Have you seen the 2006 film One Night with the King? It is about a young woman in an ancient middle-eastern culture who, together with hundreds of other beautiful virgins, is brought to the king’s harem. They are to beautify themselves and prepare to spend one night with the king. Out of all these women he will choose one as his queen. All the other girls will live out their days in the royal harem. Many of them will never see the king again.
She is the one!
This story was not invented by the writers and producers of the film, it is the Biblical story of Esther (Hadassa). Esther was a Jewish orphan who was raised by her cousin Mordecai. They lived in exile in the citadel Susa, ancient Persia, under king Xerxes. When she came to court, Mordecai advised her to not tell anyone about her origin. Esther was just a normal girl, she was no drama queen, she did not ask for much. She just did what needed to be done. Everyone loved her. She gained the favor of Hegai, the custodian who was responsible for the young women. And then came the big day: after twelve months it was Esther’s turn to go to the king. When a young woman would go to the king, she was given whatever she requested to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. But Esther only took what Hegai advised. And the king liked her. He loved her more than all the other women and made her queen.
So, is this the end of a fairytale? On the contrary. Long before the Jewish people were brought into exile, they were at war with the Amalekites. Their king’s name was Agag. They have become the symbol of evil and antisemitism. King Xerxes most trusted man was Haman, the Agagite. Some say he was literally descendant of Agag, but it is safe to say that he truly was an antisemite. He hated Mordecai and when he learned that Mordecai was a Jew, it wasn’t enough to just get rid of him. Haman plotted to kill all the Jews in Xerxes’ reign and have Mordecai empaled on a sharpened pole with a length of seventy-five feet.
If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed.”
He said to the king: “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” And Xerxes agreed. He gave Haman his signet ring and said to Haman: “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.” (Esther 3:8-11)
To go unsummoned
The entire city was in confusion while the king and Haman just sat down to drink. In every province to which the edict came, all the Jews went into great mourning. When Mordecai heard of the new law, he tore his clothes and went out into the city, crying loudly, up to the palace’s gate. Esther was told and she was overcome with distress. She sent him clothes but he would not accept. Mordecai sent her a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction and asked her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people.
Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
But how could she? No one was to come before the king unsummoned. And she had not been summoned for thirty days. Anyone who would approach Xerxes without being summoned, would be put to death. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape,” Mordecai said. “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Then Esther asked him to assemble all the Jews in Susa to fast and pray for three days. After these days she would go to her husband as she stated in her famous words: ‘If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4)
The great redemption
So she went. We know how the story ends. Esther won favor in the king’s sight, he held out his scepter to her and she approached. She invited both Xerxes and Haman to a banquet where Haman was exposed as the plotter and murderer he was. He was empaled instead of Mordecai and the Jews were saved.
Why did I tell you this story? Because it is not only inspirational and epic, it is also a great example of God’s redemptive power. Even though He is not mentioned once in the entire book of Esther, it is clear He is behind the plan to save His people. Just as He had a plan to save all of us. Because of our sin we are in life’s danger. If we are not saved, we will perish forever. We could never come before God, our King, and live. But do you know what is so wonderful? This very same King is also the One Who gave everything to save us. Who laid down His life for us. We can approach Him everyday through Jesus the Messiah, our Saviour. We do not get to spend just one night with Him, but we will live with Him eternally if we repent and believe.
Amazing love, how can it be that You my King should die for me?”
And if you are scorned or maybe even oppressed because you, like the Jews in Esther’s time, follow God’s rules instead of the world’s; hold on and know that eternal life is yours. Whatever happens to you in this life.
Read also: Want to be great? Be faithful!