Next week, Jews the world over will celebrate the holiday of Purim. This holiday follows the classic Jewish festival paradigm; they tried to kill us, God saved us, let’s eat.
The Purim story, as recorded in the “Book of Esther,” took place about 2,400 years ago in Persia. According to “Esther” the Persian kingdom was ruled by King Achashverosh, a seemingly gluttonous, authoritarian ignoramus. Having dispatched with his prior queen for a minor offense, the king held a beauty pageant, a la Cinderella, to pick a new queen. After some serious and thorough due diligence, he selected a Jewess named Esther to be his new queen. Though becoming queen posed some serious moral, ethical and religious issues for her, Esther, having pretty much no choice, acquiesced and dutifully accepted her new role. Her uncle, Mordechai, somewhat of a big shot in town, quietly watched over her from outside the palace.
At Achashverosh’s side was an evil advisor named Haman; think Aladdin’s Jafar character. Haman had some serious issues with Esther’s Uncle Mordechai who, among other things, wouldn’t bow down to him. Being a bit of a psychotic maniac, Haman hatched a plan to have all the Jews in the kingdom murdered by their neighbors to assuage his anger at Mordechai. At the last moment before the massacre was to unfold, Esther intervened. Seeing as the king was rather hot for her, he authorized Uncle Mordechai to overturn Haman’s decree and the Jews were saved.
Mike Pence followed a similar trajectory. He won the vice presidential “beauty pageant” and was chosen to be the new “king’s” second-in-command. Given Mike’s religious commitment vs. the type of “king” he’d be working with, the selection likely also posed some serious moral and ethical issues for him. But, this too, was something he couldn’t turn down and he dutifully accepted his new role.
At the climax of the Purim story, Esther was informed by her Uncle Mordechai of Haman’s evil plan and she was faced with a possibly life-threatening decision. You see, according to palace protocol, even the queen was forbidden, under penalty of death, from approaching the king without an appointment. Esther was, understandably, hesitant. That’s when Mordechai delivered one of the story’s most important and memorable lines,
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
Basically, Mordechai was telling Esther that she was a key element in a divine plan to save her people. That plan hinged on this critical moment and it’s likely the reason she was placed, by God, in the difficult position of being Achashverosh’s queen.
The previous US president also had his share of evil advisors. Somewhere in the depths of the White House, a plan was hatched that would threaten the very existence of the republic. Mike Pence, in his role as leader of the Senate, was the lynchpin in actualizing that evil plan. Leading up to the ratification of the electoral tally on January 6, 2021 increasing pressure was brought to bear on Pence by those forces bent on creating chaos. What was Mike to do? Should he do what was safe and succumb to “palace” pressure, or should he do what he knew was morally right? It was as if Mike had a little Mordechai sitting on his shoulder whispering those very same words, “who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”
That was Mike Pence’s Queen Esther moment. At great personal and professional risk, he did the right thing and saved the republic. Regardless of what one might think of Pence politically or otherwise and regardless of other motivating factors, in that moment he, like Esther, became a hero who saved his nation.