-When Mordecai learned of all that had been done by Haman in attempt to kill his people, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city of Susa wailing loudly and bitterly. He went as far as the king’s gates with this mourning and sorrowful protest. He could go no further since no one was to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth by law. In each province, as the news went out of the command and decree of the king against the Jews, there was incredible mourning with fasting, weeping, wailing, and laying on sackcloth and ashes. Eventually, Esther’s maidens and her eunuchs came and told her the news causing the great queen of Media-Persia to writhe in “great anguish.” She sent garments for Mordecai to clothe himself, perhaps so that he could come and speak with her without incident in the king’s gates. However, Mordecai refused the garments. This led Esther to summon Hathach, from the king’s eunuchs whom the king had appointed to attend her. She then ordered him to go to Mordecai, her previous caretaker, cousin, and dearly beloved, in order to learn what this matter was and why it was. The messenger went out to Mordecai in the city square in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him all that had happened to him and related the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews (Esther 3:9). He even gave him a copy of the edict’s text, which had been issued in Susa appointing God’s chosen people’s destruction. This was given so that Hathach could show Esther and inform her without a shadow of a doubt so that she would know the seriousness of this situation and be compelled to go before the king to implore his favor and plead with him for her people. As Hathach came back and related the words of Mordecai to Esther along with this copy of the edict, Esther spoke to her attendant and ordered him to reply to Mordecai: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.” This indicates the king’s complete authority and irritation with being bothered while on his throne. Remember, this was a man who was very prone to anger and flying off the handle with ridiculously intense emotions and actions. So we, as the readers, can feel the emotion and pathos of Esther as she makes this reply to Mordecai. As these words were given to the sullen Mordecai, her cousin had a response that proved overwhelming: “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place (veiled reference here to the sovereignty of God in this situation with complete faith) and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther got the point as she responded through her messenger: “Go assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” Therefore, Mordecai went on his way and did exactly as Esther had commanded him (Esther 4:1-17).
*Application* How do we handle bad news in our culture when we receive it? Public mourning and sorrow has become less and less of a thing, but we can see the benefit of it if we try. Pent up emotions eventually come out in other more destructive ways, so I believe we have to commend Mordecai for his woeful demonstration that refused cover up. Notice that he didn’t act violently or enrage the Jewish populace in a vigilante fashion. He astutely made his points to someone who could do something about it with complete faith and dependence on his God. He was assured of relief and deliverance. This is what trust and belief are all about. He exhorted his cousin the queen, as a person of influence, to take action at a critical time with powerful words. These are commendable qualities for us to grab onto in times of stress and uncertainty. Let’s also laud Esther for her courage in seeing the reality of a situation and asking for intercession in gaining wisdom and favor. Her words, “If I perish, I perish,” should inspire us to take whatever stand we must take in present day situations and circumstances leaving the consequences to a Higher Power.
Verses to Memorize: Esther 4:14, 16