14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 ESV)
In 2016 only 55% of the voting age population of the US actually voted in the presidential elections according to “The American Presidency Project” of the University of California in Sta. Barbara. Four (4) out 10 eligible voters either could not vote or chose not to vote.
The Bible does not prescribe a particular model of government but it offers illustrative ideas about the proper relationship between government and the people:
- Governing authorities are God’s servants to do good to the people (Rom. 13:4a). They are to do justice and love kindness (Micah 6:8); protect the people from harm especially the disadvantaged (Ps. 72:12-14); reward good and punish evil (I Pet. 2:13-14).
- God set limits to the power of government authorities. Tax collectors are not to collect more than they should. Soldiers are not to extort money nor accuse people falsely (Luke 3:12-14). Officials are not to use institutional systems for their personal gain (John 2: 13-16). When officials enact laws contrary to God’s will the people “must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).
- The people are to submit to governing authorities (Rom 13: 1) and pray for them
(I Tim. 2:1-2). While all things belong to God, the people are to give to Caesar what
is Caesar’s. (Luke 20:25).
The book of Esther tells how the future existence of the Jewish people – and therefore God’s plan of redemption — was threatened by the arrogance of Haman, the principal minister of the Persian Empire, c. 450 B.C. Haman hated Mordecai for refusing to pay homage to him. Learning that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman secures an edict from the king of Persia to kill all the Jews in the Empire.
Mordecai asks his cousin Esther who happened to be the queen at the time to plead for mercy with the Persian king. However, any one who approached the king without being summoned risked being put to death. Esther could remain passive; the deliverance of the Jews will come from some other place but Esther and her family would perish. Mordecai suggests that maybe Esther had been placed in the kingdom precisely for such a time as this.
Though unsummoned, Esther goes to the king who welcomes her. Esther tells him Haman’s scheme. The king revokes his edict and the Jews are saved. Centuries later the Redeemer Jesus Christ is born to Mary, a young Jewish woman. In Esther’s exercising her personal responsibility God’s plan of salvation for the world continues.
Simultaneous unprecedented challenges confront us today – the pandemic and all the problems it brings; the clamor for change in the system of justice; the impact of climate change. We need leaders in government who are able and willing to help us. We can pray; and we can vote. What a unique privilege and responsibility for such a time as this!
Heavenly Father, help us as we face the challenges of these days. Guide us as we choose our leaders. May our lives and our decisions redound to Your glory and honor. In Christ’s Name. Amen.
Waiting as an overseas citizen for my absentee ballot,
Emmanuel N. ILAGAN
Paul Marshall, “Politics,” and David Gill, “Power” from The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity, InterVarsity Press, 1997, Banks and Stevens, editors.