Sunday July 18th, 2010
And Mordecai told them to answer Ester: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Here’s a quick background: The Jews are under Persian rule at this time. The Jews have already been allowed to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and many have went, but there are still many more living throughout the Persian empire. The Persian king, Ahasuerus, held a huge 180 day party followed by a seven day feast. Well, him being a king, this was a drinking party, and he calls his wife, Queen Vashti, to come and dance for him and his high up officials. (It is hinted that this is not a polka or country dancing, but something a little more PG-13 rated or higher.) She refuses, and to save his honor, the king banishes her from his presence forever. (He actually makes a royal decree. (Which goes to show that if you are king and get drunk with your friends, you might end up making irreversible laws that you may regret later.) So now that this powerful king of the world has a restraining order against his own wife, he decides to hold a contest to find the most beautiful girl in kingdom to be his new wife. Beautiful young girls are brought in from all over and each one spends at least six months going through a beautification process before her one night with the king. In this one night, she has to convince the king that she is better than all the past girls and better than any girl that might come after her. If she doesn’t succeed, she gets to spend the rest of her life in the harem with the other failures. (They would not be allowed out to go back to their lives since they’ve been with the king and are considered his property. Talk about woman’s suffrage.) The one who wins his “heart” is named Esther (her Jewish name was Hadassah… but it was too Jewish for a cute girl in Persia) and she becomes the new queen. Meanwhile, the king’s right hand man, Haman has a vendetta out against the Jews. (He’s an Agagite, a decendent from King Agag whom Saul didn’t kill when Samuel told him to, and not it’s coming around to bite the Jews.) He wants them exterminated from the earth. He tricks the King into signing an irreversible decree that on a certain day, everyone in the Kingdom of Persia (which, at this time, is most of the known world) will be able to kill any Jew they encounter and take their stuff. Neither the king nor Haman know that Ester is Jewish, but her cousin Mordecai does. (Lot’s of people call Mordecai her uncle, but I would like to draw your attention to Esther 2:7.) He tells her to go to the king and plead with him, but she is scared. Then there is the speech I’ve quoted above.
The message he gives her, and I believe it’s the same message God gives us, is that we are not God’s only hope. God does plan for us to act on His command. He does hold us responsible for inaction as well as disobedience, (civil or otherwise) but we have a God who is going to save with or without me. It’s my blessing to be a part of His work. He doesn’t need me. He never did. He wants to use me. He desires to use me, but although I am valuable to Him personally, I am expendable to His Will getting done on Earth. Whether I follow Him or not, He will still one day come back to rule with an iron face. He will judge the nations. He will restore His glory and majesty on Earth as it is in Heaven. My choice is whether or not I’m going to be a part of it. Now this takes a load off me. It helps me realize that people are not going to hell because I’ve failed in my witness. It means that whether or not someone hears the gospel isn’t up to me, but if I don’t step out in faith, then I miss out on seeing what God has planned. I loved seeing people get saved. I love seeing God work in people’s lives. I work for God, not because I have to, but because I want to.
You have the same choice. You can either love God and want to serve Him, or you can love you and want to serve you. You can’t do both. This doesn’t mean you have to work at a church or teach Sunday School, (although I do both and love it) but God has something for you to do. Maybe it’s at work or school and He put you in a class or office for a specific purpose. It could be something like being there for someone who is going through a hard time and you share Christ with them. If you don’t do it, you were there for nothing, but God will have someone else go to that person because He loves him or her so much that He will do whatever it takes to get him or her the message.
Now I know what some of you Wanda’s may be thinking. If God’s going to send someone else, I’m just not going to try. It’s weird and embarrassing and uncomfortable. I’m happy to get into Heaven and sit on the grass. I don’t need the crowns or rewards and you might feel good about saying you won’t need that stuff. If that’s you, then I’m going to be bold and tell you that you are not on the path to heaven, but on the path to hell. You are not thinking of yourself in heaven because you are focused on being comfortable now. If God tells you to do something, go do it. If you don’t, God will raise another, but you won’t escape destruction. If your comfort is more important to you than doing God’s will, then comfort is your god. I wish I was wrong about this, because this means that so many people think they are Christians because they prayed and they falsely believe that they will go to heaven because they repeated words after some pastor once. But if there is no change in heart, if their comfort or their security is their god, then there is no space on the grass reserved for them in Heaven. There is only standing room in Hell. I’m not saying that you have to good works to get saved, but I am saying is that if getting saved doesn’t cause you to do good works, you may not be saved. Mordecai is telling Esther that her own life is dependent on her action here. I’m telling you that yours is too. Who do you serve?