“If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
Perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.
Have you heard this phrase before? It's one that tends to be thrown around and shows up on a variety of mugs, towels, and graphic prints. During this past year or so where I've consistently read the Bible and really fallen in love with God's Word, I've learned the stories behind popular verses like this one. My friend Laurel is an incredible artist, and one of the things I love so much about her work is that she never throws a phrase onto a product just for the heck of it. She prays over everything she hand-letters, and she explains the "why" behind it.
Because these words are not simple words. They're God-breathed and given to us divinely through scripture.
Those two sentences in the book of Esther hold so much more weight once we know the story.
Esther is a beautiful—yet ordinary—young Jewish woman. After King Xerxes disposes of Queen Vashti, he begins the search for a new queen. He's completely floored by Esther, and without knowing her true ethnic identity, he gives her a place of honor as new queen. She wins his favor, and he dotes on her with gifts, beauty treatments, and gourmet food. This ordinary woman is now living a life she could have only dreamed of.
The story starts to shift in chapter three. Haman, the king’s adviser, develops a plot to kill the Jews—all men, women, and children—due to their ethnic identity and their worshipping the Lord over the king. (Think about it: This is still happening today. Christians are killed all over the world for their faith.)
Mordecai, a Jewish man and Esther’s cousin, stands firm against Haman. In Chapter 4, he encourages Esther to do the same. Mordecai tells Esther that as a Jewish woman she will not be safe, even as the queen. The palace walls cannot protect her from the massacre Haman is planning. He implores her to act:
“Don’t think you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:12-14)
Esther rises up and tells Mordecai to assemble all the Jews to fast. After three days of fasting, she will go to the king and talk to him.
“If I perish, I perish,” she says.
She prepares a banquet that both the king and Haman attend, and she boldly asks that both she and her people would be spared. Esther tells the king of Haman’s plot, and Haman is hanged. She then begs the king to revoke Haman’s evil plot against the Jews. King Xerxes allows her to sign an edict in his name declaring that the Jews can defend themselves and be ready against their enemies.
“In every province and every city, wherever the king’s command and his law reached, joy and rejoicing took place among the Jews. There was a celebration and a holiday. And many of the ethnic groups of the land professed themselves to be Jews because fear of the Jews had overcome them.” (Esther 8:17)
Mordecai and Esther take a stand for the Lord. My study bible points out that Esther is a parallel to Jesus. She comes alongside her people and intervenes. And at this time, in the Old Testament, she did not even have the example of Jesus Christ yet! She stands up based on faith and trust in God’s grace.
How much more should we take action having the knowledge that Jesus came, died, and rose for us?
I am not facing death like Esther. Most of us are not. Most of us live quite comfortable lives. God has called us to exactly where we are for His great purpose. We’re called to be bold and to serve others right here, right now.
In Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller uses the story of Esther to illustrate how our work is not for ourselves. If we work and build, and we stay in that palace we build, we become slaves to it. It's a terrible place to be. Our work and our gifting are given to us to serve others and ultimately the King.
We have to remember that Esther is an ordinary woman. She’s not a minister or teacher. Yet God used her mightily. He wants to do the same with us.
What does that look like practically in your life right now?
I’ve been thinking about the book of Esther and her character throughout this summer. Her story applies to my current season in a few different ways. I've set four goals as I face the second half of 2017:
1. Work with excellence and with a mindset of service.
Make the time count. My work is not about my resume, my recognition, or my success. It’s about other people and the Lord. Whether your work is in full-time ministry or not, it is meant for service. Think about how your gifts at work and beyond can be used for God.
2. Actively pursue health in mind, body, and spirit.
I want to be the full woman God intended me to be. I pray I surrender total control to him in every area of my life. Give anxiety and worry over to Him, trusting that He has a plan and provision. I want to steward my physical body well and feed my emotional health through time with Him.
3. Pray with focus, meditate on God’s word, and fast.
Esther assembled her people to fast before she spoke to the King. I won’t be fasting from food given my medical history, but I can fast from other things. I can fast from social media and my phone, for one. Take one day a week to step away. Fasting means intentionally saying no to myself to say yes to more of God. We often see great men and women of God fasting in the Bible. That’s not a coincidence. They were putting their heart and head in a place to hear from God by shutting out the distractions that would get in the way.
Praying with focus goes beyond a quick grace before dinner. Praying with focus is specific conversation with the Lord to help me align my heart with His. This won’t happen unless I’m practicing prayer on a daily basis. And it really is a practice.
4. Take bold steps to share Jesus.
Let us speak the Truth! Sometimes I like to stay in my comfortable bubble where everyone around me is a Christian. I know the Good News of the Gospel, and I desire other people to know it, too. To have a relationship with Jesus that changes their life. Our great commission is to make disciples. I’m praying I would confidentially and without fear share the Name above all names.
The time is now. What will you do with it?
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.