Can a Christian woman lead?
Most of us are familiar with the story of the rags to riches queen from the Old Testament. Out of the 66 books that make up the Bible only two bear women’s names. Esther is one of them. And in this book, Esther takes the lead.
Figuring Out the Ezer Role
I’ve been on a journey to discover how Christian women today take their rightful place as Ezers—the helpmates of man. As I’ve written in my blogs and talked about in my podcast, Brave Girl, the Hebrew word Ezer means helper in a different way than our English language eludes. Here’s why: The word Ezer is used 21 times in the Old Testament and most refer to God being our help (Ezer) in a warrior sort of way. Ezer is a guard, a strongman, the hero when God uses it in reference to himself. So from this biblical insight, we know the Lord meant to make the woman more than a creature to keep Adam company. When God made an Ezer Woman out of man, He created for the man a rear guard—a woman to have his spiritual back.
The woman, made in God’s image reflects the beauty of God and nurturing side of His nature, but she reflects more—a fierce force to be reckoned with when it comes to right and wrong in spiritual matters.
This is why I love the book of Esther. The heroine of this literal story is not only a wealthy queen but also lays her life on the line for God’s people. These two points are what she is most famous for. But with a closer look, we see Esther also takes a kingdom leadership role and becomes a policy writer for an empire that stretched from India to Ethiopia.
And I dig it.
The Esther Story
Here’s a refresh on Esther’s story: Through a series of dynamic events, Esther, an orphan and refugee, is chosen as a candidate to replace the former disgruntled queen who was married to a … well somewhat unpredictable king. Crazy, but Esther and other young women found in the kingdom are gathered up for a beauty contest of sorts where the king will choose his newest queen.
Before the pageant, Esther’s adopted dad (and cousin Mordecai) warns her to keep her ethnicity a secret. Antisemitism existed back then, too.
Things go extremely well for Esther. The king’s enthralled and she gets the job, the title, and the first-class pass to all kingdom socials. Life couldn’t be better for Esther.
But while she is living the dream, her cousin Mordecai discovers a diabolical plot to kill the king. Mordecai sends this explosive information to Esther, and she, the devoted wife, shares the awful news with the king while giving Mordecai full credit for the tip off.
The would-be murderers are found and put to death. and everything is hunky dory and back to palace normal. Until. Until someone gets jealous.
Doesn’t that always happen?
In the narrative, we’re told that one of the king’s top officials, (Haman) had it out for Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow to this newly appointed bureaucrat even though the law required it. But that refusal started a chain of royal gossip among the disgruntled-with-the Jews court. Put out with Mordecai, Haman then seeks to destroy all Jews. All Jewish people. Haman even convince the king to sign an edict that on a day in the not-too-distant future, government officials of all provinces were to approve the destruction of their local Jewish neighbors—women and children included.
Remember, no one in the castle knew Esther Jewish. But some folks in the lower ranks of the kingdom-dwellers knew. And that put the Queen at risk.
A few desperate messages are passed between Esther and Mordecai with Mordecai urging his queen cousin to go to the king, beg his favor, and plead on behalf of her people.
But…the king doesn’t know…she’s a Jew. And there’s that law about entering the king’s court….
Esther knows palace protocol. No one can go to the king in his inner court without being summoned. She can’t just bust in and demand an audience of her husband. There are rules— deep, traditional laws, and those laws say she’d be put to death if she pulls a stunt like that. He is the unpredictable king, after all, and he hadn’t summoned her for 30 days. For a palace woman (queen or not) to go a month without being summoned by the king meant she was as good as forgotten. This king had several wives and a whole harem of concubines. If he wasn’t sending for Esther, he was spending evenings, most likely, with another.
So Esther sends a message to Mordecai explaining the dire situation.
But Mordecai pushes back. He reminds Esther from where she comes. She’s a Jew, an orphan of captives. He warns her no palace wall or fortress of silence will save her from the day of death ordered by her own husband. And then, Mordecai utters my favorite line of all times. He told the messenger to tell Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for a time such as this.”
Esther’s purpose as an Ezer hero is revealed.
Eyes now opened to her call, Esther takes a lead role and issues a call for local Jews to fast and pray for three days. She declares her intent to go to the king though it is against the law. Then, Esther utters another great biblical line. “If I perish, I perish.”
On day four, she gets ready. Dressed in royal robes, smelling of spicy perfume, how ironic it must have felt that day in her beautiful gown knowing it would soon be soaked in blood.
But God. When the king sees his wife in the inner court, he extends his scepter, issuing Esther an invitation to approach the throne.
Wise Esther doesn’t run to the king and fall at his feet begging mercy. She plays her hand like the shrewd woman she is. Esther, my friends, appeals to the king’s stomach. She invites the king (and his evil official Haman, btw) to dinner.
Three days of fasting and prayer will render us iconic moves like that. Just saying.
With his stomach full, the king tells Esther he’ll grant her half the kingdom if she wants it. But Esther doesn’t take him up on the offer. No, she wisely lays another step to gain his favor.
Esther doesn’t want half the kingdom. Esther wants salvation for her people.
Now Haman struts around like a rooster, bragging about how he’s been invited to a second private party with the queen and king. He’s feeling so confident that he has gallows built specifically for Mordecai on the coming day-of-death for the Jews.
At the second and successful banquet, the king once again informs Esther that he will give her half the kingdom if she’ll only request it. Our brave queen doesn’t take this second offer but requests her own life and the lives of her people be spared because one single man has bargained them into death.
Furious, the king asks, “who has dared to do this.” Esther, brave and bold, points to Haman. “This wicked man.”
Uh-oh for Haman. His wicked plan is revealed and I bet the banquet he just devoured went sour in his stomach.
God’s kingdom-people saved, the king orders Haman’s death and the Jew’s salvation.
Israel is saved!
And Esther is promoted. She and Mordecai are given authority to declare a kingdom-wide feast with Esther writing a nationally recognized letter that outlines how all the peoples will recognize the salvation of Jews. In Esther 9:32 we read, “And the command of Esther established these customs for Purim, and it was written in the book.” The king gave Esther some major power so she could mold the future of the Jews.
The command of Esther. Esther serves as a fine example of a godly leader.
The Command of Esther
Let’s recap her accomplishments: This orphan-queen initiated a nation-wide fast, outwitted an evil official, put her life at grave risk, saved an entire people group, then wrote national policy that is still recognized today. Given the opportunity, Eshter made a difference.
So what about you? Have your blessings given you unique chance to bravely lead change? What position has the Lord given you, and how can you use it in these interesting days when the whole world has gone nuts? The time for truth is now. Go ahead. Call a fast. Then go make a difference.
If I perish, I perish,
Laurie, Queen at My Palace
Push the button for epiode 4 – Lead like Esther