COURAGE UNDER FIRE
“And Mordecai told … Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14.
As Israeli children don masks and costumes, and the entire Jewish community worldwide exchanges gifts in celebration of the feast of Purim, all of God’s children are invited to remember and ponder this great biblical story of danger, deliverance and victory as portrayed in the book of Esther. For an in depth study of this prophetic commemoration, its epic drama and timeless implications for the Church, you can refer to our archives and look for …... This writing, on the other hand, contains a short “now” word that will energize you with living faith, endurance and revelation for these days’ trials, by God’s grace and help.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
God has His “secret weapons” hidden and prepared for the day of battle, and such were the two heroes of Purim’s story! Though excellent of character and exemplary in their Hebraic faith, both Esther’s and her wise cousin Mordechai’s names were actually derivatives of two Persian deities, Astar and Morduk. Though Jewish in heart and godly in spirit, Esther and Mordechai lived as Persian citizens in every way. They honored and served the pagan King Ahasuerus, paid local taxes and tributes, participated in the Persian economy and obeyed Persian law. They were without doubt a part of the world system of their time, positioned by God to live and work as “embedded ambassadors” in the culture of their day, yet, without compromising their faith and commitment to the One True God. Can you see yourself in the storyline? The following are predictable and unavoidable principles to guide you:
YOU TRIGGER THE BATTLE!
Following the chronology of this incredible tale, you’ll find that the trouble started when Mordechai refused to bow down before the freshly promoted, egomaniac and narcissist Haman. Take note - every godly man or woman who worships the Creator God only, will, sooner or later, stir up trouble. This principle appears often in the scriptures, including the respectful defiance of the three Hebrew princes who would not worship the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar nearly 150 years earlier, stirring up a massive internal controversy and the ensuing marvel of the fiery furnace (Daniel chapter three). As it is written, “When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus; the people of Mordecai.” Esther 3:5-6.
For one whole year Haman plotted against the Jewish people, conspiring through witchcraft (3:7) until a plan had been crafted for their total annihilation. Demonic hatred against God, His people and His purpose exists perpetually, but it is triggered and set off when the righteous take their stand. As the persecuted Church around the world continuously testifies, the true saints should not be surprised at this hatred and resistance, rather expect it as “normal procedure” while representing God in this world. The Lord Jesus Himself warned us long ago that “…a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” John 15:20. However, while we can “count on” the demonic factor to show up when we stand up for the truth of God, we ought to be just as cognizant and much more confident in the God factor. Our God, as the story of Esther confirms, always has the final word!
POSITIONED AND EMBEDDED.
Contrary to the patterns of the modern day sensational driven “sugary” Western Christianity, ministry, historically, did not primarily focus on years of academic training or emotional ecstasy. Rather, biblical ministry has always been about the God who calls and equips, and the one who responds with faithfulness and obedience while living a very normal life. Combating the age old evil that sought to destroy the purposes of God in that generation, the Lord of Hosts called two hidden vessels, one simple man and one young woman, to stand in the gap, engage the enemy, and secure a fantastic victory.
Mordechai was made ready for God’s calling through living a life of uprightness, loyalty, courage and wisdom. Esther was prepared through humility, a teachable heart, and even her great beauty. In fact, considering all the facts in light of God’s sovereignty, even her being an orphan prepared her for the task ahead. Likewise, your post in life, your place of residence, your position in society and even your past have been predetermined by God whose purpose is unfolding in your life even as you read these words. Be patient, be faithful in small things, and prepare for God’s call through living your life uprightly and faithfully. “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” Psalm 37:3.
A PREPARED HEART.
Mordechai and Esther were very normal Persians on the outside, yet the difference was their faith in the Living God and their readiness to take action when He called. Nevertheless, Mordechai needed to call Esther into her true destiny and “adjust” her vision, confronting and challenging both her heart attitude and belief system. Esther was moving in ignorance and denial regarding the severity of the threat and was afraid to deal with it openly, displaying a self-centered instinct of self preservation. She lacked insight as to the magnitude and true danger of the impending storm.
On her own, Esther did not correctly perceive the nature of the struggle or the potential of her position to affect a great change in her world. She failed to realize that the reason she found favor with the King and had been chosen to be crowned queen of his vast domain was “for such a time as this!” Like most of us, she needed to be awakened to the nature of her true situation.
In essence, Mordechai told his cousin that while she was not responsible for the outcome of her actions, she was responsible to act. In fact, he warned her that if she would not step up to her responsibilities, God would use someone, or something, else to bring deliverance to His people while she and her household would perish! The truth and severity of his words cut through the haze of luxurious living and privilege, saying, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews? For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14.
Is God speaking to your heart? What gifts has He entrusted into your life that are actually for the benefit of those who cannot rescue themselves? Whether the emerging inevitable wave of global anti-Semitism, or the plight of your next door neighbor, you may be in a position to affect change or save a life.
Your survival and even prosperity in the evil days are not dependent upon “staying below the radar” or “playing it safe,” but rather upon your acts of faith and obedience. These acts stem from your trust in God; His love, His greatness, His absolute authority and Lordship over all. We are called to be salt and to shine with His light that has risen upon us, and the coming days will present all of us with ample opportunities to do so. As the Apostle has said, “… we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.
Out of the heart proceed the issues of life, our identity, and subsequent actions that will determine our destiny. As C.H. Hall said, “Sow a thought – reap a word. Sow a word – reap an act. Sow an act – reap a habit. Sow a habit – reap character. Sow character – reap your destiny. Our readiness to carry out the “big” call is dependent upon and born out of our willingness to submit to the incremental work of God in our everyday lives. Prepare your heart while it is still called today.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
As it happens every so often in our troubled world, usually during seasons of divine transition, an epic battle ensues between good and evil, light and darkness. The struggle during Esther’s life was not about her or even Mordechai’s survival, rather, it was about the survival of the entire Jewish race not only in Persia, but those dispersed throughout Ahasuerus’ vast empire stretching from the Far East to Africa, including those living in Judea.
At stake was not the devastation of one, albeit large, exilic Jewish community, but rather, as we see in Haman’s comprehensive “final solution” plan, the complete annihilation of the Hebrew people wherever they were found in the king’s domain. If successful, such genocide would mean the cessation of the Davidic line and the cutting off the Messianic lineage 400 years preceding His prophesied birth in Bethlehem. At stake was the very the coming of the promised Savior, the “seed of a woman,” the Salvation of God for all mankind. The devil, who knows the prophecies regarding the coming of the Son of God, seized his opportunity to try to thwart God’s plan. But, as always, he is a loser, and will remain such in all the battles still remaining to be waged.
THE COST OF FAITH.
Remember Amiel Ortiz and his family in your prayers. This is the 15 year old Messianic pastor’s son from Israel who, during Purim 2008, became the victim of a horrific bomb explosion which was disguised as a chocolate gift basket. A year later, Amiel is still recuperating, rebuilding the life God had miraculously spared last March, and trusting the Lord for his complete healing. Pray for him.
JOIN US IN ISRAEL
We are leading a group of intercessors to the land of Israel June 7-15, 2009, and all those interested to learn more need to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The group will be focused, space is limited, and the time to join is now. We will spend quality days exploring Jerusalem’s ancient past and eternal future, visit the beautiful Galilee, Nazareth and the Golan Heights, travel south through the Jordan Valley to Jericho, the Dead Sea and Masada, and dip our feet in the Mediterranean Sea by Tel-Aviv. As we travel throughout the land, our group will worship with local believers, meet with Messianic leaders, and hear from Israeli scholars in the fields of