He acted more like a cross between a spoiled toddler and a frat boy than the head of the world’s superpower. Unfortunate, but there it was. When things didn’t go as he wanted them to, he threw massive, public tantrums with permanent and far-reaching results. He spoke without thinking; he made foreign policy with little to no concern for consequences. He abused women, choosing them strictly for their ability to make his fratboy buddies jealous and horny. (Which wife was he on, anyway?) He used his position to advance personal vendettas. He was ready to stand by and watch as an entire race was exterminated—his was the only one that mattered at all, anyway.
Esther usually gets credit for saving God’s people from slaughter in ancient Persia.
(What spoiled despot did you think I was referring to???)
“For such a time as this” and all. Esther is commended for her bravery and Mordecai is venerated for not bowing to wicked Haman.
But the force behind the salvation of Israel is named nowhere in the book. The God of Israel was working in a very particular time through very particular (and frequently hilarious—occasionally slapstick) means to save the people he loved.
I love that Esther spoke up. I love how Mordecai wisely coached her through her years as queen of Persia.
But more? I love that God, though unnamed, carefully orchestrated events. A number of times throughout the book, it looked pretty bleak for either our heros or the entire displaced nation of Israel. Haman built a gallows (75 feet tall!) for Mordecai. Esther hadn’t been called to see the king in a month (he had countless concubines, remember) and the penalty for approaching him without summons could have been death. Haman, the baddie with a generations-deep grudge against Jews, and arranges for them to be exterminated throughout the far-reaching Persian empire—it included both the Jews in Persia and the ones remaining in Israel. (The king was not especially hard to convince. “You want to kill, destroy, and annihilate who now? Oh, never mind. Go for it.”)
This story has always been my favorite, and largely because of what it reveals about the God who is never named in the story. (Foremost: He has a great—sometimes dark—sense of humor.) Esther and Mordecai did what was appointed to them for such a time as this.
I don’t always see the Holy King of Israel working here in America. He’s evident in the beauty He’s created in the world and He’s creating in His people, but the news cycle makes it easy to forget He’s at work in everything. And I don’t want to equate America with Israel, certainly—we’re far more like Persia in this story. I don’t even want to equate believers within America with the Jews in Susa. We’re not in exile and not being persecuted (Starbucks releasing plain red cups at Christmas does. not. count.)
But our God is the same. He’s at work in the idiosyncratic and embarrassing details of the world we’re actually inhabiting. The bleakest circumstances set us up for the most dramatic reversals. He delights in revealing His glory through amazing pictures of redemption. I don’t know quite what he’s doing, exactly, but I know He’s making all things new.
That’s enough for me to keep being faithful, as best I can, in the cirumstances he’s appointed to me.
For such a time as this and all.
Disclaimer: this post was written from miles above the earth’s surface in an aluminum tube. It was either two or three in the morning (time zones are hard when you’re flying) and I was elbowing myself in the love-handles. Resemblances between the characters in this story and living, breathing humans are entirely coincidental. Maybe.
This post is part of my series, 31 days of speaking the truth. You can find the whole list of them here on the first post of the series.