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SUNDAY 29 OCTOBER 2017
The Old Testament is full of people - real people; whose lives are messy, their families dysfunctional and their obedience not always full or immediate, yet God used them. Our study of their lives is to bring perspective, hope and instruction to ours - to recognise that at times we are tempted to sanitise or selectively interact with their stories and in that way make them heroes. The reality is that their stories are powerful because they are human like us and face the same temptations and frailty that we do - yet God used them.
The Sunday School version we are mostly presented with is Esther, the Brave Queen.
But when you read the book of Esther you find it’s not quite that simple. Mordecai and Esther are not perfect, blameless examples – they are living in a compromised system and they themselves are not perfect examples but living ones.
One of the curious facts in the book of Esther is that God’s name never appears – there isn’t a hand of God writing on a wall like in Daniel, there’s not a burning bush or a red sea parted like for Moses, there weren’t any obvious markers for Mordecai or Esther. God was at work – but it wasn’t clearly named or identified.
As I reread this book this week I see a story about a couple of people who at first hid their true identity and family background, who got involved in situations that broke Jewish law – who blended in until things got to a place where they couldn’t anymore. And then, even in their acting – it was in the sense of maybe this is the time and maybe this will be the way – I will choose to act even though I may perish. I don’t think it was as black and white for them.
Mordecai and Esther are people who lived in a system and time that is like ours. Where God is not honoured. Where the ways of the land and the leaders of it are not the ways of the Kingdom. And where people who love God are not always accepted. So, what can we learn from their story?