Friday, October 13, 2023

Identity Shapes Action

  By: Lauren Thomas 

Many think of the book of Esther as a real-life fairy tale involving a beauty pageant. But anyone who thinks this way is missing out! In the person of Esther, we see a type and shadow of Christ: someone willing to sacrifice their very life to save many. 


But for Esther, it wasn’t always that way. 


The book of Esther takes place in the kingdom of Persia sometime after Israel’s Babylonian captivity. Some Jews continued their lives outside of their country after the time of exile was completed. Esther was one such individual. And her name wasn’t Esther. It was Hadassah (see Esther 2:7). Esther was her Persian name. Hadassah was her Jewish name. And her guardian wanted her to keep her Jewish identity a secret (Esther 2:10).

It was by hiding her identity, that Esther eventually rose to the position of queen. But when a plot arose that allowed for the destruction of God’s people, Esther’s guardian urged her to use her position to do something about it. 


Esther’s initial response comes from her Persian identity: she described the way the Empire worked – that it could mean death for her to approach the king. She didn’t see how the plot affected her because she was so entrenched in her Persian identity. Her guardian told her that she would not escape the plot against God’s people. And, who knows, maybe God had put Esther in this position for a purpose (see Esther 4:14). But even if she kept silent, he explained, God would be able to raise up another deliverer. 


Here, Esther was presented with a crisis. She had a choice to make: would she risk her life to save her people, or would she continue to hide behind her Persian identity? 


Esther responded with her famous line: 


Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 4:16b (ESV)


When Esther chose her Jewish identity, she was also making a choice to act on behalf of her people. As a Persian queen, she could be passive. But as a Jewish queen, she had no choice but to step up and risk her life to save lives. The identity she chose shaped her behavior. Identity shapes action.



The identity we choose to live in will be the identity that shapes our action. That’s what Esther is about. So, who are you? Do you hide behind an identity from you culture, or do you act from the identity God gives you?

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