Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

A quiet role model

THE BOOK OF Esther is probably best known for a favorite inspirational quote and one of the greatest paybacks in history.

“For such a time as this” (4:14) is the reference, spoken to Esther. She is challenged to recognize God’s hand on her life and step into the opportunity provided by her circumstances—saving her fellow Jews from destruction.

Haman is the one who gets his comeuppance. Irritated that Mordecai doesn’t kowtow to him, Haman persuades King Ahasuerus to pass a decree wiping out all the Jews in the empire. But in a series of twist-and-turn events right out of a Hollywood movie, Haman ends up not only having to publicly honor Mordecai, but getting strung up on the very gallows on which he intended to hang the man he despised.

The reason is he doesn’t know that Esther is Moredecai’s cousin, a Jew herself, and has the king’s ear. The moral of the story: it pays to do your homework. Hidden behind all this drama in the story, however. is a great example of quiet godly character, in Mordecai himself.

He was devoted. Mordecai took in his younger relative “as his own daughter” when her parents died (Esther 2:7). He didn’t ignore a pressing need.

He was devout. When he learned about the plot against his people, he turned to God. Tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth and ashes—an outward sign of his distress—he went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, in direct defiance of an order no one appear there dressed as he was. He didn’t care what people thought.

He was dutiful. He may not have cared much for the regime he lived under, but he was honorable. When Mordecai learned that two of the king’s eunuchs were plotting some kind of a coup, he reported it to Esther, helping squash the insurrection. He didn’t condone wrongdoing.

He was determined. When he learned of the plan to annihilate the Jews, he asked Queen Esther to intervene. She was reluctant, knowing that to enter the king’s presence uninvited was to risk her own life. Much as he loved her, Mordecai pressed: “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 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?” He didn’t duck difficult situations and conversations.

He was disciplined. After the Jews turned the tables on their would-be persecutors, Mordecai chose not to crow. Rather, he instituted the annual Purim celebration as a time of thanksgiving and gladness. Directing this focus in a letter penned with Queen Esther, he wrote “words of peace and truth” (Esther 9:30). He didn’t focus on the negative.

Esther may have had the starring role in the Old Testament drama bearing her name, but it would not have been possible without Mordecai’s supporting role. Call him a character actor, with an emphasis on character.

Photo by openDemocracy on Foter.com/CC BY-SA

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