Summary: The difference one person can make.
A Study of the Book of Esther
“Dilemma’s and Decisions”
The world has so many big problems, and they often seem impossible to solve. So let me ask you a question, and I want you to answer honestly: do you really think you can make a difference in the world? If you're like most people, your answer was no. Well, guess what? You're probably wrong. Not only can you make a difference, you've probably had a far greater impact on way more people than you realize.
I am only one person what can I do?
Edward Everett Hale addressed this issue when he wrote,
“I am only one.
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything;
But still I can something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
[as cited by Charles Swindoll. “A Woman of Strength and Character: Esther.” (Nashville: Word, 1997) p. 75]
Esther finds herself in a situation where surely she wrestled with the idea of – “I am only one person what can I do?”
First, The Reaction of Mordecai. (4:1-3)
“When Mordecai learned all that had happened,
he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry. 2 He went as far as the front of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. 3 And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.”
Notice that Mordecai not only knew what was told to the public about the king’s decree, he had in his possession a copy of the decree (v. 8)
and he knew the exact amount (v. 7) that Haman had promised to the king as incentive to enact the decree for the removal of all the Jews
Verse three says that Jews responded to hearing of the decree, “…with fasting, weeping, and wailing;…sackcloth and ashes” as a sign of mourn-ing. Usually another component was prayer; but here there is no mention of prayer. I really don’t know what to make of it at this point. Perhaps the prayer is implied, for what good is fasting and sack cloth and ashes (the sign of repentance) without prayer.
Mordecai also mourned the decree; surely no one mourned and grieved over the decree more than Mordecai, for it was his decision to not bow to Haman that had brought this situation, and no doubt he felt a personal responsibility for it!
When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. It was common in the ancient world for people who were in mourning to put their feelings on display (and it still is in some parts of the world). When there was tragedy, or pending doom, or a great injustice, or great sin…they would look scruffy and often wail loudly.
Think about how hard modern people try not to show their emotions…we try to put on a strong face or good appearance. All too often we hole up privately not wanting to be seen in a vulnerable state. We put on pajamas, turn on the cable TV and veggie out on a carton of Rocky Road ice cream. They people however but on gunny sack, (we called it a “tow sack” (for you young people who do not understand that was a burlap bag that animal feed came in) they threw ashes on themselves, messed up their hair, and went downtown to cry. And though it may sound weird to us…but when they were suffering they let the people around them know, and even see it up close. That’s what Mordecai was doing here; But not just Mordecai.
Verse two says, “He went as far as the front of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.” He only went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning. One did not come into the presence with a down-cast appearance. The king only liked to be around happy and pleasant people. What irony- here is a wicked king who can issue an edict calling for the genocide of an entire race and yet he sits on a throne where no one can appear before him with-out be summoned. And no one who had regard for their life was to bring him anything except happy and good news.
Secondly, The Report of Mordecai. (4:4-12)
“So Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her, and the queen was deeply distressed. Then she sent garments to clothe Mordecai and take his sackcloth away from him, but he would not accept them.”