For Such a Time as This
By: Thomas E. Brewton
Each of us must take individual responsibility for answering God’s call to help others, even at mortal peril to ourselves.
Our liberal, socialistic welfare state impels us to selfish indifference toward the needs of individuals in our midst. Benefits entitlements paid for by high taxes foster an attitude of “I gave at the office.” We shrug and walk on when we are asked to help needy individuals in our own backyards.
We become concerned only when a problem affects us directly. Our instinctive response then is to demand that the government do something about it.
There is nothing new about this. It became evident in the earliest days of socialism. Alexis de Tocqueville in his 1856 “The Old Regime and the French Revolution” observed that the French, after several decades of socialism, were concerned with one thing only â€” socialistic equality of status. Each person focused greedily upon what he demanded as his share of public largesse and was indifferent even to his own neighbors.
Under the secularity of socialism, only material things are regarded as valuable. And only the state, liberals presume, can provide the requisite material things. Spiritual matters are dismissed as unscientific ignorance.
Sunday’s sermon at the Black Rock-Long Ridge Congregational Church in North Stamford, Connecticut, focused on Esther in the Old Testament as the example of someone who risked everything she had, including her life, to help others. Rev. Larry Fullerton’s text was the story of Esther, the Jewish queen of Xerxes, the ruler of the great Persian Empire. It is the story behind the Jewish feast of Purim.
Esther, whose Jewish name was Hadassah, was selected by Xerxes to become his queen, but she followed the admonition of her foster father Mordecai and did not reveal to the king that she was Jewish. Later Haman was elevated to a position of great authority under the king, who commanded that everyone bow down before Haman and honor him. This Mordecai refused to do, believing that he should bow down only God.
When Haman was told about Mordecai, he resolved to have him and all his fellow Jews in Persia killed. Xerxes gave Haman his assent to do so.
Learning about the impending mass executions, Mordecai got word to Esther, asking her help.
The key passage for Rev. Fullerton’s sermon was:
“When Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.
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?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:12-16).
The story ends happily. Xerxes is persuaded by Esther not to have the Jews killed, Haman instead taking their place on the gallows.
The point for us today is Esther 4:14 â€“ “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?”
In the 18th century, Edmund Burke expressed the danger of self-centered apathy in a famous aphorism: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.