Thursday, May 07, 2015

... And if not

Esther 4:15-17
15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Daniel 3:13-18
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

This quote from Daniel came to my attention today in a typical ADD walk through the Internet.

I followed it and ran across the Esther quote. And it made me think: Is there any other place in the Scripture where folks in severe crisis, up against losing their very lives, recognize God's sovereignty?

Is there any other passage where you see God's people acknowledge that "He isn't a tame lion"? That Aslan can't be pushed against a wall and made to perform magic tricks to prove Himself to His people?

It's not that other Biblical figures don't understand this. But it's just not as clearly laid out.

Here are four of God's people who accept God's work in any way it is done ... and don't hold back from their love and worship of Him. Of their duty to Him.

I'll violate my own premise and bring up Abraham willing to offer Isaac on the Mount of the Lord. I'll violate if further with Job, "Though He will slay me, yet will I bless Him".

Similar sentiment ... "I'm letting God be God."

But there's something achingly poignant that resonates with me as I read Esther and Daniel.

And it brought me back to my Pastor's current series Beautiful Brokenness, a moving look at Ezra and Nehemiah's experiences attempting to rebuild a fallen Jersualem after God's judgement and the carrying off of the nation.

Both the Esther passage and the Daniel passage occur in Babylon. They occur in a people who have seen that God will stop at nothing to chastise His people and keep them in line.

Both passages come in the same basic spiritual time and surroundings as Ezra and Nehemiah ... The only difference is that Esther and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are still miles and miles away from their homeland.

But the brokenness is the same.

These people have felt the hand of God ... have seen the destruction ... have known the deepest, most wrenching sorrows.

Their lives are on the line. They are called before the king, the highest authority.

Those around seek to mock and to rejoice. Another God-person fallen. Another proof that this spit so-called-JAWEH spit is but a JOKE.

There might be a temptation to demand God show Himself. Save Esther, save the 3 "sons of Israel".


They make no such demanding cry.

They've been broken with the loss of their heritage, their land, their homes, their specialness as a people. They've lost, it seems, the very promise of God that made them THEM...

In the judgement of exile, they lost it all... But they realize ... that they still have their God.

They respond with quietness. Resolute. Aching but strong.

Brokenness is like that.

In fact, their God is now real as THEIR GOD, not the vague protective deity, but their personal, known GOD. The one they love and worship and to whom they owe their very existence

Before the exile, a smug people of God figured that He'd always rescued them in the end ... He would again.

Now, broken, they realize that God's power can be shown in many ways. In miraculous rescue ...

Or in the solid, quiet faith of people who face destruction and death with such a sure hold on their God they trust (said with a quiet sigh). The God who will resurrect them (and that's the key) ...

That they don't REQUIRE rescue. They are simply in His hands.

A broken person knows resurrection power always wins. If God wills (not simply the resignation to fate of Islam but an active acceptance and love of God) ... He will spare us ...

But His love is not dependent upon that rescue ... It is remarkably sure regardless.


A broken person slowly begins to realize that his only hope to ever stand, to build a wall, to rebuild a city, to pick up the tatters of a life, of a marriage, a body aching with the pain of illness, a parent mourning the loss or deep distress of a child ...

That the only hope to stand through that comes from the living God ...

And it isn't in ANY way dependent upon the outcome. Once broken, you simply weep and know ... He is king. You can serve no other.