FOR SUCH A TIME

With a new year before us it is an appropriate time to think of one of the most unusual books of the Bible.  Esther was a Jewish girl whose parents had died while she was young.  Her uncle Mordecai had brought her up as his own child.  Esther was a beautiful girl living in the land of Persia during the time when Ahasuerus reigned as king.  Persia was extremely prosperous at the time and the king had thrown a huge party lasting six months in which the people celebrated how well things were going.  During the party when the king had been drinking too much wine he decided to demand that the queen, Vashti who was very beautiful, come and show her beauty, wearing the crown as queen, to all the male guest at the party.  She refused to come.  It so frustrated the king and all the men in places of authority that they demanded she be punished.  They declared that the actions of the queen would lead to all the women in the land refusing to submit to the authority of her husband.  So, Vashti was banned from ever seeing the king again and her queenship was removed from her.  In time the king became sober and began to miss Vashti.  The solution was to gather all the beautiful young virgins in the land and bring them to the palace to be treated with beauty treatments for a year and then have the king to select the one he liked best to become the new queen.  Esther was among the young women brought to the palace.  In the providence of God she was eventually chosen as the new queen of Persia.

Mordecai had told her not to reveal to anyone that she was Jewish and she obeyed him.  Mordecai came each day to the gates of the palace to learn how things were going with Esther.  The Secretary of State was a man named Haman who had everyone to bow down to him as he passed by, but Mordecai refused.  Haman came to hate him and all the Jews in the process.  He came up with a plan to have all the Jews in Persia annihilated.  A day was set and rewards were offered and the king was convinced to sign the decree that allowed everyone to kill any Jews they knew whether male or female, adult or child.  Mordecai put on sackcloth and began to lament and groan at the palace gates.  Esther tried to get him to take off the sackcloth and put on regular clothes but he refused.  In time she sent a servant to find out what had happened and he sent her word along with the decree that had been sent out to murder the Jews.  Mordecai pleaded with Esther to intervene for the Jews before the king.  She sent him word that no one could go to the king without being invited and she hadn’t been invited in more than thirty days.  If one approached without an invitation and the king didn’t raise his scepter the person was put to death.  Mordecai sent word back to her that if the Jews were annihilated she and her family wouldn’t be spared.  If she refused to help, God would bring help from someone else.  And how do you know but that you have come to the throne for such a time as this?  She sent word for the people to fast and pray for two days along with her and her maidens and she would go before the king.  “If I did, I die.”

Ultimately she went before the king, was invited to come and had both the king and Haman to come to a dinner she prepared.  At the first dinner she simply invited them to return.  Haman was so elated by the whole thing that as he told his wife and friends about being invited. He also told of how he couldn’t enjoy it with Mordecai refusing to bow before him.  They encouraged him to build a gallows fifty feet high on which he could hang Mordecai the next morning so he could enjoy the dinner.  The problem was that the king couldn’t sleep that night and had them to bring the records of past heroic events to read to him to help him sleep.  In reading he found where Mordecai had heard of a plot against the king from two of his associates and had reported it to the king.  The king asked what had been done to honor Mordecai.  The answer was nothing.  So when Haman entered, the king asked him, “What would be a good thing to do to honor someone in whom the king delights?”  Haman thought certainly he was talking about him so he said put a robe the king has worn upon him, put him on the king’s horse and ride him though the city crying this is what the king does for one whom he desires to honor.  The king said, great do that for Mordecai the Jew.  So, instead of hanging Mordecai, Haman rode him through the city crying out this is what the king does for one he honors.

At dinner with the queen things didn’t get any better for Haman.  Esther pleaded for her life and the life of her people to the king.  He asked whose idea it was to have the Jews put to death.  She said it was wicked Haman.  The king had him hanged on the very gallows he had prepared to hand Mordecai.  Mordecai became the Secretary of State in his place and a plan was put into effect to save the Jews.  It led to the Jewish celebration of Purim to commemorate the saving of the Jews on that occasion.

Think about Mordecai’s message to Esther the queen.  How do you know but that you have come to the throne for such a time as this?  God in his providence works through all kinds of things and people. The king of Persia wasn’t a good, God fearing man and his drunken demand on the queen wasn’t a good thing.  But God used the whole thing to have a Jewish girl become the queen of Persia.  He used her as the means to save the Jews from obliteration.  Many things are going on in the world today that seem totally out of control and headed in the wrong direction.  Often it seems that crime and hatred have overtaken the thinking of people.  Religious hatred to the degree that people think they are doing God service by trying to destroy all who disagree with them has become more and more common.  What in the world can be done?  Maybe God has put you where you are for such a time as this!  Maybe he has placed within your hands and reach the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life to turn them around.  Remember the world is always changed one person at a time.  If each of us work to become the kind of person we ought to be and work to help those around us do the same we can change our part of the world and that can make a difference for good.  I can change the problems in the home by making my home one of love, laughter and caring.  I can change the problems in the neighborhood by loving my neighbor as myself.  I can change the problems in the city by being the citizen God calls me to be.  I can change things at work be being the worker that makes things better rather than the one who tears things down.

For such a time as this!  Consider where and what God has called you to do to make a difference for good.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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One Response to FOR SUCH A TIME

  1. Aretha Dodson says:

    I enjoyed your article. I agree that we are living in extreme times. Nevertheless, your suggestions on how we can be service-centered are often forgotten. Thank you for the reminder on how God wants us to be in perilous times too.

    Like

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