The Book of Esther is right in the middle of our reading today. This Book has 10 chapters but not once is the name of God mentioned. The careful reader, however, will not be misled by this. In the story of Esther and her older cousin Mordecai, the LORD is very much involved in what transpires. In fact, I believe the writer of the Book of Esther intentionally left out God’s name to highlight the truth that God often seems absent in our lives, but in reality He is at work in a hidden and powerful way. It is a literary device. Esther and Mordecai reveal to us that regardless of the circumstances we face, we need to continue to trust the LORD and courageously and wisely act in the ways we can.
Let’s summarize this great story in Israel’s history. The Jewess Esther becomes the Queen of Persia, when King Xerxes marries her after his former wife, Vashti, is unceremoniously dumped as the leading lady of the Persian Empire. Mordecai, a much older cousin who raised Esther, plays a heroic role in averting the destruction of the Jewish nation.
It is amazing how many times that the faithful remnant of Israel have been in danger of being wiped out. Satan has always been very aware that God’s saving purposes for the world have been bundled up with God’s people, the Jews. Over and over, Satan has tried to destroy them.
The villain in the Book of Esther is Haman, an Agagite, a people group related to the Amalekites, who have tried to stop God’s purposes for Israel in the past. Early in our story, Haman is exalted by King Xerxes to second in command in Persia. People bow before Haman, but because Mordecai is a Jew and bows only before the LORD, he refuses to pay homage to Haman. This angers Haman to the point where he not only plots to kill Mordecai, but annihilate all Jews in the Persian Empire (Esther 3:5,6).
Mordecai appeals to Queen Esther with these memorable words: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place….And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13,14). This puts Esther in difficult place.
No one, including the Queen, can come into King’s presence unless summoned. A person could be killed if they came uninvited into the King’s court, the only exception being if the King extended the golden scepter to the person. Esther rises to the occasion. She asks people to fast with her and replies with these great words: “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
Through the courage and faith of Mordecai and Esther, God wrought a wonderful deliverance. Haman ends up being hanged on the 75-foot gallows that he had built to hang Mordecai on. Esther 6 is one of the most humorous and ironic chapters in the whole Bible. The reader is encouraged to read it. When we are living in faithful obedience to the LORD, we are indestructible until God’s purposes for us are fulfilled.
The holiday of Purim is still celebrated by the Jews today in the twelfth month of Adar as they remember their deliverance from the murderous clutches of Haman by the LORD(Esther 9:18-32). The fact that this Feast is still celebrated by the Jews testifies to the historicity of the story we read about in the Book of Esther. It is not just some fictional fable designed to teach a timeless moral. It actually happened and God actually delivered His people from dire circumstances. In the same way, we can count on the LORD today to deliver us from difficult situations as we act faithfully and courageously before the LORD. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John