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October 24, 2012

Stand // Day 8

Before You Stand

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16 (NIV)

One of my favorite women in the Bible is Esther. God used this beautiful young Jewish girl to become the Queen of Persia. His purpose was for her to stand in the gap for the Jewish people who were under threat of total annihilation by a wicked government leader second only to the King himself. Esther’s courage to take a stand that could have cost her own life teaches us how to stand effectively and what to do before we stand.

The story unfolds with her cousin, Mordecai, informing her of the murderous plot of Haman, the wicked government official who hated the Jews and sought to destroy them completely from the Persian Kingdom. He had already set the order in motion when Mordecai challenges his younger cousin to appeal to the King on behalf of the Jews. There are a couple of classic lines in the drama that lead Esther to take her stand:

First, Mordecai challenges her to consider her destiny. Listen to what he says in Esther 4:13-14, “… Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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 royal position for such a time as this?” Mordecai realized that God had placed Esther in a position of influence for this very reason. He would use her to save the Jews. However, he also realized that if she shrank back in fear that God would bring deliverance from someone else, and Esther would have missed her divine destiny. What a challenge!

This has huge implications for each of us. You were created by God, and you were created for God! You are not an accident. You may not have been planned by your parents, but God foreknew you before the very foundation of the world and planned your creation for this very time and place! Nothing can be more exciting than discovering your divine destiny! It only happens through a personal relationship with Christ. Our primary purpose is to know Him, love Him and serve Him with all our heart, mind and strength. As we do He unfolds assignments that He wants to accomplish in this world through us that reveal His likeness and glory as we obey Him. But how do we do it? How did Esther have the courage to accept the challenge and take such a bold stand? To enter the King’s presence uninvited, even though you were the Queen, would mean certain death with only one exception. If the King was pleased to accept your company, he would hold out his royal scepter and spare your life! (Wow, ladies, how would you like to be married to that guy?) Esther understood the risk that she would take to stand before the King on behalf of her people.

That leads us to the second classic line in this drama. Before Esther takes her stand she wisely says to Mordecai, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16 (NIV)

This is why I love the Bible so much and this incredible story. It offers us wise counsel for what we should do before we take a stand. What are you facing in your life that will require a miracle to accomplish? The risks are high, and your heart is afraid because you can’t predict the outcome. You feel awkward and unsure, but you know you must take this stand. What do you do? Before you take the stand, consider the wise counsel of Esther and set aside specific time to pray and fast so that you are spiritually prepared for whatever the outcome. It may be a day or three days. One time Daniel fasted for 21 days. Moses did two 40-day fasts. Even Jesus fasted 40 days before He launched His public ministry and picked His disciples. Fasting is simply a means of seeking God as we refrain from our normal diet and using that time when we would otherwise be eating to pray. It is usually associated with times of crisis or major decisions. While we should take every decision before God, fasting provides an opportunity for us to align ourselves with God’s will.

Esther went before the King. It was her God-given destiny. She boldly took her stand, and God used her in an amazing way to save the Jews! Your destiny will be different, but the conviction to stand and the preparation through prayer and fasting will be the same if you are to stand fearless and determined.