4:14 Mordecai acknowledged the sovereignty of God. He knew that Haman could not ultimately succeed in his campaign because God’s design cannot be thwarted. God is the one in control, and he was committed to the preservation of the Jews, who are beneficiaries of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gn 17:1–9).
4:14 Though the name of God does not appear in the Book of Esther, the phrases “who knows” and “from another place” in this verse are clearly “God language” set within a context giving evidence that Yahweh God has placed Esther in a position to save her people, who also are God’s people by way of covenant.
4:14 For if indeed you keep silent This remark of Mordecai’s is one of the most faithful responses in the book, yet it lacks any direct mention of God. Mordecai’s thinking seems to reflect that of Judaism in general—that God would find a way for his people to survive, no matter what (compare Isa 10:20). Mordecai may see this relief coming from another person, another city, or God in general.
you and the family of your father will perish Mordecai could be saying that it will be too late for the Jewish people living in Susa by the time deliverance comes or that divine retribution would come to Esther for her inaction (compare Num 14:18).
Who knows Mordecai’s remark parallels Joel 2:14, where a similar phrase occurs. In both passages, divine relief and deliverance are sought.
for a time such as this Mordecai does not assert why Esther has been appointed queen, but seems to imply that it very well could have been for a divine purpose.
4:14 deliverance will rise. Despite his emotional turmoil (v. 4), deep down Mordecai is sure that the Jews will survive. This reflects his faith that God will protect his people, though the text does not make this explicit. from another place. Mordecai does not seem to know what other source of help would appear, but he expresses confidence that God will somehow rescue his people. your father’s house. Esther’s family on her father’s side. Since Mordecai is sure the Jews will be delivered, his statement that Esther and her family will perish presumably means that they will be punished for Esther’s refusal to act. God is apparently the one who will punish them, though again, this is not explicitly said. you have … come … for such a time as this. The strongest hint yet of Mordecai’s belief in divine providence.
4:14 relief and deliverance. Mordecai exhibited a healthy faith in God’s sovereign power to preserve His people. He may have remembered the Lord’s promise to Abraham (cf. Ge 12:3; 17:1–8). you … will perish. Mordecai indicated that Esther would not escape the sentence or be overlooked because of her prominence (cf. 4:13). such a time as this. Mordecai indirectly appealed to God’s providential timing.
4:14 — “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place .… ”
God is never bound by our faithlessness or cowardice. He desires to use us to bless His people, but if we fail to trust Him, He will use someone else. But He will always accomplish His will.
Vers. 14. Then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place.—Female deliverers in Israel:—
In former ages women, as Deborah and Jael, had been made the instruments of saving Israel. Esther might have a place among those whose memories, after so many generations, were still fragrant among their countrymen. (A. B. Davidson, D.D.)
Enlargement and deliverance:—
Enlargement and deliverance will arise to the Jews, to the Israel of God, under the gospel as well as under the law. Amidst all the distresses of the Church, we may rest assured that she cannot perish. All, therefore, who perform eminent services to the Church ought humbly to thank the Lord for choosing to employ them rather than others; for He is never at a loss for servants to do His work. (G. Lawson.)
And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?—The use of talents to be accounted for:—
A man who knows a particular remedy for a certain disease, of which others are ignorant, would be chargeable with the fatal consequences that may arise from the general ignorance if he locks up his knowledge within his own breast. If Providence furnish us with talents which are not granted to others, we must account for our use of them. If we have opportunities of doing much good which others have not, and make no use of them, we make ourselves guilty of a crime which can be charged upon none but ourselves. (Ibid.)
Services suitable to our situation required by God:—
If God has done remarkable things for us, we have reason to believe that He expects some services from us suited to the situation in which He has placed us, and to the means of service with which He has furnished us. We ought, therefore, when we consider what God hath done for us, to consider at the same time what He requires from us. If our circumstances are peculiar it is likely that some peculiar services are required. (Ibid.)
The time for usefulness:—
Our times are in the Lord’s hands. He fixes the bounds of our habitations and arranges our conditions according to His own will. His servants have a special earthly calling wherein they are called, the duties of which they are individually to fulfil. He has particular relative objects to secure in the exaltation of those whom He loves. And when any of His servants are raised to influence, or wealth, or power, it is that He may make them effective instruments of His power for blessing to others. There is, therefore, a special propriety of time at which His gifts of power and influence are bestowed upon particular men. If one is made rich, it is because there are many poor waiting to be enriched by him, and he is to have the greater blessing of imparting, giving to his fellow-men. There is a particular reason, could we know it, for which we are “come to the kingdom for such a time.” We should study our duty in the circumstances of its time. Every virtue and trait of holiness in her character shines with increasing brightness and beauty as Esther goes forward in her appointed dispensation. Let us consider the circumstances of the time.
- It was a time of great trial for the people of Israel.
- The time tested the sincerity of Esther’s affection for Mordecai, and brought that into immediate demonstration.
- The time also tried the sincerity of Esther’s affection for her nation. The truly pious heart will cherish an universal love. The wants and sorrows of all mankind are the subjects of its sympathy and its concern. But true religion especially exalts and enlarges domestic love, and love for our country and nation. The more truly the heart is engaged for God the more earnestly will it feel the sorrows and needs of those who are near to us. Have we wealth? We have those connected with us who are poor and suffering. Have we station or knowledge? It is no Christian heart which has no fellowship in suffering and no tenderness for woe. Yet we sadly see a hardness of heart often attendant on exalted conditions. Men seem to feel that they have been elevated by their own efforts, and that inability to do the same in others is in some degree a crime which ought to be punished by suffering. They invent every possible excuse for withholding their demanded aid.
