"Deliverance and Faithfulness"
Esther 4:14, "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
This morning, much seems astray in our world and present day culture. In my lifetime, we have witnessed the rise and outright acceptance of "alternative lifestyles," seen the steep decline in organized religion, and witnessed multiple generations come along who see divorce, infidelity, etc. as common rather than shameful community exceptions. Each day, Satan works to remove the stigmas for sin that once were held by and large in our country so that more and more are emboldened to do them. With no communal guilt or societal shame, these evils are more easily engaged. During my observation of this rise, it is increasingly common to see Godly people lose hope and plunge into the abyss of sorrow. However, the Bible is a wonderful Book that is chock full of stories that we can relate to our present distresses, and ultimately gain hope. (Romans 15:4)
Our study verse is part of a statement that Mordecai gives his cousin Esther, who now sits as queen in the Medo-Persian empire. Her husband and ruler - Ahasuerus - has been snookered by his right hand man - Haman - into killing all the Jews of the land. Not knowing that his new wife is a Jew, the king agrees to this wicked plot, and Haman's plans to rid himself of his bitter enemy Mordecai along with his entire race seem to be going swimmingly. Mordecai is petitioning Esther to go talk to the king on behalf of her people before the dreadful sentence is executed against the Jews. As the story unfolds, Esther does petition the king, ultimately saves her nation, and is able to vanquish all the Jews' enemies. This story is one of the most glorious examples of God's providential dealings with His people.
While this beautiful story reaches a climax of sorts with Mordecai's statement (and Esther's reply), let us pull the fabric back a layer or two to glean some help for today and bright hope for tomorrow in our own lives. Mordecai informs Esther that one way or another, deliverance is coming. Mordecai could boldly say that no matter what Esther did, the Jewish nation would live on. How could such a bold statement be made? Notice the timeline here. This historical account occurs after the days of the kings of Israel and Judah. It occurs after Nebuchadnezzar had led them into Babylonian captivity. All the promises made during those days were already declared for this day we read about.
Therefore, all the wonderful promises to David about his Son - fulfilled in Christ - had been made. The prophecies of the Messiah through the pen of Isaiah and others had already been laid down. In other words, for these prophecies of King Jesus to come true, the Jews must survive and David's line must be intact. There was no possibility with all the powers of hell raging against it that either of these two things would fail. With promises and deliverances like that assured, the Jews could not have been exterminated by Haman's plot. God would not allow it. However, Mordecai follows this statement of assured boldness with a warning. Though the Jews will be spared, you and your house will die. With deliverance to the people in general, he promises a perishing in particular to those who have the ability to steadfastly resist and choose not to.
What Mordecai has succinctly declared is that God's required faithfulness of His children has direct consequences. Paul would talk of the same thing with the idea of "sinning willfully" in the latter part of Hebrews 10. When we willfully choose not to do our duty, we can expect to find a perishing like Mordecai promised would happen to Esther and her father's house. Though this is not the primary thing that Mordecai had in mind when saying this, I believe a direct correlation can be found between his statements here and the idea of faithfulness and deliverance in the church today.
The church of our Lord Jesus Christ has been given many promises much like Israel of old had. Just as David's line and the Jewish people had to remain intact for the Messiah's lineage to be in force, so has the church today received promises that the true church will always be in existence in this earth. (Matthew 16:18) When the Lord returns from glory the second time without sin unto salvation, there will be people here worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. Yes, the gates of hell will rage against this wonderful institution, but just as Satan could not destroy the lineage of Christ, so He cannot destroy the church upon earth - though his onslaughts have never ceased.
However, the Lord requires His church to be faithful to His commands and precepts. The warnings to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3 should suffice to make the point. What the Lord requires in our service, He expects to see through our faithfulness to His service. What if we hold our peace? Enlargement and deliverance will come to the church, but we and our local bodies shall perish. Here lately, I have been pressed sore out of measure in my labours to convey to the people at home the still wonderful position we have in our churches. We still have liberty, freedom, access to worship, access to Scripture, etc. These things may be crumbling faster than we realize in our country, but today we still have them. We should be supremely thankful for them, use them, and pray God that He providentially keep them with us. If we hold our peace about these things and do not use them as we should, we may be destroyed locally, though enlargement and deliverance shall most certainly arise to the Lord's church in general.
Over my short ministry, I have encountered two polar opposite extremes when it comes to seeking deliverance for the church. The first extreme leans so heavily on the promise that the church will always remain that they say, "If the Lord wants 'em here, they'll be here." This extreme mindset basically does not understand the import of inviting and reaching out to others to see and enjoy the goodness that we have in the house of God. The other extreme promotes the doom and gloom like the end has already come, "The churches are already dead, we just ain't had the funeral yet." Such a shallow-hearted mindset for the churches will end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because if we give up, then we will not be able to strengthen those things that are ready to die. Notice Mordecai's last statement.
He did not see Esther's rise to the throne as mere coincidence. He saw her coming to the kingdom at that time for this very purpose. Mordecai understood that God's dealings with man are so wise that she was blessed to be able to help and do good during her time. She still must be faithful, but God had blessed her with access and position to accomplish some things through her faithfulness. How many times do we consider how the Lord has providentially blessed our position for such a time and situation as this?
When I look back at church history and see the accounts of those before me, I sometimes stand amazed at the men for the time then present. We call them "representative men" of their generation as they were shining examples of what men then faced and fought against. Esther's cause was against wicked Haman and the Jews' enemies. Our cause is against spiritual wickedness in high places. Who knows friends if we have come to the kingdom for just such a time and purpose as this? Our forefathers did not have to fight the battles that we will likely face with abominations of homosexuality, shattered homes through promiscuity and divorce, and the crumbling of liberty that we likely will experience.
Look around at the world. What do you see? Instead of being depressed, cast down, or worse hopeless about it all, ask the question, "Have I come to the kingdom for such at time as this?" In the depths of my heart, I know and rejoice to know that enlargement and deliverance for the Lord's church is certain and sure. Somewhere on this earth, people will be striving as they should when the ends comes. However, have I come to the kingdom where I am currently for the time that is presently before us? 5 years ago, the Lord burdened us to move our family from Mississippi to Georgia. As a little boy, the Lord burdened my father to move us from Texas to California, and then ultimately from California to Mississippi. Looking back over his ministry, I can see certain things in those various locales where his faithfulness had some benefit for the area. My hope and prayer is that I can have the fortitude and faithfulness to stand in the kingdom where I am while I am here so that enlargement and deliverance does not just come in general, but it comes specifically to us at home. Deliverance comes friends, let us be faithful to experience it among our own and those we love around us. Shall we go approach the King together on behalf of our people within the kingdom?