Shut out from the inner courts, Mordecai stood weeping and crying at the King’s gate for mercy. Never entering, as no one was allowed inside who dressed in sackcloth and ashes – an outward symbol of his people’s inward condition. Grief & desolation.
Xerxes wished to hear no pleas or requests from any person drowning in misery, ruin, or sorrow. No one.
Mordecai wasn’t even allowed to enter the gate.
Esther, however, sat already inside, and yet, so far away. Though a wife to the King, she found herself in an unfavorable situation. She stood uncalled on by the King for an entire month. To approach him without his beckoning would mean risking her life by setting herself at the mercy of the one who signed her death certificate.
Yet, a seed of hope hidden in the midst of the sackcloth and ashes. If you skim over the passage, it is quite easy to miss. Another character in stark contrast to the powerful King of Persia.
“3And in every province, wherever the King’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.”
The King of Persia inside of his walls never heard the laments, didn’t see the tears and display of grieving. But outside of the King’s gates, a different King, a higher King met pleas for mercy, for saving.
Can you see Him?
In stark contrast to Xerxes, the God of the Jews is listening to His peoples cries as they lay in sackcloth & ashes, in desolation and ruin.
The Queen of Persia, a woman of position, beauty and wealth, now stood within her own palace walls with a target on her head. The decree ordered the “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day.” (Esther 3:13)
No position or palace walls could save her. And then it hits her, just as it should you and I – no hope or refuge outside of Jesus can ever offer complete protection and safety.
“15Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16‘Go, gather all of the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.’”
God’s people’s supplications once again meet His ears, and His plan that began long before the decree, the plan that brought Esther “14to the kingdom for such a time as this”, begins to unfold.
On this Easter weekend, particularly on this Saturday, I can’t help but correlate the fear and despair God’s people felt when the King’s decree of their sure destruction came to them, when all hope seemed to be lost, to the way I’m sure the disciples felt when their leader, Jesus, was crucified the day before.
What an empty day. What a fearful day. What a confusing day.
And though Esther chapter four ends on a “Saturday-like” note, and though the disciples “rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56b) where I’m sure they inwardly mirrored the sackcloth and ashes.
God still heard their pleas, no walls could keep them from Him, and Sunday’s resurrection is coming. The same goes for you. He hears your pleas. He see’s your mourning. There are no walls or laws to keep you from Him in your grief. He calls you tenderly to His throne of grace. He has a ressurection coming for you.
Sister, whatever grave you feel like you’re sitting in, no matter what or who let you down or didn’t protect you, you have a God who’s already won your resurrection and who is working all things for your good and His glory. Because of His Son’s death on Good Friday, your pleas for mercy are reaching His ears today.
What do I trust for protection and refuge more than Christ?
Do I/Am I boldly approaching His throne of grace?
What is God asking me to release over to Him for a new resurrection?