What does it mean that Esther was appointed 'for such a time as this'?
Esther was a Jewish young woman who was orphaned as a child and then raised by her cousin Mordecai. The Jews were living in exile, under the leadership of the Persians. When King Xerxes was looking for a new queen, Esther was among the "beautiful young virgins" he had to choose from (Esther 2:2). Mordecai had instructed Esther to keep her Jewish heritage secret. Esther found favor with the king, and he made her his queen (Esther 2:17).
A while after Esther had become queen, Xerxes put Haman the Agagite into a position of high honor, second in the land. As a part of this, Xerxes commanded the officials who worked at his gate to kneel to Haman whenever he passed as a sign of honor. Esther's cousin Mordecai worked at the gate, and he refused to bow to Haman. Because of this, Haman became increasingly irate and sought to not only kill Mordecai but all of his people, the Jews, as well. By using manipulative and deceptive means, Haman got the king's permission for the genocide of the Jews (Esther 3).
Mordecai mourned the edict against the Jews and asked Queen Esther to go to the king on behalf of the Jews and beg for mercy. This was a very high stakes request from Mordecai, for it was illegal to approach the king uninvited—even for Esther, the queen—the punishment for this was death. This is when Mordecai sent the following word to Esther: "Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:13–14).
In this statement, Mordecai points Esther to the higher calling within her role as queen: "Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14, NASB). So, what Mordecai does is open the door for Esther to consider that God has placed her in her position as queen knowing that by her being in that position, she could save her people from destruction. Before Esther was queen, there was no way for her or Mordecai to predict the destruction that would be attempted, but God knew—and He placed Esther in her role as queen for a reason.
When Esther approached the king, she found favor with him, and—long story short—she was used by God to save the Jews from certain death. Read the book of Esther for the whole story. God was at work from beginning to end.
Queen Esther was used by God to save her people, the Jews, from destruction. She was indeed in her position "for such a time as this," and Mordecai had the eyes to see that it was so. The Jews continue to celebrate this deliverance during the Feast of Purim.
Esther had a choice to make when Mordecai proposed this idea to her. She could have remained silent and hoped that she herself would be protected, or she could have recognized the meaning behind her story—that God had placed her in her position for a reason. Thankfully, she acted by faith and chose the latter option.
From Esther's story, we can learn that we too are placed into different situations "for such a time as this." God gives each of us influence and opportunities where we may do His work and speak His truth. We must not be passive participants in our own lives and spheres of influence. God has good work that needs to be done here on earth, and He places us in positions where He knows we can make a difference (Ephesians 2:8–10). Just as He did with Esther, God directs us into our own "for such a time as this" opportunities, and it is up to us whether or not we will choose to trust and obey His leading.
This doesn't place all the pressure on us to make God's plans come to pass. For He "works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11). God's plans and purposes will come to pass, but He actively invites us to play a part and equips us in Jesus Christ for every challenge that we face along the journey (Philippians 2:12–13; 2 Peter 1:3–11). What a gift!
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