God delivers His people in mysteriously unique ways. The story of Esther demonstrated God's plan of deliverance through the trembling faith of a young Queen's petition.
King Ahasuerus, often identified as King Xerxes, held a one hundred eighty-day feast to exemplify his opulence of his finest capital, Susa. Scripture reference in Esther 1:6-7 speaks highly of the feast, mentioning the "marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones…" All one hundred twenty seven provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia gathered to acknowledge the King. Drunk with wine, the King ordered Queen Vashti to expose herself in front of the King and his male guests, but Vashti refused the humiliating order, knowing that she was risking death. Infuriated, the King banished Vashti from his presence making her an example to other wives so that they would not make the same decision and disobey their husbands. King Ahasuerus now sought beautiful young virgins, among who at this time was a girl about fourteen years old. The King's search for a new queen would open the window to fulfill God's will for Esther and the Jewish people.
For twelve months the young, hopeful girls were being prepared in the harem with beauty treatments of oils, perfumes, massages, and hairstyles to enrich their attractiveness. The long awaited evening came when Esther had her opportunity to display her presence to the King. In awe, the King found grace and favor in sight of Esther, declaring her his queen. To celebrate his marriage, "He granted a remission of taxes…and gave gifts with royal liberality." (Esther 2:18)
Having possession of the King's royal signet ring enabled Haman to validate any edict that he commanded. Out of his hate for Mordecai he allowed every official to destroy all Jews on the thirteenth day of Adar. Although the situation seemed hopeless, faithful Mordecai began to fast and pray. Through his connection to Esther, he was able to share the dreadful news, but also encouraged Esther to use her position as queen to save the Jews. Imagine the fear she must have felt; the future of her people was in her hands! Understanding now why and how God might be using her, she agreed to help and ordered the Jews to fast for three days. She covered herself with ashes and dung, humbling her body, praying to the Lord God.
For thirty consecutive days the King did not call for Esther, but this did not prevent her from risking her life by entering the inner court to see the King. Finding favor in Esther, the King held out his golden scepter to her, allowing her act of entering the court without invitation acceptable. She must have been so grateful for his mercy and above all grateful to the Lord God who softened his heart! She begged her husband to attend a banquet in her quarters the following evening and to bring Haman along. Ahasuerus graciously accepted.
Haman left the palace that evening feeling pleased with himself, until he came upon Mordecai who was unwilling to submit to him. Full of wrath, Haman went to his family for counsel and they decided to build gallows to impale the Jewish upstart as soon as he could obtain the King's permission.
The banquet at Esther's quarters was pleasant and she invited her guest to join her again the following evening. As the second banquet approached, Esther was forced to reveal her petition despite all her fears. She exposed Haman's villainy and revealed her Jewish origin, crying out, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to be annihilated." The King was enraged and stormed out to his gardens only to return and find Haman at Esther's feet pleading for mercy. Misinterpreting the scene, the king shouted, "Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?" Ironically, the king had Haman and his ten sons hung on the gallows built for Mordecai. Mordecai was appointed grand vizier and was authorized to write a counterorder for the deliverance of the Jews in the king's name. On the exact day the original edict was appointed, the Jews were allowed to defend their lives. It should be noted that many of the Jews served in the Persian army and their training would benefit them then more than ever. A second day of vengeance took place resulting in the slaughtering of thousands of men, but they laid no hands on the plunder. After two days of fighting, the Jewish people celebrated, naming the third day Purim.
Can you imagine if Esther had ignored her cousin and never went before the king? God works within his children preparing them in His time for His tasks. God raised Esther from an orphan to royalty "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). Esther fasted, prayed and waited until the time was right to reveal her petition. God delighted to work through her step of faith.
What petition has God put on your heart?