- The time displayed her entire disinterestedness of spirit, and her trust in God. She resolved to put the request of Mordecai into immediate operation. Mere self-indulgence would have delighted in her own state of luxury and enjoyment, and have shut her ears and her heart against the cries and woes of her people. To preserve this people she must hazard her own life. Beautiful is this illustration of a disinterested and devoted spirit. I am content to perish to gain the great end of blessing to others which I have before me. Such was the love of our Divine Redeemer for us. “For the joy that was set before Him He endured the Cross and despised the shame.” (S. H. Tyng, D.D.)
A human voice speaks Divine lessons for human lives:—
What are the Divine lessons which this human voice speaks, not only to Esther, but to every true soul.
- That great advantages are conferred for a Divine purpose. Talents, position, influence, wealth.
- That God requires that such advantages should be faithfully used for the promotion of His purposes.
III. That such Divine purposes cannot be frustrated.
- Those who frustrate Divine purposes shall be injured.
- Learn that a faithful discharge of duty must bring rich Results. (W. Burrows, B.A.)
Esther’s exaltation; or who knoweth:—
I shall lay out my sermon under four words.
- To a question. Brother, will you separate your interests from those of your people and your God? Do you mean to say, “I shall look to my own salvation, but I cannot be supposed to take an interest in saving others”? In such a spirit as that I do not say you will be lost, but I say you are lost already. It is as needful that you be saved from selfishness as from any other vice.
- To a second question: If you could separate your interests from those of the cause of God, would you thereby secure them?
- Remember, for your humiliation, that God can do without you.
- As God can do without us, it may be He will do without us.
- How will you bear the disgrace, if ever it come upon you, of having suffered your golden opportunities to be despised?
- To what some of you have been advanced.
- Why the Lord has brought you where you are.
- At what a time it is that you have been thus advanced.
- Under what special circumstances you have come where you are.
- With what singular personal adaptations you are endowed for the work to which God has called you.
III. Aspire. “Who knoweth,” &c. When Louis Napoleon was shut up in the fortress of Ham, and everybody ridiculed his foolish attempts upon France, yet he said to himself, “Who knows? I am the nephew of my uncle, and may yet sit upon the imperial throne,” and he did so before many years had passed. I have no desire to make any man ambitious after the poor thrones, &c., of earth, but I would fain make you all ardently ambitious to honour God and bless men.
- If thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this, be confident that thou art safe.
- If God has a purpose to serve by a man, that man will live out his day and accomplish the Divine design. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The duty of the hour (to an agricultural college):—
This exemplifies a truth of universal application and of particular pertinency. The idea is that the general welfare is best promoted by the advancement of the individual, while the advancement of the individual can be maintained only by his loyal devotion to the public weal. We have discovered in these latter days that relations are of more moment than things. Charcoal, sulphur, nitre are things of some potency, in themselves considered; but they must be brought into the proper relations, the one to the other, before the might of gunpowder shakes the earth. I observe—
- That the college graduate of to-day, who has completed a four years’ course of liberal training in a well-equipped and thoroughly-manned institution of learning comes into a kingdom.
- The college graduate of to-day comes into his kingdom at a time of marvellous and portentous significance.
- Our time, with its sudden transitions, is fraught with danger to all classes of society, but to none more than to those who till the soil. (C. S. Walker, Ph. D.)
The principles of Divine providence:—
- That the providence of God is concerned about the highest good of man. This is shown—
- In the advent of Christ for the world’s salvation.
- The spread of the gospel and the conversion of the Gentiles.
- The restoration of peace between nations and the final destruction of slavery.
- The highest good of man is secured independently of man’s individual conduct. The stream of human agency is like a river, ever flowing and ever changing. One drop in the stream cannot say, “When I am gone the channel will be dry.” No sooner is room made than another follows, and the channel is ever full. So it is in the history of man. God’s providence will secure workers.
III. That men are placed by God in such positions that they may secure for themselves the honour of helping god in his providential work.
- In not making use of our providential position we expose ourselves to fearful evils.
- That in making use of our providential positions, we shall require special qualifications, and shall have the sympathy and co-operation of a holy universe, as well as the commendation and blessing of God. Notice—
- That in doing our duty we show the possession of the highest and noblest moral qualities.
(1) Duty done under the pressure of difficulty is done by faith in God, and is therefore a proof of piety.
(2) Duty done in difficulty requires a self-sacrificing disposition.
(3) Duty done amid difficulties requires consummate skill.
(4) In doing duty no time should be lost.
- That in doing our duty we have the help of a holy universe (chap. 6:1). (Evan Lewis.)
The preservation of the Jews an illustration of the Divine government:—
The text presents for our consideration—
- A firm conviction of an overruling Providence.
- The recognition of human instrumentalities in the Divine government.
III. The principle of self-sacrifice which enables men to be acceptable instruments in the Divine government. (Prof. E. J. Wolf, D.D.)
