Questions-Day 8 (2/20/13)
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14 For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”
Esther is a book that some people doubt belongs in the Bible. Neither Luther nor Spurgeon would write a commentary about it. It's full of seduction, blackmail and attempted genocide. The Book of Esther never mentions the name of God and no one can be found praying. So how does such a book find its way into the Holy Scripture? I suggest one thing: the courageous act of a pretty woman who wound up saving a nation.
The hero of Esther is the Queen of Persia, after whom the book is named. A Jewish girl with a hidden identity, Esther was an orphan raised by a wise uncle named Mordecai. She became queen by winning a "Miss Persia" contest with the only judge being King Xerxes. I don't know if it was love at first sight or passion at the first look, nevertheless, Esther finds herself in the lap of luxury.
The villain in the book of Esther is a man by the name of Haman. He resented the fact that Mordecai refused to give him due respect by bowing whenever the honorable Haman passed by. Haman creates a scheme and winds up with a edict from the king to exterminate all the Jewish people. This is where Esther, the heroine intercedes as Queen. She alone has the power and influence to sabotage the plan and Mordecai, her uncle, sends Esther this message, as Esther contemplates the consequences she faces if she fails to win the King's favor (and the consequence is death). Reread the text above.
It is obvious that Mordecai is not a motivational speaker. There is no summons of the history of God being with His people; no story of how God has raised leaders; no call to remember the power of God made known in the Exodus; not even an illusion to somebody God brought through inconceivable circumstances and equipped that person to do something amazing. Come on Mordecai! Give Esther a little "Spiritual Gatorade" -- the boy David who fell a giant, Joseph's overcoming odds time and again, you could even throw in a few remarkable women - - Sarah or Deborah.
No. Mordecai's motivational speech to move the heart of the most prominent Jew to possibly stave off the Jewish genocidal plan of Haman is a question! Who knows? Not God knows. Not we believe in you. Just "who knows". Wait, maybe Mordecai said something inspirational before the question, "For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish". Uh. No.
Maybe Mordecai follows the question with a smashing, repeatable cheer, "Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Sandwiched between somebody else will do this if you don't and maybe you are the one, is a simple question "Who knows."
So, in a book that finds no one praying as the Jewish people are on the brink of genocide, God's name is never mentioned nor God referred to, but one question "Who knows" seems to motivate the heroine of God's people.
The key to understanding this whole story and question is Esther's reply: "Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.
So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions. (Esther 4:15-17)
In the face of "who knows?" where can you give yourself so unreservedly for God's Kingdom work as Esther did? What are you willing to risk to do what is right?