E14: Be an Esther!
PODCAST: Here’s how we can become heroes of faith, just like Esther.
The book of Esther tells the fascinating story of Queen Esther and how she saved her people. The story of Esther is a shining example for our lives. Just as He was able to use her, God can give us the boldness to step outside of our comfort zone, so that we can become instruments of righteousness for Him. Join Julia and Kathy in today’s podcast episode about the story of Esther as they delve deeper into this topic.
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 14: Be an Esther!
This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put it into practice in daily life.
Julia: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of “Living the Gospel.” I’m Julia.
Kathy: And I’m Kathy. So, as you guys know, we’ve talked about this before that we are sisters …
Kathy: So, we have a lot of history, a lot …
Julia: For better or for worse.
Kathy: For better or for worse. We have a lot of history, a lot of shared memories. And for me, one of my favorite memories as a kid is … I don’t know if you remember this Julia. We’d all, in the evenings, we’d pile on the brown couch with mom and she would read us stories before bed, right?
Julia: That’s right. The Bible stories, the old … the big blue books. Arthur S. Maxwell, I think?
Kathy: Arthur S. Maxwell. And there were good pictures in those books. And those pictures are actually still, when I think about the different stories, like stories about David and everyone else …
Julia: You see those pictures in your head.
Kathy: Those are the pictures in my head still!
Julia: And one of those, of course, is the story of Esther. I don’t know if I remember everything that went down in there. She was a young Jewish woman, right?
Julia: And she ended up, what, in some kind of beauty pageant?
Kathy: I guess that’s kind of what it boils down to, in a way, but … So she was an orphan actually, right?
Kathy: And she was being raised by her cousin, Mordecai. Which is an awesome name by the way!
Julia: Yup, correct!
Kathy: Well, I am looking at the story right now and it says the king, Ahasuerus, reigned over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. And king Ahasuerus was looking for a new queen, right?
Kathy: So, he sent out a royal decree. What was it all the young woman, all the …
Julia: Yeah, it actually doesn’t say too much about how that… how he got the ball rolling on that. But in any case, Esther was one of the young women who ended up kind of leaving everything behind and going to the castle.
Kathy: The palace.
Julia: Yeah to the palace, to the palace, right. And ended up actually becoming the queen, she was for whatever reason the woman that he chose in the end to became his queen.
Kathy: And they spent a year all these young women prepping themselves to meet the king or whatever, right?
Julia: It was actually a big deal.
Kathy: Yeah and in the end, it was Esther that the king chose to be his new queen. And I think Esther hid the fact that she was a Jew, didn’t she?
Julia: Yeah, she did. Her cousin Mordecai told her not to say anything.
Kathy: Right. I mean we’re leaving out a lot of details here, but this is the sort of bare bones of the story.
Kathy: So, then there was this guy, Haman, who hated the Jews. Mostly because of Mordecai. That’s a whole other story, that we don’t need to get into here. But he hated the Jews, so he convinced the king to send out a decree that all the Jews were to be destroyed, right?
Julia: Right, right.
Kathy: Then of course Esther was uniquely placed at that time to help and to do something about the situation. All of her people were condemned to be killed.
Kathy: And then …
Julia: She was in a position where she could potentially have the king’s ear to get something done about it.
Kathy: So, you can see that God had His hand over the whole situation, right? Like, He must have placed her in that position, at that time, for just this moment, right? Obviously, she was deeply distressed when she found out what was happening. So, her and her cousin Mordecai, came up with this plan that she would go to the king and plead with him for the Jews.
Julia: Right, right. And of course that was a big deal, because they had this fancy rule that you couldn’t go to see the king unless you had been summoned specifically, right?
Kathy: And it was actually a crime punishable by death.
Julia: Right, exactly.
Kathy: To go and see him without being summoned, so …
Julia: So she’d be taking a huge risk.
Kathy: Huge risk! But actually, and this is what I love, like, this is what she said at that time. “I will go to the king, which is against law, and if I perish, I perish.” So that was the attitude she had. Like, this was something that she had to do. And this was a task she’d been given from God. And so she had to be bold, she had to take that … take on that task to spare not only herself, but her entire people.
Julia: Right. And the odds really, I guess, probably weren’t in her favor. Like it was … she had no way of knowing what the outcome was going to be.
Kathy: Right, right. So, then what they did was, they fasted and they prayed for three days, before she went. And we know that the end result is that the king accepted her and he accepted her plea to save the lives of all the Jews. Or I think is was that, that when they were … like when the people went out to attack and destroy them …
Julia: They were allowed to fight back.
Kathy: They were allowed to fight back, yeah.
Julia: Yeah. And in fact, he ended up taking the guy, Haman, who made the decree and hanging him on the gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai as part of his nefarious whatever, so …
Kathy: So that’s justice.
