For Such a Time…

In history class this week, we have been studying the Persian Empire. It is fascinating to see how some of the Biblical stories fit into the historical timeline. Each story has its pinnacle moment in which God’s people offer astounding testimony to His goodness even in the midst of their suffering.

The Judean people were conquered by the Babylonians who were conquered by the Persians. So the Jews were under first Babylonian rule and later Persian rule. They were exiled in a land not their own. But God was preserving for Himself a renment of the faithful. And their stories, fill me with awe, inspiring me to believe God even in my time of exile.

Consider these rousing testimonies:

Daniel 3: 16-28 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied: ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to deliver us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Daniel 6:10: “But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. he prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.”

Esther 4: 13-14 “The Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: ‘Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief will come from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

God had each of these individual right where he wanted them to display His glory among the pagans. They were faced with agonizing risk. Obedience to God was tremendously costly for Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, and Esther. But Mordecai’s famous challenge to Esther, still rings true for each of us today. It is sobering to think that I could refuse to participate in God’s global plan, and thereby miss out. Mordecai was certain that God would raise up a rescuer for His people. If Esther had refused, she would have forfeited the joy of being a part of God’s powerful redemption plan.

When I am faced with the agony of exile, these Old Testament saints remind me of God’s precious hand in my circumstances, His ultimate plan, and His sustaining power.

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