A couple things stood out to me reading through the first half of Esther.
The first is that Mordecai is not the comforting, faithful father figure I used to think he was. Yes, he took in Esther and raised her as his own daughter when her parents died. That speaks highly of his character. He does tell her not to reveal her ethnicity, though. This… doesn’t seem very faithful.
Yes, it seems likely that he told her to keep quiet in order to protect her. It makes sense. It seems wise. But it doesn’t seem very faithful in God’s protection, not to the degree he gets credit for.
The second thing the caught my attention, and was backed up by the Faithlife Study Bible, is that Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman doesn’t seem necessarily to be about faith. It doesn’t say he refused to ‘worship’ Haman. It doesn’t say it has anything to do with faith at all. Only that it had something to do with being Jewish? Or that he refused and happened to be Jewish? It isn’t entirely clear whether that is a reason or not.
The third thing that stood out to me was his response to Esther’s hesitancy. There is no understanding here, no empathy for her situation. No comforting promise of God’s protection. God isn’t here to protect her. God is going to protect the people. Maybe it will be through her. Maybe not. But she’s in a good position for it.
It didn’t feel…good.
Her response is epic, though. There’s a healthy amount of fear, but there’s also a rather queenly demand. “Gather the people and fast and pray for me.” I’ll do it. Whatever happens, will happen. It’s intense. It’s bold. That has faith in it. Maybe not a lot. But it feels stronger than Mordecai’s
To be honest, it sounds a bit like a test, doesn’t it? Fasting and prayer, that’s how we’re supposed to get God’s attention. But we haven’t had it in a while. Well, here we go. Do the thing, and then do the thing. If God’s there, he can save us all. If not, we’re all dead anyway.
In a world where women belonged to the men, Esther seems very wise. She was obedient. She was compliant. She listened to Mordecai. She took the advice of the eunuch who would know better than anyone else she had access to what the king actually liked. She paid attention, and she filled her role well. I like her.
I’m… just not that sure I like Mordecai as much as I used to…
But here’s the question: do you trust God to get you out of bad situations? Or is that the only time you turn to him? Do you go through life, making your own decisions and making your own plans, and only turn to God when things start to fall apart? And do you feel entitled to the rescue? Kind of feels like that’s how Mordecai is living.