A 2019 study reported that as many as 64 percent of twentysomethings who grew up in the church have walked away. A new book from the Barna Group, however, takes a look at those who chose to stay. In Faith for Exiles, David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock ex- amine the beliefs and practices of these “resilient disciples” who follow Christ into adulthood. One of their charac- teristics is cultural discernment—they are able to apply God’s Word to “an accelerated, complex culture.”
Certainly Esther seems to be one of those resilient disciples as she left her Hebrew home and was plunged into the pagan Persian culture. In verses 19 and 20, we learn more about each main character. First, we learn that Mordecai had risen to a prominent position (v. 19). He was sitting at the king’s gate, where matters of the law were settled. Even these seemingly small details are important to the story as we see God’s hand at work. God had purposely positioned Mordecai there to further His work.
Second, we learn that Esther was still following Mordecai’s instructions to keep her Jewish identity a secret (v. 20). She continued in obedience to Mordecai, just as she had as a child.
The Septuagint (the earliest Greek translation of the Hebrew text) also describes Esther as obedient—not just to Mordecai’s law—but also to God’s. In other words, Esther stood firm on the beliefs and values of her childhood, applying those truths to her complex culture, even after she became queen and experienced the pressure of that position. For both Esther and Mordecai, standing firm would not be easy. Their resolution to follow God would take faith and courage.
>> Read Ephesians 6:10–17, where the Apostle Paul describes the “full armor of God.” Consider what it means to be protected by the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God.
Lord Jesus, we pray we will follow the example of Esther and Mordecai in today’s reading, standing firm in the faith, following God’s law with obedience, courage, and grace.