Ki Tissa & Parah
For the week of March 13, 2004 / 20 Adar 5764
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 30:11 - 34:35
and Bemidbar / Numbers 19:1-22
Haftarah: 1 Melachim / 1 Kings 18:1-39
Replaced by Ezekiel 36:16-38
Originally published the week of March 2, 2002 / 18 Adar 5762

For Such a Time as This

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ezekiel 36:17).

Last week I made the comment that the Scriptures' understanding of life is not mechanical. I think there is a tendency among spiritually minded people to assume that life is dependant upon set principles. Some think that if we could only discover what those principles are, and how they work, then we can control the outcomes of our lives.

This kind of thinking is found in much of the self-help literature. We are told that if we follow certain steps we are assured of success in our endeavors. The Bible is also often taught this way.

But while God has established principles by which the universe runs, life doesn't work as if it were a heartless machine. God wants relationship with us. He wants us to get to know him, to learn to hear his voice, and to walk with him. He takes no delight in our obsession of reducing his Word to a set of cold principles through which we think we can get life figured out.

It was Purim this week (Sunday, March 7, 2004). This is the time we remember God's deliverance of our people from the destructive plans of the evil Haman as told in the Book of Esther. This story illustrates the wonderful interplay between God and humans.

One of the interesting and unique aspects of the Book of Esther is that it doesn't once explicitly mention God. Yet God is so present in this story. The various happenings where people are removed from positions and others so strategically put in place testify of God's involvement in earthly affairs.

But even though God's hand is evident in these circumstances, the people involved still had choices to make. Nowhere is this more clear than in Mordecai's words to his relative Esther when he proposes that she speak up on behalf of her people:

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 royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14).

Mordecai's understanding of God assured him that God would somehow deliver them. He also recognized that it was God who had set up Esther as queen for this purpose. Yet there is no sense of fatalism in his faith. It is not as if Mordecai, recognizing God's involvement in the situation, just sat back and watched the deliverance unfold. Rather he urged Esther to accept what God had done in her life and to do her part.

In this week's Haftarah Ezekiel foretold of the time when God would sovereignly restore the people of Israel both physically and spiritually. These things will happen no matter what, because God has purposed to do it.

But what about our part in this or in the other things God has purposed to do? In the outworking of God's plans, he invites us to participate with him. As in the days of Esther, God is overseeing circumstances and placing people into strategic positions. But we still need to do our part. No one is going to make us do it.

I cannot tell you what your role is in God's plans . But whatever it is, who knows but you have come to your position for such a time as this.

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