Julia: Yeah, I guess. But I mean, yeah it was … it was something that was way outside of Esther’s comfort zone, we have to assume. Like it was … She probably could have easily, you know, thought like, “How do I know that God’s brought me here for this? Who am I to …?” You know, “How do I know it is going to succeed?” All these kinds of thoughts can come up whenever God speaks to us to do something.
Kathy: Yeah. And like, I know, if I were to put myself in that position, there’s so many things that … “Oh, this cannot be something that I am supposed to do. I am not the person for this. I don’t have the guts; I don’t have the boldness. I just don’t have what it takes to do this!” Right?
Kathy: You can come up with so many excuses about things. But that is not how she had it. So actually, I read something recently and this is actually a verse that has been working with me a lot recently, is what Jesus said in Matthew 16. He said: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” And it’s very rare that a Christian is actually required to lay down their physical life, right? As well now, especially, obviously in this …
Julia: In this day and age.
Kathy: And in this western world that we live in.
Kathy: However, obviously if that were to be required that’s also, you know, something that we’d have to do. But when I think about like laying my own life down, what does that actually mean for me? If I am required to lay down my life for His sake, like what are some ways that I might be required to lay down my life? And I’ve just been thinking about, there’s things in me that I just … are hard for me to give up, right? Like …
Julia: Yeah for sure, in all of us.
Kathy: Yeah. Something that God has spoken to me, like I know I have to give this up and I know that I need to do something about, something He’s given me light over in my life, and I find a resistance there in myself to it. And I don’t want to do it. And I think like, I’ve had this thought too, that … “Oh, am I going to lose something of who I am, am I going to lose something of myself, my personality?” And first of all, no, God is not asking me to give my personality. But He is asking me to cleanse myself from the sin that comes between Him and me, right?
Julia: That stops you from having a good relationship with Him. Yeah.
Kathy: And a good relationship with other people too.
Julia: Right and makes, yeah, really only makes your own life worse.
Kathy: But so, if I am willing to give up my life, so to speak, these things that for whatever reason I kind of hold dear to myself, then I will find it! I will gain life that is eternal, actually, right?
Julia: I am trying to find that … there is a verse in Mark that talks about that. Mark 9 or 10. Aha! Mark 10:29: “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.’”
Kathy: And I thought about too how Paul says it in Acts. And we know that Paul actually suffered a lot of persecution and …
Julia: Almost had to give his life, one or two times, at minimum.
Kathy: But we know that even before that he suffered a lot of persecution, and yet he was able to say these words that, “none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” So that’s how Paul had it. He didn’t count his life dear to himself. And that clearly is also how Esther had it. I mean, but she did, I doubt she wasn’t scared.
Julia: No, of course she would have been.
Kathy: But she just had to go in faith, right? So …
Julia: Just to have that attitude that if God is able to use me for anything in any way, that I am willing to be used. That I am willing to be, what does it refer to in the New Testament, as an instrument of righteousness, right? And you don’t have to be something big or fancy for that. Esther was just a girl who God was able to place in the right place at the right time. All these people who have been instrumental in either opening a way or proclaiming the gospel or whatever, even in our own lives, have all just been people who have been faithful to be bold and do what God puts on their heart in the situation.
Kathy: You have to start with taking these little situations in your life and being bold there. Like, when I think about, just boldness in general … Because to me that’s, that is the main message that comes out in the story of Esther, right? It’s her boldness. So … It can be hard to be bold about our faith and bold about taking a stand against the things we know are wrong for example, right?
Julia: It can be hard with unbelievers, and it can also be almost, I don’t know if I say harder, but it can be just as hard when you are with a group of friends who, you know … let’s say we all have the same longing to, you know, to overcame sin. But yet we all still have a nature that has nothing good in it. And when you suddenly find yourself in a situation where, maybe the conversation is not going in a great direction, do you have the boldness to say something? To either walk away or be the one to shut it down in a helpful way, or …? That requires boldness for sure. And we have to be faithful to those promptings that God gives us there.
Kathy: Yeah. I know for myself, I have this tendency to think, “Oh I just need to keep a low profile. Like, I don’t need to, like, put myself out there and …” Like, that’s just how I think by nature, but there are times where you really need to take a stand. Something is happening, something is being said, something is being done that isn’t right and you actually need to take a stand against that and be bold to stand up for righteousness, right?
Julia: And to trust that God takes care of you when you do, right?
Kathy: And that’s the thing. Just like Esther, we don’t do these things on our own. We have this connection with God and with Jesus that, you know, “God, I know this is required of me now, but I don’t feel like I have it in me, I’m not strong. I lack the … what’s required to do this, so I need You to help me. I need You to give me the strength to do this!”
Julia: And He always does.
Kathy: He always does.
Julia: Like that verse in Chronicles that says, “His eyes go back and forth over the entire earth to strengthen mightily those whose hearts are wholly for Him.”
