Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
Queen Esther. A young Jewish woman living in exile. An orphan raised by her uncle. Taken to be part of the king’s harem. She found favour with him for she was very beautiful and he made her queen, having deposed of his first queen.
King Xerxes didn’t know she was Jewish when he issued the royal decree to have the Jews annihilated. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, found out about the plan and sought her help to plead with the king to get the decision overturned and save the people. It was a dangerous thing to go to the king without being summoned but she agreed to to the plan. But first she asked her uncle to get the people to fast for three days for her, while she did so as well.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline common to many faith traditions. It is done weekly by some, but often exercised when one is seeking guidance or protection. It can also be part of preparation for something important. Esther marshalled the community to join her as she prepared to go before the king on all of their behalf and ultimately the plan worked. The king agreed and saved the Jewish people from being killed.
We prepare for Christmas by putting up lights and buying gifts. We prepare by sending cards and making special foods. But we also need to prepare our hearts. Traditionally, Advent was a time of fasting and prayer as a means of repentance and drawing closer to God. Many of us don’t do much fasting in these days of Christmas parties (well, in a normal year with Christmas parties.) But we can still take time to be prayerful and mindful of what God is doing in our lives and seeking ways of drawing closer to him. Hopefully reading these short devotions has been helpful in your preparation.
As we prepare to celebrate his first coming, we also keep in mind we still wait for his second coming and Jesus tells us to be prepared for that. He tells us to be “faithful and wise” (Matthew 24:45), to be ready at all times for we “do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13). Peter admonishes us to “live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:11). It’s not about performing for Christ. It’s about abiding in him. “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” (John 15:4) And he gives this command “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). So how do we prepare? By remaining in Christ and loving each other.
Let us pray.
Lord, thank you how you lead and guide and protect your people. Thank you that you use unlikely people to do your work- because that means you can use us. Help us to be faithful and wise, abiding in you, that we may love others as you loved us and thereby extending the Kingdom of God to the people around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Have you ever partaken in a fast? If so, what was your experience of it? If not, is it something you would consider?
How is the preparation of your heart going this Advent season?
How are you showing the people around you, the community you live in, love this Advent season?