ADVENT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT—DAY 15
Esther 4:12-6 When Esther’s words (regarding her fear of presenting herself to the Persian Emperor, her “husband”) were reported to (Esther’s uncle) Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the emperor’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape (the royal edict of extermination of the Jews). 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. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the emperor, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.
Under the old polytheism, religious persecution was very rare, for a simple reason. If the god of another nation defeated your god, it was pretty easy to switch allegiances to the winner. However, when the Israelites became convinced that their defeat was due to their own wickedness, not God’s weakness, they may indeed have wept by the rivers of Babylon, but their loyalty to God was strengthened not debilitated. The result was a situation where their faith was often in tension with the government, a tension that has persisted for Judaism and Christianity to this day. Esther’s willingness to stand before the emperor in defense of her people and her faith points through Jesus to the early Christian martyrs and beyond them to the non-violent resistance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Prayer: Dear God, You have brought me where I am for such a time as this also. I, too, live in a position where it is dangerous to represent You too openly. When push comes to shove, give me the courage of Esther to face the powers of this world in humble faithfulness to Your will. When I, like Peter, fail and deny you, pick me back up, call me to love you faithfully again, and give me a second chance. In the name of Him who faced the wrath of both the religious and political establishments of His day. Amen.