I first learned about International Women’s Day back in 2008 when I was teaching an 8th grade world history class at a small private classical Christian school in Nevada. It’s also the first time I ever remember learning the details of The Great War—somehow, in all my years of schooling, I missed that part. Although its birth was on American soil, International Women’s Day didn’t really command the world’s attention until hundreds of female textile workers went on a strike “for bread and peace” in Petrograd, Russia demanding an end to the War. Their actions literally sparked the Communist Revolution in Russia in 1917! Crazy what a bunch of determined women can do.
Every year on March 8th, I remember my history class and wonder what those students are up to. What have they done with their lives? I’m still in touch with a few of them. I remember the fun we had learning about WWI and WWII together, the creative activities I tried to capture their attention, and the amazing opportunities they have thanks to the efforts of so many brave women who have gone before us.
Today, when I was thinking about the brave ones, I considered those women who are named in the Bible—particularly one beautiful young girl who was forcibly removed from her home for one purpose: sex with the king. She underwent beauty treatments for a YEAR—”six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women”—before she was ever presented to him (Esther 2:12b). Even after she was married, she did not see her husband with any regularity (Esther 4:11).
If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can read it in the book of Esther which is in both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible. It’s the only book in all the Scriptures where God is not mentioned, and yet, you can see Him at work throughout. I love the story of Esther because it presents a perfect picture of God’s providence. We must remember that although God does not always step in to prevent bad things from happening, He often takes what is intended for evil and turns it to good. Rather than swooping in to “save the day,” God often works through His faithful followers to accomplish more than they ever could on their own.
When the Jewish people were targeted for extermination by Haman the Agagite, Esther’s cousin Mordecai was mortified! He plead with Esther to bring her (and her people’s) case before the king, and she could, but there was just one problem. She hadn’t seen him in a month, and everyone knew it was against the law to enter into the presence of the king unbidden. The offense was punishable by death! Seriously.
All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.” (Esther 4:11)
Although this punishment seems somewhat extreme to us in the 21st century, the Persians were VERY particular about their laws. The Empire was vast, and the law was the law was the law. It’s how they kept order in what could have been chaos. It was rule with an iron fist, for sure. The fact is, even the king himself could not even “repeal” one of his own laws.
An edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.” (Esther 8:8b)
For Esther to break the law by entering into the king’s presence unbidden—even though she was the queen—was literally a death wish. But she did it anyway. After calling her people to prayer and fasting for three days, and participating privately in the palace, Esther donned her royal robes, summoned her strength and resolve, and she did it: She entered the king’s court not having any idea what would happen next!For Esther to enter into the king's presence unbidden—even though she was queen—was a death wish. But she did it anyway. Click To Tweet
Can you imagine? How long did she stand at the door before walking in? Was she shaking? Was her stomach in knots? Did she almost turn around and run the opposite direction? Of this, we have no record. All we know is that she did it, and she did it in style. And here’s what happened next:
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” (Esther 5:1-5)
Whoa. You go, girl!!! You can read the rest of the story in the book of Esther. The point is, she knew what she had to do, and after much prayer and fasting she did it. She put her faith in the God of her fathers, and she did what she felt was her purpose for being in that position at that moment in time. Isn’t that what we’re all called to do?
Here’s to brave women! May we all live to fulfill our purpose in this life!