Position and responsibility:—
Our Lord’s great principle, “Unto whom much is given of him shall much be required,” is clear as a mathematical axiom when we look at it in the abstract; but nothing is harder than for people to apply it to their own cases. If it were freely admitted, the ambition that grasps at the first places would be shamed into silence. If it were generally acted on, the wide social cleft between the fortunate and the miserable would be speedily bridged over. The total ignoring of this tremendous principle by the great majority of those who enjoy the privileged positions in society is doubtless one of the chief causes of the ominous unrest that is growing more and more disturbing in the less favoured ranks of life. If this supercilious contempt for an imperative duty continues, what can be the end but an awful retribution? Was it not the wilful blindness of the dancers in the Tuileries to the misery of the serfs in the fields that caused revolutionary France to run red with blood? (W. F. Adeney, M.A.)
God’s purpose and man’s opportunity:—
I draw from the text the following general truths:
- That running through the providence of this world there is a gracious Divine purpose for its ultimate salvation.
- Mordecai believed in the indestructibility of the Jews. This was with him evidently a religious faith. This faith must have been founded on one or more of the promises of God.
- This purpose of the preservation of the Jews is but a branch and a sign of another and grander purpose—a purpose to gather and save the whole world. This types itself in the kingly history; gleams in the prophet’s vision; breathes in the holy psalm; speaks out in the Acts of the Apostles; runs through all the epistles, and sighs up to heaven in that last apocalyptic cry, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
- That rich and rare opportunities occur in the progress of things, by which believing men are allowed to come effectually “to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” We must spread the gospel or lose it. Our moral opportunities, our seasonable times for action, are very precious, are very brief, and when they are gone they cannot be renewed. So it is at times with Churches, with societies, and with nations.
III. That the neglect of such providential calls has a tendency to bring destruction. Mordecai probably had in view a general principle of retribution, acting at all times, but sure to act swiftly and terribly in a case like this. This principle has its fullest application to the ungodly. The way, the hope, the expectation, the works, the memory, and saddest of all, the soul of the wicked shall perish. Let a Christian man neglect opportunities and hold truth in unrighteousness, and what will happen to him? He perishes as to the real power of his life. It is the same with Churches, &c. No Church, &c., can live except as they continue to be in harmony with the purpose and the providence of God. Where are the seven Churches in Asia?
- That obedience will bring elevation and blessing. (A. Raleigh, D.D.)
Inactivity in the cause of Christ condemned:—
- That the man who used these words was evidently well aware that the cause of God was not dependent on the aids of men. This is evident if we consider—
- The meanness of the instruments and the greatness of the work to be done.
- How absolute are the promises of God, which show His determination to bless His people.
- The power of God. These considerations ought to teach the instruments to be humble, and they ought also to confirm the faith of the people of God.
- That His providence does raise up suitable instruments to carry forward His work.
III. That it is the duty of those instruments to give themselves up to the work. We are not only to study the book of God to know what is our duty in general, but also the book of providence to know what is the particular duty He designs us to do. We ought to study—
- Our particular talent.
- Our sphere.
- Our circumstances.
- The times.
- That an awful doom rests on those who listen not to the call of providence.
- We shall lose the satisfaction of doing good.
- We shall not prosper.
(2) Spiritually. Those who are not actively employed in the service of Christ feel most of the bitterness arising from doubts as to their actual condition and fears as to their spiritual state. Listlessness in the cause of Christ will be a cause of gloom on a dying bed.
- There is an intimate connection between the degrees of glory in heaven and the exercises of activity here. (W. H. Cooper.)
Providence and opportunity:—
God’s providential purpose; man’s present opportunity; that is how I read the lesson of this marvellous history. A purpose clearly written on the face of events and to be readily deciphered from their grouping. Moses at the Red Sea heard a voice telling him to stretch his rod over the sea, that a way might be made for the ransomed to pass over. Now we have no voice; but circumstances gather about us, the rod is thrust into our hand, and we miss our deliverance if we do not see that we must wave the rod. We are not in intellectual and religious infancy. We ought to be able to discover without any warning voice what God’s purpose is, and what our opportunity is worth.
- As to life itself, human existence; entry upon it is a coming to a kingdom. Living now, we are conditioned by the time and circumstances of to-day. Our days have fallen on a time different from all that have gone before, unique in this particular, if in nothing else—the power of public opinion. In former days but one man here and there seemed to have a kingdom to enter upon, a few men swayed the nations, a few men seemed to be inspired to deeds which raised them into leaders of the people. But now the rulers in name are the ruled in fact. The government is governed and the people control everything. It is a great thing to live now. Literature and science pour their wealth out before us. By these things we have the chance of being better men in some directions of thought and of exerting a mightier influence in the world than our fathers could exert. Some men might just as well have lived hundreds of years ago, for any appreciation they seem to have of the privileges and demands of the time. No time is like another in all its details. We have to make it what it shall be. By the impulse of an earnest life, by the influence of holy character, by brief words spoken and little deeds done according to our opportunity, must we do something to mould that public opinion which is omnipotent.
- As Christians we have come to a kingdom. Christianity has always presented two aspects, the offensive and the defensive. In the old days of national warfare, when ships were made of wood, rough-wrought cannon and shot were sufficient means of attack. But with the iron-plating has necessarily come improvement in the means of destruction. As the ship becomes more exposed to the danger of improved appliances she must be more scientifically defended. We sometimes smile as we see the way in which truth used to be asserted and defended. We now see that truth is its own best defence. (J. Jones.)
The day we live in:—
Esther had her God-appointed work. You and I have ours.
