There is an indispensable principle of Bible study:
total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.
Would you say you’re courageous? What’s your definition of courage? Can God use people who have gone against His will? That’s a load of rhetoric for today’s post, but bear with me because we’ll get to all of them.
That courageous issue is one I’ve thought about many times. Here are some situations and a question I believe is typical of all believers.
- A missionary comes to your church and tells stories about having to hide native converts from gangs who are searching for them and bent on harming them.
- You know someone who is a missionary in an unstable land. She seems to be doing fine, but you know she’s faced with situations that could lead to her imprisonment or worse every day.
- You read a story (or hear a story on the news) about a Christian faced with the choice of denying Christ or death.
The question we all ask is, “Would I be brave enough to stand for God in that situation?”
We have many examples from the Bible detailing courageous actions; church history is filled with people who were executed rather than recant their belief. Is it possible that I could act the same way? Would I willingly, joyfully, walk toward a stake at which I was meant to be burnt? Would I yield to the sword meant to sever my head rather than accept the false religion being forced on me? You might say, “I hope I would, but I have never been in that situation before so I don’t know.” First, let me say that’s a lame response and you should be ashamed of it. Secondly, you can absolutely know how you would respond.
But first, an example from the Book.
I want to take a look at a specific book of the Bible today and recount the stories of two people who were courageous despite the fact they were not in a right relationship with God. One of the two was even the cause of all their problems in the first place.
You may have guessed that I am talking about the book of Esther. I don’t mean to destroy any preconceived notions, but Esther and Mordecai were not in a right relationship with God. Let’s look at the evidence:
- God is never mentioned in the book. Not even once. Read through it and see for yourself. This may not indicate anything necessarily, but it is the only book in the Bible of which this claim can be made. It seems significant since the primary characters acted outside of God’s will in many instances.
- Esther succumbed to the pressure put on the women of the country by the advisers of Ahasuerus and entered the king’s harem. You might say, well she had no choice. I ask, who has more power God or an earthly king? God told the people of Israel not to mix in marriage with the people from other nations.
- The Israelites loyal to God, a very small contingent of the whole, had already left Persia to return to their homeland. Only the carnal Israelites (the majority of the people) were left. These were the people who were too comfortable to leave. They chose the familiar and the comfortable over the chance to rebuild their land and their relationship with God.
- Mordecai was stubborn in his refusal to give Haman honor. Maybe he was correct in his refusal, but Mordecai had already allowed his charge (his cousin Esther) to become one of the king’s concubines and he had dishonored God in other ways. Why did he decide this was the right time to honor God? He put the entire nation of Israel in dire jeopardy with his prideful act.
However, the fact God is not mentioned in the book of Esther does not mean He wasn’t present. His character and presence shines through every part of the story.
So Esther was outside of the will of God and Mordecai was prideful. However, they understood what courage was and God, who is all powerful, used them to accomplish the immediate salvation of His people.
Esther’s acts of courage?
- Going before the king unasked even though she knew it meant death.
- Playing a game of intrigue with Haman even though she knew it could backfire.
- Using her place to the advantage of her people Israel.
- Trusting in her God to keep her despite the danger she was in.
Mordecai’s acts of courage?
- Defying Haman in the first place. It may have been prideful on Mordecai’s part, but it took courage.
- Going to Esther after the king had made his declaration that all of Israel would be exterminated on a certain day.
- Trusting in God for the deliverance of Israel.
What does this book demonstrate?
- God is in control regardless of circumstance.
- We can always call on God no matter what state we are in.
- The people of God are always under His protection.
- Pride leads to destruction.
Surely there are other lessons here, but they are beyond the scope of this post.
One other matter to clear up though. Before, I said you should be ashamed if you don’t know how you would react when faced with a situation that could lead to imprisonment, injury or death caused by faith in Christ? Why? Because we should all trust in God as the deliverer.
Sometimes God calls us to death; sometimes he calls us to imprisonment. Look at Acts for many examples of both. Regardless, we should know that God is still in control and live that reality. Life here on Earth is a vapor, but we have eternal life in Him. The river of death is not something that stops us completely, it is a momentary impediment. Cross and enter the Crystal City.