This was a matter of life and death. The rule in the royal court was that anyone who approached the king without being summoned was to be put to death. There was but one exception. If the king held out his golden scepter, the person who dared approach him uninvited would live. Queen Esther knew this rule applied even to her, and when she agreed to plead with the king on behalf of the Jews, she knew she could be walking to her own death. Mordecai had tricked King Ahasuerus into signing a death edict for the Jewish people, and Esther knew it was up to her to save them, provided she didn’t get killed first. But she didn’t just run to the throne room. She told Mordecai to gather as many Jews as he could and fast and pray for her for three days before she would dare to approach the king. This was too serious a matter to attempt without proper preparation.
This wasn’t the first time Esther had prepared to be in the presence of the king. Why, back in the second chapter of Esther, she had undergone a twelve month period of preparation as part of the king’s harem before she was allowed in the presence of the king. That included six months with oil and myrrh and six months with spices and ointments, as Esther 2:12 tells us. This was no small task.
Even Nehemiah, who was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes and therefore with him on a daily basis, didn’t get too casual with Artaxerxes. When he felt the call to go back to Jerusalem to help rebuild the walls, he prayed and waited until the king opened an opportunity for him to make his request—three months later. And Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar’s advisor, asked his three friends to join him in prayer before approaching the king to not only interpret the king’s dream, but also to tell the king what that dream was! All these individuals realized that approaching the king was serious business, not something to be taken lightly or irreverently.
Friends, we have the privilege of being in the presence of the King of heaven and earth on a daily basis. This is a more serious matter than many people make it out to be. Just as Esther, Nehemiah, and Daniel prepared for their time with the king, so ought we prepare our hearts and minds to be in God’s presence. He is holy. We are sinful. And as such, that’s a problem we need to address right away. I heard some years ago that going to church is entering God’s house, and we cannot enter without proper attire. That’s why we do confession and absolution at the beginning of the service. It’s us wiping the dirt off our feet before we come in, and putting on the white robe Christ won for us. I love that analogy. Sin cannot stand in the presence of our holy God. To be properly prepared, we must confess our sins and put on Christ’s righteousness so we are acceptable in the sight of the King.
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait a year to make an appointment with the King as Esther did. Nor do we have to wait three months as Nehemiah did. We don’t even need a three-day fast like Esther arranged for her people. But do approach God’s throne with proper reverence. Wipe your feet and put on Christ’s royal robe. Remember, you’re in the presence of the King.