- In order to meet the special demand of this age you need to be an unmistakable, aggressive Christian. Of half-and-half Christians we do not want any more. A great deal of the piety of the day is too exclusive. It hides itself. It needs more fresh air, more outdoor exercise. There are many Christians who are giving their entire life to self-examination. They are feeling their pulses to see what is the condition of their spiritual health. How long would a man have robust physical health if he kept all the day feeling his pulse instead of going out into active, earnest, every-day work? I was once amid the wonderful, bewitching cactus growths of North Carolina. I never was more bewildered with the beauty of flowers, and yet when I would take up one of these cactuses and pull the leaves apart the beauty was all gone. You could hardly tell that it had ever been a flower. And there are a great many Christian people in this day just pulling apart their Christian experiences to see what there is in them, and there is nothing left in them. This style of self-examination is a damage instead of an advantage to their Christian character. I remember when I was a boy I used to have a small piece in the garden that I called my own, and I planted corn there, and every few days I would pull it up to see how fast it was growing. Now, there are a great many Christian people in this day whose self-examination merely amounts to the pulling up of that which they only yesterday or the day before planted. If you want to have a stalwart Christian character, plant it right out of doors in the great field of Christian usefulness. The century plant is wonderfully suggestive and wonderfully beautiful, but I never look at it without thinking of its parsimony. It lets whole generations go by before it puts forth one blossom; so I have really more admiration when I see the dewy tears in the blue eyes of the violets, for they come every spring. Time is going by so rapidly that we cannot afford to be idle. A recent statistician says that human life now has an average of only thirty-two years. From these thirty-two years you must subtract all the time you take for sleep, and the taking of food, and recreation; that will leave you about sixteen years. From those sixteen years you must subtract all the time that you are necessarily engaged in the earning of a livelihood; that will leave you about eight years. From those eight years you must take all the days, and weeks, and months—all the length of time that is passed in sickness; leaving you about one year in which to work for God.
- To meet the duties this age demands of you, you must, on the one hand, avoid reckless iconoclasm, and on the other hand, not stick too much to things because they are old. Do not take hold of a thing merely because it is new. Do not adhere to anything merely because it is old. There is not a single enterprise of the Church or the world but has sometime been scoffed at. There was a time when men derided even Bible societies, and when a few young men met in Massachusetts and organised the first missionary society ever organised in this country there went laughter and ridicule all around the Christian Church. They said the undertaking was preposterous. And so also the work of Jesus Christ was assailed. People cried out, “Who ever heard of such theories of ethics and government? Who ever noticed such a style of preaching as Jesus had?” Many have thought that the chariot of God’s truth would fall to pieces if it once got out of the old rut. And so there are those who have no patience with anything like improvement in church architecture, or with anything like good, hearty, earnest church singing, and they deride any form of religious discussion which goes down walking among every-day men rather than that which makes an excursion on rhetorical stilts. Oh, that the Church of God would wake up to an adaptability of work! There is work for you to do, and for me to do, in order to this grand accomplishment. Here is my pulpit, and I preach in it. Your pulpit is the bank. Your pulpit is the store. Your pulpit is the editorial chair. Your pulpit is the anvil. Your pulpit is the house scaffolding. Your pulpit is the mechanic’s shop.
III. In order to be qualified to meet your duty in this particular age, you want unbounded faith in the triumph of the truth and the overthrow of wickedness. (T. De Witt Talmage, D.D.)
Women’s duty to the age (a woman’s sermon to women):—
What is women’s duty? It is to be gentle, true, devoted. It is to be as strong as it is in her to be and as beautiful as possible. It is to be a discreet keeper at home, a willing performer of out-of-sight duties, a helpmeet to man, a mother in Israel, a handmaid of the Lord. It is a fact past denial that women do exert an immense influence in the world. An English bishop has said, “A nation is what its women make it.” No man is so strong, or so wise, or so good, that he can afford to do without the gentle remonstrance, the inspiriting plaudits, the pure and bright life-example of the women of his family. There is great need now for “women who understand the times and know what the people ought to do.” Reforms are necessary, and in making them we shall certainly have to begin with ourselves. Better women will make better homes, better homes will make better society, better society will raise the tone of public opinion, and influence those who frame and execute our laws. Let us learn from the example of Queen Esther how to become better.
- Let us recognise the fact that as she had her opportunity, so have we ours. If we look around us we must see how God brings certain persons into certain circumstances because they are most fit to be there. One in a family converted. One in a family to whom has been given the seeing eyes and the understanding heart. One in a family more clever, more strong, more amiable than the rest. Why? That that one may fulfil the duties, and meet, not shirk, the responsibilities of that position.
- Let us learn that the fact of a duty being difficult and dangerous is no excuse for our failing to perform it honestly.
III. We may learn the source of true strength and confidence.
- We may learn that having seen our duty, and asked God’s guidance and blessing, we should fearlessly go through with our task. Fearlessly, but wisely, according to the light that is given to us. Esther fortified her soul with trust in God, and then used her own common sense. Esther’s judgment was equal to her courage. She knew how to “bide her time. (Marianne Farningham.)
This message sets before us three weighty principles.
- That God’s cause is independent of our efforts. Mordecai believed that the record of God’s faithfulness in the past gave the assurance that in some way of His own He would prevent the extinction of His people. This is an attitude of mind we should seek to cultivate in reference to the cause of Christ. This cause has the omnipotence of God behind it. He has promised Christ the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession, and, whoever helps and whoever hinders, His word shall not be broken. One man with truth and the promise of God at his back is stronger than an opposing world. The cause of Christ has come through crises when persecution has tried to exterminate it. It has passed through periods of scepticism when learning and cleverness have fancied that they have blown it away as an exploded superstition. Men have had to stand up for it single-handed against principalities and powers, but with it at their backs they have been stronger than all that were against them.
