Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The Story; Esther's People
God's people have always been hero or zero. Never has there been a time when they were mundane or uninvolved in world affairs.
Abraham, father of God's chosen, rode the hero trail. He was rich, influential and venerated among Egypt's rulers. Subsequently the pendulum swung against the children of Israel, and 400 years of "zero" were endured as the Egyptian bondage.
Then came hero Moses and the people of God triumphantly picked over the greatest of spoils in Egypt, and left for the Promised Land. But there was a 40 year zero in the wilderness because of disobedience, followed by a hero's conquest of Canaan.
Hero to zero and back, like a yo-yo roller-coaster ride.
Riding the crest of unparalleled success under the judges and kings David and Solomon, the prophets warned that heroes can become zeros if they don't keep at what God called them to do. They ignored, and Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian hordes carried all the best thinkers and workers into a zero captivity.
But then the temple was rebuilt, and the land was beginning to be restored. Babylon's control was replaced with Persian rule. Persia was notably less cruel and exacting as was the Babylonian (Iraq) iron fisted king. With some limited freedom and the ability to control their own financial resources, the people of God rose within the confines of a friendly captivity to have influence and affluence. Where once a proud Jewish nation, the chosen of God stood, now sat masses of materialistically-sated fat-cats.
Enter Esther! King Xerxes was looking for a queen because he'd just divorced and banished his last mate. Esther was the Jewish Cinderella of her day. She was beautiful and smart, and the king married her, not knowing she was a Jew. Her uncle, Mordecai, had seen to it that she didn't reveal her heritage. King Xerxes’ second in command, Haman, hated the Jews; Mordecai in particular. Haman wanted everybody in the kingdom to bow and pay him honor. Mordecai knew he should only worship God, and wouldn't bow.
Although the name of God isn't mentioned in the entire book of Esther, this is a Jewish story, and God can be sensed in the background all the way through. Haman got the king to issue an order that every Jew was to be slaughtered; the whole race! Mordecai got word to Queen Esther, who immediately sent an answer back to him that she was risking death if she went to speak to the king without an invitation. Things looked bleak and impossible.
This is a story modern Jews tell even today about how powerless people can have hope, and celebrate even in the midst of their darkest hour. Mordecai's quick response to Esther's excuse is our text:
If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14(NLT)
Well, Esther DID speak-up, and Haman's plan WAS thwarted, and God's people WERE saved, and today the feast of Purim celebrates God's deliverance against the darkest backdrop of evil.
We will take a look at some more of how this story turned out next time, but, for now, have you got anything going on that’s bleak or troublesome? Esther considered, prayed, took a deep breath and then took a bold step.