Very often, obeying Yeshua is anything but easy. The holiday of Purim – which we Jews will celebrate this month – reminds us of that. And the actions of the heroine of the story, Queen Esther, can teach us much about doing what the Lord wants us to do in the face of personal risk.
Do you remember the story? The Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes) was tricked by his minister, Haman, into issuing a decree that called for our total destruction. Esther was Ahasuerus’ queen, but he didn’t know that she was Jewish. Her uncle Mordecai urged her to approach the king and intercede on our behalf, but Esther said no, and she gave three reasons: she hasn’t been invited, it’s dangerous, and it’s illegal!
“And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
But Mordecai admonished her, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish.” Then, he added a
wonderful word of encouragement. “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14). So Esther called for people to pray and fast for her, then she approached the king and spoke, and God used her to delivers us from death.
I remember the very first time I was invited to witness publicly about the Lord. I’d only been a believer for a short while. One day, the young man who was teaching me the Scriptures asked, “Avi, would you like to hand out some gospel literature with me later this afternoon?”
“No,” I answered honestly.
He nodded, sympathetically. “Ok. But will you hand out some gospel literature with me?” My heart struggled, but I knew the right thing to do. “You are my witnesses,” the Lord has said to all of us through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 43:10) “Alright,” I told my young mentor, “I’ll come along.”
Was it a pleasant experience? Well, not exactly.
Was it a pleasant experience? Well, not exactly. As I handed out my literature, I was quickly surrounded by people who were very upset to see me, a Jew, telling people about Jesus. But God honored my obedience by using that experience to set the pattern for the next forty years of my life. I can’t begin to tell you all that I’ve had the joy of seeing Him do through the open proclamation of His Word.
Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves: God has told us to speak – to be His agents of deliverance, just like Esther. And just like Esther, we might be inclined at first to say no. “I haven’t been invited,” we tell the Lord. “And it’s dangerous, because people might not like me after that.” In most of Europe and in the West, we can’t really say, “It’s illegal,” but that
day could come. But God in His great grace and patience exhorts to be unashamed (2 Timothy 1:8). Then, He encourages us with a reminder of our calling (Acts 1:8) and with the wonderful assurance of His blessing (10:15).
Courage really isn’t natural for any of us. It’s learned by practicing the lessons that we find in the lives of His unlikely heroes, like Esther.