Many wonder what compels people to read the Bible over and over again. For me, it’s relevancy. Whether I’m reading the Old Testament or the New, each time I read, I gain insight and understanding, not only about antiquity but also about today’s world. Although these stories are thousands of years old, we clearly see “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As a result, reading the Bible helps me learn from the victories and defeats of people in the highest and lowest positions within society and apply that learning to my own life.
Given the recent calls to action for justice and peace in our country, I began thinking about relatable Biblical history. At what times were people challenged to selflessly speak up for justice and bring about peace in the land? And one person in particular came to mind, Esther.
Esther was a young Jewish woman selected to become the wife and Queen of King Xerxes of Persia (approx 478 B.C). During her reign, Esther’s cousin Mordecai insulted the prime minister of the land, Haman, who then sought revenge. Feeling personal vengeance wasn’t enough, Haman convinced the king to sign a decree to destroy the entire Jewish race, citing them to be “different from those of any other nation” and “refusing to obey the laws of the king” (Esther 3:8, NLT). When Mordecai told Esther of this decree and urged her to plead on behalf of her people she was terrified.
Not only had she been keeping her Jewish faith a secret, but if she approached the King without being summoned she risked death. Esther was now faced with a choice: to care for self or others.
During this battle in her mind, Mordecai famously tells Esther it is by no coincidence she has come “to the kingdom for such a time as this” (4:14), insinuating God placed her in this position, at this exact time, so she could use it for the good of others. He also reminds her she cannot hide from the consequences of injustice, and that when deliverance comes from God, which it will, she needs to be on the right side of history.
Long story short, Esther combines faith with action. Believing God will protect her, Esther risks her life to intercede on behalf of her people and saves them from persecution. Wonderfully, this momentous occasion known as the Festival of Purim, is still celebrated within Jewish communities today.
While rereading the history of Esther and Purim, I am seeing that we, those of us alive today, were also born for a momentous moment in time. Like Esther, we are being called to speak up for others and to change the systems of injustice in our own country—a call we cannot hide or ignore.
In the book of Matthew chapter 22, Jesus tells us the two most important commandments are to love God and love others as ourselves (37-40). But we must remember, love requires action.
Let us pray and consider how we can use our positions during this time to do good, to bring about justice and peace, not only for ourselves and our family, but for others as well, for we truly were made for such a time as this.