For millennia, the people of Israel’s calendar begins the new year on the anniversary of their exodus from slavery in Egypt, which happens around September or October on our calendar. According to them, today is just another day, as their new year’s day has already come and gone. Today happens to be Tevet 20, in the year 5776. This is the month when a young orphan girl named Esther obeyed her uncle’s suggestion to enter the royal contest to see who would be chosen the next queen of Persia. She was a Jew in a land that had no respect for her God or her people, but through simple faith, obedience, wisdom and sacrificial courage, she single-handedly rescued the people of Israel from total annihilation. It’s an amazing story you can read about in the book of the Bible named after her.
I don’t know what New Year’s resolutions any of you may be making, but the one thing that God has impressed on me is the statement Esther’s uncle made when he urged her to stand up for God at the risk of her own life. Mordecai said, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” He loved her like a daughter and knew she could die, but he was sure that God was faithful to His covenants and His promises. God would rescue His people, if not through his niece Queen Esther, then through someone else. And though there was no vision from heaven, no thunderous voice from the clouds, no writing on the wall, Mordecai dared to believe that perhaps God had placed Esther in that very position to be used by His powerful hand. He was right, and God did.
What about you and me? Is where we are at this point in time just a fluke, or has God placed us here for a purpose? What if the circumstances that led to you being where you are with the people you work with in the neighborhood where you live, happened because of mistakes, injustice or bad choices? Does that mean God isn’t choosing to use you now, right where you are? Does everything have to be perfect first? Do you need some paranormal experience to know He’s calling you?
Another question is, what if God is asking you to do something risky and scary? Are you willing to do it? Not a whole lot of us are being called to risk our lives for the sake of our faith or to rescue an entire nation like Esther. But for many of us 21st century Christians who’ve become spiritually flabby after years of comfort and religious freedoms, doing something scary could mean breaking up an unhealthy relationship, or risking your job or reputation by doing the moral, ethical thing. Mordecai warned his niece that if she wouldn’t face the king, she couldn’t expect to be spared the slaughter just because she was queen. Our choices before God are no different. If God has placed us where we are to take a stand for Him, can we expect to be spared the consequences if we shrink back as cowards?
Thankfully, Esther had that courage to face death for the honor of God and her people. She answered Mordecai with determination, “If I perish, I perish.” Why lose the favor and protection of God by running away? Being a coward wouldn’t save her, and dying in the process of honoring God was not a loss, but a great gain. This is what God is looking for in all of us – to rise to the occasion, to face our fears and to obey for His sake. If we die, we die, if we lose our reputation, we lose it, if we are mocked or rejected, so what? He is faithful and will protect and provide for us when we do what’s right. Who knows, perhaps you are in this position to do something amazing for God this year, this month, this very day?
Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went and did everything Esther had ordered him. (Esther 4:13-17 HCSB)