Book of Esther

The Right Place, The Right Time

The story of Esther is used to illustrate how God's providence works in the life of believers.
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There is a saying that is often used to explain the success that some people experience. They say, "I was in the right place at the right time." This has also been said by many who have survived fires, or natural disasters as they took cover in the right spot in the nick of time to save their lives. Many people think that being in the right place at the right time is a matter of "luck" or even guesswork.

We, however, believe that "…God causes all things to work together for good…" Romans 8:28

We don't believe in blind luck or fate, we believe in an eternal God who is aware of, and sovereign over, every event in our lives. We believe that it is God who:

  • Creates opportunities for good and provides blessings.
  • Permits evil to a degree before He judges and punishes.

Either way, God is a God of history and events and each event is either specifically created by Him to accomplish His will or is permitted by Him so that He might accomplish His will despite opposition. So, if you've ever been in the right place at the right time, it was no fluke, God put you there for a specific purpose.

A great example of this is found in the story of Esther, described in an Old Testament book of the same name. I want to use her story to teach us a few lessons about being in the right place at the right time.

Book of Esther – Background

Before summarizing her story, I'd like to give you a little background information on Esther and the times she lived in so you can get some perspective.

In approximately 1000 B.C. and for about a century following, the twelve tribes of Israel lived together as a single nation ruled by a single king. There were three kings appointed by God during this time (Saul, David and Solomon). After Solomon's death, there was civil unrest which led to a division of these tribes creating northern and southern kingdoms who were constantly battling one another. In 721 B.C. the northern kingdom was defeated and deported to many nations by the larger pagan Assyrian empire and was never reestablished. Some time later, 587 B.C., the Southern kingdom (which had Jerusalem as its religious and political capital) was also overtaken but this time by the Babylonians, a people who had defeated the previous Assyrian empire.

While the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, they established houses and businesses there and settled into their new surroundings in a foreign land. However, a curious thing happened while they were in Babylonian captivity. The Babylonians were themselves defeated by a new and powerful military nation, Medo-Persia, (modern day Iran). Once they conquered the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persians maintained, for a time, the foreign captivity of the Jews.

The story of Esther takes place during this particular phase of Jewish history (approx. 450 B.C.).

The Story of Esther

The book of Esther is written in narrative style with the writer quite simply telling the story of this beautiful Jewish girl who became queen of this great nation (Medo/Persia). The following is a summary of both her story and the main characters therein.

1. King Ahasuerus (Xerxes - Greek name) ruled Persia from 485-465 BC. He was one of the most illustrious rulers who ruled over the ancient world (127 provinces from India to Africa). He planned a military campaign against Greece, however, before departing had a great feast for his noblemen and governors to which he invited his royal wife, Queen Vashti. The queen refused to make an appearance and so the king deposed her and searched throughout his kingdom for a young virgin to take her place as wife and queen. His royal ministers did this by seeking and gathering the most beautiful women in the realm into the king's palace to be prepared to meet the king so he could choose.

2. Esther was a Jewish orphan girl being raised by her cousin Mordecai. Both were among the Jewish exiles living in the Persian kingdom. Esther is gathered up along with the other young women of the kingdom and eventually becomes the king's wife and new queen. However, the king did not know that his new queen, Esther, was a Jewish exile.

3. Haman was the king's Prime Minister and managed the King's affairs. He was very powerful and because of this, received homage and deference from the lesser nobles and officials of the realm. Haman came in contact with Mordecai (Esther's cousin) although he was not aware of that relationship. During their meetings Mordecai, as a Jew, refused to bow down before Haman (a sign of worship that would be forbidden to Jews). This made Haman angry and in order to retaliate, he organized a plot to kill every Jewish exile in the empire. He couldn't execute his plan without the king's authorization so he convinced the king that the Jews were planning a rebellion and had to be eliminated. The king went along with the plan and ordered a decree that all Jews were to be killed on a certain day.

