Before a girl's turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.
Esther 2:12 (New International Version)
Do not be fooled by the text, mind you. The treatments might have been exclusively for women, but for every person that is entering a journey of intimacy with the Lord, this is a must.
Allow me to look back in history and the surroundings of this passage. The Book of Esther tells the story of palace intrigue and genocide thwarted by a Jewish queen of Persia. Even though this book never mentions the name of God, the reader can identify and see clearly the loving kindness and care of the Lord with His chosen people. But for that to happen, the Lord chose a girl, Hadassah, later Esther, to bring redemption to them.
The Bible mentions that Hadassah was beautiful and full of grace, enough to capture the attention of Hegai, the king's eunuch and the one in charge of the care of the women in the harem. But despite the beauty, she needed to be fully prepared in order to gain favor from King Xerxes and be in the position to save her people after. Esther 2:12 establishes that she spent six months with oils of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics. Now, this is interesting because myrrh, an exotic biblical spice, was used in purification and beautification rites, but it was also used in burial spices. So, why use oils of myrrh first and then perfumes and cosmetics? What was the purpose?
Six months of oils of myrrh
This is the first season of her one year preparation for just ONE night that would decide it all. To use myrrh is to prepare the body for death. To what did she need to die to? Hadassah had to die to her people, her customs, her way of live, in order to become what the king needed. And so, the season of the myrrh took away all her impurities to become holy before Xerxes. The same way that God, in the beginning of our journey to a deeper intimacy with Him, let us discover the little or big things that need to die in order to become holy. The season of the myrrh becomes clear in Romans 14:8 "if we die, we die to the Lord". Once all that disturbs the relationship between God and us is removed of our system, the next season begins.
Six months of perfumes and cosmetics
Now don't get me wrong, this is not your typical makeover on the Estee Lauder counter at JC Penny's. After dying to her former self, and the myrrh takes over the natural odor of her flesh, Esther undergoes another round of treatments. This time the season belongs to the perfumes (probably included frankincense and other spices) and cosmetics. This is the season of intimacy, as frankincense is used mostly over the fire to release its fragrance. Esther learns everything she needs to know about the king: his desires, what he prefers, what he dislikes, kingdom protocol, et all. And for us, this season represents becoming a sweet aroma unto the Lord, bowing before Him and focusing on Him. We get to know the Lord through His word,prayer, worship,praise and fellowship. Our needs fade as we concentrate on Him and Him alone. Then, the moment comes...
Esther had one chance, after all that time, to impress the king and gain his favor. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to present ourselves to the King of Kings. This is the time the Lord is calling us to get ready, and take positions. This is not the time to keep quiet and pretend nothing happens around us. This is the season to change, to be submerged in His Glory, to rise to His Loving Arms in praise. Because on that moment, when His eyes locks with yours and nothing else matters, life as we know it changes FOREVER. "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14b, New International Version)