Have you ever wondered, when the times comes, if you will be ready?
In the days of Esther, the Persian Empire was the dominant nation on the Earth. These were the days after the Babylonian captivity, after the Jewish people had returned to Jerusalem. Yet there were Jews still left in foreign lands. This account focuses on how those Jews left behind affected the livelihood of their entire people.
“After these things King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him.” Esther 3:1-2
In the modern era, Haman would be considered a man who has everything: power, influence, fame, fortune, and the ear of the king; yet it wasn’t enough for him. All the power and position in the world led him towards an evil heart, rather than fill him with gratitude for what he had been given. And when Mordecai, Esther’s faithful uncle, would not pay homage to him, he reacted in a terrible way.
“When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus—the people of Mordecai.” Esther 3:5-8
Here Haman is given an opportunity, even though it may not have seemed so to him. This Jew refused to obey the law of the Persians and showed defiance in the face of the king’s right hand. Perhaps if Haman knew of the Triune God, he would’ve been compelled to inquire why Mordecai acted in such a manner. Instead, he reacts with anger and pride, opting to exact revenge for a perceived slight on not just Mordecai, but his entire people. His arrogance blinded him, and he was not able to act correctly when the time came.
“So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:16-17
Esther was certainly a compelling figure—an orphan, taken captive to a foreign land, she overcame adversity with the help of a loving uncle and became queen of the land. Beautiful and brave, Esther certainly fits the mold of a queen, and also a hero. But like all people who wield power, she was faced with a difficult problem. Haman, furious over Mordecai’s actions, moved to destroy her people, so it was up to Esther to save them.
“And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘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.’” Esther 4:13-14
What’s curious about Esther is that she doesn’t really fit the mold of the Old Testament hero. No one would describe her as having great faith or being full of righteousness. She was not Abraham, walking by faith and not by sight as he traveled to an unknown land, nor was she Moses, who without prompting was willing to exchange his life for that of God’s people (to God Himself no less!).
“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” Esther 4:16
Obedient and courageous, not out of willingness or pure faithfulness, but because she had no other choice. She was given an opportunity as well, and while her faith wasn’t strong, it led her act correctly, albeit reluctantly, when the time came.
“And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her. Esther 2:11
In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name.” Esther 2:21-22
Loving and faithful. Devout and wise. Humble and generous. Mordecai embodies everything we desire from our leaders. He was a man that did not waver in his faith in times of trouble, but trusted that His God would work salvation for His people.
“And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘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?’” Esther 4:13-14
Although Mordecai never mentions his God by name, we see his strong faith. This strong faith is what led him to stay standing while Haman passed by. It gave him the confidence to declare to Esther that his people would be delivered one way or another. It led him to react with hope in the face adversity, never doubting the strength of His God.
Which one of these people are you? How do you react in the face of adversity? What is your mindset when confronted with tough choices? We are all three of these people. We have times when we exhibit a strong faith, following the will of the Lord. There are also times when we have a weak faith, only doing what is right reluctantly. But most often, we are Haman, lacking faith and trust. We fail to recognize God’s hand in our lives and we instead, pridefully turn inward for answers and wisdom. And our poor decisions and lack of faith, like Haman, should lead to a grisly end on the gallows.
So then, when the time comes, will we be ready?
Only by grace will we be! “For by grace we have been saved, through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Jesus Christ was ready from the moment He was born and every moment after. And it is through Him, that we are ready, for anything. Thanks be to God for giving us the victory in Christ Jesus our Lord.