Wednesday, December 11, 2013

For Such a Time as This Part 1

This is an article I wrote a few years ago about Esther and the courage she had to do the right thing in the face of death.  I hope it blesses and encourages you!

Imagine that one day you were summoned to the great palace in Persia.  You and all the most beautiful maidens in the kingdom were brought together... all with the chance of becoming the next queen.  Even though you are young, you are still of marriageable age, yet all this is so strange and foreign to you.  All your life you had had no father or mother.  Your only relation was your cousin who had taken you in as his own daughter.  Life had been very sheltered and protected; the outside world was another planet compared to what you had always known.  But in the blink of an eye, everything changes. 

And everything did change for Esther.

In the book of Esther, we see the story of the Jewish Hadassah who is taken from her cousin Mordecai to the Palace in Persia.  All she has ever known is changed as she must live in obedience to God under the most trying situations.  One of the most interesting things about the book of Esther is that even though God’s name is never written, you see Him on every page.  You see His sovereignty as He guides the events and brings the right people to the right places at the right time.  This is a story of bravery, honor, dignity, obedience, and trust.

After a twelve months purification time, it is your turn to go in to the king.  On the next day you will be taken to the house of concubines, and there you will stay—unless the king loves you or calls you by name.  Although you could have whatever you desire, you choose to just take what is given you by the king’s chamberlain.  That night, you go in to house of the king.

Esther was in a very vulnerable position as she was in a king’s palace that was always bursting at the seams with treachery and treason.  Mordecai knew that she needed guidance and direction of some sort, so every day he would speak with her at the gate.  He told her not to tell of her Jewish heritage as he knew that this was a dangerous time for the Jews.  Because of her obedience, Esther ended up saving her life by keeping this secret.  “Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.”  (Esther 2:20)

You are to be appointed the next queen!  Because the king loved you, he set the royal crown on your head and made you queen in Vashti s place.  The king throws a feast in your honor as you are proclaimed the Queen.

At this part of our story, we see an interesting puzzle piece that just doesn’t seem to fit.  Mordecai overhears a plot to attack king Ahasuerus.  Mordecai tells Esther and she makes this deed known and the two traitors are hung.  The event was written in the Chronicles of the king, but Mordecai was never honored.  Although it seems like it was just an overlook, this incident proves to be one of the strangest turn of events in this book. 

Now the enemy arrives.  Haman the Agagite is appointed to the position of the king’s right hand man and to him, all must bow and show reverence.  But Mordecai refuses to bow before this man and Haman’s men discover that he is a Jew.  Haman is furious that anyone would dare defy this order, so he sets out on a plan to destroy Mordecai and all his people with him.

One day, your handmaids come into you and bring you the news that your cousin is in sackcloth and ashes, crying bitterly with the Jews of the city.  You are distressed and at once order that a new pair of clothes be given to Mordecai.  But he refuses.  This time you send out a messenger to ask him just what this all means.  Your messenger returns with the decree that all Jews are to be destroyed and plundered on thirteenth day of the month of Adar.  Although this news is shocking to you, Mordecai charges you to go in before the king and plead for the lives of your people.  No!  All servants and people know that, whether it is man or woman, whoever comes into the king shall be put to death—except that king lowers his golden scepter!  You tell him that this is impossible and that it has been thirty days since the king has called you into his presence.  You know that to do a thing like this is absurd and unthinkable.  But Mordecai persists and gives you this message: “Don’t think that since you are in the king’s house, you will escape this danger that is coming on us Jews.  If you keep silent, another deliverer will arise for Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed.  But who knows, maybe you were brought to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

“...For such a time as this.”  Mordecai is asking no small thing of Esther.  He is asking her to walk into the face of death to deliver her people.  But the chances that the king will lower his scepter are so slim.  In his commentary, David Guzik writes on Mordecai’s second request, “Do not think . . . you will escape; Mordecai reminds Esther that she cannot remain insulated from this decree anymore than anyone else.  If you remain completely silent . . . deliverance will arise . . . from another place; Mordecai's trust is in the faithfulness of God, not in the faithfulness of Esther. He knows that God will not let His people down, even if individuals let God down.  But you and your father's house will perish - Mordecai reminds Esther that though the fate of God's people rests in God, not in her, her own fate depends on her own faithfulness to God.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Mordecai knows that God has promoted this orphan in exile for a reason - and Esther must have the courage and wisdom to see that reason and walk in it.  This principle applies very much to us as well; God promotes us or puts in a place for a reason, and we need the courage and wisdom to see that reason and to walk in it.”  Having courage to accomplish the thing that God has put us in a position for sounds very easy, but when the time comes, can you do it?  When the odds are against you, will you still be able to carry out your order?

You know that you are here for a reason and you know that God is in control... but you also know that this is huge.  However, you decide to trust God and do what is right, depending on Him for deliverance.  You are resolved and resolute in your reply to Mordecai.  “Go and bring together all the Jews that are in Shushan and fast for me three days and three nights.  Don’t eat anything or drink anything.  I, too, will fast with my maidens.  And then I will go against the law and come into the king un-summoned.  And if I perish, I perish.”

Esther stands up as a woman of honor and bravery.  She is ready to go into the king, possibly to meet her death.  She tells Mordecai that if she dies, she dies.  This is the ultimate display of love and obedience.  Because of her love for her cousin and her people, she will lay down her life.  We see the words of John 15:13 being lived out.  “Greater love hath no man than this,that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Esther was willing to sacrifice herself for the deliverance of her beloved people.  But Esther made a choice, and that choice was not easy.

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