For the week of March 26, 2005 / 15 Adar II 5765
Torah: Va-yikra / Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36
Haftarah: Jeremiah 7:21 - 8:3; 9:22-23
Are You an Esther?
And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
The Festival of Purim begins this year on Thursday evening, March 24. The story of Purim is found in the biblical book of Esther, where we read how Haman, the highest level official of the King of Persia, plotted the destruction of all Jewish people out of his resentment towards one prominent Jewish man, named Mordecai.
As dark as was Haman's insane hatred, so bright was the virtue of Esther, Mordecai's relative. Through divine providence this young Jewish girl became married to the King of Persia. At first she hid her Jewish identity, until Haman's plot became known. At the urging of Mordecai, Esther revealed her true identity to the King, who then allowed the Jews to defend themselves against Haman's threat.
At first Esther hesitated to approach the King. For it was the King's custom that if anyone appeared before him without first being summoned, they could be executed. The only exception to this rule, which could not be known beforehand, was if he extended his scepter to that person.
Esther could have reasoned that while the rest of her people were in danger, due to her special relationship to the King, she herself might be preserved. Not so according to Mordecai, who sent the following message to her:
Mordecai understood how dangerous Haman's plot was. He knew that Esther's being married to the King would not protect her. While he was confident that God would deliver his people, it would most likely be at the cost of many lives including that of Esther and her own family (which would have included Mordecai as well).
Mordecai thought that God may have placed Esther in the royal household for the purpose of saving her people.
So Esther was willing to approach the King in the face of the possibility of execution. As it turned out the King was favorable toward Esther and granted her request, resulting in yet another time in history when the Jewish people escaped annihilation.
Are you an Esther?
I wonder how many of us are in situations right now in which we are called to make a significant difference. We are living in a very critical time in history. Perhaps you think your life is just fine. But do you realize that the world is spinning out of control? Political and economical instability is engulfing the globe. The moral conscience of many, if not most societies, have become corrupt beyond reason. Natural disasters are occurring at an alarming rate, and we are facing some of the deadliest illnesses in history.
Even among people who claim to accept the authority of the Scriptures we are seeing an unprecedented breakdown of family life along with a rarely if ever seen before obsession of self and of materialism. We risk losing the favor of God in our lives.
How many of us are in positions in which we can make a positive difference in standing against the assault of wickedness that is before us? Do we really think that we will escape the destruction that is on our doorstep as we simply stand by and watch?
Like Esther we face the intimidation of what it might mean to take a stand for the things of God. It is as if we instinctively know that to go against the flow of evil is to risk our lives. Yet to do nothing is actually the greater risk.
We might take comfort in our belief that God will accomplish his purposes. And he will, but what role we will play? If we don't take a stand, we will be swept away. And who knows but that we have come to our position, whatever that might be, for such a time as this?
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