Kathy: Yeah, exactly. Usually I know for myself when I am timid, it usually boils down to the fact that I care too much about what others think of me.
Kathy: That’s what it comes down to. But if I think about it, like, what am I actually, really afraid of? Like, what can people do to me? I can lose some honor …
Kathy: For sure I can lose some honor, and that for my natural self …
Kathy: That hurts. But it’s good for me. Then what am I gaining, when I lose that? There is no one who will lose his life for My sake that won’t gain back … or how does it go.
Julia: Well, yeah, who won’t gain, like, a hundred-fold.
Julia: And also, there is exactly one person in this universe whose opinion of me matters and that’s God, right?
Kathy: Yeah. So, people can look down on me and despise me and really, I just have to come to a point where that matters nothing to me. And there is that verse in Peter, and I actually think it is originally from Isaiah, but Peter quotes it, that “allis as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass, the grass withers and its flowers falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” So, what am I going to give myself to? Like, this to receive honor from people who, in the end, it means nothing …
Kathy: … getting honor from them. Or, the Word of the Lord endures forever. Am I going give myself to the Lord to do His will?
Julia: To grab on to something that will actually last.
Julia: Well, I even thought too about just having this attitude that, no matter what, I serve God. And I can’t find it now, but I have been thinking this week about the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. How, when the king threatened to throw them into the fire they said, “Our God can come and rescue us, but even if He doesn’t, we’re never going to bow down before an idol!” And that’s the attitude. Like, God will come and give us the power …
Kathy: That’s crazy actually.
Julia: But even if He doesn’t, even if He doesn’t, that is still my same attitude.
Julia: I have been thinking of that a lot.
Kathy: So, it really requires that we step out of our comfort zone, right? And …
Kathy: Yeah. Boldness. And I’ve just been thinking about something I heard recently at church, someone spoke and they were talking about staying in your comfort zone. And then the way he said it was just so amazing, that, “It’s not comfortable, it isn’t comfortable when you don’t have God’s good pleasure over your life. Do you call that comfort? I don’t call that comfort! ‘My soul has no pleasure in one who draws back,’ God said.” God loves it when we go into the fire, what’s required of us, to give up something of our self. That’s what He loves. And that’s what He honors, right? And then we get that … we get something lasting inside of ourselves when we do that. Never mind this honor from people that is like grass, as Peter wrote.
Julia: Exactly, it’s like grass. And then it’s written too, that He is the God of all comfort. So then when we go out with boldness like that, then there is our comfort zone.
Julia: That’s the only comfort we need, right?
Kathy: The God of all comfort, yeah.
Kathy: So, when I think about the story of Esther … What is the takeaway that we get from that story?
Julia: For me, it’s just that attitude of just following God’s will. No matter what it requires of me.
Kathy: Yeah. And you may get reproach, right? But that is actually part of being a Christian. And like we said, we don’t know what the results are, we don’t necessarily always know why God is asking us to do different things. But we know that He is doing it for our very best and we just have to be bold and we have to go in faith.
Julia: And just trust Him and He takes care of it.
Kathy: And trust in Him, yes. And God can use someone who’s bold and willing to be led and guided by Him.
Julia: Yeah, He really can.
Kathy: I love talking about these Bible stories, actually.
Julia: They’re awesome. They’re so interesting.
Kathy: And I mean there is so must we can learn from them, there is so much. And as we’ve said before, we have a theme page on our website all about the heroes of faith, so if you want to read more. Obviously you can read them in the Bible too, that’s the best place to read them.
Julia: It is the best.
Kathy: And actually Julia, didn’t you say that you’d been listening to them recently?
Julia: Yeah, yeah. One of our friends at church has been talking about … he is a painter and I guess, all day at work he just listens to the Bible as an audio book. And he just, he has been getting great revelations from it, so I thought I’d try this. And I listen to it when I drive and it is so, so interesting. Like, when I read, I read way too fast to absorb properly. So when I listen to it narrated, and it’s not like the narrator is being super dramatic, but all these Old Testament stories, they just hit so differently and they make you think about them in a way that you didn’t before and it’s … I have been loving it. It is like I am reading it for the first time, kind of.
Kathy: We are so lucky we have these heroes that have gone before us. And now it’s our turn to be faithful. Where God has put us, and to just really live for Him with all of our hearts.
Kathy: So, I guess that’s enough for today.
Julia: That’s enough out of us.
Kathy: We’d talked enough. So thank you again so much for following along with us and listening …
Julia: Yes thank you.
Kathy: And we really would love to hear from you guys if you want to let us know about any topics that you would like to hear about, or any comments at all, just please feel free to send us a message. You can do that through our website, https://activechristianity.org/.
Julia: Or on Facebook.
Kathy: Or on Facebook, or on Instagram, so we’d love to hear from you.
Julia: Alright, bye everyone! Have an awesome week!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.