“There was a certain Jew in the capital in Shushan whose name was Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite, Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives taken away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried into exile. He had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The maiden was beautiful and lovely, and when her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Esther 2:5-7 (AMP)
Every Purim, my children look forward to one thing: Hamentashen Cookies! (Recipe) And Hamentashen they will have! But, I, their mama however, look forward to teaching them from the story of Esther again because it is one of my all-time favorite stories from the bible. Queen Esther- a displaced, orphaned Jewish girl who rises to the throne of the Persian Empire and, through faith, helps deliver God’s people from Haman’s evil plot to destroy them all. What’s not to love about that?
Usually, while we are preparing for Purim, I teach the children in the days leading up to the holiday about the queen that Esther replaces, Vashti–who disobeyed the king’s order and lost her position in his kingdom, Esther’s character traits– that helped her find favor to rise to the throne, and Haman’s plot- how no matter what the enemy plans to do to God’s people, the Lord will always has a plan to deliver them. We also touch on the Persian empire and different aspects of history and culture of that time.
This year, though, when I opened the pages of my bible, I prayed that God would show me what He wanted ME to see, as well as what He wanted me to teach the kids about this precious story. I wanted something fresh to grab a hold of in my own walk with God this year, and a new perspective to share with the children. A word that would strengthen me in my faith and resolve to walk with Him in the, sometimes difficult, paths before me. As I began to pour over the very familiar pages, a new focus on a completely different character came into the forefront: Mordecai.
Through the years, I would often tell my boys little snippets about Mordecai, how He was a good and faithful man of God, an example that they could look to and follow, but I never really studied him all that much beyond the surface of the scriptures because, well, this was Esther’s story, right?
As Mordecai’s story unfolded before me, I started to see that he was a deeply faithful man behind the scenes whose steadfastness had ushered he and Esther to this monumental place in history for the deliverance and good of the Jewish people. Though I am only going to focus on a small aspect of it in this post, his heart toward God’s people was golden and his mind was on so much more than ensuring that their family secured the throne. He knew that if she rose to the position of queen, it meant influence for the Jewish people in a pagan land. His influence was also powerful in the life of queen Esther, so much so, that she was compelled to obey him even after she ascended to the throne!
***Many Jewish scholars believe that Mordecai and Esther were actually married at the time that Esther was taken into the king’s palace. Because of the way that the scriptures are worded concerning Mordecai’s ‘adoption’ of Esther, and the customs of that time, the scholars believe that Mordecai took Esther as his wife after she was orphaned. We have no way of knowing this for sure, but regardless of whether or not she was his daughter in the way we understand it, or as his wife, Mordecai was faithful to Esther and his influence over her was clear: to be obedient to the Lord and to have faith in God for the good of the Jewish people, no matter what.*** (If you wish to study this aspect of the story more, here are some RESOURCES (this is a google search results link) to get you started, I personally take no concrete position either way, though I do lean toward him being more of a father figure in her life.)
“And when the maidens were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. Now Esther had not yet revealed her nationality or her people, for she obeyed Mordecai’s command to her [[b]to fear God and execute His commands] just as when she was being brought up by him. In those days, while Mordecai sat at the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, of those who guarded the door, were angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this was known to Mordecai, who told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s name.” Esther 2: 19-22 (AMP)
Mordecai’s integrity was obviously known to more people than just Esther, because in those days, scripture tells us that he sat inside the king’s gates. This meant that he held an official position in the king’s courts. Because of his access, he was able to inquire about Esther’s welfare and about what was being done to her during her 12 months of preparation. He was able to send messages back and forth with Esther, to counsel her and even to warn her of a plan to harm the king. Esther held Mordecai’s voice in high esteem and respected his wishes and counsel, and did all that Mordecai bid her to do. She trusted him and his judgement, and she honored him when warning the king of the plan against him.
As a parent, I understand how godly training and discipline sets my children up for success and favor in their lives. I have often witnessed godly children in action and immediately felt admiration for the parents who raised them because I know that those children were not magically born “good”, that they didn’t become godly all on their own– they had parents who prayed, trained them, and disciplined them. They probably had godly teachers and mentors that helped along the way too. Many a U.S. President and world leader have credited their fathers and mothers as the primary source of their own personal character development– my point is this: there would be no Esther, as we know her, without the unassuming, quiet influence of faith from the man, Mordecai. Mordecai’s value, like many mothers and fathers of great leaders throughout history, is not to go unnoticed or be undervalued.
It is important to remember that there is almost always someone of great significance and quiet faith behind a world changer like Esther.
This is also true in the kingdom of God. We all have mothers and fathers in the faith, mentors who have sown seeds of faith into our lives, without whom we would not be who we are today. Intercessors and warriors who have gone before us, teachers who have taken the time to study and share with us what has been revealed to them. We can also learn from Mordecai to strive to be examples in the faith like he was, always having the good of God’s people as a goal in our minds and heart motives. As a mother, I take it personally in my heart to be a ‘Mordecai’ to my children in any way that I can, because you never know if God will raise your son or daughter up into a position in this world “for such a time as this”.
Scripture tells us that Mordecai raised Esther as his own daughter. From what I can tell, the Word doesn’t tell us how old Esther was when Mordecai took over her upbringing, but we see throughout the whole story how Esther’s unparalleled godly and wise character testifies of perhaps, her mother and father first, and also of Mordecai. The girl had wisdom, faith and guts. She learned those traits from somewhere!
Throughout the book of Esther, we see not only Mordecai’s faithfulness and dedication to Esther’s well-being, we see him refusing to bow to Haman, we see him looking out for the welfare of the pagan king, we see his commitment and obedience to God’s “bigger picture” and we learn that when it is all said and done, Mordecai spends the the remainder of his days continuing to be the steadfast character we come to admire and to continue to work for the good of God’s people.
This Purim, as I teach the kids the story of Esther once again, I’m going to focus a little more on Mordecai this time around and his faithful example. I’m going to encourage my children to strive toward that kind of integrity, and I personally am going glean from his life and strive to have the rock solid, quiet faith that powerfully works behind the scenes just as much as it works out in the open.
Lord, may You find me faithful like Mordecai. Help me to have “bigger picture” faith, and enable me to continually work for the good of Your people, starting with those of my own household. When the Hamens of this world try to get me to compromise my faith, may I be found to be rock solid in Your Word like Mordecai and empower me to teach my children to do the same. Let the character of quiet, yet powerful, faith take its place in my heart so that I, and others, may see Your great deliverance and see souls won for Your Glory, and that there might be peace for Your children, in Jesus Name, Amen.