In all ages the people of God have been the light of the world. Joseph was a light in Egypt. He represented Jehovah in the midst of a nation of gross idolaters. While the Israelites were on their way from Egypt to the promised land, they were a light to the surrounding nations. Through them God was revealed to the world. Satan sought to extinguish their light; but by the power of God it was kept alive through successive generations while Israel maintained a national existence, and even during the captivity there were faithful witnesses for God. From Daniel and his companions and Mordecai, a bright light shone amid the moral darkness of the kingly courts of Babylon. In holy vision, God revealed to Daniel light and truth that he had concealed from other men; and through his chosen servant this light has shone down through the ages, and will continue to shine to the end of time.
We who are living in this age have greater light and privileges than were given to Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and other ancient worthies, and we are under correspondingly greater obligation to let our light shine to the world. God has made us the depositaries of his law. We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and we are to follow in his footsteps, to represent him before the world. But are we faithful depositaries of the truth, correctly representing it amid the spiritual declension and moral corruption that now exist? Are we doing one-third that we might and should do to diffuse the precious light of truth? Brethren, you see the truth, you understand the claims of God's law. You know that no willful transgressor of that law will enter into life, and yet you see that law made void in the world. What is your duty? You are not to ask, What is convenient for me? what is agreeable? but, What can I do to save souls?
There is a great work before us. The world is to be warned. The truth is to be translated into different languages, that all nations may enjoy its pure, life-giving influences. This work calls for the exercise of all the talents that God has intrusted to our keeping. He has given us abilities that enable us to exert an influence on other minds. We have talents in the pen, the press, the voice, the purse, and the sanctified affections of the soul. All these talents are the Lord's. He has lent them to us, and he holds us responsible for the use we make of them,—for the faithful discharge of our duty to the world. We may come very near to Jesus; we may commune with him, and, having found rest and peace to our own souls, we may show forth to others the beauties of true holiness. If we are illuminated by the Sun of Righteousness, we shall reflect the light to the world in good works. Our example will show what it is to be a practical Christian. Light from heaven may shine through us to the world.
Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. Such an aim is set before the youth of today. The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being. It opens a field of effort to everyone whose heart Christ has touched.
God's purpose for the children growing up beside our hearths is wider, deeper, higher, than our restricted vision has comprehended. From the humblest lot those whom He has seen faithful have in time past been called to witness for Him in the world's highest places. And many a lad of today, growing up as did Daniel in his Judean home, studying God's word and His works, and learning the lessons of faithful service, will yet stand in legislative assemblies, in halls of justice, or in royal courts, as a witness for the King of kings. Multitudes will be called to a wider ministry. The whole world is opening to the gospel. Ethiopia is stretching out her hands unto God. From Japan and China and India, from the still-darkened lands of our own continent, from every quarter of this world of ours, comes the cry of sin-stricken hearts for a knowledge of the God of love. Millions upon millions have never so much as heard of God or of His love revealed in Christ. It is their right to receive this knowledge. They have an equal claim with us in the Saviour's mercy. And it rests with us who have received the knowledge, with our children to whom we may impart it, to answer their cry. To every household and every school, to every parent, teacher, and child upon whom has shone the light of the gospel, comes at this crisis the question put to Esther the queen at that momentous crisis in Israel's history, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14.
Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him. When there came upon Israel the calamities that were the sure result of separation from God,—subjugation by their enemies, cruelty, and death,—it is said that “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” “In all their affliction He was afflicted: ... and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” Judges 10:16; Isaiah 63:9.
His Spirit “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” As the “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:26, 22), the heart of the infinite Father is pained in sympathy. Our world is a vast lazar house, a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon. Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible. Yet God feels it all. In order to destroy sin and its results He gave His best Beloved, and He has put it in our power, through co-operation with Him, to bring this scene of misery to an end. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), is Christ's command to His followers. Not that all are called to be ministers or missionaries in the ordinary sense of the term; but all may be workers with Him in giving the “glad tidings” to their fellow men. To all, great or small, learned or ignorant, old or young, the command is given.
In view of this command, can we educate our sons and daughters for a life of respectable conventionality, a life professedly Christian, but lacking His self-sacrifice, a life on which the verdict of Him who is truth must be, “I know you not”?
In ancient times the Lord worked in a wonderful way through consecrated women who united in His work with men whom He had chosen to stand as His representatives. He used women to gain great and decisive victories. More than once, in times of emergency, He brought them to the front and worked through them for the salvation of many lives. Through Esther the queen, the Lord accomplished a mighty deliverance for His people. At a time when it seemed that no power could save them, Esther and the women associated with her, by fasting and prayer and prompt action, met the issue, and brought salvation to their people.
A study of women's work in connection with the cause of God in the Old Testament times will teach us lessons that will enable us to meet emergencies in the work today. We may not be brought into such a critical and prominent place as were the people of God in the time of Esther; but often converted women can act an important part in more humble positions. This many have been doing and are still ready to do.
The great majority of the Israelites had chosen to remain in the land of their exile [Medo-Persia] rather than undergo the hardships of the return journey and the reestablishment of their desolated cities and homes....
Through Haman the Agagite, an unscrupulous man high in authority in Medo-Persia, Satan worked at this time to counterwork the purposes of God. Haman cherished bitter malice against Mordecai, a Jew. Mordecai had done Haman no harm, but had simply refused to show him worshipful reverence....
Misled by the false statements of Haman, Xerxes was induced to issue a decree providing for the massacre of all the Jews “scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces” of the Medo-Persian kingdom....
The plots of the enemy were defeated by a Power that reigns among the children of men. In the providence of God, Esther, a Jewess who feared the Most High, had been made queen of the Medo-Persian kingdom. Mordecai was a near relative of hers. In their extremity they decided to appeal to Xerxes in behalf of their people. Esther was to venture into his presence as an intercessor. “Who knoweth,” said Mordecai, “whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14.
The crisis that Esther faced demanded quick, earnest action; but both she and Mordecai realized that unless God should work mightily in their behalf, their own efforts would be unavailing. So Esther took time for communion with God, the source of her strength. “Go,” she directed Mordecai, “gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish” (verse 16).
The events that followed in rapid succession—the appearance of Esther before the king, the marked favor shown her, the banquets of the king and the queen with Haman as the only guest, the troubled sleep of the king, the public honor shown Mordecai, and the humiliation and fall of Haman upon discovery of his wicked plot against the Jewish people—all these are parts of a familiar story. In a marvelous manner God wrought in behalf of His penitent people; and a counter-decree issued by the king, allowing them to fight for their lives, was rapidly communicated to every part of the realm by mounted couriers who were “hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment.” “And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” Esther 8:14, 17.