By Rick Elsey
Pastor, West End Baptist Church, Columbia
Over the next six weeks, our lessons will focus on the book of Esther and the theme of standing up to fight injustice. With our so-called modern-day ethics, one might think injustice would not be an issue. Unfortunately, injustice still runs rampant all around our world. In my lifetime, many have taken up the call to take a stand. I am reminded of people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela who stood up for issues of civil rights. Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, spoke out against social injustice, poverty, torture and executions by the Salvadorian government. In the end, Romero was murdered during a celebration of mass. I am also reminded of the young student who stood in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square in protest of crackdowns by the Chinese government. We do not even know his name, nor do we know what happened to him.
Injustice was something the Israelites understood all too well. At different times God would raise up heroes to rescue Israel from its suffering. Amazingly, God would often raise up ordinary people for the task at hand. Such is the case with Esther and Mordecai. David Darling states, “The whole theme of Esther is the invisible hand of God in using flawed men and women at just the right moment to save his people.”
Nothing extraordinary apart from God’s plan (Esther 2:5-7). The Scriptures introduce us to a young Jewish girl by the name of Esther. She is an orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai who lived in Susa under the reign of King Xerxes. Little is known about Esther at this time other than the fact that she was attractive. I imagine throughout the kingdom there were many attractive women, but God had a special plan and calling for Esther. The same principle remains true to this day. We may downplay our own gifts and talent, even considering ourselves ordinary. When God calls us to take a stand, the extraordinary can take place.
Trusting God when circumstances change, (vv. 8-10). Esther is uprooted from what she has always known and now has been brought to the palace under the authority of Hegai, who is in charge of the King’s harem. I imagine these new circumstances may push her to the edge of her comfort zone. She may be wondering what is going on? The answer: God is at work! Even when it does not seem obvious, God is at work. Esther exhibits her trust by finding favor in the eyes of Hegai while keeping her nationality a secret as instructed by her cousin.
When was the last time you were pushed outside of your comfort zone in your service to God? In those moments, we have the opportunity to completely trust God because He is always at work in fulfilling His purpose in our lives. In time, if we trust, we will see that God has us just at the right place at the right time to take a stand and make a difference.
New circumstances provide for new opportunities (vv. 15-17). It takes four years for Xerxes to conclude his beauty pageant for a new wife. In the end, Esther becomes his queen. Now what? She is now the wife of a pagan king. This is only the beginning. God is getting ready to use this unlikely relationship for His glory.
God’s timing and circumstances may leave us confused or frustrated. We must hold on to what we know is true: God’s timing is always best and always right. Are we ready to take a stand?