As the saying goes, “An apple does not fall far from the tree.” You can, therefore, find the tree without traveling a great distance and without putting forth a great deal of effort. Or, to use the words of Scripture and apply them, as Scripture does, to man, “Train up a child in the way that he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The behavior of a young man will reveal how his parents did or did not bring him up from childhood. The qualifying words “did or did not” is due to the fact that the parents may have been very faithful in striving to train the child in the fear of God’s name, and may have set a very good example, but the child not having been born again was not and could not be trained to walk in God’s ways and by faith, and was trained by the world round about him. He still, when old, walked in the way he was trained, but it was not in the way his faithful parents strove to direct his feet.

It comes as no surprise then to find, as we did, Esther having a shameful, unvarnished fatalistic outlook when peril stared her in the face. Her failure to use God’s name, to show any trust in Him, and her failure to ask the Jews to pray to Him for her as she, as it were, takes her life in her hands, and performs a deed that is fraught with peril, is all due to the training that Mordecai gave her. He was not her blood-father, but he, as her uncle, did bring her up from childhood in the ways of unbelief and sin.

That this is the case is evident from the fact that he approaches her in his deep sorrow without the slightest manifestation of faith in God. He showed deep sorrow. He went for help. But he did not turn to the living God, or suggest to Esther that she do so. He spoke to her in a way void of all faith in God. And she responded in a way that was not even faintly tinged with the color of faith. The apple fell right under the tree. In the way she was trained from her early days in infancy she walked.

Now it is quite understandable that Mordecai would feel so bad and wear sackcloth and ashes. Not only did he face certain death, as far as he could see as an unbeliever, but the whole nation was slated for death and extinction. The Jews were marked as a people about to be wiped off the face of this earth. Why, even the apostle Paul could write in Romans 9:1-3 that he had great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh, and that he could wish himself accursed from Christ for their sake. And especially since this destruction of the Jews came because of his refusal to keep the king’s command to recognize and show respect to his right-hand man, Mordecai had reason to be in deep sorrow.

But the tragedy of it all, and that which again shows that he had no faith and spiritual life, is that he shows no sorrow for sin! And therefore it is not difficult to understand that Esther likewise shows no sorrow for sin, or even recognizes the fact that God just might be sending this sword of Haman and the king as punishment upon the sin of the Jews, and particularly the sins of despising the promised land, of refusing to go back there and join those who rebuilt the temple and Jerusalem, and instead staying there so they could enjoy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Godly sorrow worketh repentance, we are told in II Corinthians 7:10. Not one word, or the slightest suggestion of such sorrow do you find anywhere in the whole book of Esther. Sorrow? Yes, deep sorrow. Sorrow over sin? No, not even over the sins of other people. It is easier to hate the sins of others and to love your own, than to hate your own sins and actually be miserable over them. Did you ever lose any sleep lately because of your sins? You did about other matters in your life. You cried because of the loss of a loved one through the cold hand of death. But did you ever weep so deeply and were you troubled so much about sins you committed? Indeed, there is much room in our lives as well for spiritual sensitivity!

But consider once, that all the misery in the world is here because of the entrance of sin. God’s curse is on the earth. And all the sorrows in the world should bring us at once to the throne of grace. In all our woes we ought to think of God, Who alone can and will deliver His people from it all so fully that He will wipe away all tears from our eyes, and give us an everlasting song to sing. But does misery and fear do that? Do we at once look to the everlasting hills from whence cometh all our help? Or is it a much delayed afterthought? Such was not even the case with Mordecai and Esther. And they differed so greatly from men of faith whose trust in God is displayed upon the pages of Holy Writ.

This is the way in which a child of God faces his perils. Hezekiah in II Chronicles 32:7, 8 declares, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the King of Assyria, nor for all the multitudes that are with him: for there be more with us than with him. With him is the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” Where do you find even a faint suggestion of such a faith in Mordecai? He speaks of another place from whence help will come, but not of another Person. And he had such an opportunity to speak to his daughter of that divine Person and to seek to strengthen her faith in Him.

