The Jewish feast of Purim took place this year from sundown Saturday, March 11th through sundown of the 12th. It is for me an opportunity each year to revisit this remarkable story of survival in the face of super-size, demonic anti-Semitism. The book of Esther found in our Bibles never once mentions God’s Name, yet his unseen hand is visible in every moment of this drama. I’ve always loved Queen Esther’s brave words when faced with the news from her uncle Mordecai. He informed her that her people were facing a genocide, and warned her that her position of privilege the household of King Xerxes would not shield her from the mass murder being planned by the king’s highest-ranking minister, Haman. It is a goose-bump inducing moment every time I read this exchange between Mordecai and Esther:
(Mordecai) sent back this answer: “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?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “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.” (Esther 4:13-16)
While we rightly celebrate Esther’s courage, creativity, and humility in responding to this existential threat, this year I’ve been pondering the contributions of Mordecai to this story. Specifically, I’ve been moved by the way in which Mordecai used his influence to effect change. Until Mordecai challenges his niece to act, Esther reads to me as a fairly passive player in this story.
While not all of us hold a position of power as Esther did, each one of us has the ability to influence others the way Mordecai did. For those of us who may be wrestling with how to exercise godly influence in a turbulent culture, a few observations drawn from what’s recorded about Mordecai in the book of Esther – [Read more]