What does it say?
The book named after the main character. The storyline is a conspiracy against the Jewish people. Their climatic salvation here is the origin of the Feast of Purim. The story is set during the reign of Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes) not long after the first wave of Jewish exiles have returned home.
Cruel, proud and sensuous, Ashauerus calls for a six-month celebration of his might and asks queen Vashti to display her beauty. She refuses (Est 1), and the king removes her as queen. Chapter two tells of an empire-wide search for a new queen. Sampling the most desirable young women of the empire, the king settles on Esther, not knowing she is Jewish. Her cousin and guardian Mordecai is a government official (sits in the gate). He saves the king from an assassination plot by informing him through Esther.
Mordecai refuses to make obeisance to Haman, the newly promoted right hand to the king (Est 3). Infuriated, Haman plots to exterminate the Jewish race and enrich himself in the process. Local culture requires special days be determined by lot, and a date 11 months future is set to attack the Jews.
Esther is the only Jew with access to the king, but even she must be summoned, something that hasn’t happened for a month (Est 4). Mordecai challenges her to risk her life by faith and she agrees. Boldly approaching the king, she is received (Est 5). Rather than blurt out what’s on her heart, she feels out the matter by inviting the king and Haman to a meal. Neither of them knows of her relationship to Mordecai. Not finding an opening, she invites them to a second meal. So convinced that his plan is going to work, Haman builds gallows on which to hang Mordecai.
What does it mean?
Much is made of the fact that God’s name is not mentioned in the entire book. But this was never a problem for the Jews and should not be a problem for us. This is rather an illustration that even though God is sometimes invisible, he is always present. The main thread of the book is God’s providential care of the Jews in rescuing them from this diabolical plot. God has included the Jews in his mission and his mission will not fail.
How will I respond?
Do I sometimes feel that God is far away or invisible in my life? What can I learn from this story? In light of Esther’s bravery in going before the king with being invited, what bold step do I need to take by faith this week?