3 Things to Know about Esther

3 Things to Know about Esther

It might appear that everything in the book of Esther is happening by chance, but the heavenly-minded reader will appreciate that there is a masterful Playwright orchestrating all things for the good of His covenant people—those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Rom. 8:28). There are no accidents in God’s providential care. Each and every coincidence in the book of Esther is shouting of God’s silent and invisible providence, which governs all His creatures and all their actions (WSC 11). 

The book of Esther doesn’t directly mention God’s name. In fact, the story is rather void of religion and piety altogether. The main characters don’t seem to be devout and faithful Jews that are overly concerned with keeping God’s covenant. What can we learn about God and His ways in such a book?

Notwithstanding my love for Esther and her story (one of my daughters is named Hadassah, Esther’s Jewish name), I must admit that there are times in the narrative when I am left wondering where Esther and Mordecai’s true hope lies and whether their actions reflect the faith described in Hebrews 11. Despite these initial impressions, on closer inspection, Esther teaches us deep theological truths that can invigorate the Christian life. Here are three things to know about the book of Esther.

1. God’s Covenant Faithfulness: The Book of Esther Is a Suspenseful Narration of the Near Eradication of God’s Covenant Promises

Esther takes place far away from the promised land. Some of the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem from exile after the decree of Cyrus in 539 BC (see Ezra 1:1–4). Some, however, decided to stay in Persia. The reader is quickly introduced to one of those Jews who stayed. She is swiftly swept up into high Persian life, becoming queen after the Persian king had been embarrassed by his prior queen’s insolence.

Through masterful storytelling that weaves in suspense, irony, and satire, the author recounts how a petty, nonverbal gesture ignites a personal dispute between two men (Haman the Amalekite and Mordecai the Jew). This dispute almost results in the annihilation of God’s covenant people (and thus, His promises) through government-sanctioned genocide. It’s only through a bout of insomnia for a foolish king and the momentary shrewdness of a morally compromised queen that the tables are turned at the last minute. The leader of the genocide, Haman, ends up on the gallows that he constructed for his enemy, Mordecai, and the Jews are spared from extermination.

The book reads like a suspense novel, and if you haven’t read the story in one sitting, I encourage you to do so. The plot twists teach us something very important: God is committed to keeping His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and no puppet of Satan—not Pharaoh, not Ahab, not Absalom, not Nebuchadnezzar, not Haman—can thwart God’s covenant commitment to preserve a people for Himself.

2. God’s Invisible Providence: The book of Esther is silent about God to teach us something loudly about God.

The satirical almosts in the book of Esther narratively demonstrate God’s works of providence, which the Heidelberg Catechism describes. 

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