Christianity 201

June 6, 2021

Speaking Out

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

 

We were on a road trip with the kids and saw a record store and thought we’d pick up a new CD to listen to as we drove. I found an album which contained a song we’d grown to love on YouTube, but it turned out what we’d heard online was a remix, and when the track came up, it was quite different. Still, I always enjoyed the band, but then lost track of them somewhat.

Earlier this week the YouTube algorithm thought I might enjoy a song by them, and as much as I liked the music, I also appreciated that they were using their music industry platform to champion a cause that was important to them.

As I considered this earlier today, I thought of Queen Esther. At a key juncture in the history of her people, she finds herself with a unique platform, and wrestles with risking all to speak out. Mordecai tells her, “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 your royal position for such a time as this?”

The phrase “for such a time as this” is so strongly identified with this story that I hesitated to even quote it, and almost all translators are reluctant to change it, but here’s how some other translations render Esther 4:14:

  • who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this [and for this very purpose]? (Amplified Bible)
  • Maybe it was for a moment like this (CEB)
  • Perhaps it was for a circumstance such as this (Segund 21 via Google translate)
  • Perhaps you have become queen precisely to help us in this situation! (Dios Habla Hoy via Google translate)

Esther’s unique placement in the king’s household meant that there was no plan B; no visible alternative that might effect the deliverance of her people.

The same is true of Nathan. He is another whose story is remembered for a very short phrase, “Thou art the man.” Okay, that’s a bit King Jamesey for some of you, but even with our modern translations, that’s how I remember it. The NIV has it as “Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!'” 2 Samuel 12:7.

I’m sure that in this situation, Nathan was the stereotypical reluctant prophet, though presenting his challenge/accusation to David through a parable certainly softened the impact. Initially, at least. Nathan uses his platform as prophet to arrest David in his tracks. Only then does he launch into more typical prophet-language and in the five verses which follow, spells out to David his transgression with Bathsheba, and we should add, his transgression with Uriah, her husband.

Has God placed you in a unique place in someone’s story or given you a unique platform?

Earlier this week someone tweeted this:

If God calls you to be a Nathan, and you don’t respond, then you need a Nathan.

Think about it.

Clarke Dixon wrote these words here in 2018 referencing Esther:

…Mordecai and Esther are not perfect Jews. Both have names reflecting pagan deities. You have likely heard the expression “Dare to be a Daniel”. We preachers love that story as we encourage people to have the courage to stand up and stick out for their faith. Esther does not dare to be a Daniel until it is nearly too late, preferring, on the advice of Mordecai, to keep her faith a secret, even from her husband! Where Daniel kept to a kosher diet, we see no such efforts from Esther. The Book of Esther is not a story of God rewarding a good Jew for her piety. It is a story of God keeping His covenant promises despite the imperfections of His people…

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is another example of God choosing to use someone uniquely situated in location and time. While she had no platform before the conception miracle, she breaks out into a powerful prophetic voice after being told of her place in God’s larger narrative, revealing the inner-life she had with God. It is only in hindsight we see her willingness to be used by God:

Galatians 4:4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.

and also Christ’s uniquely placement in location and time:

Romans 5:6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (both NIV; italics added)

Sometimes we ourselves need to recognize or even enhance the “no plan B” circumstance. Writer Sharon Jaynes comments on the anointing of Elisha to replace Elijah:

…Elisha was just minding his own business and doing his job when Elijah walked up and threw his cloak over him. I’m sure it seemed very “out of the blue” to this young man. But I’ve learned that oftentimes what seems “out of the blue”, is right “out of God’s playbook.” God had had this in the works for quite some time.

We don’t know much about Elisha. He was just a working man. Every day, he got up out of bed, hooked up the oxen, and looked at their backsides. Nothing special. Nothing extraordinary. Just a working man.

But God had a plan; God chose a man.

Now, here’s what grabbed my heart. After Elijah threw his mantle over Elisha, which was a sign that he was passing his prophetic anointing to the younger man, Elisha went back to tell his family goodbye. He also had a giant barbeque celebration and sacrificed his oxen. He didn’t keep a few just in case this prophet gig didn’t work out. He even burned the plow.

He burned the symbol of his former life.

He burned the source of his former livelihood.

There was no turning back.

There was no plan B…

Who are those uniquely situated in your personal sphere of influence?


For some of you, the mention of Elisha burning the plow (or for our UK readers, plough) reminded you of the popular CCM song, Burn the Ships by King and Country. In 2018 we ran a devotional based on the original story.

 

 

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