About Jesus Steve Sweetman
I Perish, I Perish
story line to the Old Testament book of Esther is as follows.
Historical evidence suggests that Xerxes, emperor of the old
Medo-Persian Empire, had 360 wives, countless concubines, and various
virgins to fulfill his fantasies. Queen
Vashti was one of his wives. Xerxes
dethroned her because she refused to parade her sexuality before a
gathering of drunken Persian officials.
The hunt for a new queen began by rounding up pretty young
virgins from across the empire for Xerxes to check out. One
particular virgin pleased Xerxes sufficiently enough that he crowned her
was second in command in the empire.
He hated an Israeli man named Mordecai because Mordecai refused
to bow down before him, as was dictated by law.
So, Haman persuaded Xerxes to pass an edict to kill every Israeli
in the empire. Once Xerxes
issued such a decree, it became an irrevocable law.
of Haman's reasoning, or should I say excuse, to kill Israelis was that
they were a "distinct society" within the empire.
Israelis kept to themselves and practiced their own religious and
cultural traditions. They
just didn't fit into Persian style multiculturalism.
society appears to have had some form of what we call multiculturalism.
The Medes and Persians conquered their way from
of these laws that all ethnic peoples had to comply with stated that no
one could approach Xerxes without first being invited.
Any attempt to visit the emperor without permission could lead to
an untimely and immediate death. This became a problem for Queen Esther
after hearing of the decree to kill all Israelis.
a mediator, Mordecai reminded Esther that Xerxes didn't know she was an
Israeli, and once he found out, she'd not only lose her crown but her
life. He went on to say that
for this very reason, that is Israel's salvation, God placed her in the emperor's life.
day was fast approaching. Esther
hadn't seen Xerxes for 30 days and she had no clue when she'd be invited
back for a visit. She had to
persuade Xerxes to stop this massacre, but should she endanger her life
and approach Xerxes without obtaining permission?
She called on all Israelis in the capital city to join her
in a 3 day fast. She then
made the decision of her life by saying, "I will go to the king,
even though it is against the law. And
if I perish, I perish". (Esther 4:16)
had mercy on Esther. Although
she was willing to perish, she didn't.
Since Persian law forbade Xerxes to annul his decree to kill
Israelis, he issued a second decree.
Anyone who killed an Israeli would be executed, thus effectively
nullifying the original decree.
most important words in the book of Esther are, "if I perish, I
perish". Because of
Esther's courage, faith, and conviction, she was willing to lay down her
life for fellow Israelis. More
importantly, another satanic attempt to kill the Israeli race failed.
One young girl's defiance of Persian law and her willingness to
perish saved a nation.
the centuries, and even today, followers of Jesus have and still do live
with the same conviction. Countless
thousands have perished and are perishing because of their association
with Jesus. Today, in
countries like Iran
civilization is fast becoming a society not much different from
we don't kill our opponents. We
don't kidnap their young girls. We
don't bomb their embassies. We don't even call them nasty names.
We follow Jesus' example, who respectfully, but firmly, spoke
truth to those who opposed Him. He
was willing to approach the authorities and speak his mind without
compromise. While the murderous mob was screaming "crucify
Him", He told the authorities that He, nor His disciples, would
fight for His release. His
kingdom could never co-exist as one cultural identity among many. (my
paraphrase of John 18:36) In
other words, like Esther, Jesus was willing to perish.
So too, with respect, we peacefully decline our opponents edict for
us to conform. We follow
Esther's example. We pray.
We fast. We become
willing to both approach and confront civil and religious authorities
with the truth of the