Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai: “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.” So Hathach gave Esther’s message to Mordecai.
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:10–14)
Now, before you frown and entertain thoughts of self-righteousness, thinking that you would never have responded like that, remember, you’re surrounded by friends in a safe and unthreatened environment where there are no armed soldiers outside and governmental protocol to obey. Furthermore, chances are good you don’t live under a cloud because of the race into which you were born, and there’s no king sitting on a throne at whose whim you live or die. It’s easy to be brave when we’re protected and secure, when we have nothing to risk.
If Esther obeyed Mordecai, she stood to risk everything, including her life. Although the king was her husband, she couldn’t just stroll into his office and casually unload what was on her mind. Things didn’t work like that in ancient Persia. He had to send for her. And at that time, he hadn’t sent for her for a month. If she went to him without being summoned, he could have her put to death. On top of all that, she was Jewish. Who knows how that Gentile monarch would respond when he found that out?
It was a huge dilemma. But Mordecai knew Esther. He had taken care of her. He had trained her. He knew how far he could push. Most of all, he knew her character. He knew the stuff of which she was made.
Encouraging the cultivation of character is exactly what wise parents do, nudging, urging their children toward maturity. As a parent, you have occasions in your life, brief vignettes, little windows of time, where you can step forward and help your children to understand the value of being brave. As they grow up and those hands-on occasions change to a more distant relationship, you must call upon your children to stand for what they believe, even if they must stand alone—and then trust them to do it without you alongside.
Mordecai faces that moment. So when Hathach comes to him with Esther’s answer, Mordecai tightens the sash around his sackcloth and says the hard thing. He appeals to her character.
In that same situation, what do you think you would have said to the queen?