Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A., Counseling
As the pandemic lingers into the new year, I am starting a new series on the redeemed. We’ll read brief high and low points of each of these biblical characters—some of whom are lesser known to Scripture. To inaugurate 2021, we will review the Jewish heroine, Esther.
On the 14th day of the month of Adar (Jewish calendar) each year, Jews around the world celebrate Purim, an historical event that ensured the survival of the Jewish nation—all because a young queen heeded her wise uncle’s exhortation and risked her life to save her people. The most famous line from this dialogue is often quoted among Jews and Christians alike when a person is confronted with an important but risky decision that could impact themselves and those around them. The backstory tells us of how this beautiful but uncertain orphan raised by her Uncle Mordecai rose to the position of queen of the most powerful king in all of the world at that time. Coinciding with her stellar rise, Mordecai’s arch rival, Haman, a self-serving opportunist who despised Mordecai, manipulated the king into signing a decree to destroy all the Jews who had been exiled to Persia (all because Mordecai would not show deference to Haman). Once Mordecai discovered the scheme, he approached Esther and challenged her to use the influence of her position to sway the king to change his mind. Esther was afraid that her powerful and impetuous husband might turn on her and demand her very life if she displeased him with her request to save her people. As follow is the prudent response from Mordecai to Esther via her servants:
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14 ESV
There are a couple of takeaways from this penultimate moment in the story. First, God is sovereign. If we fail to step out in faith when he calls us to enter the fray of a spiritual battle, he will either raise up someone else to accomplish his purposes or orchestrate circumstances to confront us with the same or similar decision at a later point. We see this dynamic played out in other biblical characters of Scripture (which will be explored in forthcoming articles). The second teaching point is with regard to the often quoted line, “…for such a time as this.” Esther faithfully followed the instructions of her uncle during her upbringing and later in the king’s court (Esther 2:19-20). Her obedience in the small decisions of her childhood prepared her to risk her life to plead her case before the volatile King Ahasuerus. Because Esther had won the king’s heart through respect and kindness, Ahasuerus granted her an audience. Upon learning the extent of Haman’s wicked scheme that would even require the life of the queen, Ahasuerus sentenced Haman to death and promoted Mordecai to second in command in place of Haman. Subsequently, the edict devised by Haman was readdressed by a new command that granted Jews throughout Persia the right to defend themselves and slay those who would attempt to kill them.
For such at time as this, one fair young maiden promoted by God to a timely position of influence changed the course of history by saving the lives of a nation and ensuring the fulfillment of the forthcoming Messiah. On a micro scale, we too have been promoted by God as ambassadors of Christ, that we might use our influence to change the course of history for the least, the last, and the lost. Let the redeemed say, “Amen.”