Esther’s Story, Our Story, and God’s: A Meditation

The book of Esther never mentions God. It doesn’t discuss temple services or sanctification or justification. And yet without these biblical ideas providing context, the story will make little sense—or the wrong sense! The teaching of Esther is all the more profound and memorable because it is never stated directly. The closest Yahweh comes to the surface is probably in the famous words Mordecai directs at his ward, Esther, “Who knoweth, whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

What sense does such a statement make in the context of a secular worldview? None, because it ascribes purpose to random chance. This statement can only work in a different worldview—like the many statements in The Lord of the Rings which (not so subtly) hint at divine providence. For example, the high elf Elrond says to the great council meeting in Rivendel (the council which will decide what to do with Bilbo’s ring),

That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.

“It is ordered.” That is a circumlocution—as is Mordecai’s “Who knoweth?”! We know who ordered the beautiful Esther’s advent in the very nick of time. We know, even if the Bible doesn’t (in so many words) say.

God’s silence in a book like this, or in our lives, can be misinterpreted. Of course He’s never truly silent. He placed the whole creation around us to loudly and continually point to His eternal power and divine nature. But we tend to think He’s silent when we can’t figure out what if any good could come out of our troubles. There are exceeding great and precious promises, however, that structure our reality, and they will out. That’s what happens in the story of Esther. Enemies are arrayed against God’s people—and these enemies happen to be bankrolled by the powers that be. Thankfully, they and we are children of the the Power that is.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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