Sometimes Grief is Good.

The story of Esther isnít solely a story out of the ancient past. In it, God is giving the Christian a glimpse of how He is working in our own lives at this very moment.

There are several important characters in this story. Thereís a king with a kingdom, Ahasuerus, his queen (Esther), the good guy (Mordecai), and the bad guy (Haman).

Each one of us is a king living in our capital city (the body), and reigning over an empire that touches everyone we know. The moment you got saved you gained a queen. Itís your personal spirit made alive in Jesus Christ. Itís the means of communion between you and the Holy Spirit who dwells in your heart.

Mordecai could be said to symbolize the Holy Spirit in this story while Haman symbolizes the flesh, and in Chapter 3 we saw how easy it is for the flesh, this Haman within each of us, to deceive the human will into making a decision that threatens to destroy an entire kingdom.

Satan knows that if he can get a Christian to live in the ways of the world, that personís testimony is utterly worthless. God canít use it. Satan continually tries to cause a battle within the Christianís life and that battle is going on in our lives right now.

The story of Esther is a picture of this battle and itís very much up-to-date.

Our story so far is this: the king of the Persian Empire gave a feast, and after seven days of drinking, and on the advice of his chamberlains, he divorced his queen in a fit of anger. Later he regretted his actions and his chamberlains suggested he pick a new queen from a number of the virgins in the land and among them was Esther, a Jewess, the cousin of Mordecai. When her turn came to go in to the king, he immediately chose her for his queen.

Later, Mordecai discovered a plot to kill the king and told Esther and she warned the king and Mordecaiís information saved the life of the king.

A man named Haman, who hated Jews, was promoted in authority next to the king, and he engineered a decree that couldnít be altered nor rescinded, to kill all the Jews in the kingdom on a certain day.

In Chapter 4, the queen is told of Mordecaiís public display of grief and she asks the reason. When she sent her servant with new clothes, he told the servant what the problem was.

Verses 1-3. ďWhen Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; 2: And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth. 3: And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. ďSo Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not.Ē

The order to kill all the Jews had reached the whole kingdom and Mordecaiís feud with Haman now included all the Jews because Mordecai had openly identified himself as a Jew.

He was wearing sackcloth publicly and that indicated a petition to God just like a prayer. Esther didnít know about the order authorizing the execution of all the Jews and she sent out new clothes so the king wouldnít see him in sackcloth.

All this time, God was working behind the scenes, using this as part of His plan to deliver His people. So far, nothing has suggested that Esther and Mordecai had great faith in God, but it is an indication they believed God was concerned for the welfare of His Chosen People.

Verses 5-12. ďThen called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was. 6: So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate. 7: And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. 8: Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people.Ē 9: And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. 10: Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai; 11: ďAll the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.Ē 12: ďAnd they told to Mordecai Esther's words."

Esther's answer wasnít very encouraging. Persian monarchs didnít welcome unwanted visitors. Even the queen couldnít enter the king's chambers unannounced or she might be put to death. If the king extended the golden scepter, that person was welcome but he hadnít called for her in a month and she didnít know what his attitude would be toward her.

The king didnít realize he had sentenced his beloved queen to death just because of her nationality. Mordecai, however, knew this decree would destroy the people of God throughout the kingdom and his heart was so full of sorrow he publicly displayed his grief.

This pictures the believer when we grieve the Holy Spirit. The foolish things the believer does can grieve the heart of God more than the sinnerís enmity toward God does.

Mordecai knew the law of the Medes and the Persians was unchangeable and that the consequences of the king's decision were inevitable. Even the king couldnít change the law.

He also believed his people would be delivered, even if delivery had be by other means.

Mordecai told Hatach the whole story, the sum of money Haman offered the king, everything. He even gave him the copy of the decree to show Esther and instructed Hatach to tell Esther to go to the king on behalf of her people.

By the words "her people," Hatach knew that Esther was a Jewess. Unless there was a way found to prevent it, Esther would be killed along with Mordecai and the rest of the Jews.

Verses 13-14. ďThen Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. 14: For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?Ē

At this point Mordecai got insistent. He told Esther that if this calamity wasnít averted she would be killed, even though she was a member of the royal household. If the king refused to see her, death by order of the king was no worse than being killed by Haman. Esther finally understood the situation and was ready to risk death on behalf of her people.

In the event that Estherís approach to the king failed, Mordecai believed God would protect His people in some way but that deliverance would have to come from elsewhere.

He believed that Godís promises to Abraham couldnít be fulfilled if the entire nation was wiped out, but he was confident that God would keep His promise and somehow act on behalf of the Jews.

Verses 15-17. ďThen Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, 16: Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. 17: So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all Esther had commanded him.Ē

Estherís reply to Mordecai was, Iíll go to the king and ďIf I perish, I perish.Ē

Nothing is said about Esther praying. She just told Mordecai and all the Jews to fast for three days and nights and she and her maidens would too. Fasting, like prayer, is considered a way to bring a matter to the attention of God.

Esther had hesitated in going to the king because he was subject to his own emotions, and it would be dangerous to confront him unexpectedly. Our soul is a creature of moods also and sometimes our spirit is hesitant to catch us in a bad mood and upset our whole kingdom! In our conscious mind weíre often very reluctant to consider unpleasant decisions.

Isn't it amazing that God, through the Holy Spirit, catches us in the right mood when an important decision is to be made? He does this in order to work out His perfect will and plan in our lives. In this case, at the suggestion of Mordecai (who pictures the Holy Spirit in our lives), Esther caught the king in the right mood.

Looking back to the words of Mordecai in verse 14, ďFor if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed:"

What he said here is, ďIf you and I fail to do Godís will, God has other ways to accomplish it. Nothing can stop the completion of God's will. Heíll use someone else or some other way to bring deliverance.Ē

Our failures never deter God but sometimes we forfeit the blessing God gives and He gives that blessing to someone else.

Mordecai also reminded Esther that God wanted to use her to do His will. "Who knows whether thou art come to the kingdom for just such a time as this."

When Esther came into the kingdom it brought hope of new life in the kingdom. Now we see Godís plan start to unfold to bring that hope of new life for the Jews. That is a picture of salvation. Itís a picture of when our spirits were made alive in Christ Jesus.

Esther told Mordecai, "Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day."

For all intents and purposes this is a prophecy of Christís death for her sins and ours. Itís as if she said "I want to act out the fact that the death of the Messiah will be on my behalf. I want to picture that death that held him in the grave, not eating nor drinking, dead, for three days and three nights. Because of the promise that Christ would die for me, I am not afraid to die myself. IĎll go to the king -- and if I perish, I perish!"

These words picture the believer in our identification with Jesus Christ in His death.

If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, whether you feel like a Christian or not, youíre still a Christian. Christ's death for you, and your death with him, are unchangeable facts, and nothing you do, or don't do, affects them and you can never lose your salvation.

John 10: 28-28. ďAnd I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29: My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.Ē

If you once died with him, you are not the same, you never will be the same again. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes we commit the same sinful acts that we did before we were saved, but weíre not the same, we canít be. The New Testament says weíve been translated, "out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of his love," (Colossians 1:13).

The believerís deliverance rests on an unchangeable fact, the death of Christ. When the believer identifies with Christ in His death, the Holy Spirit moves into that personís conscious life which consists of our emotions, our reason, and our will but sometimes the Holy Spirit has to call our attention to what is going on in our life before we can be delivered from something wrong. Whatever transpires in our life, the power of God working within our life will always be the power of a resurrected life.