- That we are not independent of it. We cannot hold back from Christ’s cause with impunity. It can do without us, but we cannot do without it. If religion is a reality, to live without it is to suppress and ultimately destroy the most noble part of our being. To live without God is to renounce the profoundest and most influential experience which life contains. If Christ is the central figure in history, and if the movement He has set agoing is the central current of history, then to be dissociated with His aims is to be a cipher or perhaps even a minus quantity in the sum of good.
III. Christ’s cause offers the noblest employment foe our gifts. It is a transfiguring moment when the thought first penetrates a man that the purpose for which he has received his gifts is to help humanity and the cause of Christ in the world. A man enters upon his spiritual majority when he ceases to be the most important object in the world to himself, and sees outside an object which makes him forget himself and irresistibly draws him on. The problem of the degraded and disinherited is pressing on the attention of intelligent minds with an urgency which cannot be disregarded. The heathen world is opening everywhere to the influences of the gospel If you would run in response to this call, do not neglect the preparation. Knowledge is the armour of light in which the battles of progress have to be fought. Life for God in public must be balanced by life with God in secret. (James Stalker, D.D.)
It has been observed that with every great emergency God has raised up a man equal to the emergency. As God called Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, David, and Daniel for a special work, so He called Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror, Washington and Lincoln. As God inspired Bezaleel to invent cunning works, so to-day He raises up such men as an Edison to solve and use mysterious forces of nature. Every age and every emergency has had the men needed for the age and the emergency. The apostles met the demand of their age. The Church Fathers did a peculiar work for which they were fitted. Luther came upon the scene just when needed. This is also true of all great men who have become the world’s leaders and saviours. I have spoken of man, but what has been said of him is equally as true of woman. She may not have been so conspicuous a figure, but she was none the less important. When Samuel’s mother consecrated her boy to the service of Jehovah; had she no part in determining the destiny of Israel? When the mother and grandmother instructed young Timothy in the Scriptures, did they have no part in the establishment of the Apostolic Church? When Martha and Mary made a home for the Saviour, a place where He could lay His head, did they not perform an important part? When the mother of Augustine taught and conversed with him about Scriptures, did she not do much toward making Augustinian confessions possible? The mother of Alfred the Great was his first teacher and always his most trusted counsellor. The mother of Henry VII. of England did more than her royal son for the dissemination of learning and the establishment of colleges. The rise of Methodism goes back beyond John or Charles Wesley to their noble mother. Who familiar with the life of Herschel and his sister can doubt that much of his greatness rests upon her co-operation and untiring labour? The name of Joan of Arc suggests what woman can do on the field of war. Of every woman mentioned it might be said, “Thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” The breadth of woman’s influence is widening. She is the strongest social force of to-day. Life is her key-board which she may sweep with a master’s touch if she will. To woman all doors are open. She may enter and win her bread without being touched by snobbishness and caste. The entrance of woman into the various occupations has had the tendency to stop the growing boorishness which was manifesting itself in business circles. It is slowly but surely leading men to recognise the one great work of life not to be money getting, but character building. She is giving a shading to the values of life; hence we are beginning to place things more nearly where they belong. In temperance reform woman has been, and is still, the leader. Time and again she has undergone the scoffs of rowdies and the ridicule of pot-house politicians, but feeling that God called her to the kingdom for such an hour as this, she has risked popularity and society influence in defence of home and children. The most important work in all this widening field of woman’s activity is the evangelisation of the world. It is of God. It touches man’s deepest need. It brings him the blessings of a Christian civilisation and the assurance of life eternal. It is therefore the highest service woman can enter into. There is nothing that will yield greater joy or larger returns. (W. C. Burns, D.D.)
The Church and the present crisis:—
I ask you to observe—
- That a crisis has come of overwhelming importance in the religious history of the world. It is a crisis of magnificent opportunity and also of infinite responsibility. It is a crisis in which unparalleled success may be achieved for the glory of God, or where Churches may be utterly broken and destroyed by their unfaithfulness and disobedience. It is, indeed, the crisis of history; for never have such opportunities for the evangelisation of our own country, or of the heathen abroad, been presented; never have difficulties been so remarkably removed, and never were calls for help so loud and piercing as just now. That I may help you to realise this truth, let me recall a few facts to your remembrance. Within the lifetime of some now here the world was practically closed against the extension of Protestant Christianity. Mohammedanism sealed itself against the truth of Jesus; and the heathen nations of the earth were walled around by prejudice or by prohibitory laws. China and Japan were hermetically sealed against the entrance of Christianity. And now, with our scientific discoveries, our mechanical inventions, our great social movements and combinations, we are sweeping along with a rapidity which it is almost bewildering to contemplate. All this is wonderful beyond realisation. Never did the human race move so quickly. Time after time have the maps of the world been altered and reformed in our day. Now with a startling swiftness the moral map of the world is changing, and no one can presage what will be the next great movement that will command the wonder of mankind. In all these revolutions and developments of the hour, what institution ought to be more concerned than the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ? The Church of to-day is the arbiter of the world’s future. It is called on to save idolatrous nations awakening from the sleep of ages from relapsing into the abyss of scepticism. It is summoned to sanctify and beautify the growing intelligence and wealth of barbarous peoples, by suffusing them with the glory of Christian holiness and truth. It is destined to become the harbinger and bestower of liberty, of enfranchisement, of spiritual expansion to classes and masses of the race who have hitherto groaned in bondage and shame.
