This is a beloved scripture and one of the most sought-after verses in the Bible. Mordecai spoke the words, “for such a time as this” in Esther 4:14, when he was coaxing Queen Esther to approach the Persian King on behalf of the Jewish people. These words can be a great encouragement to women, especially those embarking on a new ministry. However, we must be careful to embrace the full meaning of the verse and all of its implications.
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14 (ESV)
The Context of “For Such A Time as This”
Prior to hearing these words from her uncle Mordecai, Esther had already endured quite a bit of trauma. Persian officials took her from the only family she knew and thrust her into a different culture. King Ahasuerus would essentially rape her prior to marrying her. (For a complete analysis of the circumstances of her ascension as queen, read “The True Queen Esther Story”). As queen, her position would entitle her to certain luxuries, but the path there was paved in tears.
It is in this context that Mordecai utters those famous words. And it is also with these words that he is urging Esther to speak up for her people and in doing so, put her life in danger. Many have romanticized the Queen Esther story, but it is essential to understand the true nature of her circumstances. Only then can we extrapolate the meaning of this scripture and apply it to our lives.
Esther Puts Her Life in Danger
In Esther 4:11, only a few verses before our famous scripture, Esther reminds Mordecai of the potential consequences of following his request. Anyone who approached the king without being summoned could be subject to execution. Even her position as Queen would not spare her of that fate if she happened to catch the King in a less-than-merciful mood. Therefore, in her obedience, she willingly accepts the potential sacrifice.
Endurance and Sacrifice for God’s Greater Good
We often leave what she was willing to sacrifice out of the conversations regarding this verse. Many use “for such a time as this” as a rallying cry when considering a new ministry or mission. There is excitement about using one’s position (professionally, economically, etc) to do God’s will. However, we can easily ignore the sacrifice and endurance implied in Mordecai’s words to Esther. When Mordecai uttered those famous words to the Persian Queen, it was more than a call to use her royal position to help the Jewish people. He knew full well the danger he was putting Esther in and the sacrifices she might potentially have to make. He was also reminding her that sacrifice is sometimes necessary for the pursuit of God’s will.
So when you consider “for such a time as this” in your own life, keep endurance and sacrifice in mind. Accepting God’s call to use your position for His purposes may be a call to great sacrifice. Jesus told us in Luke 14:27, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” So while the king spared Esther from execution, not all Christians will be spared earthly consequences for their obedience. The early apostles understood this full well and all bore the burden of their calling. Most were martyred. In a more recent example, Dietrick Bonhoeffer lived and died as a true disciple paying the price with his life. (His book The Cost of Discipleship is a must-read.)
“Being a Christan is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer
So ask yourself, if I am in a position to accomplish God’s will, am I also willing to sacrifice that position like Esther was or worse, my life? Am I willing to face the full consequences of obeying God’s voice whatever it may bring?
Only then will we be able to truly embrace Esther’s courage.
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