On July 3, 2010, Pat and I were on Lake Hamilton, preparing to celebrate the Fourth with our family. While mowing the yard on that hot day, I stirred up a nest of yellow jackets and five or six stung me good. I didn’t think much about it, until a few minutes later I started seeing stars and passed out, dead as a hammer, in anaphylactic shock. It just so happened that our good neighbor had some guests for the Fourth, among who were an Emergency Room Nurse, and two other Registered Nurses. After Pat’s scream, they were there within seconds, administering CPR for fifteen minutes, until the EMT’s arrived. Lucky for me, huh? Well, luck had nothing to do with it. I believe it was the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and I am forever grateful to Pat, to them and to Him!
No doubt you too have experienced a similar “chance” happening, when, just in the nick of time, your life was spared or changed forever by a circumstance you had, or by a person you met. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign, even in His plans and dealings with us, and there is no such thing as luck or chance. This truth, though only comprehensible to us in hindsight, is very comforting.
During the fifth century Before Christ, the nation of Israel faced complete annihilation. Persians ruled the known world in a kingdom that covered almost three and a half million square miles, from India in the East, to Libya and Greece in the West. A death-sentence, decreed by King Xerxes (Ahasuerus in Hebrew), hung over the head of every Jew in the empire. Israelites were scurrying underground, becoming deathly silent about their lineage, and were probably hiding their genealogies. From the human view, things seemed hopeless.
However, there was a savior waiting in the wings—one who, if she chose, could deliver—but not without great personal risk. An undercover Jewess was Queen of Persia. But if she broke her silence and spoke up for her people, it could mean her death.
Queen Esther was moved to action, despite the danger, by Mordecai’s words: “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Her Jewish roots were unknown to her husband, the king, who had in ignorance and greed, commissioned their genocide. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, knew it was not mere chance that she had become queen of Persia under the most unusual circumstances imaginable (Esther chapters 1—3).
She asked Mordecai to assemble her kinsmen to intervene and fast before God on her behalf. The king’s law stated that “any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned…be put to death unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live” (Esther 4:11). So Esther knew she could be executed for her actions. But she also knew the price was worth the risk.
Esther made a commitment to intervene, against all laws and customs, with the words, “Thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). When Mordecai heard these words and saw Esther’s determination, he “went away and did just as Esther had commanded him” (verse 17), spreading the news and enlisting people to intercede with God on her behalf.
“If I perish, I perish.” Some things are worth the risk. Esther must have realized the uniqueness of events that had brought her to this position, made her the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Surely she was there “for such a time as this.”
The rest of the book reads like a fabricated drama. But it is not fiction. It is the true story of God miraculously preserving His people because of the bravery of one young Jewish woman who stood up for what was right.
So, what does that twenty-five hundred year old Bible story mean to us?
Like Mordecai and Queen Esther, we too live in very difficult times. Often, wrong prevails, cruelty abounds, immorality assails and righteousness flails. Many Christians lose hope in the fight. Some think it is useless to witness, to work, to reach out in this pagan world.
These ministers of dejection and defeat seem to think things are hopeless. But not so! Is the world crueler today than when it crucified Jesus? Are things more corrupt now than when idolatry, persecution, wickedness and perversion prevailed in first century Rome? Is the gospel less powerful than when enemies claimed that the followers of Christ “turned the world upside down”? (Acts 17:6).
I think not. Could it just be that God placed us here “for such a time as this”? Now, I am not advising that we put on rose-colored glasses. We must face the brutal facts of our current reality. But more than that, we must remember that carrying out the great commission is still the highest priority of obedient churches (Matt. 28:19, 20)–And the One who indwells us is still greater than our enemy in the world (1 John 4:4)–And the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16)–And the lost are just as in need of Jesus as ever!
Let us praise God because we are here, the right people, in the right place at just the right time! Let’s say with Esther, “if I perish I perish,” and get busy sharing the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ because we are here “for such a time as this.”