Esther 4:16—Didn’t Esther disobey human government which God had ordained?

Problem: Romans 13:1 informs us that even pagan governments are “appointed by God,” and Peter adds, “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13; cf. Titus 3:1). But it says that what she did was “against the law” (4:16). So, didn’t Esther violate the God-ordained laws of Persia by going before the king?

Solution: Sometimes it is necessary to disobey human government, namely, when it compels us to sin. For example, if the government says we cannot pray to God (Dan. 6) or we must worship idols (Dan. 3) or we must kill innocent babies (see comments on Ex. 1:15–21), then we must disobey. In Esther’s case, however, there was no law compelling her to sin. But neither did she disobey the law of the land, since the law allowed for someone to come before the king unannounced at their own risk (Es. 4:11). Knowing of this provision of the law and accepting the risk of her life, Esther went before the king to save the lives of her people. In this case there was no need to disobey the law, since it was not compelling her to kill anyone or to commit any other act of sin.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.