As we continue our series, Our Four Fathers, a play on words looking at the lives of four individuals who give us examples of the love of our heavenly father, we look this week at Mordecai. We have looked at these examples of fathers found in Scripture, examining how they reflect God’s character in their best qualities and a picture of God’s grace towards us in their worst qualities. Through their examples, we are reminded that God is a good father who is patient and kind, merciful and gracious towards all His children.
When we think about biblical examples of fathers, I’m sure Mordecai is not the first name that comes to mind for many of us. His story is found in the book of Esther in the Old Testament. When Mordecai’s story first begins, he is actually not a father. According to the account in Esther, he becomes a father by choice, through the adoption of his niece, Esther.
To summarize the story, the Jews are living in captivity in Persia under the rule of the king Xerxes. After months of continual partying, Xerxes calls for his wife, Vashti, to be brought out to be paraded in front of all his guests for their enjoyment. When she refused, the king sent her away and we never hear from her again in the Bible.
The king finds himself without a queen, so, he seeks to replace her. Women come from all over the region to seek the kings attention, hoping they will be chosen to be the new queen. One of the women who attended was Esther, whose name was Haddassah, meaning “dazzling beauty.” So who do you think caught the eye of the king? The dazzling beauty, of course.
Esther would go on to become the new queen of Persia, married to Xerxes. As queen, she soon finds herself in a difficult situation. In this time, we see several instances of Mordecai being a godly father and witness his example he set before his daughter, Esther. Let’s look at three principles of good, godly fathers that can be taken from the life of Mordecai.
Good fathers decide to keep being good fathers
This is an amazing principle we see in this passage of scripture. For those of you who are fathers today, notice this, Mordecai decided to be a father. By some turn of events, this little girl is orphaned and Mordecai had the power to do something about it. He made a decision to be a dad. It is one thing to decide to father a child; it is a more important thing to decide to be a father to your children until the day you die.
This is evident in the everyday decisions that fathers must make to invest in the lives of their children. You have to make the decision day in and day out, over and over again, to be a father. That’s exactly what Mordecai did; he made the decision to be a father. Being a good father is not natural; it doesn’t just happen on its own. Being a good father to your kids involves making a daily, intentional choice to be a good father.
Good fathers model godly character
Continuing in the story, Mordecai overhears of a plot to overthrow the king. He tells Esther who informs the right people who then thwart the plan. In chapter 2 verse 23, it tells us that this was written down in the daily court record in the king’s presence.
Enter the bad guy of the story, Haman.
Haman is an arrogant bigot who is full of himself, wielding his power like a dictator, demanding that every person who saw him bow in his presence. When he passed by, everyone bowed, with one exception, Mordecai. Mordecai would only bow to the one true God and chose to defy the orders of Haman. Of course, this infuriated Haman, who sought to destroy Mordecai and the entire nation of Israel.
What we see in this example is that good fathers model godly character for their children. Mordecai is modeling godly character by refusing to bow to anyone except God. Later in the story, we see that Esther will demonstrate great courage that will save the entire nation. Where do you think she learned this type of character? She must have learned it from watching her dad display godly character in the face of difficult or dangerous circumstances.
Mordecai’s godly character is demonstrated to Esther in the way he refuses to bow to anything other than God. Similarly, fathers who want to demonstrate godly character to their children must make the decision that they will not place anything in their lives above God. If fathers want their children to grow up to honor God and seek God with their heart and lives, they must first demonstrate this type of commitment to God.
Character is not taught as much as it is taught. You may have heard it said that actions speak louder than words. When it comes to godly character, nothing could be more true. Children, like you, don’t like lectures. They want to see what you are talking about evidenced by what you do.
The heart of a child is truly saying “don’t just tell me that you love me, show me you love me. Don’t just tell me what to do, show me what to do. Don’t just mandate morality for me, model morality for me.” Very simply dads: live it, don’t just lecture it. When it comes to faith and godly character here is a principle to remember: If you live it they will learn it. If you lecture it they will leave it.
Good fathers encourage their children to live for God’s purpose
There comes a time in every child’s life where they mature and grow to a greater purpose than just being a child. They may have a greater purpose than their parents can understand. But God knows. What is the purpose you are encouraging and challenging your children to live for? What is the purpose down the road you are preparing and equipping them for?
Are we helping them have great dreams about God’s kingdom and their role in it? Are we exhorting them to think great thoughts about the church? Are we telling them about God’s plan for the church in the world and their part in reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus?
That is exactly what Mordecai did.
Haman has decided he wants to kill all the Jewish people. He convinces Xerxes that it is necessary. So, the Jews know they are as good as dead. When Esther finds out that Mordecai is weeping and fasting, she asks him what is wrong. His response to her is profound, saying, “you may have been chosen queen for such a time as this.”
As we previously discussed, crisis reveals character. His response in crisis was to point his daughter to her God-given destiny and purpose. At this time when most parents would fear for their child’s life, Mordecai is encouraging his daughter that maybe God had made her queen so that she could save her people. He encouraged her to live for God’s purpose.
Never underestimate the sovereignty of God.
As Esther follows her fathers advice, acting boldly with courage, she turns the heart of the king to save her people. The sovereignty of God had elevated her to this position, in this time, to save her people. She responded in obedience and boldness to the purpose and will of God. However, it was the godly example of her father that gave her the courage and ability to do so.
Some of you have a Haman in your life right now. It could be a person or a troubling situation. Someone or something is trying to thwart God’s purpose and plan for your life. Remember this, if God is writing the story of your life, the story is not over until He is done and says that it is over. It may seem like all the power is in the hands of the enemy. It might appear that an evil king is on the throne with control over your life. But keep this as your reminder: the sovereign hand of God controls history and the future and no one else.
The Bible tells us that all things work together for the good of those whose hearts belong completely to Him. Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged. The sovereign hand of God is still working. Sometimes our greatest opposition can become the pathway to a new position and purpose. When the enemy plans a demotion, God can turn it around into a promotion.
Never underestimate the power of a good father
Good fathers model godly character for their children. This goes beyond words into actions. The decisions you make today will influence the decisions your children will make tomorrow. If you have the privilege to influence a child in any way, take it seriously and do so wisely. God is going to take them to places and situations where he wants to use them for his purposes. You have been placed in the position of a father for such a time as this to lead your children to their identity and purpose in Christ.
Never underestimate the significance of a disciple
Parents often try to control the destinies of their children without doing the hard work of discipling. The parent’s responsibility is to disciple their children to become followers of Jesus. God handles the destinies.
Esther was a little Jewish orphan girl at the beginning of the story. By the end of the story she is Queen of Persia. It doesn’t matter where you come from; God can take you where he wants you to go. That is the gospel: God turning orphans into sons and daughters, kings and queens.
The time you invest in your children and disciples, whether biological or spiritual, can lead them to their destiny and purpose in Christ. The responsibility of parents and disciple-makers is to lead their disciples to discover their identity in Christ and fulfill his purposes.