To Stay or to Leave? Reflections on Four Biblical Characters in the Second Temple Period

To Stay or to Leave? Reflections on Four Biblical Characters in the Second Temple Period

Elaine WF GOH

This essay reflects on four biblical characters, namely Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, in the Second Temple period. The author attempts to find a way forward for the people of God today who may be in a struggle or dilemma when deciding whether to remain in their homelands or to leave for a greater good. The author establishes a connection between the contexts of Esther and Daniel, who were taken into exile, and the situations of some Christians today who left their homes and live in foreign lands. For Ezra and Nehemiah who dedicated their lives and made commitments to rebuilding God's people as well as rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the author connects their situations with those of some Christians today who continue to live in their homelands, where their commitments to build up the Church and their leadership can also make an impact. Sometimes, whether to leave or to remain is not totally their choice, just like Daniel and Esther. Some other times, like Ezra and Nehemiah, people chose to devote themselves to rebuilding the faith community in their homelands . And there are actual social, political and religious challenges confronting them now and then. This essay argues, however, that Christians who are living in the diaspora can be faithful like Daniel and can make a difference to God's people at large like Esther. Similarly , Christians can emulate the success of Ezra who nurtured piety and godliness among God's people, by dedicating their lives to building up the faith community of the Covid-surviving churches. Last but not least, like Nehemiah, Christians can take up the leadership of the churches and serve unswervingly with integrity in spite of real local challenges. Serving God faithfully like Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah in the midst of multifaceted challenges is not easy, and there is so much more to be done. The point is that the people of God should stay faithful to their callings, and commit themselves to advancing God's kingdom on earth locally or abroad.

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