The book of Esther is a beautiful testimony to the sovereignty of God, the preservation of His church, and the providential orchestration of events in the life of men and women. The account of a young orphan maiden being elevated to the status of Queen of the Persian empire and interceding for the Jews is a story which many Christians are familiar with. God orchestrated each of the events in the book of Esther for our example, and had them written down for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11). We can look back on them in light of the full testimony of the Scriptures and see each element of history unfold in the beautifully ordained theatre of God's providence. I believe that the actor with the principle role in this tale is the understated Mordecai. As the events of the story unfold, he is at the forefront, directing, commanding, and interceding for the people of God, and seeking their well being. His life is filled with characteristics of a godly man who is rewarded for his righteousness and blessed greatly for the testimony of faith which he clearly lives out. Throughout the book, Mordecai is presented as a man of Christian influence, through whom many are brought to repentance and belief in the true knowledge of God. Additionally, the final chapter concludes with Mordecai's proclamation of the gospel and the illustration of his life as a type of christ-like redeemer.
There are several characteristics possessed by Mordecai, which make him a man worthy of emulating. I wish to present those characteristics here so that his testimony of faith may be a source of encouragement and provocation to pursue these characteristics in your own life.
Raising a Virtuous Daughter
The legacy of Mordecai's fatherhood is clearly illustrated in the life of Esther, who was raised as his own daughter. Esther's parents died when she was very young and her uncle Mordecai brought her into his home — caring for the orphan child in a tender and compassionate way as her own father. This act was in accordance with both his faith and his love of God, in demonstration of the true religion of his heart (James 1:27).
There is no doubt in my mind that the virtue and dignity of Esther was gained through the daily dialogue she had with her father. We're told that "every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her" (Esther 2:11). We should not assume that his interest in her daily activities, his care for her well being, his desire to understanding her needs, and his wish to know her cares and desires, came only when she was taken away from him. We see from many other passages that she was obedient and willing to obey every instruction from her father, and her clear communication with him demonstrate that she was well accustomed to speaking freely and openly on a variety of subjects. Such a close fellowship between father and daughter is the effect of a Christ-centered home, where God is honored, and the father is taking an active role in the instruction and training of his children.
In addition to seeking knowledge of her daily activities and her well being, Mordecai also instructed his daughter in upright virtue (2:17) which allowed her to win favor in the eyes of all the people she met. He instilled in her strength and dignity, with a resolve to do what is right regardless of the cost (4:16). She also demonstrated such qualities as wisdom and sensibility (2:15), obedience (2:20), supplication (4:16), attentiveness (5:1), forethought (5:4), tact (5:8), graciousness (7:3), humbleness (7:4), boldness (7:6), mercy (7:7), and perseverance(8:3). These are not attributes which suddenly arise from a heart of sin, but from a heart which has been nurtured with the Word of God and instructed in reverence for the Law of God (3:4). In her obedience to Mordecai, Esther demonstrated an honor for his commands which were consistent with the teachings of the Scriptures.
The actions of Mordecai, which are recorded in the book of Esther, demonstrate his superior qualities of leadership. Mordecai is said to be "sitting at the king's gate" (2:19, 2:21, 5:13, 6:10, 6:12) which is to be understood that he was a man with authority in the city. The gates of the city is where the rulers of the city would gather to hear pleas and pass judgement against various lawsuits. Mordecai's position at the king's gate was one of high prestige because this gate was the last appeal before reaching the king's throne (2 Chronicles 23:20). He had a great responsibility to exercise his authority justly and honorably, and from what is told of Mordecai’s actions, it appears that he acted accordingly.
When Mordecai learns of a plot to assassinate the king, he speedily acts as an honorable witness and bears testimony to his superiors of the evil plans devised by his subordinates (2:21). This act was recorded by the king and God used it to rescue Mordecai from the evil plans of Haman who was later seeking to put him to death.
The Law of God was highly revered by Mordecai — even more so than the laws of men (3:2). He would not obey the commands of the king that violated the commands of God and would violate his conscience. This action of his is highly commendable, for "the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing" (James 1:25). Mordecai was a man who acted with knowledge, and his actions were effectual in demonstrating his faithfulness (3:3).
Other characteristics of leadership which Mordecai portrayed were that he was a leader who inspired obedience in his followers (4:3); he showed backbone and resolve when others stood against him (3:4), he was honorable, trustworthy, detailed in his accounts, and accurate in his statements (4:7); and he sought to be a source of instruction to his brethren in order to focus their attention on the Lord (4:1, 8:11).
A Man of True Faith
The leadership qualities and manly characteristics of Mordecai stemmed from his true, enduring faith and his righteous standing before God. His saving faith is demonstrated in his public appeals to the Lord for mercy and deliverance — both for himself, his family, and the people of God (4:1). He was a man of supplicating prayer; entreating the Lord for the salvation of his people, and appealing to them also to turn to the Lord as their only hope of redemption (4:14).
Mordecai was not only a man of prayer, but of action. He did not stop at laying his supplications for deliverance before the Lord, but commanded Esther to plead with her husband to intercede for them (4:8). He took upon himself the responsibility to act according to his duty and instructed others to do the same. His sense of duty came from his solid reliance upon the sovereignty of God. He understood the times in which he lived and he knew that God would not forsake his elect (4:14). With this faith, Mordecai proceeded with hopeful assurance in the Lord, testifying to the providential care with which God orchestrates the events of the world.
This position of standing in righteous before the Lord was recognized by all who were around Mordecai — and they envied and despised him because of this (5:9). Christians are not despised for their own sake, but for the sake of Christ who makes them righteous (Mathew 10:22). By this testimony we understand Mordecai to be a man of true faith.
Because of the grace bestowed upon Mordecai by God, he was greatly blessed. We see that he was protected from death (6:4), honored by his enemies (6:10), given the wealth of the wicked which is stored up for the righteous (8:1), bestowed great stature and power (8:15), and rewarded for his faithfulness by being highly advanced in the sight of all around him (10:2). In all this Mordecai remained humble (6:12) and praised the Lord with thankfulness for his mercies by rejoicing in God's kindness (9:18).
Preacher of Righteousness
Mordecai exhibits Christ-like attributes which point to the gospel being the primary characteristic of his life. He was influential in bringing about the conversion of many who were lost in their sin (8:17), thus he is said to be "popular with the multitude of his brothers" (10:3).
The closing verse of the book states the Mordecai was "great among the Jews … for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people" (10:3). Here we see his life exemplifying that of Jesus Christ who "came and preached peace" to all the earth (Ephesians 2:17). Again, Jesus is called "the Lord of peace" (2 Thessalonians 3:16) and it is in Him alone who we have peace from the afflictions of the world (John 16:33). Mordecai is presented as a man who boldly preached the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17) and who proclaimed the "gospel of peace" with all readiness (Ephesians 6:15).
In terms of Mordecai's desire to seek after the well being of his people, this too is exemplifying the character of Jesus, for we know that our Lord "delights in the welfare of his servant" (Psalm 35:28) and He desires to do them good and not evil (Jeremiah 29:10–14). Psalm 122:6–9 reflect the heart of Mordecai and his desire to proclaim the peace of God and seek the good of his brothers:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.
Throughout the book of Esther are woven these various illustrations of the gospel and character qualities of godliness, faithfulness, and perseverance. We would do well to learn and emulate the qualities which we can glean from searching through the beautiful tapestry which composes the story of Esther. It is truly a masterpiece in the theatre of God's providence. May all men seek to follow after the examples of righteousness demonstrated in the life of Mordecai.
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