A couple of weeks ago our Student Ministry had the opportunity to join our amazing Student Leadership Team at an alternative “Winter Conference”, a yearly trip we take as a group. This conference was much different than anything we have done together in the past. Even though it was outside of our comfort zone we all felt as though it was the right choice for the right time.
2020 took its toll on everyone and in a lot of ways it was even harder on our students. This year we had the unique opportunity to speak and connect with them in a way like never before. We ate all of our meals together, played games, laughed, cried, prayed, and worshiped. Even though a lot of those things do happen on our traditional trip, this year, like the entirety of 2020, was different and oh-so needed. I feel as though this trip was chosen for us, “for such a time as this”.
So for my blog post this week, I wanted to share with you what God provided for me in preparation for what we came to call our Connect and Concede Conference. God showed us this unique and inspired story of Esther and how she was able to do just that, Connect and Concede to the will of God. Her story allows us to see that she was fully in the will of God, connecting and conceding with Him without even being mentioned once in her story.
I pray that her story inspires and blesses you as much as it did me!
The book of Esther is unique in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not mention God directly. But in spite of that Esther is often referred to as a foreshadowing of Jesus. Her story begins with the death of her parents and an adoption by her Uncle, Mordecai.
They are Jewish and live in the region of Susa in Persia, governed by King Xerxes. During this time Xerxes divorces his wife and begins the hunt for a new queen. He decides to have all childbearing virgins sent to his palace and begin a 12 month long pruning process to be entered into a “beauty contest” where the winner will become the new Queen of Susa.
Esther quickly catches the eye of Xerxes and he makes her Queen right away. Even though she was Queen she still wasn’t allowed to enter into
the kings’ presence without his permission. Mordecai, Ester’s Uncle, works for king Xerxes and so does a man named, Haman.
Haman is given highest honors by the king, and because of his rank all the other officials, noblemen, and servants working inside the palace are expected to bow before Haman anytime he was in their presence.
However, Mordecai refuses to do so.
Because of Mordecai’s disrespect, Haman has hatched a plan to have him killed. He has gone so far as to have a very large spike driven into the ground on his property inside the kingdom, in hopes to have Mordecai impaled on it. Haman is cunning and does his research on Mordecai and finds that he is Jewish, now he isn’t only satisfied with the thought of having Mordecai killed but he wants to eradicate Mordecai’s people as well.
Haman goes to the king and convinces him that the Jews are a threat to him and that they should be exterminated.
In Esther 3:8 we see what Haman says
“Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the Law of the king. So it is not in the kings interest to let them live.”
Xerxes, thinking his power is threatened, tells Haman to cast a lot (basically roll dice) to choose the day in which they will attack the Jewish people. They do, and so the date is set for about March of the following year.
Xerxes sends out a letter to all of the kingdom letting them know what is going to be happening. When Mordecai receives this news he’s devastated and goes into mourning. He finds his ONLY option is to reach out to Esther who is still inside the palace.
Mordecai sends word to her about all that is to take place and pleads with her to go before the king and plead for the lives of her people.
Unfortunately, this is A LOT to ask of Esther!
In Esther 4:11 we see her reply
“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.”
Esther is concerned for her own life. She’s fearful that if she does such a bold thing she will be killed.
Mordecai then responds to Esther’s reluctance by saying.
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made Queen for just such a time as this?”
After this message from Mordecai, we see an amazing turn in Esther.
“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die”
Her response is to ask for a time of fasting which means she is asking her people that in the times they would eat or drink they would instead be in communion with God, they would be going to God on her behalf and tells them that she will be doing the same. Three days later Esther follows through with her plan.
She goes to King Xerxes and pleads for the lives of her people. Xerxes who’s obviously very fond of Esther grants her request.
They invite Haman to a dinner where this conversation takes place.