- What is required from the Church to meet the pressing crisis. We have a Church of the times; we need a Church for the times. The Church of the times is far too much formal, aiming at gentility and fashion; the Church for the times must be spiritual and powerful, aiming at evangelistic aggression and the conversion of the world. If the Church will seek a new baptism and enter on a new career of aggressiveness, how soon the most glorious prophecies of time shall be fulfilled it is impossible to realise. “A short work will God make upon the earth.” A very brief period sufficed for the destruction of Sennacherib’s host and for the downfall of Babylon. It was a short time only that was required for the humbling of Napoleon’s pride. And if the Church of God, with her splendour of learning, her ripeness of intellect, her boundless wealth, and her unparalleled vantage-ground, be only faithful and obedient, and ready for the avalanche of opportunities which now present themselves, the progress of the gospel must be far more rapid and glorious than ever before. (W. J. Townsend.)
Man born for an end:—
While we continue on earth we are obliged to a sort of spiritual speculation; to judge as well as we can, but to remain uncertain; to take the most important steps in the dark; to pursue our course like vessels in a mist, cautiously and fearfully, having no clear view of the coast by which we sail, but only catching here and there a dubious sign of where we are, and whither we are tending. This acting on venture is emphatically taught in the text. Observe—
- That all generations and individuals are created for their own end. We cannot doubt that it was with a definite design that God set up the pillars of the universe. And so with its continued existence. The mighty river of human life which gushed forth in Adam, flows, we are sure, to some goal and makes to some issue. God beholds the vast tide of being sweeping on to a glorious consummation, which He perceives now, and we shall see hereafter, to have been the point to which the current tended from the beginning. This will appear from the continual changes which take place. Why do not men’s habits remain always the same? Why does one generation abandon the principles and tastes of its predecessor? How is it that the nineteenth century is not like the sixteenth? Continual change intimates that we are travelling on to an appointed destination. To suppose otherwise would be to suppose God to be a God, not of order, but of confusion. We see traces of this in the several dispensations of religion which God has revealed. The law prepared the way for the gospel; all the wars and conquests of Rome brought the human family into a condition the most favourable for the preaching of the apostles. The Patriarchal, the Levitical, and the Christian dispensations, appear to follow in manifest order, each working up and fading into that which came next. What the world is now is a necessary step to what the world is to be. And what is true of periods of a thousand years is true also of each period of fourscore years. Every generation of human kind is born for an end. We are apt to consider overmuch individual life, not the life of the universe. We see unnumbered ripples on the stream of time, coming and going apparently without cause or effect: God beholds in each ripple an onward flow; that not one could be withdrawn without injury to the symmetry of the great whole. There arises out of all this a very solemn character attaching to our tenure of life. We have our part in a stupendous work, whose limits we cannot discern. We have been launched into being just at the moment when we were wanted. Not to do our own pleasure, but to fulfil a part in working out God’s counsels. This is the solemn vocation of each generation.
- Very commonly a man’s life works up to, or hangs upon a certain critical moment. “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Oh I they are words which may well sound in the ears of the soul, at many a sick-bed, at many an event of inferior importance in our earthly career. How did Abraham live seventy years in his father’s house an ordinary man, till the mysterious moment when the voice said to him, “Come out from thy kindred”? and on what he did at that strange bidding hung not only his, but the world’s history! How did all David’s life turn upon the incident, that at the moment when he chanced to visit his brethren in the camp, at that moment Goliath came out with his defiance of the living God! And so with ourselves: there are in almost every man’s life turning-points upon which all hangs. Who cannot look back and discern times and seasons when, if he had acted otherwise, his whole after-life would have been altered? And thus in religion—whether a man be lost or saved will frequently depend upon a step taken at a particular crisis; all subsequent steps grow out of that step. True that every hour of our lives is an hour when good and evil are set before us. There are strong temptations occurring at intervals, which, well got over, leave a man’s heart for a long time at liberty; which, if not resisted, lead from deceit to deceit—from sin to sin—until there is no getting the feet out of the net. “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Sometimes a man’s whole life may be traced afterwards to have led up to one such moment. His education, his tastes, his companionships may all be discerned to have been the instrumentality of drawing him into the wilderness for his one great conflict with the adversary. (J. B. Woodford, M.A.)
Every one has his peculiar work:—
The thought to a devout man is always supreme—thou art come here for such a time—for such a purpose. Thy steps are ordered of the Lord. Thy talents, thy character, thy place in society have all been shaped and settled, with a special adaptation to the Divine purpose. “Nothing walks with aimless feet.” As in the human body every function, so in the Divine government every Christian is placed to do a work which none else can do, and his Lord’s eye is ever on him. While this is his victory over every base fear, and discouraging thought, his faith, his confidence that God has called him to his proper work, will sustain him in it. (Homilist.)
