‘If I perish, I perish’


In the story of Esther, King Xerxes decides to honor one of his officials, Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, “elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles” (Esther 3:1). So much so that all the other officials and everyone at the king’s gate bowed down and paid honor to Haman because that was what the king had commanded — everyone, that is, except Mordecai the Jew, the adoptive father of Queen Esther. This angered Haman to such a degree that he began to plot to kill Mordecai, and not only him, but all the Jews in the 127 provinces over which Xerxes ruled. To this end, Haman convinced King Xerxes to issue a decree “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day” (3:13). There was even money designated in the royal treasury to pay those who would carry this out. After the decree was dispatched, Haman and the king sat down to drink while the whole region was thrown into confusion. Neither of them knew at this point that their queen was a Jew.

Upon hearing this, Mordecai and all the Jews tore their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes in their grief and there was great weeping and wailing. Esther knew nothing about the edict until she heard of Mordecai’s mourning and sent a messenger to inquire of him what was wrong. Mordecai sent a message back with a copy of the edict and pleaded with her to go to the king on behalf of her people. Esther was torn. To go to the king, even as his queen, without being summoned was certain death unless the king happened to be favorably inclined to receive you.

This is when Mordecai delivered his famous message to Esther. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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 your royal position for such a time as this” (4:13)?

To this, Esther responded, “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 attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (4:16). Way to go, Esther!

I believe it is for such a time as this for true believers. It is not a time to sit back and be passive. God has given us His gospel and His grace. He wants that grace turned outward to a world that is fearful and suspicious of everyone. There is much doubt and confusion — even violence — and we may be misunderstood; that is why it is a time for love in action and not just words. Let us be kind and accepting, showing dignity and respect to all; let us be vulnerable and willing to sacrifice; and if it should come to this, and if we should perish, we perish.

This entry was posted in diversity, Esther, Facing death, grace turned outward, the gospel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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