- When Mordecai heard about the letter, he tore his clothes in sorrow and put on sackcloth. Then he covered his head with ashes and went through the city, crying and weeping.
- But he could go only as far as the palace gate, because no one wearing sackcloth was allowed inside the palace.
- In every province where the king's orders were read, the Jews cried and mourned, and they went without eating. Many of them even put on sackcloth and sat in ashes.
- When Esther's servant girls and her other servants told her what Mordecai was doing, she became very upset and sent Mordecai some clothes to wear in place of the sackcloth. But he refused to take them.
- Esther had a servant named Hathach, who had been given to her by the king. So she called him in and said, "Find out what's wrong with Mordecai and why he's acting this way."
- Hathach went to Mordecai in the city square in front of the palace gate,
- and Mordecai told him everything that had happened. He also told him how much money Haman had promised to add to the king's treasury, if all the Jews were killed.
- Mordecai gave Hathach a copy of the orders for the murder of the Jews and told him that these had been read in Susa. He said, "Show this to Esther and explain what it means. Ask her to go to the king and beg him to have pity on her people, the Jews!"
- Hathach went back to Esther and told her what Mordecai had said.
- She answered, "Tell Mordecai
- there is a law about going in to see the king, and all his officials and his people know about this law. Anyone who goes in to see the king without being invited by him will be put to death. The only way that anyone can be saved is for the king to hold out the gold scepter to that person. And it's been thirty days since he has asked for me."
- When Mordecai was told what Esther had said,
- he sent back this reply, "Don't think that you will escape being killed with the rest of the Jews, just because you live in the king's palace.
- If you don't speak up now, we will somehow get help, but you and your family will be killed. It could be that you were made queen for a time like this!"
- Esther sent a message to Mordecai, saying,
- "Bring together all the Jews in Susa and tell them to go without eating for my sake! Don't eat or drink for three days and nights. My servant girls and I will do the same. Then I will go in to see the king, even if it means I must die."
- Mordecai did everything Esther told him to do.
News of the king's edict to kill the Jews led to mourning in sackcloth and ashes by Mordecai and all the Jews. Esther was not aware of it until her servants reported it to her. We wonder why they reported it to her unless they knew somehow that she was a Jew. She had told no one. She sent clothes to Mordecai so he could take off the sackcloth but he refused, so she then sent her eunuch to inquire of Mordecai as to what he was doing and why. Mordecai explained the situation for her and sent a copy of the decree. Did he also explain how his actions inadvertently led to this calamity? Mordecai also instructed Esther to go to the king and plead for his favor on behalf of her people.
Esther sent word back to Mordecai that she couldn't just go in to see the king without being invited. To do so would incur a death penalty unless the king lifted his scepter to spare her. However, she wasn't confident the king would do this for her because she hadn't been summoned to appear before him in the past 30 days and she feared she was out of his favor. Mordecai's instructions for her to see the king presented a double jeopardy for Esther. Not only did approaching the king without an invitation pose a threat to her life, in light of the decree to kill the Jews, identifying herself as a Jew had the same effect. In what ways do we attempt to avoid a threat or an uncomfortable situation only to find that we have not avoided the situation at all or have placed ourselves in the path of an equally threatening or uncomfortable situation? As with Esther, it is usually best to face the situation head on and trust God with the outcome.
In the end, Esther concluded that there was a greater purpose to her going to the king on behalf of her people than trying to save her own life and probably failing in it. She sent word to Mordecai that she would go to the king to plead for her people, but she wanted him to do something too. He was to "Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me." (4:16) They were to fast for three days and nights and she and her female servants would do the same. With this, the situation was in the Lord's hands.
What is it that your fear and lack of trust keeps you from doing? And, what are the blessings and God's wonderful works you have missed as a result? We reason that it is not so much a lack of faith in God that keeps us from doing this thing we fear, it is just doubt that He will act on our behalf in this particular situation. So your problem is not that you lack the faith that God can bring you safely through the thing you fear, it is that you don't trust that He will. Is this not the useless faith James speaks of in James 2:17-20? Faith that does not lead to action is useless, he says. It is merely a mental exercise. It is impotent.