By Elizabeth Prata
You know the story of Esther and her Uncle Mordecai. She was a Jewess in Persia who was chosen via contest by King Ahasuerus to be his wife. Except that Ahasuerus didn’t know she was Jewish and when evil Second-in-Command Haman whispered to Ahasuerus to make a decree killing all the Jews, she was then in a real bind. It all had started when Uncle Mordecai, who had by then been promoted to an inside the court job in the King’s administrative palace, refused to bow to Ahasuerus as Lord of all. Though apparently Mordecai had lived a fairly secular life, and perhaps for a while had traded wealth, influence, and power for Yahweh, when pressed, his faith rose up and he came through. It was his defining moment. Who will he bow to? Not Ahasuerus. God only. Mordecai chose. Haman reacted.
“All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.” (Esther 3:2-4)
Soon after, Esther was faced with her defining moment. She could lay low, hiding her religion, but Mordecai told her,
“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?” (Esther 4:13-14)
So then, her other option was to tell the truth, approach the king, and plead for her people, even at peril for her own life. It was a defining moment for Esther.
In the 1960s and 1970s Firestone had a jingle in which the last line included the now-familiar phrase “Where the rubber meets the road.” The phrase has come to mean not just good tires, lol, but a defining moment of truth, the most important point. It is like an Olympic Athlete who has trained for years, but everything only really counts at the moment of the race. Will he put all his training into a glorious and successful effort? Or will he stumble?
Is America approaching an Esther moment for her Christians living inside her borders? Is there a gathering storm? Will that moment reveal which kind of soil resides in our hearts? I think so. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but soon each Christian in America will have to choose his or her path in the public sphere. We have great privilege here in the US where we can gather on any Sunday, or any day, freely to worship our sovereign. We can claim Him as sovereign and proclaim Him as sovereign, without another competing sovereign quelling our exultation. We can share the Gospel in the public sphere and set up monuments, signs, statues, crosses or whatever we want in certain places, with or without permits in certain circumstances. We can pray in public and we can speak of Him to friend and stranger.
Don’t take these privileges for granted. Freedom to worship is being chipped away at and redefined every day. Be prepared for a chilling effect or even a forced cessation of them. We saw the attempts and even the successful thwarting of the church’s ability to gather in the so-called pandemic era of 2020-2021.
Individually, we have many defining moments day by day or week by week. There are little decisions we make that are either honoring to Jesus or are conscience violations due to compromise. These little decisions accumulate.
Eventually, though, we individually may be faced with a bid, more public decision to honor Jesus but suffer for it. Pastor James Coates did in Canada, and so did Pastor Tim Stephens, as well as the Elders of Grace Community Church in California when they defied the tyrannical government to remain open and worshiping during the so-called pandemic. Coates and Stephens counted the cost, and it was heavy. They were forcibly removed from their families and jailed. The GCC men were threatened with jail and hefty fines, though the court system eventually resolved that situation to the church’s good.
Less publicly, people lose their jobs every day these days for their stance for Christ. They are denied promotions. They are marginalized socially, even have crimes done against them, all for being a Christian.
Your time to make such a decision that has a heavy cost attached to it may come soon. Are you ready?
No matter what though, our King’s throne is secure and His Kingdom is permanent. His church will thrive no matter the man-made pressure brought to bear against it. His people will be brought home to freely worship Him forever.
For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. (Zephaniah 3:9).
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about Is the Storm Gathering?.