Faith Provocation


Esther 4:12-14 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Left to ourselves we would potter through life untouched by anything that would upset the balance of peace in our lives. It is always nicer to walk the quieter path in life that avoids disturbance of any kind. ‘Leave me alone’, would be our motto if we had our way. However, over the years I have often said that God loves us just like we are and He loves us so much that He won’t leave us like we are – because He has something better for us than we have at present. Thus He is in the process of changing us (2 Cor 3:18). When we understand what the Bible is, we read, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.(2 Tim 3:16) which suggests that every time we come to it with open hearts, it teaches us and possibly rebukes and corrects us. Of course it is the Holy Spirit within us who takes it and uses it to convict us so that we do something to change. Thus it is as Christians that we are never left to simply live a placid, untouched life, never changing, never being disturbed, because all of these processes we’ve just referred to, disturb us.

Our verses today from the book of Esther come at a point in history when the Jews were in exile and one of them, Esther, has been made queen, and she has an uncle, Mordecai. One of the king’s counsellors, Haman, hates the Jews and has got the king to foolishly make a decree that later in the year all the Jews will be destroyed. (The king has forgotten or does not know that Esther is a Jew!) Mordecai’s response to this edict was to put on sackcloth and ashes and to fast and pray in the streets as a public demonstration against what had happened. Esther is told what he is doing and so sends clothes out to him – which he refuses to take. Eventually Esther is told about the edict but her response is basically, ‘so what can I do about it?’ She has a legitimate cause for saying this: “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.(Es 4:11). In other words, unless I get called in, I can’t go, otherwise the king in his anger might have me executed!

It is at that point we have our verses for today. Mordecai is walking the path of faith provocation and Esther is on the end of it. What is Mordecai saying? He is saying, you won’t avoid this disaster by staying quiet, you’re going to have to risk it, for who knows, this may be the very reason that God has allowed you to be king. Mordecai is challenging Esther’s preference for peace, and her desire not to be disturbed, which brings us back to what we were saying earlier about our own desire for peace and tranquility. He is challenging her to come into a place of faith. If we had been Esther, we too would have preferred to keep quiet and hope it would work out all right without our intervention. Perhaps someone else will do something might be our hope. That, so often, is our escape clause, or at least the one we use – perhaps someone else will step in and do something, it doesn’t need me.

The only trouble is that it does need you. Someone has said something like, “Evil men prevail only when good men stay quiet.” We are called to be salt and light in our world (Mt 5:13 -16) and we do that passively (living by example) and actively (by speaking out). It’s not one or the other; it’s both. Esther’s fears were laid down as she said she would do it, but only if Mordecai and the other Jews would fast and, by implication, pray for her. Very often we stay quiet because we fear an outcome and so we would do well to follow Esther’s example and pray about it AND, if it is possible, get others to pray about it as well. We need to seek wisdom from God to know what to say, how to say it and when to say it, and we can also ask the Lord to prepare the heart of the one to whom we go to speak. It may be something at home, at school or college, at work or in the community. We know the right thing would be to speak out, yet fear of consequence stops us. If that is so, check it out. Like Esther, this may be your time, the time appointed by God and you are the one chosen by Him to bring change. Seek Him for wisdom, seek others who will pray with and for you. “For such a time as this?