For the week of March 18, 2006 / 18 Adar 5766
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 30:11 - 34:35 &
Bemidbar / Numbers 19:1-22
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:16-38
You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do
When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he 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 royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:12-14)
The Festival of Purim, also called the Festival of Esther, begins this week on the evening of Monday, March 13. Purim always falls almost exactly one month before Passover. Two very different festivals from different times and places, but both commemorate God's deliverance of the people of Israel. There is an aspect of these two occasions that really strikes me. It has to do with the role of those whom God used to help his people in these dire situations.
In both the Purim and Passover stories God uses certain individuals to bring about that which led to the nation's deliverance. In the Purim story, found in the Book of Esther, God used a man by the name of Mordecai and his relative Esther. Esther had become the wife of the Persian king, and due to Mordecai's urging, God used her to expose a murderous plot against the Jews. In the case of Passover, God used Moses and his brother Aaron to entreat the King of Egypt to release the people of Israel from oppressive bondage and forced labor.
In Moses and Aaron's case, God appeared to Moses in a most dramatic way and audibly gave him specific directions regarding what to do. In Mordecai and Esther's case, we are given no impression that they experienced anything like that. What happened was when Mordecai learned of the plot against his people, he discerned that God had placed Esther in such a powerful position in order to thwart this evil scheme. We never read of God telling Mordecai or Esther what to do. They just did what needed to be done.
These two ways of operating are also found elsewhere in the Bible. For example King David operated both ways. While there are several accounts of God clearly speaking to him in order to direct him, this was not the case when he fought the giant Goliath. In that story he - like Mordecai and Esther - was responding to the need at hand. We do not read of God personally telling him to fight the giant. As he heard Goliath taunting Israel, he knew Goliath needed to be defeated. And if no one else was willing, he would do it.
This is not to say that the Scriptures suggest that we can serve God in our own strength. Both David and Esther make it clear that their reliance was on God. They also were not just doing whatever they liked. They were convinced that what they needed to do was in keeping with God's will.
There are many things in life that we need to do, yet, for one reason or another, we hesitate. That reason might be fear or a belief that the obstacles we face are insurmountable. But I wonder if for some of us the reason we don't do some of these things is because of the false notion that we need a dramatic, Moses-like, revelation before stepping out.
I am not trying to encourage presumption. This is not about learning to blindly follow our own desires, or acting irresponsibly in any way. But for those of us who know God through the Messiah Yeshua and are regularly studying the Scriptures, and spending time with God in prayer, when we are confronted with the issues of life, and we know something needs to be done, we need to just do it. As we trust in God and continuously look to him, we need to start doing those things for which we have been put on this earth.
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