Or, to defend Mordecai, you might explain that place as heaven where God dwells, and say that he speaks figuratively, and mentions heaven for Him Who dwells in heaven. Let us assume that he means from heaven comes our help and not from the earth or anyone on the earth. Even then note that he tells his daughter on earth to defend her and his people; and if that does not work, then heaven will have to help. What kind of faith is that? We will try it without heaven’s help; and if we fail we will as a last resort turn to the God in heaven Whom we have deliberately ignored. And then he said, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Once again God is ignored. He does not say, “‘Who knoweth whether God has brought thee to this kingdom for such a time as this.” He knows only too well that, as far as they are concerned, she came to the kingdom for the satisfaction of their flesh. He reveals that as far as their intent was concerned she did not seek that position and power for the sake of God’s church in the Old Testament dispensation. Had they done so, he would have said, “Esther, remember you came to the kingdom that God’s people might be helped. Do not now fail to do the kind of work for which we sought and obtained this position.” God is not in all their thoughts, He is not in any of them; and their speech reveals it very clearly.

We want, the Lord willing, to come back to that later, but even after God does give them that deliverance there is not one word of thanks to Him! Daniel said to the king, after being brought up out of the lion’s den, “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lion’s mouths, and they have not hurt me” (Daniel 6:22). But what we read in Esther 9:28 is that the Jews—with Mordecai now their representative sitting at the king’s right hand, elevated above all the other rulers, and this with tremendous power and opportunity to direct the Jews in all their affairs—appointed a time of the year, “And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city . . . .” Then strikingly enough we read, “Then Esther the queen . . . and Mordecai the Jew wrote with all authority to confirm this second letter.” And what was in the letter? In Esther 9:22 we read, “That they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.” Where do you read, “And thanks unto the Lord our God?” Verse 18 says that they made it a day of feasting and of gladness. Verse 19 says in addition, “And a good day, and of sending portions one to another.” What God did is ignored, because it is not looked upon as His work. Faith sees Him. Unbelief looks the other way, speaks of evolution, luck—and sad to say so many of us do that too—or, because man cannot get away from the truth that there is a God.” For the invisible things of Him are clearly seen by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). They will speak of a Ring Providence, or even Mother Nature, and cater to those who today so wickedly say that God, although He uses the masculine pronoun and article, is feminine!

Even his going to Esther for help was an act of unbelief. Indeed we must make use of all the means that God provides. We may not be careless and act as though He is not a God of means. He feeds us with bread and by means of it nourishes and keeps us alive. Hezekiah was ordered to lay a lump of figs on his boil for his recovery from his illness. But it must be with the prayer that God will use the means which we employ. As stated before, we must go first to God. He must use the means, or the results will not be what we seek. Did Mordecai do that? Had he gone home and prayed before seeking Esther’s help, and not made an open show with sackcloth and ashes, and with howling in the streets, where no one could actually help him, we would have a different picture and some hope for a little faith. Had we simply read, without the name of God being used, that he went home to pray and then sought Esther’s help, we could not be so emphatic about his utter lack of any trust in God. But as it now stands, we read something into Scripture that God did not put there, if we are going to defend either Esther or Mordecai as believing children of God. By their fruits ye shall know them, Jesus said. God led the author of this book, whoever he may be, to set forth this incident in such a way that we would see that there is not one spark of faith in God in either one of these two main characters. What is here is unmistakable unbelief.

Any why does God use unbelievers like this for the good of His church? He certainly does not need them. He could have saved His people without one man’s help. He did that in Egypt. He sent ten terrible plagues upon the enemy without the mind and ingenuity of a single man. What is more, He spared the Israelites of the last seven plagues. He could have done that here. He could have decimated the enemy here by terrible plagues. He did not need another nation of men to come and take over and make new rules which would not call for the death of all the Jews. He could have instilled such fear in the hearts of the king and his servants that would cause them to change the law of the Medes and the Persians that otherwise “altereth not.” That is not too hard for Him.

But, in the first place, it sovereignly pleased Him to do it this way for the glory of His own name. He had promised the Messiah in the line of Abraham and David. And He will in the future get Him honor by the praise of those who see His mighty hand and loving faithfulness. And yet there is more to be said. He uses unbelievers that you and I (and all His elect children in these last days) may have written and preserved for us and our children His way of using the chaff to serve the wheat. He shows us that, although it does not always look that way, He is working all things together for our good. This book is here to cheer us and to assure us in the dreadful days ahead that He has perfect control over all creation; and the very enemies who seek our destruction serve—be it unconsciously and unwillingly, as in this book—the church of God’s love.