Imagine this hypothetical: You’ve found out that there is a hit out on you and your entire family. You know where it originated, and your husband has the power to stop it from happening. This is the dilemma: you aren’t the only woman in your husband’s life, and since you haven’t seen him in over a month, you’re not sure what your standing is with him. What do you do?
The First Meal
This hypothetical was Esther’s reality. She even got her own little book in the Bible, (Old Testament), because of it. The characters in this story pique our interest. Haman is a study in narcissism. Hegai is a eunuch who oversees a harem, and has his favorites. Mordecai is devout, and fiercely protective of his cousin and of his people; and the whims of the self-indulgent King Xerxes set the whole story in motion.
Have you ever wondered, like I have, why Esther didn’t declare the purpose of the meal at the first sitting? After all, her husband was so glad to see her that he promised her up to half of the kingdom right then and there. Why did she invite the king and Haman to a second meal that she had prepared just for them? (Esther 5:8)
Esther and the Jewish people had spent the last three days fasting and praying. (Esther 4:16). She came into this meal with spiritual power under her belt. Something about the flow of the dinner or the vibe she got made her think the moment wasn’t right, and the invitation for a second dinner slipped off her tongue. She didn’t know this at the time, but by making the invitation to King Xerxes and Haman to join her for a second dinner, she was leaving room for God to move.
In between the meals
That night after the first meal, the king couldn’t sleep. He decided to read through the records of his time as king and discovered that Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, had thwarted a plot on his life some time before. Full of gratitude, he decided to publicly reward Mordecai, and he used Haman to do this. (Esther 6).
Haman hated Mordecai, and had already taken steps that would lead to publicly executing him; but now that the Jew found enormous favor with the king, Haman feared that the edict of genocide he had deceptively gotten the king to sign against the Jews might backfire against him. Mordecai’s death would not be easy to hide from the king. (Esther 6: 12-13).
In the time between the first meal and the second, Mordecai went from not being on the king’s radar, to being someone deserving of public acclaim. Haman’s confidence in his plan was shaken as he tried to figure out what his next step would be.
The Second Meal
Meanwhile for Esther, things fell into place like chess pieces being moved by a master chess player. The waiting bought Esther the exact time she needed.
At the second meal, she finally stated why she had requested two audiences with the king. She called out Haman as the evil mastermind of the plan to kill her and her people. The dread that had already been in the pit of Haman’s stomach turned to despair, and caused him to ‘fall on the couch where Esther was reclining’, which in turn made the king extremely angry, and Haman was put to death soon afterwards. (Esther 7 NIV).
The king wasn’t able to nullify the genocide order, so he amended it, giving the Jews the authority to fight back. A massacre was diverted because Queen Esther prayed, fasted, stepped out, and waited.
How does Esther’s story relate to life in the 21st century? This book is a gem; its value so much more than the one line that is quoted from it all the time. Here’s an example of how I once unwittingly applied Esther’s strategy: some years ago, I was at a major crossroad in my life. Either direction I chose would bring heartbreak. For three months I prayed and contemplated, and then one day I had enough of the pain of the process, and made a decision that felt completely right to me. All the unrest within my spirit settled. At last, I was able to take deep breaths.
But there was a check in my spirit that said, ‘Don’t tell anyone that you’ve made this decision. Hold on to it for the rest of today. Bring yourself into acceptance of it, and when you’ve done that, share it.’ And I did just that. I ate a hearty lunch that was made more enjoyable by the peace I now felt.
That night, happy with the choice I had been nursing to myself all day, I went to bed early. As I lay there thinking about the checklist of things to do that would come with this decision, unanticipated messages started pouring into my phone. Those messages swung the pendulum of my decision-making in the other direction, totally nullifying the one I had made only hours earlier. By choosing to listen to the check in my spirit that told me to wait, I gave God time and room to move some chess pieces around, and wound up making the right decision that saved my life. That was my Esther-sized lesson.
What is your ‘second meal’?
When you trust your dire situation to God, He will work behind the scenes to avert your destruction. Yes, it feels more natural to be impulsive than to wait; but there are times when the Holy Spirit asks you to slow down, to sit with something, or to go back and do something you’ve already done before.
The way Esther handled this threatened genocide gives us a strategy for handling momentous decisions. Prayer, fasting, stepping out, waiting, and then stepping out again. The answers to big prayers come in the waiting. Our Father moves during those in-between times to give us our own Esther stories, asking us to wait, and to leave some room for Him to move.
How can you apply Esther’s strategy to your huge decision-making process today, and are you willing to work on a ‘second meal’?
©Debbie Mendoza, August 2020