Is it necessary to disobey human law when it compels us to sin?

Let me quickly give you some background for the Book of Esther.  Early in the Book, we discover that Xerxes, king of Persia, is staging a ‘beauty pageant’ in order to select his new wife.  Esther, a Jew living in the region enters the pageant and wins.  Esther is made queen of Persia.  Now there is another person in the story by the name of Haman.  Haman rose to high rank in Xerxes government.  In fact, Haman’s rank placed him second only to Xerxes himself.  With the king’s approval, Haman required everyone else in the kingdom to bow down in his presence and give him honor.  A Jew by the name of Mordecai refused to bow before Haman, and Haman sought to have him executed.  Now Mordecai was related to Queen Esther.  In fact, he had adopted Esther and raised her as his own!  Mordecai is well aware that Haman intends to have him executed, but he soon discovers that Haman was not going to be content with the death of Mordecai.  He convinced King Xerxes that all the Jews in the kingdom were a threat and that all Jews should be killed.  So Mordecai goes to Esther and asks her to talk to the king on behalf of all the Jews.

This places Esther in a rather difficult position.  No one, not even the queen, goes to the king to make a request.  You must be summoned by the king.  We should recognize how heroic it was when Esther agrees to approach the king.   She said, “…I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish”. (Esther 4: 16)  I want to pause here, and raise a question.  Esther is about to disobey human law.  Doesn’t the Bible tell us to obey the laws?  “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted… ” (Romans 13: 1-2)  “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority.”  (I Peter 2: 13)

It is necessary to disobey human law when it compels us to sin.  If we go all the way back to the Book of Exodus to the time before the birth of Moses, Pharaoh ordered all the midwives who helped in the birth of Hebrew children to kill any Hebrew boy born.  “The midwives however feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” (Exodus 1: 17)  Remember in the time of the Prophet Daniel, the law of the land forbade prayer (Daniel 6), and demanded the worship of idols (Daniel 3).  These are laws Daniel and his friends refused to obey, and were willing to face the consequences.  Now in the Book of Esther, we find her willing to do the same.  In my next blog, we will continue with the story of Esther.

About The Author

Dan Porte

Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.


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