The Jewish world will celebrate Purim this month and remember the heroism of a young Jewish woman who saved the Jews of ancient Persia from annihilation almost 2,500 years ago. Most people are familiar with the biblical story of Esther and how she risked her life to plead with the king on behalf of her people who were being targeted for annihilation by the evil Haman.
The book of Esther does not explain the true significance of this story, and we often read it as though it is about a local subgroup of Jews: the Jews of Persia. However, the Persian Empire was so large that Haman's attempt to destroy Persian Jews was an existential threat to the entire Jewish population at the time.
If Haman had succeeded with his evil plan, the Jews would have ceased to exist. And 500 years later there would have been no Jewish Joseph and Mary in Nazareth to have birthed the Messiah.
God knew this and that all of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were at risk. His plan of world redemption rested on this people to whom He had bound Himself in covenant, revealed His holiness and righteousness, and given the law, the prophets and the promises. They were the ones He had taught about the consequences of sin and the need for atonement. And through them He was going to bring about the Messiah and His atoning death on behalf of the world.
Everything was on the line. We do not know how much of that Esther understood. But her uncle Mordecai knew she had to act and encouraged her in her calling. As a result, Esther is the premier example of someone lobbying her government on behalf of her people.
Herein lies the lesson for the American church today: we must be willing to be like Esther and Mordecai, who remained uncorrupted by the politics and culture that surrounded them yet found the courage to selflessly take a stand in the place where God had called them—the halls of government.
This is not the time to retreat in anger, disillusionment or intimidation from the powers set against us. If we shrink back into apathy and political correctness, the American church will lose its voice, and the country will descend into an abyss of immorality.
Yes, we should pray and use times of introspection to keep our ways right before the Lord. Esther herself pulled back for a time of fasting and prayer. But then the time came to step forward to lobby against the evil schemes of Haman and secure the future of her people.
Our future rests on our own shoulders. And as Mordecai would say, we were born for such a time as this. May we be as courageous and pure as Esther.
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