This morning the Lord was reminding me of the story of Esther and Mordecai in the Bible. He took me to a passage in Esther, Chapter 3 where the Jews are threatened in a plot to destroy their race.
The scripture passage begins with King Xerxes honoring and promoting Haman to what you might call the vizier or prime minister of Persia. The bible says, “all the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.” Mordecai was questioned by the royal officials, and day after day, Mordecai refused to comply. The royal officials reported Mordecai back to Haman because they wanted to see if his blatant act of disobedience to the king’s command would be tolerated, and the bible states, “… for he (Mordecai) had told them he was a Jew. The bible goes on to say that Haman wasn’t just mad, he was “enraged,” and when he learned that Mordecai would not bow in honor. And when he learned who Mordecai’s people were, he didn’t just want to kill Mordecai, he wanted to wipe out his race from the kingdom of Xerxes. I believe that when Haman realized that Mordecai was a Jew and remembered that the Jews were responsible for the near extinction of his ancestral tribe, the Amalekites (ref. 1 Samuel 15), he began a genocidal plot to purge the Persian kingdom of the Jews as Saul attempted with Haman’s descendants.
So Why Didn’t Mordecai Just Bow To Haman?
“The Septuagint version of Esther presents Mordecai’s defense along these lines. By obeying the rule of the Persian King and bowing to Haman, he would betray his allegiance to the King of kings, the God of the Jewish people. In what scholars call Addition C (which follows chapter four of the MT), Mordecai turns to God in prayer, with an explicitly theological message not found in the Masoretic text: ‘…you know, O Lord, that it was not in insolence or pride for any love of glory that I did this, and refused to bow down to this proud Haman; for I would have been willing to kiss the soles of his feet to save Israel! But I did this so that I might not set human glory above the glory of God, and I will not bow down to anyone but you, who are my Lord; and I will not do these things in pride. “(Greek Esther, Addition C; 13: 12-14, NRSV) (Adelman, n.d.). I also read where Haman could have been wearing an image or medallion of the god he worshipped and that bowing to Haman was also bowing to his gods which the Lord forbade the Jews (you remember the 10 commandments, right?).
The Jews Are Threatened
On the 13th day of the 12th month of Adar, and edict went out from the palace with instructions to “destroy, kill, and annihilate the Jews- young and old, women and little children- on a single day” while plundering their possessions.
The scripture says in Esther 4, that Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. Can you imagine? You were trying to do the right thing by God in accordance with his word, and this is the result? And while the Jews are no strangers to persecution, honoring God (at least at this point in the story) resulted in a decree of total destruction of his covenant people, Israel. Thankfully, God had already strategically positioned Esther to play a part in saving her people.
This is one of those stories where you see the hand of God moving throughout the text. It’s interesting that God’s name is never mentioned in this book. To lend some context, Esther’s parents died. Mordecai raised her. Mordecai was a devout and mighty man of faith. God appointed Esther as the new queen after Vashti would not comply with Xerxes’ request. The bible says Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. The king was pleased with her. Per the warning of Mordecai, she hid her nationality beforehand. Could God have planned it any better behind the scenes? What a divine set up!
Perhaps You Have Come To Royal Position For…
Yes. For such a time as this. Esther, hearing that Mordecai was grieving in sackcloth and ashes, sent her eunuch to uncover the reason why. Mordecai sends a response to her urging her to go to the king and plead for mercy for the Jews. When Esther’s fear of loss of life overtakes her, Mordecai very bluntly says, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
I personally believe this word delivered through Mordecai was funneled directly from heaven. I have this vision of Esther having her lightbulb moment, repositioning her stance and posture, realizing that she is God-appointed to bear this assignment for her people. It’s like receiving your marching orders from a general. I imagine her thinking of the brave women of her people: Sarah, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, and the miracles God performed while her people were enslaved in Egypt and embarking on the Promised Land. Would God do it again? Would he really use me??? Ok, I’ll go, and if I perish, I perish.
Such wisdom and faith in Mordecai. We all need encouraging and truth-telling Mordecai’s in our life to speak God’s unfiltered truth to us so that we can be brave Esthers where God has divinely placed us.
For such a time as this. Who knew that such a statement would inspire countless believers to rise up to a call that is greater than they are? To be brave to stand up and speak up when others stay silent. To stay and fight when others flee. To sacrifice their life, their dreams, and their comfort on the altar of God’s plan not knowing what the outcome will be but knowing that God will accomplish his will regardless. To know that while you may feel invisible or led to conceal aspects of your identity like your race and faith, that when the time comes, you will bare all to do the will of your King rather than submit to the orders of the kings of this world.
If you are a believer, you have Who it takes, but do you think you have what it takes?
Are you actively engaging your faith and spending time with God daily so that you can receive your “for such a time” as this instructions?
Wisdom Brings National Deliverance
There’s so much more to the story. Esther called for a fast amongst the Jews for a period of 3 days before approaching the king. When the time came, she put on her royal robes and approached the king unannounced. She received his favor with the king, and her strategic dinner parties provided the atmosphere where Haman’s plot would be uncovered. Haman was hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai. The Jews are allowed to defend themselves on the day marked for their annihilation. Mordecai is raised to a position of service in the king’s court. God’s hand over his people and God’s plan for his people prevailed. As it always has, and as it always will. I encourage you to read the account of Esther in the bible because I know it will build your faith in God’s invisible hand moving through what appears to be the impossible in your life.
Fear Less Faith
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Mark Twain said, ” Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
In his book called “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell reviews the 10,000 hour rule, stating that it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills (2019). I’d list mastery of fear under complex skills. We live in a world where fear is spoon-fed down our throats daily. But what if you could master fear by mustering up the courage to build faith that is bigger than fear. But what if you had your own light-bulb moment? What if you saw yourself the way God sees you? Could you also be a deliverer of your people like Esther was? What would you look like unafraid? What would you do? What would you accomplish?
It’s time for believers to fear less. It’s time to faith more, for such a time as this. Peace is on the other side of fear. Deliverance is on the other side of fear. Provision is on the other side of fear. Everything that God wants to do in and through you is on the other side of your fear and your letting go. I’m praying you embrace what’s waiting for you on the other side today. I’m praying you remember Esther and Mordecai. Refuse to bow the knee to fear, and rise up in spite of it to accomplish your God-given assignments.
Adelman, R. (n.d.). Why did Mordecai not bow down to Haman?. TheTorah.com. https://www.thetorah.com/article/why-did-mordecai-not-bow-down-to-haman.
Gladwell, M. (2019). Outliers: The story of success. Back Bay Books, Little, Brown and Company.
Crown. Nathan McGregor. Unsplash. n.d.