I started Monday with a quote from A. W. Tozer in the September 11 devotion from the book Tozer on the Almighty God:
“The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take the field. The critical moment for any army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before, or the month before or the year before.”
Today we are looking at how this truth plays out in the story of Esther.
I hope you will take time to read through this short book sometime today, but in summary for our time together let me refresh your memory.
Esther is the cousin of Mordecai, who takes her to raise as his daughter after the death of her parents. They are Jews living in the highly fortified city of Susa in the Persian Empire.
After the King of this Empire is displeased with and thus dethrones his wife Queen Vashti; a bizarre game of Bachelorette ensues.
Young girls are gathered from all over the Kingdom and brought to the palace to be groomed and prepared as candidates for the Queen job.
Esther is among those taken and in obedience to Mordecai, keeps her nationality a secret.
In a weird kind of fairy-tale (unless you really think hard about this whole sordid event and then, yuck…) the King falls for Esther, she is crowned Queen and seems to develop a super loyal staff because she is able to maintain communication with Mordecai and still not be found out as a Jew.
Whew…that was as brief as I could make it. Hope you could follow!
So all is well except Mordecai refuses to bow to a man named Haman, a descendant of Israel’s arch enemy – the Amalekites. (for more background read 1 Samuel 15…the Bible is better than Netflix, people!)
Haman hatches a plan to annihilate the Jews and tricks the King into signing a decree to kill all of them. There will be no battlefield. It will just be a legalized, mandated massacre.
But Haman has picked a fight with the wrong people group and God is not about to let His people be destroyed.
Mordecai finds out and notifies Esther that intervention is needed ASAP.
The Jews need a miracle and God has set up the path through the crazy circumstances by placing one of His own on the right hand of the King who can change the course of this evil plan.
But the pre-work that Tozer talks about needs to happen and so the first battle that is waged is in Queen Esther’s heart.
Because when Mordecai sends word to her that she needs to let the King know what is about to happen, Esther does not jump at the chance to come to the aid of her people.
She explains that the King has not called for her in thirty days and if she marches into the palace without his invite and he is displeased, she would be worse off then the ex-queen…she could be killed.
It would appear she has grown accustomed to the trappings of her existence. Perhaps she had children by now and would be banished from them and from her home and her status and all that had become her life.
She had forgotten who she was…and Whose she was.
Mordecai gives her these words as a wakeup call…
“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?”
So Esther battled first…in surrender and fasting and prayer and obedience.
And then she moved forward with careful steps until she boldly identified the cruel plot of Haman.
The law could not be changed, but the King was able to decree that there would be a fair fight and the Jews could defend themselves against their persecutors.
Haman was hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai, and all his house and property and authority were handed over to this faithful servant of God.
The Jews were victorious over any who dared to try and destroy them.
Like Esther, we were all placed in this time and place for a reason.
Maybe not one as dramatic and historic in appearance as Esther’s story, but all impactful for the Kingdom to the extent that God has given us influence.
We all battle our addiction to comfort, familiarity, assimilation into the culture we have grown to know; and, even if we don’t love it, we have learned to adapt to it.
Whether we are biding our time by taking care of daily life or called to a moment of truth where we must surrender and obey, are we being mindful always…of who we are…and Who we belong to…for such as time as this?
Every day of VBS we have had a snack.
Today I would challenge you to consider one of your meals a “feast” or a “fast” and remember Esther as she fasted and prayed for three days and then God prepared a table for her in the presence of her enemy. Think about how God strengthened her and gave her courage to do what needed to be done.
May God bless you and guide you as you ponder this today <3