Lessons From Esther
Esther was a remarkable woman who helped save her people from an attempted genocide. What lessons can we learn from Esther today?
The book of Esther is an amazing account that shows God’s hand in the deliverance of His people.
It shows how He used an extraordinary young woman, Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an attempted genocide by a maniacal official in the Persian Empire. The lessons contained in the book are very relevant to Christians today.
You can learn more about the book and the woman in our articles “The Book of Esther” and “Esther’s Faith.”
3 lessons from Esther in the Bible
Here are 3 lessons we can learn from Esther’s life:
Esther lesson 1: God’s invisible hand of deliverance was (and is) there
The Jews had been exiled to the land of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar because of their disobedience to God’s laws, particularly for Sabbath-breaking and idolatry (Jeremiah 17:21-27; 25:6-7).
Despite their disobedience and subsequent punishment, God still cared about them and had future plans for them (Jeremiah 29:11). He had not completely rejected them!
God's fingerprints are seen throughout the book—in the same way that we often see His guidance and deliverance in our lives today.Though some Jews had returned to Jerusalem about 60 years earlier because of King Cyrus’ edict (Ezra 6:1-11), thousands of Jews remained in other areas of the Persian Empire. (To learn more about King Cyrus and the return of some of the Jews to their homeland, read “Daniel 9: The 70-Year Prophecy of Jeremiah.”)
So, during Esther’s time, her people were scattered around many areas of the Medo-Persian Empire.
Some have attacked the book of Esther for never directly mentioning God’s name. But that doesn’t mean God wasn’t present. In fact, His fingerprints are seen throughout the book—in the same way that we often see His guidance and deliverance in our lives today.
God’s intervention can be seen throughout the book through a series of extraordinary events:
- Esther stood out from all the young girls throughout the land and was chosen to be the queen of Persia (Esther 2:15-18). God’s hand was clearly at work to place her in this position.
- Mordecai uncovered a plot to kill the king of Persia, King Ahasuerus. Mordecai reported the plot to Esther, who informed the king in Mordecai’s name, and the assassination attempt was foiled. This incident later elevated Mordecai before the king (Esther 2:21-23; 6:1-2). God’s hand was clearly behind Mordecai’s learning of this plot and being able to report it to Esther.
- One night the king asked for the historical records to be read to him to help him sleep. Mordecai’s good deed was read to him, and the king then decided to honor him. At the same time, Haman entered the king’s court to ask to have Mordecai executed on the gallows. But before he could make his request, the king asked Haman for his advice on how to honor someone. Long story short: Haman was forced to show honor to Mordecai instead of hanging him (Esther 6:1-11). God’s hand was clearly behind the king’s desire to honor, not execute, Mordecai.
- Esther gained favor with the king and was able to use that favor to reveal Haman’s genocidal plan to the king. This allowed Haman’s true colors to be made obvious, leading to his death and the deliverance of the Jewish people (Esther 7 and 8). God’s hand was clearly behind the king’s favoring Esther so much that he listened to her over his trusted, but evil, official.
God’s invisible hand was working in many ways and on many levels to save His people.
The lesson for us is that God is still working in the lives of His people today. The Bible assures us that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). To learn more about this incredibly encouraging truth, read “What Does Romans 8:28 Mean?”
This same lesson was expressed by the prophet Hanani to King Asa: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
To read and study more verses about God’s protection and deliverance of His people, read “22 Encouraging Bible Verses About God’s Protection.”
Esther lesson 2: Have the courage to do what’s right
When Mordecai found out about Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jews, he tore his clothes and put on “sackcloth and ashes.” This was an act of mourning (Esther 4:1).
Mordecai told Esther to go before the king to petition his favor on behalf of the Jews. (At this point, the king did not even know that she was Jewish.)
But Esther knew that it was forbidden to go before the king uninvited. Doing so could result in death. She initially feared the possibility of losing her life. After all, the king’s treatment of her predecessor, Queen Vashti, showed that he was capable of not showing favor to her!
God wants us to show courage in following His laws and doing what is right. Often this involves going against the crowd.Mordecai put things in perspective by suggesting that she might have been placed in her position for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). In other words, perhaps God had intervened to make her queen so that He could save His people through her.
Esther decided to fast and asked that the Jews in Shushan also fast on her behalf for three days. She wanted to ask for God’s direction and favor. After this fast, she would take the risk of going before the king without an invitation.
She told Mordecai, “If I perish, I perish!” This showed remarkable courage.
God wants us to show courage in following His laws and doing what is right (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:7; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 27:14). Often this involves going against the crowd, going against what society accepts as normal (Exodus 23:2).
We may not always be called on to show courage in major, history-altering events as Esther was. But Jesus taught that faithfulness begins in the small things (Luke 16:10). We can show the same courage of Esther in much smaller ways—by refusing to compromise on obedience to God’s law, for instance, or by continuously rejecting the sinful ways of society around us.
And sometimes courage isn’t standing up in the face of something, but removing ourselves from a temptation.
Esther lesson 3: The power of intercessory fasting and prayer
To seek God’s favor and guidance, Esther instructed the Jews to beseech Him through fasting and prayer (Esther 4:15-16).
Fasting in the Bible means abstaining from food and drink for a period of time in order to draw closer to God and seek His guidance and intervention. Fasting can be used for various reasons, such as:
- For repentance (Jonah 3:5-9).
- For mourning over one’s own conduct and to humble oneself before God (1 Kings 21:27-29).
- For seeking God’s blessing and guidance in difficult situations (Ezra 8:21).
- For seeking strength to overcome wickedness and to help the needy (Isaiah 58:6-7).
- For seeking reconciliation with God on the solemn Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32).
- For deliverance from a particular danger (2 Chronicles 20:1-24).
Few things humble us more than realizing our utter helplessness by going without food and drink for a period of time. Jesus taught His disciples that certain problems can be addressed only by fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:21). Fasting and prayer should be practiced together.
To learn more about fasting, read “What Is Biblical Fasting?” and “How to Fast as a Christian.”
Read and learn from the book of Esther
This blog post covered only some of the highlights of this inspiring book of the Bible. We hope this will encourage you to open up your Bible and read the book yourself. It’s not only full of suspense and deeply interesting people, but also packed with practical lessons we can still learn from today—over 2,500 years later!
Let’s learn the many lessons found in the life of Esther.
Topics Covered: People in the Bible, Life Lessons