Every want to throw your arms into the air and say ‘forget it?’ You’re not alone. Yesterday’s sermon on Esther 4 and some thoughts on how a seemingly silent and unnamed God is very much present in our lives. We have been called for just such a time as this.[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/226867-for-just-such-a-time-as-this.mp3]
Esther is one of the crazier books in the Bible. Bible trivia time, “What are the two books in the Bible that don’t explicitly mention the word God?” (Esther and Song of Solomon). How in the world did a book get into the Bible, the Word of God, that doesn’t even mention God? Well, that is what makes Esther one of the crazier books in the Bible.
The short answer is that the book of Esther doesn’t need to explicitly mention God because God is seen at work throughout the book of Esther.
There is something of a story arc here. Esther is called into doing something she doesn’t feel qualified to do, like Jeremiah. Jeremiah and Habakkuk are speaking of hope as the Babylonians are conquering the nations. Esther is happening after the Babylonians have come in and forced the Jews into exile. They’ve been ripped from their homes and sent to foreign countries.
The fun doesn’t stop there. The Babylonians sent them into exile but are then taken over by the Persians. Confused by now? Imagine what it feels like to be a Jew living in Persia, not knowing for certain what comes next.
It is a difficult time for the Jews. When you hear the line in the song, ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here’, this is part of the story that the song is talking about.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there is a plan afoot to kill all the Jews in Persia. Haman, not a nice guy, wants them all gone and has gotten a decree from the king to do exactly that. This is where Mordecai comes into today’s story. He has seen the decree and is not amused at the prospect of an entire nation of people, including himself, being wiped out.
So he calls on his cousin Esther, who happens to be queen (A Jewish queen? That’s another story), to do something about it. Which seems reasonable. If your cousin was the queen, wouldn’t you ask her to do something about all your people being moved to the ‘no longer exists’ category? I certainly would.
The challenge for Esther is that no one is allowed to approach the king unless they’ve been invited to do so. Anyone who comes to the king without an invitation is to be killed. Nice rule to be up against. Mordecai is asking Esther to risk her life on the off chance that she can convince the king not to carry out the order that Haman has in his hand to kill all the Jews. Some choice.
And so, facing either her own personal demise or the destruction of her people, Esther goes to speak to the King about what Haman is up to. Not that she wants to. Esther is not a brave heroine that leaps into the fray for noble purpose. Esther goes in to talk to the king for in all the confusion and all the danger she has been called, for just such a time as this.
Spoiler alert, it isn’t in the text today but Esther does go in to the king unbidden and survives. After hearing what Esther has to say, the king puts it all together and it is Haman who meets a rather untimely end and the Jews are saved.
For just such a time as this. What a statement of faith and hope. It seems that an unnamed and silent God is not present in this story but it turns out, God has been involved all along. So many unlikely things have happened that coincidentally lead to the Jewish people being saved.
And not for the last time. Two thousand years ago people were in trouble once again though this time it wasn’t a conquering amazing army overtaking their lives and throwing them into turmoil. It was sin that had taken over their lives. Not that they were any more or less sinful than anyone else, or us for that matter. The people then just figured that they could work their way out of sin by doing the right things and in attempting to do everything right, they broke themselves on the beach of righteousness and missed out on a loving God. So God came to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ to take away the weight of sin that was distorting their lives. Christ came 2000 years ago for just such a time as this.
And Christ is here for us, today, for just such a time as this. In God’s Word, Christ is here. In communion, Christ is here. In our prayers, Christ is here. For just such a time as this.
You ever have one of those moments where you just want to throw your hands in the air and say “forget it”? One of those feeling like your living in exile and not matter how hard you try to do everything right it just seems like God is silent and nowhere to be found? Sometimes we do throw our hands in the air but there are times when we hold onto hope, we hold onto faith and continue on. And then someone else see’s us hold on and that gives them hope to continue on, too. We too are called for just such a time as this.