Let us learn from the appeal of Mordecai to Esther that opportunity is the test of character. “Who knoweth,” he said, “whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” It was the tidal time of her life, the great opportunity of her existence, and the question was whether she would rise to the occasion and make it subservient to her greatness or whether it would sweep her away with it as weak, irresolute, and unequal to the emergency. Happily she stood the test, and by her courageous self-devotion proved that she was worthy of the affection with which her foster-father regarded her. Character is revealed only by being tested, and that test often comes in the shape of sudden elevation. The common idea, I know, is that character is tested only by affliction; but I am not sure if prosperity be not a more searching acid than adversity. Now, this is a truth which ought never to be lost sight of by any one among us. What we shall do in a crisis depends upon what we have been doing all along in the ordinary routine of our lives, when no such emergency was on us. We cannot cut ourselves off from the past. There is a continuity in our lives, such that the habits which we have formed in the days that are gone do largely condition for us our resources in the present. Every day we live we are either adding to that constant element in us which constitutes our truest selves, and so increasing that reserve force on which in times of emergency we can draw with advantage, or we are expending with imprudent prodigality our spiritual capital, and living morally beyond our means, so that when a crisis comes we cannot stand it, and must inevitably go down. The careful man who husbands his earnings and stores them in some safe bank is able, when a time of adversity comes upon him, to tide over the difficulty by breaking in upon the surplus which he has accumulated. We all see and admit that in the case of deposits that are made outside of ourselves, and which are not us so much as they are ours. But we too frequently fail to take note of it in respect to the character deposits or drafts which we are constantly making on or from ourselves—meaning, thereby, our souls. If, as each morning dawns, we meet every duty as it calls us, or face every temptation as it attacks us, as a duty to be performed, or a temptation to be resisted out of regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall thereby add to our store of strength for the confronting of what may yet be before us; but if we go through our lives seeking only our own ease or the gratification of our appetites, or the indulgence of some evil ambition, we are, in all that, only weakening ourselves, and making ourselves so much the less to be relied upon when we come into our kingdom, and have to face a time like that which Esther was here required to meet. Travellers tell us of a tree in tropical countries, the inner parts of which are sometimes eaten out by ants, while the bark and leaves remain apparently as fresh as ever, and it is not till the tornado comes and sweeps it down that its weakness is discovered. But the storm did not make the tree weak: it only revealed how weak it really was; and its feebleness was the result of the gnawings of innumerable insects through a long course of years. In like manner, if we let our characters be honeycombed by neglect of common duty, or by daily indulgence in secret sin, or by habitual yielding to some temptation, we cannot expect anything else than failure when the testing hour shall come. What an importance thus attaches to what I may call the commonplace of life! We are apt, when we read such a history as that before us, to exclaim, “How tremendously important these grand outstanding opportunities of doing some great service are!” And no doubt they are all that we can say they are. But then we forget that the bearing in these of the individuals to whom they have been given will depend on the characters which they have been forming and strengthening in the ordinary routine life of every day before they came into their kingdom. It is out of the commonplace, well and faithfully done, that the heroic is born; and the splendid devotion of Esther to the welfare of her people would never have been heard of had she not meekly learned and diligently practised the lessons of her girlhood which Mordecai taught her in his pious home. The prize-taker at the end of the year is the daily plodder all through it. The gaining of his diploma by a student depends, no doubt, on the manner in which he passes his final examination. That is for him the equivalent of this occasion in the life of Esther; but then the proficiency which at that time he manifests does itself depend on the steady, constant perseverance which he has maintained in his class work from hour to hour throughout his course. (W. M. Taylor, D.D.)
Nor does this prophetic utterance of Mordecai apply simply to our position and responsibility as a nation, but also to our circumstances and obligations as individuals. When a ship is moving in a certain course, and there is descried a wrecked crew and passengers tossed in their little boat, or imprisoned on some lonely island, the captain might well consider whether he has not been brought into the course which he has taken for “such a time”—such an occasion of humanity and benevolent action as that—and would be censured if he did not avail himself of it for the rescue of the perishing. In every life there are junctures when the same reflection should have a place in our minds. It may be an orphan family cast in the way of a wealthy relative whom he has the opportunity of taking under his protection and guardianship, or an infidel assault on the vital doctrines of Christianity, when just such talents and faith as we may possess may be what is needful to repel it, or an injury being done to a neighbour when, from our position and influence, interference on our part may be all that is called for to prevent it. In a thousand different ways may we have to consider whether God has not so placed us in providence as to be specially qualified and circumstanced for the accomplishment of particular works of faith and labours of love. (T. McEwan.)
