"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Raising The Standard: Loyalty Is Standing With Those I Am Serving In Their Time Of Need

Oops... doubling back to pick up an important key point on Loyalty that I'd almost forgotten... Next up will be Responsibility. Blessings.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Loyalty In Responding To Adversity? A court official learned of a plot to kill his king. Because of his willingness to stand by the one he was serving, even in his time of need, a dramatic series of events resulted. His people were saved from the fate of a cruel decision as a result of his loyalty.
As the king entered his magnificent palace, two guards stood at attention. Their stern faces concealed the hatred they harbored toward the king they were guarding. Often they had talked to each other about how they would like to kill him. One day they conceived their plan. It would be easy for them to kill their king since they guarded the door of his bedchamber. They were sure that others would sympathise with them. The king was difficult to get along with. Even his former queen despised him. As they whispered the details of their plan to each other, an alert listener sat nearby. They paid little attention to him, never realizing that a lower court official would be loyal to such a despised king, especially since his family had been brought there as exiles from another land. They were sure that he hated the king too, but they were wrong.
This man had learned the lesson of loyalty. He had purposed to stand by the one he served, even in a time of need.
Overhearing their plot, he realized quickly that the king was in great danger. When the guards walked away, he left that part of the palace and immediately sent a message to the king. When the king heard the message, he was amazed. Could the report be true? He called in a trusted servant and ordered him to investigate the facts. The report was quickly verified to be true and swift action was taken. The two guards were quickly apprehended, confronted with the evidence and immediately impaled. The king's life had been spared through the faithful official report. The events were recorded in a book. But the story doesn't end there.
Two great and unexpected rewards resulted from this brave man's loyalty. The first reward came months later, when the king was unable to sleep. He thought that if one of his servants read aloud, he might be able to fall asleep. The servant read from the book of records the account of how the king's life had been saved. The king remembered that he had never rewarded the man who protected him,, and he decided to raise this loyal subject to a new level of honor. The second and greater reward came because the one whom Mordecai, the servant, had raised as a daughter had learned from his example. The same loyalty which he had displayed toward the king was instilled in her life.
As an adult, even in the face of grave danger, Esther remained loyal to her own people and saved them from cruel destruction. This event is still remembered and celebrated by millions of descendants of those who were saved by her courageous and loyal actions. (From Esther 2:21-23)
Why Didn't Mordecai Want to See A Godless King Killed?
Mordecai was a wise man who had learned from the mistakes of his forefathers. He knew from the words of the prophet Jeremiah that rebellion against God-ordained authority had been responsible for the captivity of his family and the nation for over a century (Esther 2:5-6). Jeremiah had predicted a curse for any nation that rebelled against the king of Babylon and a measure of blessing for any nation that remained submissive (Jeremiah 27:6-11). Mordecai was also familiar with the prophecy of Isaiah which transferred that principle to Cyrus, the first king of the Persian Empire (Isaiah 45:1-3). Conscious of God's hatred of rebellion against authority and aware of God's creativity in working through even the cruelest of kings to accomplish His purposes, Mordecai's loyalty to the king remained steadfast (Esther 2:22).
Wasn't Mordecai Displaying Contempt For Authority When He Refused To Obey The King's Command To Bow Before Haman?
Bowing down before a Persian monarch was interpreted as an act of worship rather than an act of respect. Haman commanded worship as a god, a demand beyond his sphere of jurisdiction which Mordecai refused. His decision was based on higher loyalty to a specific law of God (Exodus 20:3-5). It is very likely that Mordecai believed that, as a Jew, he was exempt from obeying this command and that the command itself was illegal according to the laws of Medes and Persians which could not be repealed (Esther 1:19; 3:4). There is strong indication that the laws of the Jews enjoyed special privilege from certain Persian laws, namely any law which would force them to disobey a specific law of God. This privilege was due in part to Daniel's strong influence during the reign of Cyrus the Persian (cf Daniel 3:28-30; Ezra 1:1-3). The fact that Haman was hesitant to challenge Mordecai's claim and his contempt for the Jew's privileged laws seem to confirm this view (Esther 3:6-8).
Why Was It So Difficult For Mordecai To Ask Esther To Intercede Before The King?
Esther had not been called into the king's presence for thirty days. Unless given a special dispensation, the automatic penalty for one entering the king's inner court without permission was execution. The Greek historian, Herodotus, mentions an incident which had recently occurred which gives an insight into Ahasuerus' character and temperament. "While passing though Lydia, a rich man named Pythius generously entertained Ahasuerus' troops and contributed an enormous sum of money toward the Grecian campaign. He then requested that the king exempt the eldest of his five sons from the army to be of comfort to him in his declining years. The request was reasonable enough, buy the enraged Ahasuerus ordered the son to be sliced in half and commanded the army to march between the two halves as an example of what he considered to be a lack of dedication." It is no wonder that Esther asked Mordecai and all the Jews in the city to fast for three days preceding her bold entrance to the king.
Example In Nature: How Does The Canada Goose Illustrate Loyalty In Responding To Adversity?
A female was guarding the nest alone, but during the early hours of a spring night, a mother raccoon who was searching for food for her growing young, spotted the nest and approached it confidently. She quickly signaled to her mate and faced the murderous attacker. A vicious struggle began and the male flew immediately to her aid. As a result of their united defense, the female suffered severe bleeding and a broken wing, but they succeeded in driving the attacker away. Undaunted by her initial failure, the persistent raccoon repeated its attack the next night. Again the geese valiantly defended their nest, and this time the females remaining useful wing was broken. On the third night their vigil was threatened by the determined raccoon as she again tried to make her way past the parent geese. In her display of loyalty the female lost her life, but because of her sacrifice she was able to preserve her nest. That morning, in the care of the remaining male parent, five downy goslings hatched and within hours they were enjoying the protection of the water. The allegiance of the female goose saved her nest from destruction because she was willing to defend it at all costs. Early in life, she carefully chose the one to whom a lifelong commitment would be mate. In choosing a partner, success in battle between ganders does not guarantee the victorious male will be accepted by the female. Once the female has accepted a partner, they establish a relationship that is likely to last for a lifetime. This lifetime partnership is one explanation for the strong bond of loyalty which the Canada geese display. This loyalty is not limited to nesting. During fall migration, if a goose is shot down by a hunter, its mate has been known to circle back, risking death itself, in order to help its partner. If one is wounded, the other will remain with it until it is healed. If the partner cannot be found, the other will often stay behind to look for it, even enduring the hardships of winter in that area in order to continue its search.

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