“The culture needs us (the church) now more than ever,” Pastor Sean told us on Sunday, and from what I’ve been reading lately about the Millennial Generation, that is certainly true. There’s every indication that the children born in the 1980’s and 1990’s are “reshaping schools, colleges and businesses all over the country” (Generation Me by Jean M. Twenge). Pastor Andy Stanley goes so far as to say they are the ones “who will decide where history takes us.”
During the reign of Xerxes, Esther had a huge part to play, too, in where history would take her people, the Jews. Miraculously, though God is never mentioned as the power behind the appointment, Esther became Xerxes’ Queen and saved the Jews from annihilation. Today her story is celebrated annually during the Feast of Purim.
To my way of thinking, Esther’s act of bravery is deeply rooted in her sense of identity with her people, the Jews. She not only knows them, she loves them. And though she doesn’t have the authority to overrule the edict that Haman devised to destroy the Jews, she speaks bravely of that love for her people to the king: “For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?” (Es. 8:6)
As the story unfolds, another decree is written granting the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves. Their troubles weren’t exactly over! They still had to live in the midst of those who hated them; they still had to fight their enemies. But, “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor” (Es. 8:16). And then there’s this verse that almost escaped my notice: “And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them” (Es. 8:17b). That’s right, many converted to the faith! (Okay, I agree; it’s better to win others with love instead of fear!)
“Every major revival follows persecution of the church,” Pastor Sean told us on Sunday, and while we don’t exactly look forward to it, we know it’s coming – and in many places is already here. Will we be as wise as Esther, who gathered her people to fast and pray, who walked bravely into the throne room of the king in spite of the threat of death, who planned the banquets that exposed Haman’s treachery, and who boldly spoke up for love of her people? Time will tell, but I hope so. I really hope so!
We are here, the church universal, for such a time as this! Let us face the challenge of our day in the power of the Holy Spirit, and on our face before God!