Here are a few things to remember about the book of Esther. There is no mention of God, not one – but anyone who has knowledge of God will be able to see his hand at work throughout this book. This book raises the question of what do we do when we don’t know what to do, or at least it rises that we too can share in that type of problem. The reason we do is because it can be difficult at times to tell the difference between what is right and wrong. When you don’t have God to tell you what to do – we must listen to what he has told others (others who belong to God) – what he has told them to do in similar situations.
Esther chapter 4 challenges us with a question and this question applies to the gospel and those who haven’t yet responded to it as they should. The question is – at what point will you make the right decision? Because different people make the right decision at different times – at what point, or what will it take to bring you to make the correct decision?
In order for us to understand how it came to this question – at what point will you do what it right. The natural assumption without even knowing the background is to assume that up to this point the person who the question is addressed to – hasn’t done what is right. We don’t have time to go into the background with great detail, but in general – Esther is a Jew and so is Mordecai, Esther a Jew married a gentile, which she was not to do according to the law of God but in doing so has become queen. But the king has an appetite for lots of women and so Esther hasn’t been with the king for a while. In the meantime a man by the name of Haman tells the king that the Jewish people don’t obey the kings laws and this is not to the kings profit Ch3:8, so Haman and the king write a law that cannot be overturned to destroy all the Jews, young and old women and children Ch3:13.
Mordecai being a Jew throws himself on the ground, tearing his clothes, went in to the midst of the city, to the entrance of the king’s gate – weeping and lamenting. Esther upon hearing this Ch4:4 made sure he had been given clothes to put on – because he is drawing attention to himself. But the problem is greater than this – Esther is a Jew, but the king doesn’t know that she is a Jew and the king has written a law that all Jews be killed, therefore if Esther is found out she must also die.
Mordecai tells Esther to speak to the king, but no one is allowed to approach the king unless he has called them, for if they do without being called Ch4:11 will be put to death – unless upon approaching the king, he holds out the golden sceptre and therefore live – but Esther has not been called for thirty days.
Mordecai replies, and holds nothing back – he says Ch4:12, Esther don’t think you will escape any more than any of the other Jews, in other words because time and truth go hand in hand, that given enough time the truth will always come out – you Esther will be found. Also v14 if relief doesn’t come through you at this time (meaning that if she is not faithful to God at this time – someone else at a later time will be faithful to God, who God will work through) but you and your father’s house will perish. So Esther upon hearing this decides to go to the king v16 even though it’s against the kings law – and “if I perish, I perish”.
In order to explain and apply this there are a few things to notice in particular. We will begin with v14 – the place where Mordecai says “for if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
What do you do when the right person in the right place, at the right time, will not do the right thing? God has a way of doing things that needs to be understood – God works through his people and while people cannot frustrate the plans of God they can be faithful or unfaithful. This means that Esther is faced with a decision of whether or not to be faithful and her faithfulness to God is not an independent movement. As Mordecai points out – his point is simple – if you keep silent God will do it by another person, but understand that your silence will not keep you or your father house safe.
Imagine an unfaithful minister, a pastor who is not concerned with his faithfulness to God – do you think that this will affect those in the congregation, of course. Now faithfulness is measured by God’s standards not the congregations, and this is important because we learn in Isaiah that God will removed faithful leadership when the people of God continue to be unfaithful – Jeremiah points out the danger of the leader being unfaithful by the influence of the congregations.
Personal faithfulness is never conducted in isolation and personal unfaithfulness is never conducted in isolation. Both will affect those in relation to that person or many people.
The other thing to notice here is the statement of “ for such a time as this” – meaning that even those believers who have got to be where they are in life through unfaithfulness will have to face their very own “D-day”. A time where you can no longer avoid where you stand – with God or against him.
It’s the time and place where your decision will reveal your identity as belonging to God just like it will for Esther here. – but sometimes like Esther, we only do the right thing, when it becomes personally too difficult to continue to do the wrong thing.
Imagine a person who tells a lie about a drunk driver, that he wasn’t driving – but then as he witnesses those in hospital and those who are mourning over those that they have lost through the collision caused by the drunk driver – as he sees this he cannot but tell the truth, even on his best friend, because it’s too painful to continue with the lie.
At what point will you do the right thing? At what point will Christians be faithful again – what will it take? Well it seems as if it will be different. Esther v16 realises that her identity as a person belonging to God is more important, even if she does come to this realisation forcefully. By events she could no longer control. Esther is motivated to do the right thing not through faithfulness but through the consequences of keeping quiet. Esther finally comes to make the right decision even if the motivation that got her there isn’t faithfulness to God – and she is willing to make the right decision however the circumstances turn out.
The gospel is the news that comes with the call for men and women, boys and girls to make a decision. That decision will be – or the question will be – will you identify with God or not? The Gospel comes to us like Mordecai’s question does to Esther. You are hearing the Gospel to identify with God.
For the Christian living unfaithfully, then we are faced with this question – at what point will you do the right thing? For the Christian it’s a matter of worship – worship is presenting yourself to God as a living sacrifice (Rom 12), if I perish I perish – faithfulness whatever the outcome.
So what will it take – to bring God’s people back to faithfulness? For some people it will take a situation that’s too painful to continue in, to keep putting on hold their identity in Jesus. God’s plans and purposes involving us are always greater than ours, therefore it is inevitable that we will collide with God – but the collision is for our blessing, to restore our witness as one belonging to God.