As we read the Bible, we see how ordinary men became instruments of God’s plan for his people. The names of these men are remarkably familiar to us: Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Paul, Peter, Joseph. We recognize these men instantly and can recall their faithfulness and heroic deeds. But, what about the women? They are mentioned less often, but one cannot read of the mighty deeds of the men of the Bible without recognizing the considerable contribution of women as well.
In all, more than one hundred fifty women are mentioned in the Scriptures. Some are righteous, such as Eunice, mother of Saint Timothy. Some are villainous, as was Delilah. So, it is necessary to an understanding of the Bible story to know of these women and their impact on history. There is so much to learn from these women that we can apply to our lives today.
The first woman to consider is Esther. She was an orphaned Jewish girl who was exceptionally beautiful. Her uncle, Mordecai, took her in after the death of her parents. Mordecai was a Jewish refugee, forced from Jerusalem and taken to Babylon. King Xerxes was the ruler as lovely Esther came of age. Xerxes ordered a search of all the nearby provinces for beautiful young virgins and Esther was taken as a concubine of the king. Xerxes had banished his wife Vashti and was looking for a diversion. He sought solace from his harem. Esther had found favor with the eunuch in charge of the harem and was given special treatment. When her turn came to go to the king, he was so impressed with her that he made her queen in place of Vashti. During this time, Esther did not reveal her Jewish heritage.
Time passed and Esther grew in favor with the king. When a plot to kill all Jews was revealed to her, she boldly approached the king and asked for mercy. This was a bold move as she could have been put to death for addressing the king without being summoned. She bravely put her people before her own safety and saved the Jewish refugees from slaughter. Esther, a young girl, saved a nation.
What do we see of God in this story? God is not mentioned once in the Book of Esther, yet his presence is felt throughout. God raised up a young girl as his instrument and she answered the call. How does this apply to women of the twenty-first century? We have no king, no harems. How does Esther’s story guide us today?
Esther stood up for what was right and ignored her own interests in doing so. She put her life on the line for her people. This was a huge risk, but she did not falter when the crucial moment came. Women of today make many decisions every day. Some matters are trivial, such as whether to wear the blue dress or the green one. Others are vital to our families and communities. Clean water, human trafficking, and the education of our children are all within the purview of women today. We sit on committees, church boards, and hold elected offices. We have the power and the opportunity to transform our world if we, like Esther, stay true to our beliefs and allow God to guide our decisions and actions. The next time I hear someone refer to women as the weaker sex, I will remember Esther and simply smile.
Prayer: Father, thank you for raising up remarkable women like Esther to remind us that we are strong and can impact the world around us. Help us to always do it in love and reverence, remembering you are the source of our strength. AMEN