4. At one point Mordecai (Esther's cousin) gets word of the plan to eliminate all Jews in the empire and asks Esther to intercede with the king to save her people. She hesitates at first because coming before the king without being asked (even though they have been married five years by now) is a capital offense and she could lose her life. In his answer to her doubts, Mordecai says the words that can be applied to so many key moments of so many lives throughout history. In Esther 4:13 he says to Esther:

13"Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"

These words galvanize her into action and she risks her life in pleading her people's case before the king while revealing Haman's plot. However, since a Persian king's decree could not be rescinded, the king made another decree giving the Jews permission to defend themselves and their property against any attack on that day.

5. In the end, the Jews defeated their enemies on the day originally set to destroy them.

  • Haman was executed by the king for his lies and plot.
  • Mordecai was given Haman's position as Prime Minister over the Empire.
  • Esther remained queen and beloved wife of the king.

Usually, the story happily ends here with the footnote that the Jews continue to celebrate this great victory to this day with the feast of Purim.

The Burden of Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Just in case you've forgotten, we were originally talking about being in the right place at the right time and how Esther was a good example of this. Not only is Esther's story a good example, but it also provides us with a few lessons about those moments when we find ourselves in the right place at the right time. Here are a few:

1. Recognize That it is God's Timing Not Yours or Luck

Instead of patting yourself on the back or thanking lady luck for your good fortune, realize that God got you where you are; not luck and not only talent.

You have the choice of acknowledging Him and searching for a way to serve Him with your position, or spending your benefits on yourself. For example, the rich can try to get richer or learn where God wants them to practice liberality. The talented can seek to glorify themselves or glorify God with their skills.

We are here for God's purpose and when we recognize this we can truly make the most of our right time, right place moment.

2. Recognize That God's Place and Time are not Always Easy or Pleasant

Esther's story had a happy ending but she didn't know that when the plot to kill all Jews was hatched and she had to risk her life by going to the king. Sometimes our time and place moment means that God will require a sacrifice from us, a giving of ourselves for a cause that doesn't seem very noble or spectacular at the time. For example,

  • Pulling back on a promising career in order to save a relationship
  • Giving up our "best" years to raise a handicapped child or care for elderly parents
  • Losing money or time so that the work of the church can go ahead

It's hard to be at a crucial time and place that brings no honor, no immediate reward, not even the encouragement of others.

It's hard to be at a time and place where the only motivation you have is the knowledge that, "It's the right thing to do," or…"It's my thing to do, and not someone else's."

Sometimes you're not at a prime place, and it's not a good time, but remember it's still God's time and His place for you. And if you do whatever you do recognizing this, He'll not only give you the power to do what you need to do, He'll flood your heart with His peace as you do it.

3. Recognize that God Can Do it With or Without You

Had Esther hesitated or refused, God would have offered a time and place chance to someone else.

Judas wasted his moment and Matthias stepped into the Apostolic ministry and reward he would have received. Time and place are great opportunities, but they also serve to judge what we're made of, what kind of faith we have, or how far we're willing to go for the Lord.

When your time and place moment occurs, realize that you can be replaced, so do what you have to do with humility knowing that your opportunity to serve, to give, to lead, to stand up or to die is a great personal blessing. Don't waste it and don't refuse it, because God can give the opportunity to someone else.


I've spoken a lot about being in the right place at the right time, but I would like to finish by warning you to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time as well. The wrong place and time is being with the unbelievers and the disobedient when Jesus comes for you personally in death, or comes for the entire world in judgement.

We know that this time will one day come for all of us, so while it still is today, make sure you are with the right place with the right person, and that is in the place where Jesus stands.

I also encourage all of you to make the most of the time and place God has given you by:

  • Glorifying Him with your success
  • Accepting His sovereignty over every time and place in your life
  • Making the most of the time and place He's given you, whatever that is

I also encourage all of you to be with Jesus by repenting of your sins and being baptized or restored.