If I were to challenge some to think of a time in scripture when people were told to bow and some resisted, one of the first incidents people would refer to, would be the occasion when Daniel’s three friends – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah – refused to bow to the image of Nebuchadnezzar. It is a classic episode of peaceful civil disobedience.
I was struck recently, however, by another episode of non-compliance. Arguably the most influential figure in the book of Esther is her uncle Mordecai. He does a great job with his niece and he is strategically located throughout the story. It is his act of defiance that also leads to something greater emerging for the people of God even though it takes the threat of state-sponsored genocide to bring it about. It didn’t have to happen this way, but it was all about Mordecai refusing to bow to the recently promoted Haman.
What’s fascinating about this act of civil disobedience from Mordecai is that he was breaking the law. The King had decreed that folks pay due homage to the new guy at the top. Haman was well within his rights to expect it from everyone – including this geezer who blatantly refused to comply. The book of Esther is renowned for not having the word God mentioned in it at all, but God is so prominent in the piece there is no way of getting it without getting the God of Israel. That is first pronounced by this act of rebellion by Mordecai. Is he refusing to bow because he doesn’t like Haman? That’s not implicit in this at all.
Mordecai literally takes a stand on this issue because he knows, other than paying due respect to the King, he bows to no one. He knows who he is and he won’t compromise that stance.
When you know who you are that emerges at times when folks and situations expect you to bow before them. They expect you to bow because they think they are greater than you and it’s about time you recognised that. They expect you to bow because they think they are worth considerably more than you, so it’s about time you recognised that. They expect you to bow because they think they have the backing to demand it, so it’s about time you recognised that.
When you know who you are and whose you are, others might bow and urge you to do the same. Well meaning folks who assure you it doesn’t mean anything will encourage you just to ‘play the game’ and give them what they want. When you know who you are and whose you are, you will hear through all of that and still refuse to bow. It’s nothing personal, it is everything spiritual. You know you will take a stand because of righteousness. You know you will take a stand because you know to whom reverence is truly due. You will take a stand because there are times deliberately set up to provoke the real you to emerge and inform the earthly powers that you serve a greater cause, that you bow before the Almighty alone. You take a stand because you know what it is to give to Caesar what belongs to him, and give God what belongs to Him.
You take a stand at the risk of losing everything. You take a stand even when others won’t stand with you. You take a stand when those close to you edge away from the resulting flak. You take a stand knowing that you are never alone in that stand, for your stand expresses devotion and commitment to the one true and living God.
It will not be easy. It will be tough especially when they look to increase the pressure and even look to hurt your nearest and dearest. In it all and through it all, God teaches you to trust Him – no compromise, He has your back. Through it all God teaches you to seek Him – no compromise, He will make a way. Through it all God teaches you to worship Him – no compromise, He will get the glory from the situation.
It is in these experiences of taking a stand against the norm for the sake of righteousness that you see you emerge. You see you emerge as the character of Christ – who did not compromise and did not bow – meekly, graciously and faithfully shines through. Sure we would prefer it if it wasn’t so costly, but in the light of what we see in God, that cost is more than worth it.
It’s worth it to see God come through in such great ways. It’s worth it to know that your stand for God is not in vain. It’s worth it to know that your stand today will influence generations to come. It’s worth it to know your stand for God, as dedicated to God and inspired by Him is pleasing to Him.
It’s worth it as you emerge to know that you know when it comes to it God is developing the character of fortitude that says when it comes right down to it – you’re gonna take a stand – you ain’t gonna bow.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden