" . . . And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed," Esther 3: 15.
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair (or not altogether without help); persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed," 2 Corinthians 4: 8, 9.
THE world, as set forth in Shushan, is in a state of great perplexity, and in the world, just as in Esther's day, many of the people of God share in that perplexity as they feel themselves endangered at the present moment. The danger is real; not only are there the dangers of war (and we know who is behind that), but there is the uncertainty of not knowing what we may be called upon to do. Already the seed of the next generation has been called up for military service; yet we recognize, with thanks to God, the door that has been left open for the conscience of those who are not prepared to touch the military system for a godly reason. In the late war, the call was from eighteen to forty; later the age limit was raised to fifty; in the present one, the start was only the youths of twenty—those perhaps immature, being not fully developed, and whose faith and confidence in God may be weak, thus throwing them into anxiety as to the stand they may be called upon to make. But the call has been widened to eighteen to forty-one, and again we are thankful indeed that the door is open so that conscience towards God need not be violated. Yet many Christians are perplexed.
But perplexity is no new thing; all down the history of the saints, there has been perplexity, and if Paul could confess to it, how much more we to-day; yet if he was in perplexity, he also says he was not in despair. Why? Because the One against whom is directed all the hostility of the enemy of our souls, is going to see all His people through without a casualty, as in faith, they take their directions from Christ. Now Esther will no doubt be a great help to the remnant of the Jews in a future day, when the whole fury of the enemy will be released against them; but what we want to be occupied with now is the recognition of principles which never vary or alter. One might question why Esther is in the canon of Holy Scripture, for never once is the name of God mentioned; but against this can also be cited that God's name does not appear at all in the Song of Solomon, and would anyone suggest that the latter could be omitted? for nowhere do we get such tender expressions of the Beloved for His bride. The Song of Solomon is redolent with the choicest expressions of the supremacy of Christ to the assembly. And so in Esther, we find one person brought to light, Mordecai, a wonderful type of Christ, and the last chapter gives Him, as the true Mordecai, His true place of universal authority, which He is soon going to have.
The question may arise in our minds, Why should the Spirit of God occupy us with the affairs and family history of a heathen king and his disobedient consort, Vashti? The reply is, To introduce to us the movements of God for the protection and liberation of His own people. Vashti has to go to make way for Esther, the niece of Mordecai, who is used as moving in implicit obedience at the direction of Mordecai, to the complete overthrow of the enemy, and the securing of life, liberty, and blessing for the Jews, the people of God. If the book of Esther is read with this before us, no incident is either redundant or unnecessary; every one goes to show how that trifling as well as important events, such as the plot on the king's life, are all with a view to Mordecai being brought to the front—supreme. If we do not see our way clearly at the moment, let us take comfort from Paul's word, let us not despair; why, Christ, the true Mordecai, has the situation well in hand, and He is going to see us through, and that in triumph. It is not the remnant of a battered people that He is going to summon to glory, but a people who have been able to stand. No one but Christ can deal with the situation, no one but He can meet the opposition of these Hamans, and if we are to share in His triumph, we must be as subject, submissive and obedient as both Esther and the Jews of that day were.
And how is it that we can pass through such conditions as 2 Corinthians 4: 8 and 9 suggest? Only when we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, but we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. That is the secret; can we say it is our secret? We may. We can be assured that Christ is coming out of all the confusion of the present moment alone supreme, and He has pledged and undertaken to see each one of us through. Who dares say He is not able? None of us; we assent to this, but that is not enough; do we believe in Him? Do we recognize His power? Well, His love is as great—His love for us—and the enemy may seek to stamp out every trace of the people of God, but he will fail, for we have the power of the true Mordecai working for us. Let us not despair; perplexed, perhaps, as some may be, and we truly sympathize with and pray for our younger brethren who are having to face these grave issues, we would be with them; but we beg of them not to act in any way on the lines of expediency, but solely as having received direct communication or instruction from our true Mordecai. Expediency will lead you into the dangerous byways of using your own judgment, and then it is not long before you are in the full current of popular movements, which assuredly for the lover of God, spells independence to His will, a most disastrous course for any believer to be found on.
Liverpool, May, 1938.
“Words of Truth” 1939