Suggested Scripture Reading: Esther, Chapter 4
Focal Passage: For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
If you have never studied the Old Testament book of Esther, I strongly urge you to plan a time to do so. Esther is one of only two books in the Bible where God’s name is not mentioned. Yet His providence is so clearly evident it is almost overwhelming. I would love to delve into it more deeply, but time and space prohibit. So I’ll try and quickly set the stage for for this study.
A hundred years before Esther’s time, the Jewish people had been taken into captivity in Babylon. Fifty years later, Babylon was conquered by the Persians and the Jewish people were allowed to return home. But some of them chose to remain, and they discovered something very important; God did not dwell only in the land of Israel, He was here in Babylon too. Esther and her cousin Mordecai were among those who stayed.
But living as a Jew in the heart of the Persian Empire was no picnic. The Persian King Xerxes is the most powerful man in the world and also one of the most reckless. Through an unusual turn of events, Esther becomes his queen, but that does not exempt her from the consequences of the king’s wrath if he is angered. The king still kept his harem and no one was to address him unless he specifically requested it—to do so meant death. In addition, the Jews had sworn enemies, one of whom convinced the king that all the Jews should be eliminated…and to top it off, Esther has kept her Jewish heritage a secret.
Now we come to the crux of the story. Esther’s cousin Mordecai becomes aware of this plot to destroy the Jews. Mordecai must convince Esther to approach the king and appeal for mercy. In this context, as you read the focal passage at the top of the page, it has a stronger meaning. If you read the entire chapter you can see that Mordecai is really saying, “Esther, if you don’t do this, God will eventually accomplish His sovereign will but you and I and many others will be dead in the process.”
What a choice; If she approaches the king she may die. If she doesn’t she will die anyway. But look at the second part of the verse:
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” !
Now…let’s personalize it. Stop reading, take a moment and think back to some of the life changing events through which you have lived. How have they shaped your life? How might your life have been different if these events had not happened? How did your relationship with God play into these challenges?
These events may not have risen to the importance of the one Esther faced, but none the less, they changed our lives. Esther, believed with all her heart that God had prepared her for for this moment in history—“for such a time as this”—to be His vessel and she rose to the occasion. No doubt you and I will face other life changing events in the future. Will we be His vessel?
I have a confession to make…I messed up last week. I popped into Jason’s Deli one evening to pick up a salad to take home for dinner. As I left I noticed a man sitting at a table alone. He had a pile of change in front of him and was counting it. It was pretty clear to me, looking at the back pack beside him, that it probably contained most of his worldly possessions. I wasn’t sure what to do, and I walked out the door.
About half way to the car, I stopped, turned around and went back inside. I walked up to him and said, “Friend, are you short on eating money?” He answered that he was, and I could see that there was something not quite right about him. I handed him $10 and He said, “God bless you”. I smiled, headed to my car and drove home. Later that evening, a thought kept running through my head…it was loud and clear: ”Why didn’t you tell that man about Jesus?” A bunch of excuses ran through my mind…he didn’t seem quite right mentally…I think he may have been drinking…it just wasn’t a good time. None of these excuses were any good. I agonized about it all that night.
The next morning in my Bible Study time I turned to a devotional I sometimes read on the internet and there was this verse staring me in the face:
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
It hit me like a ton of bricks, and to be honest, brought me to tears. I prayed about it, asked forgiveness and determined in my mind to return to Jason’s that evening at the same time. I did return…He wasn’t there. As I got in my car to go home, I pulled down the sun visor and was stunned as a $10 bill floated down into my lap.
I remembered later that I had placed that ten dollar bill above the visor several months back to use when going through the auto inspection center. But at this time, it seemed plain to me that God was saying, “What I really want is your heart”…it was a not so subtle reminder. A verse from Romans came to mind:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? Romans 10:14a
The command Jesus issued is clear. It is called “The great Commission”, not “the great suggestion”.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…Matthew 28:19a
Growing up, my mother used to tell me, “Bobby, you might be the best Christian someone knows”. While that is a scary thought, it is still true. We might be the only opportunity that someone has to meet Jesus.
Like Esther, God has placed each one of us here for a purpose…His purpose. We are to be His vessels during the events that shape our lives and the lives of others. Think about this…there are things about you that are unique. Maybe it’s personality… intelligence…or beauty, like Esther. Maybe it’s a willingness and a heart for God, but there is something special about you that He can use to reach others. He placed us here for those occasions…and we never know when they may arise.
As you tackle the events of the coming week, perhaps God has something special lined up for you. And who knows whether He has placed you there…”for such a time as this”.