Esther 7: 1-10
“So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet. On this second occasion, while they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “Tell me what you want, Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”
Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared. For my people and I have been sold to those who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us. If we had merely been sold as slaves, I could remain quiet, for that would be too trivial a matter to warrant disturbing the king.”
“Who would do such a thing?” King Xerxes demanded. “Who would be so presumptuous as to touch you?”
Esther replied, “This wicked Haman is our adversary and our enemy.” Haman grew pale with fright before the king and queen. Then the king jumped to his feet in a rage and went out into the palace garden.
Haman, however, stayed behind to plead for his life with Queen Esther, for he knew that the king intended to kill him. In despair he fell on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining, just as the king was returning from the palace garden.
The king exclaimed, “Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace, before my very eyes?” And as soon as the king spoke, his attendants covered Haman’s face, signaling his doom.
Then Harbona, one of the king’s eunuchs, said, “Haman has set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet[a] tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to impale Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination.”
“Then impale Haman on it!” the king ordered. So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.”
The final two chapters of Esters book tell us about how King Xerxes gives over all the power and property Haman had to Mordecai and the Jewish people. He then tells them that any decrees signed and sealed by the king cannot be revoked but can be added to.
So, Mordecai and Esther send out a new decree in the kings’ name saying.
“The king’s decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies.”
And that’s exactly what the Jewish people did. They were given permission to defend themselves and protect their people all because of Esther’s choice to risk her life.
We see God deliver His people once again but even though God isn’t mentioned in this story by name He was very much present and active. He worked through Mordecai to give encouragement to Esther, who was more than reluctant to put her life on the line.
We see Esther connect and concede to God’s plan. She connected to God through the words of Mordecai and conceded her will for God’s will.
She conceded her comfort
And ultimately was willing to concede her life for the lives of her people
The thing is she didn’t do it alone. Even though she wasn’t happy about what she may have to give up, she was scared for her own safety but even still she followed through with God’s plan because Mordecai was right!
She was chosen for “such a time as this”
Her response was beautiful, she connected, conceded, and then asked for support. She asked her people to fast for her, and she did the same. She knew she couldn’t do the job she was tasked with on her own so she reached out for help.
I think we are all like Esther. We are all called in this particular moment in time for “such a time as this”
The lives we have, the state of the world, the positions we hold right now, in 2021. Are not a surprise to God. No situation we face, have faced, or will ever face will be a surprise to God! He’s not pacing heaven’s floor confused or taken off guard, that’s not His nature, that’s not who He is.
He sees us, He sees you!
He sees you when you’re alone, when you’re worried, when you’re sad, when you’re filthy and dirty with sin, and the evidence of the night before is written all over your face.
He sees you where you are, NOW!
One of my most favorite names of God is El Roi which means,
the GOD who sees me!
I don’t know about you but that is mind-blowing to me! To know that the God who spoke life into creation, also holds the name “the God who sees me”!
Sometimes I just sit and say that to myself, I need that reminder so very often. We serve a God who SEES US!
He looks you and your messes in the face and STILL chooses you, over and over and over again! Giving Himself away, time and time again, in the process. Just because He loves YOU!
Just like Esther, He’s Chosen us for “such a time as this”
He placed us smack dab in the middle of the social media generation. Providing us with the opportunity to reach more people with the clicks of our fingers than the disciples had in an entire lifetime. He has placed us in this confused, misguided, and dark world to be a little bit of light in it!
And the ONLY thing you have to do is CONNECT WITH GOD AND CONCEDE TO HIS WILL FOR YOUR LIFE and to be honest, sometimes that’s an everyday thing! Sometimes it may take connecting and conceding over and over and over again because we’re not perfect. We need reminders. We need people in our corner fasting and praying for us.
So, my questions is this:
For Esther, it was the fear of losing her life.
What is it for you?
What is God asking you to concede? What is He asking you to give away? Is it your screen, your addition, a TV show, a relationship? Is it something that you know deep down isn’t good for you? Is it your time or your money?