We often hear the encouraging phrase, “For such a time as this”. But it’s easy to forget the context in which these words were uttered. This was not some kind of gung-ho, triumphalistic, “word from God” designed to propel someone into nation-changing kingdom activity. It was the heartfelt plea of a man who saw the imminent demise of his people and realised that there was only one way to fix the situation – and he was basically saying, “Esther you’re it”!
What is it that keeps people who have come to know Jesus from reaching out to impart God’s love and restoration to others who are lost without Christ? Sometimes we’re so focused on ourselves that either we don’t care about the lives that are at stake or we’re paralysed by our fears of how they might react if we actually did something about it. In either case, we do nothing because we’re all wrapped up in ourselves; the exact opposite of what we should be.
Esther – God’s “Star”
In a sense, all of us who know Jesus are actually called to be like Esther. She’s the Jewish girl who became the queen of Persia without anyone ever discovering her real roots. Then came the day when a shrewd conspiracy caused the king to approve a decree for the slaughter of all Jews. Mordecai, the man who had raised Esther, sent her a message, urging her to go to the king and plead for the life of her people. She was fearful because the law of the land dictated that anyone who entered the king’s presence without being invited would be executed unless he extended his golden scepter to them. In Esther 4:14-16, Mordecai appeals to her:
“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?” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.
It was Haman, the Persian king’s right hand man, who had implemented the plot to kill all the Jews throughout the empire of Persia. Esther was the queen of Persia, but the royal court and even the king were unaware that she was Jewish. This put Esther in a situation where she had to decide if she would speak out. Her life was in danger whether she spoke out or not. But probably more so if she did speak, because first she’d have to survive breaking the king’s protocol. Then, after revealing her Jewish identity, she’d have to survive the plot.Esther was in a comfortable position; she was living in a palace with wealth and servants. But when forced to face the possibility of being killed, she decided ‘If I perish, I perish’.
Place Yourself in God’s Hands
She knew she was taking a risk, but she put herself in God’s hands through prayer and fasting. Perhaps Mordecai’s strongest argument was his comment: “. . . you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” This speaks of destiny, of a calling, a brief opportunity to influence events and people’s lives. Esther’s rise to power at this precise time was not just a fortunate chance of fate—her position as Xerxes’ favoured wife and queen was a role that God had given her to influence history for the Jewish people.
Mordecai is basically saying: “Esther, the fate of a whole nation, the dream of the people of God, is in your hands. You didn’t ask for it, but you have been brought to this point in your life to be a part of what it is that God is doing on this earth, to work for justice, to spare your people great suffering, and to oppose a man who is evil and powerful. You have been brought to this point in your life to be a part of God’s plan to redeem the world. So don’t be blind to what God says your life is really about.”
Mordecai helps her to discern God’s activity; God’s calling in her life. And he gives her this very strong challenge: If you say no, if you miss this opportunity, as frightening as it is, you miss the reason you are on this planet. Who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this? This is your moment, Esther. This is it.
Commit Yourself To Prayer
And Esther gets it. She tells Mordecai she wants three days to withdraw with her closest friends to fast and pray. And she asks him to gather all the Jewish people in Susa to fast and pray three days for her, because she will not try to achieve this mission based on her own skill and influence. Her only hope is in God bringing deliverance.
We’re all faced with opportunities to influence people’s lives and shape events. But we must make the decision of whether to speak out or not. We may have an opportunity to speak up for the truth, to take an unpopular stand on some moral issue, or to speak out against injustice.
It could be that we are too comfortable and would rather keep quiet, staying safe and hidden. Prayer is important in that it aligns us with God’s ways and purposes and he calls us to unquestioning obedience. To do what’s right often involves risk or cost; stepping out in faith, dependent on God’s provision.
We have been chosen by God for a purpose. We ‘have come to a royal position’, and the Lord has uniquely put each of us among people in a particular place. It could be ‘for such a time as this’. We may only have a brief opportunity to speak out, but ‘if you remain silent at this time’, the Lord’s purposes will still be accomplished, but deliverance may have to come ‘from another place’ and we would fail to do what God asks of us in our lifetime – the very thing we have been prepared for!
Prepared in Hiddenness
Esther was prepared in hiddenness. She had a secret life of hiddenness and prayer. I am sure that she cried out to God often during that year of preparation, “Oh, God. Oh, God, I love you. I love you. I’m yours. I don’t want to be here. I’m a prisoner, but I’m yours. I surrender my life. I surrender my dreams. I give you my destiny. I don’t know what it looks like, but I give it all to you!”