There are two people in the Old Testament, one named and one not, who served as a cupbearers to pagan kings…with supernatural destinies mapped out by God.
The first was the cupbearer who would displease Pharaoh and wind up a cellmate with Joseph. Two servants had been tossed “in the slammer,” if you’ll remember–the cupbearer and the baker. Joseph interpreted their dreams and begged them to remember him to the king when they got out. Sure enough, the baker met the prophesied death, and the cupbearer was restored to his former position with his master. Only after the king himself began having troubling dreams did the cupbearer remember Joseph and the promise. The story ends powerfully: a godly man winds up in leadership directly under Egypt’s powerful potentate, and the lives of untold numbers of people (including Jacob/Israel and his entire family) are saved from a deadly famine. The liaison God used to bring Joseph and Pharaoh together? An unlikely cupbearer, whose very life was spared for one critical moment when he would speak a right word!
Fast-forward to the time of the Babylonian exile of Israel’s descendants. Persia has ousted the Babylonians, who had taken God’s people out of their homeland and into captivity. Through the process of time and with much opposition from nations who hated the Judean people, the actions and edicts of King Cyrus,King Darius, and King Artaxerxes would eventually see Jerusalem restored. I find this whole story (in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) so interesting; because one day, seemingly out of the blue (which we know isn’t the case…it was because of God’s sovereign plan), King Cyrus just issues an edict that a temple in Jerusalem is to be built! He orders surrender of the precious artifacts and tools that had been stolen out of the original temple. From there, the avalanche of restoration had begun–on the enemy’s dime–and there would be no stopping it. This is another whole message in itself!
Now, back to that second cupbearer, Nehemiah, who served King Artaxerxes. While Ezra would be the one to whom it was given charge to rebuild the temple, it was this cupbearer of the king who would be given charge to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Artaxerxes was clearly pleased to have a trusted servant like Nehemiah, so I don’t take it lightly that he would be so willing to turn loose of this man whose job was to guard him from being poisoned! This was no coincidence. Out of all the positions Nehemiah could have been assigned in that kingdom, God saw to it that his would be one in direct connection to the king himself; and that there would be a relationship of trust established. Jerusalem would be restored, yes…and by people who had administrative abilities, labor skills, defense strategies, and priestly ordination.
It saddens me that so many believers want to be far-removed from the political arena these days. Much of it is just this whole living-in-a-goldfish-bowl society of ours. Everyone’s personal life is on display, and the price for offering one’s service to government often calculates to the destruction of his or her reputation and credibility. These folks find enemies they didn’t know they even had. From the campaigning time throughout a public servant’s career, his or her life is scrutinized and criticized. I myself would be petrified at the thought of running for any office! If you’re like me, not someone with political ambitions but who’s still concerned about the welfare of our nation, may I challenge you to offer yourself as a cupbearer to the “king?” Taking on the role of a servant to those in authority, if you are a child of God, can be as instrumental in His purpose for our nation as being in rule yourself. By saying this, I mean a true servant. Not a spy, and not a source of leaking information or gossip, not a saboteur or a manipulator: someone who recognizes that proximity opens the door of opportunity to bring prayer closer to those in leadership!
Presidents, governors, congressmen, judges, mayors and the like, they’re all just people. They often find themselves uncertain and in need of input; more often than we even know.. As we saw in the movie, “The Butler,” those who serve them in a non-political capacity are often subsconciously regarded by these authorities as more trustworthy than the people in official advisory positions around them. While a leader may or may not acknowledge that relationship as “friendship,” a trusted servant has a powerful connection! There are others in the Bible with that same type of direct and indirect influence, such as Mordecai, Daniel, Shadrach, Meschech, and Abednego…and then there’s Esther, whose beauty and goodness became the favor point that earned her a place in the kingdom at the king’s side.
The Word admonishes us to be wise as serpents yet harmless as doves. A mature believer full well knows the importance of one’s words. Would you be willing to be an unsung hero for the kingdom of God, by just being an unassuming voice of reason to those who have the power to order a thing to pass? Pray with me:
“Father, I don’t know whether You would will it to be so, but I offer myself today to be a cupbearer to the king, for Your glory. If I was born for such as time as this, I am willing. Thank You that we live in a nation and states where we are a free people, and where our religious freedoms still abound even when they are challenged. Forgive me for times when I have railed on the “establishment,” and chose to complain instead of pray. However, I know we are in a late hour, and that You are mobilizing key people to be godly influences to those in leadership in these last days. You are not just using our gifts inside the walls of the church; You are using our talent, abilities, and insight as tools in both the secular world and the government to turn attention back toward You. Use what You’ve given me WHEREVER You want!
I may or may not have proximity to actual persons in authority, but I ask You to help me walk in the kind of integrity that could open up that possibility. Help me to be a person in whom others can share things confidentially, knowing that I won’t betray their trust. Help me to develop a reputation for honesty, for even-temperament, for respectability, for wisdom, for quietness until there’s a right time to speak. May even those who don’t yet value You value the qualities they see You instilling within me. Set them up for an encounter with You through me! Give me great love for those who are over me; a willingness to see them as souls and not just authority figures. Burden me to pray for them and their families. Give me genuine concern for their well-being spiritually, physically, and mentally. As Your Word has instructed, I will make it my priority to pray for them. I ask You, too, to alert me to pray for the ones who are often overlooked by other intercessors!
Lord, even if it is not meant for me to be a servant or confidante of someone in authority, I pledge to be salt and light right where I am now. I’ll be a model citizen. I will be that employee who’s trusted and valued. And I pray now for others who might be chosen to be cupbearers. Father, raise up godly men and women and young people who are in the ears of those who must make decisions that affect entire geographic regions–nations, states, counties, municipalities. May these leaders feel drawn to the wisdom and integrity of godly influences, and may they begin to conform to the attributes of these godly people even though they might not yet know You! Use your children to walk the halls of capitol buildings, corporate boardrooms, courthouses, and city halls. May our prayers echo and bounce off the walls into every crack. Lord, bless even the little old Christian lady who’s on her knees scrubbing the floor where a senator or governor sits. As she does her job, may praises and prayer quietly infiltrate and change an entire atmosphere! Send dreams to our leaders as well, and to their spouses…for You’ve even used dreams to initiate positive change.
Finally, Lord, as a cupbearer, I ask you to remind me when someone is in captivity or being treated unjustly! Like the Pharaoh’s servant who suddenly remembered Joseph, may my carefully-dispensed suggestions come sparingly but always in Your time, so that a word in season might spark an entire chain of events capable of saving a nation! Like Nehemiah, may my influence, whether at a secular job or in the town in which I live, open a door to further Your kingdom and Your will! Give me favor and I vow not to abuse it. If I am a cupbearer one day and suddenly assigned to build a wall of protection, to restore broken things, and to fight the enemy at the same time if necessary, then amen and so be it! Make me a restorer and rebuilder wherever You situate me. On whatever level You choose to use me, I am yours. Make me Your ambassador, Your special liaison, and I will strive not to disappoint You in any way! In Jesus’ name, Amen.”