Esther

The thirteen chapters that make up the Book of Esther tell one of the most exciting stories in the Old Testament. The suspense builds to a satisfying finish with a few plot twists at the end. These end events of Esther also explain the origin of the Jewish feast of Purim, celebrated this year on February 28th and March 1st. If you’re not familiar with this book, you should take the time to read it. A brief synopsis of the story begins with the beautiful Queen Vashti, and the all powerful King of Persia Ahasuaras. The queen disobeys the king’s command and is removed as his queen, replaced by an apparently equally beautiful Jewess named Esther. An evil adviser to the king named Haman appears and has a grudge against Esther’s cousin Mordecai and convinces the king to make a proclamation allowing all the Jews in the kingdom to be killed. As this day comes closer Esther invites the king and Haman to her personal banquet, reveals her hidden Jewish ancestry, and begs for her life. Haman is uncovered as the villain he is and the Jews are allowed to defend themselves against all who seek to destroy them. Naturally, there are a lot more nuances to the story as it appears in Scripture but some unusual aspects of the Book of Esther set it apart from the other Canonical books. The first and most obvious is that God is never mentioned once from beginning to end. This fact alone so bothered Martin Luther that he wished the book wasn’t in the Bible. We read of repentance, calls for fasting and prayer, and thanksgiving, all without the mention of God. Yet there is an unspoken acknowledgment that God’s unseen hand is working throughout, not using supernatural miracles but more in the way we would see him guiding our lives today; his hidden power influencing our free will. One can also find rich symbolism in some of the main players as Haman, Mordecai; even the Persian Jews all have their parallels in the NT. One of the most beautiful is Esther herself as a foreshadow of the Christian Church. Consider first that she was a Jew but her parents were dead. The very first believers who made up the church were Jewish, yet they saw their traditional Judaism had passed away; the law was superseded by Jesus Christ. Esther was also the church in her womanly beauty, as the church is also exhorted to present herself as an unblemished bride to Christ, not having spot or wrinkle. (Eph 5:27) Esther, as queen, was wed to a man who had the earthly title ‘King of Kings’; the church is espoused to it’s royal bridegroom Jesus, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Esther is also a model of the intercessory church. She went in unto the king on the third day, was accepted before him by grace, appearing in the royal robes he had given her, and deliverance came by her intercession. It’s a picture of our own redemption and acceptance by Christ. But if there is a verse in Esther that we should be able to hang our hat on it is found in 4:14, “for who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this”. The Amplified Bible adds, “And for this very occasion”. Five years elapsed between Esther’s being made queen and her intercession. It gives me, and I hope everyone the idea that we certainly have a divine purpose, one that we may not as of yet realize, but God nevertheless may be daily preparing us for.

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