The book of Esther is unique among the books of the Bible.
- It takes place among the exiles outside of the land of Israel in a capital city of the kingdom of Persia
- God is never named as God, Jehovah (LORD), the Almighty, or in any other way
- Israel is never mentioned, and the people are never called the Children of Israel
- They are called “Jews” instead. The words “Jew” and “Jews” are used a total of 92 times in the Old Testament; 53 of those uses are in the book of Esther.
- There is no mention of any prophets, priests or Levites.
- The book never mentions any sacrifices or offerings
- There are no miracles, no new revelation, and no mention of religion
- While there is great mourning, with rent clothes, fasting, weeping, wailing, sackcloth and ashes, there is no mention of prayer or the One to whom they prayed
So why is this story about Jews living in Persia, that appears to omit God, even in the Bible?
What does Esther reveal about God? And how is it encouraging?
Esther is a story of spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). While the devil is not named, Esther tells of his attempt to annihilate the Jews, who were chosen by God as His people, and through whom the Messiah would come. And Haman, the Jew’s adversary, is the image of Satan in his arrogance and pride, accusations and lies, and ruthless hatred of God’s people.
Esther is a story about the providence of God
The northern and southern kingdoms of Israel had both been destroyed because of their sin, idolatry, and rebellion against God. Those who survived were dispersed and living in exile. Yet they were not assimilated into the peoples of the world. They retained their national identity as Jews and their faith in the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Esther is the story of a faithful Jew named Mordecai who refused to bow down and reverence a proud man named Haman. Haman had found favor with the king, who promoted him above all others. Haman was furious that Mordecai would not bow to him. When he learned the reason was that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews along with Mordecai. (Est. 3:1-6)
Haman told the king about a people scattered throughout his kingdom, whose laws were different from all others. He said they did not keep the king’s laws so it was not in the king’s interest to tolerate them. With his accusations and lies, Haman convinced the king to allow him to destroy God’s chosen people. (Est. 3:8-11)
Most of all, Esther is a story about the providence of God. Even though God is never named directly, His divine control over the affairs of men is evident throughout the book. While Esther, Mordecai, and Haman were all human chess pieces in this spiritual warfare, God was always in control, and many moves ahead of His opponent.
God was always in control
Ultimately the proud Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai (Est. 7:9-10), and Haman’s family was destroyed (Est. 9:10) rather than Mordecai’s people. God turned the fasting and mourning of the Jews into feasting and celebrating (Est. 8:16-17). And Mordecai took Haman’s place of favor with the king (Est. 8:1-2).
So the fear of Mordecai and the Jews fell upon all people (Est. 8:17-9:3). But this fear was misplaced. They should have feared God, Who turned the heart of the king, elevated Mordecai to his position of power, and saved His people from their enemy.
God still rules providentially over the affairs of men
Another spiritual battle is raging in America today. Religious freedom is under attack. Christians are being branded as law breakers and targeted as enemies of the state when they take a stand to obey God’s Word. Some say that obedient Christians should not be tolerated. They say we should lose our freedoms and be stripped of our livelihood.
But be encouraged, the God of Esther and Mordecai is still on the throne. God still rules providentially over the affairs of men. Often when things seem the darkest, God’s help rises like the light of dawn.
When the Jews were threatened in the time of Esther, they humbled themselves, fasted, and no doubt prayed (Est. 4:1-3). The people of God banded together to defend themselves from their enemies (Est. 9:1-3). Perhaps Christians today need to apply this lesson from the book of Esther.
“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 / KJV)