As I read Captain Mahan’s masterly and noble “Life of Nelson” the other day with Esther in my mind, I could not but mark with my pencil such things as these in that great sea-captain who had such a hand in setting England up on her high opportunity. “Opportunity,” says the excellent biographer, “flitted by, but Nelson was always ready and grasped it.” Again, and again, and again the same thing is said of Nelson, till it shines out above all his other great gifts, and becomes the best description of his great genius. But we are not great queens like Esther, with the deliverance of Israel in our hands; nor are we great sea-captains like Lord Nelson, with the making of modern England in our hands. No. But we are what we are, and what God has made us to be and to do. We all have our own circle set round us of God, and out of our own circle our own opportunities continually arise. Our opportunities may not be so far-reaching or so high-sounding as some other men’s are; but they are our opportunities, and they are far-reaching enough for us. Our opportunities are life or death to us and to others; they are salvation or condemnation to our immortal souls; and is that not circle and opportunity enough? We are all tempted every day to say, “If I only were Esther! If I only had a great opportunity, would I not rise to it! Would I not speak out at any risk! Would I not do a work, and win a name, and deliver Israel, and glorify God!” Did you ever read of Clemens, and Fervidus, and Eugenia, and their imaginary piety? Clemens had his head full of all manner of hypothetical liberalities. He kept proposing to himself continually what he would do if he only had a great estate. Come to thy senses, Clemens. Do not talk what thou wouldst be sure to do if thou wast an angel, but think what thou canst do as a man. Remember what the poor widow did with her one mite, and go and do likewise. Fervidus, again, is only sorry he is not a minister. What a reformation he would have worked in his own life by this time, and in his whole parish, if only God had made him a minister! He would have saved his own soul, and the souls of his people, in season and out of season. Do you believe yourself, Fervidus? You are deceiving yourself. You hire a cabman to drive you to church, and he sits in the wet street waiting for you, and you never ask him how he manages to live with no Sabbath. It is not asked of you, Fervidus, to live and die a martyr; but just to visit your cabman’s wife and children, and have family worship with them on a Sabbath night like you would have done if you had been a minister. Eugenia, again, is a young lady full of the most devout dispositions. If she ever has a family she will let you see family religion. She is more scandalised than she can tell you at the way that some of her schoolfellows have married heathens, and at the life they lead without God’s worship in their newly-married houses. But, Eugenia, you may never be married so as to show married people how to live. At the same time, you have a maid already, all to yourself. She dresses you for church, and then you leave her to have as little religion as a Hottentot. You turn her away when she displeases you, and you hire another, and so on, till you will die unmarried, and without a godly household, and your circle will be dissolved and your opportunity for ever lost. Your maid, and her sister, and her widowed mother, and her ill-doing brother, and her sweetheart, they all are your circle at present, and your opportunity is fast flitting by; and, because it is so near you every day, you do not discover it. Oh, Eugenia, full to the eyes of so many vain imaginations! You never heard of Eugenia, and Fervidus, and Clemens before, and do not know where to find them. But no matter. You and I are Fervidus and Eugenia ourselves. You and I are Mordecai and Esther ourselves. We are in that circle, and amid those opportunities, the very best that all the power, and all the wisdom, and all the love of God can provide for us. (A. Whyte, D.D.)
4:14 relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place. This is the most theologically “loaded” statement in the entire book. The wording “from another place” is “tantalizingly vague.” The Hebrew phrase that is translated “from another place” (mimaqom ’aher) functions as a circumlocution (i.e., indirect reference) for God. The Hebrew phrase, like the English translation, is prepositional, “from another place” (i.e., “from God”). According to Jewish tradition, “the Place” can be used as a cipher for God’s name. These are two sides of the same coin: God as the ultimate cause and his use of a secondary agent. Throughout the book, God remains “hidden,” yet never better acknowledged than here. Mordecai is certain that God will intervene—if not through Esther, then through a different agent. Mordecai’s logic is this: Esther’s life may be in peril if she approaches the king uninvited, but her death is certain if she does not.
And who knows … such a time as this? His question should probably be heard as one of hope, without presumption (cf. Jon. 3:9). Again, a theme and similar terms (e.g., “deliverance”) vital to the Joseph story (cf. Gen. 45:5–7).
14 An initial reading of this verse seems to indicate Mordecai’s unwavering hope in the providence of God. Even if Esther keeps silent, deliverance will arise from another place, but Esther herself has the opportunity to be a significant player in the deliverance of her people. Nevertheless, it is not at all clear how to read the statement about deliverance by itself and then how to read it in the context of the rest of the verse and the potential threat at the end of v. 13. For whatever reason, Mordecai has just warned Esther that she is not immune in the king’s household, and he repeats the warning here: “you and your father’s house will perish.” The latter warning includes him, as he is her only “family.” That would be particularly poignant for her as she has been nurtured by him in the absence of her “father’s house.”
Furthermore, his challenge to consider the reason she has been brought to the royal position has its force only if there were no other alternative! Otherwise, she could easily be tempted to do nothing but simply rest in the hope that relief will indeed come from somewhere else. One way of addressing the issue is to posit that help might arise (yaʿamôd), but elsewhere, and the proximity of the royal palace to Haman and the center of the maelstrom would mean that Esther and Mordecai will get swept away.
John M. Wiebe (“Esther 4:14: ‘Will Relief and Deliverance Arise for the Jews from Another Place?’ ” CBQ 53/3 (1991): 409–15) interprets the second clause of this verse as a rhetorical question that assumes a negative response. The relevant portion would read, “if you keep silent at this time, will help and deliverance come for the Jews from another place? [Answer: ‘No, it won’t …;] and you and your father’s house will perish [‘as well’].” This rendition addresses the problems that are incumbent in the traditional reading of the text, namely, that if help does arise from (whatever is meant by) “another place,” why would not Esther’s family, and especially Mordecai, also be delivered by this agent? As a result of the truly dire nature of Mordecai’s challenge, Esther’s mood changes dramatically, and the narrative takes a decisive turn.
The use of “who knows” in this context is not an ambivalent expression of doubt but rather a strong statement that Esther is indeed the Jews’ only hope and that she has been brought to this point for this time. On the confidence of the expression, see Joel 2:14 and Jonah 3:9. Mordecai’s closing statement may be an oblique acknowledgment that Esther’s experience in getting to that point has been a horrifying one for her and for him as her guardian.
 Duke, B. (2017). Esther. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 588). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Es 4:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Es 4:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 858). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Es 4:14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Es 4:14). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.
 Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther (Vol. 5, pp. 53–63). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.
 Schmutzer, A. J. (2018). Esther. In M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton (Eds.), Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther (p. 253). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.
 Phillips, E. (2010). Esther. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Chronicles–Job (Revised Edition) (Vol. 4, pp. 634–635). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.