and identity He has for you?