Dispatches were sent by swift messengers into all the provinces of the empire, giving the order that all Jews—young and old, including women and children—must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on a single day. This was scheduled to happen on March 7 of the next year. The property of the Jews would be given to those who killed them.
A copy of this decree was to be issued as law in every province and proclaimed to all peoples, so that they would be ready to do their duty on the appointed day. At the king’s command, the decree went out by swift messengers, and it was also proclaimed in the fortress of Susa. Then the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa fell into confusion. (Esther 3:13–15)
Only one missionary invests his whole life in a remote area, and an entire tribe is ultimately evangelized. Only one statesman stands for right, and a country is saved. Only one strong-willed and determined citizen says, “I stand against this evil,” and a community ramps up morally and changes its direction.
And only one woman decided it was worth the risk to break with protocol and speak her mind, and a nation was preserved.
The Jews have been threatened with extermination. Wicked Haman has influenced King Ahasuerus with his promises: “Because of this plan I have set up, it is possible for me to pour money into your treasuries and for us to rid the land of these people who will not bow down and worship you as the king.” Though it pandered to the king’s pride, that plan had the makings of the worst kind of holocaust. “The Jews will no longer be in our land. We’ll be rid of these people.”
In case you wonder what impact it had on the community, return to the last phrase in chapter 3: “the city of Susa was in confusion.” That had to be a major understatement!
While Haman and Ahasuerus sat over their drinks in the palace, the general public wandered in bewilderment and confusion, especially the Jews, not unlike those in the ghetto at Warsaw and other European scenes of horror in the late ’30s and early ’40s. “What’s going on here?” “Why have those in authority ordered this?” “How much worse can things get?”
What terror this struck in their hearts, what fear in their minds! “How can we continue?” “How can we fight this?” This was the law of the Medes and the Persians. When an edict was issued in that era, it was final. Nobody could change this plan, even the king, but certainly no Jew. Helplessness quickly eroded into hopelessness.
Yet, in the midst of all this, God was not sleeping. In His sovereign plan, He determined that one person would make the difference. One individual would stand in the gap. Her name is Esther.
Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. www.harpercollinschristian.com