In our study of Esther chapter four, we will see how God has a plan for the life of each of His children. We will also see how our following that plan may have larger consequences than we think.
When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king's gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it.
When Mordecai learned of the decree he immediately went into mourning because he believed that it would happen. It is interesting to note that he did not pray as he knew that he was out of the will of God. (He had not returned to Jerusalem.)
In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
We see that the mourning spread throughout the kingdom. Sackcloth and ashes were a sign of repentance so many of the Jews thought that this was a judgement for their sin and they repented. Sackcloth was made out of the skin of dark colored goats and it was rough and uncomfortable to wear. Ashes were a symbol of being consumed by the sin.
When Esther's maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.
Esther's royal servants saw Mordecai at the king's gate and reported it to her. She was embarrassed and sent him clothes to put on but he would not. God's hand was at work even in where Mordecai stopped as it was just the right place for her servants to see him.
Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
When Mordecai refused the clothes, Esther knew that it was serious. So, she sent a servant to question Mordecai.
So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.
So, when Hathach went to Mordecai, he was told of Haman's plan to kill all of the Jews. He even told him of the money that Haman was willing to offer.
He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for the annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
Mordecai also sent a copy of the edict with Hathach and asked him to explain it to her. He then asked for Esther to go to the king and beg for mercy on behalf of the Jews. This is big because she will be identifying herself as a Jew and, in doing so, the king's order would apply to her.
Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 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 he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.'
So, Esther sends Hathach back to remind Mordecai that, if she does what he asked, she could be killed. The custom of the king reminds us of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Just as nobody could approach the king in the inner court, the high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once each year. The king extending the gold scepter is a wonderful reminder of how Jesus extended his arms on the cross to buy our pardon.
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.'
Mordecai reminded Esther that she was Jew and the edict applied to all of the Jews. It could not be changed and so there was no chance of her being the lone survivor.
'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 royal position for such a time as this?'
Mordecai continues to explain to Esther that silence is not an option as she will perish. He demonstrates his faith by trusting that, whether or not she agrees to go to the king, God will deliver His people. He asks her to think about the reason that she is in her royal position. In Ephesians 2:10, we are told that God has prepared things for us to do (just as He had for Esther). Like her, we can choose to obey and follow the course He has set for our lives or we can ignore His Spirit. If we choose to obey, we will be blessed but, if we choose to ignore, God will use someone else to do His will.
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 maids 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.
Esther's reply has a wonderful lesson for us today. When faced with this trial and decision, she called for fasting. As we see, this is denial of food and drink to oneself in order to focus on the things of God. It is significant that she asked for three days of fasting in that the number three is associated with the revealing of God's will throughout the Bible.