Our reading today is Nehemiah 11 – Esther 10. The commentary this morning will deal solely with Esther.
Esther is a book of the Bible that never names the name of God. God is not even mentioned in person; however the work, power and presence of God is clearly seen by those who have the eyes to see it. There are many times in Christian life where it feels as though God is nowhere to be found; and all we have to go on is faith.
I have heard the term “Providence”, and it is usually used speaking of the work of God in the events of mankind. Well, if there is a Biblical case for providence, then, it can certainly be seen throughout the book of Esther.
Let me give you a list of the characters in Esther. First there is the king, Ahasuerus, “Xerxes” in newer translations; there is the queen who is not in the story very long, but plays a prominent part in the development of the story; there is Mordecai – a Jewish captive from Jerusalem; there is Haman – an Agagite; and then there is Esther – who will be queen.
One thing that can be seen by this event in the story of Israel, its captivity, and return is that even though we may mess up, sin, and seemingly ruin our lives through disobedience we do not thwart the plan and will of God. That can be seen in the story of Esther as well.
Let us first find out about Haman – the Agagite. Haman was a descendant of Agag whom king Saul of Israel was disobedient to God in letting him live. Samuel eventually kills Agag (1 Samuel 15). For many centuries this hatred for the Jewish people had been stewing in the hearts of the family of Agag; and in this story it came to fruition. Haman had it in his heart to rid the Persian Empire and the world of the Jewish people.
Though God is not mentioned; He had another plan. God’s plan was to bring the children of Israel back to their Promised land; so that the Messiah and Savior of the world would one day come, and die for our sins.
Haman sets a course of action after his appointment as prominent leader in Persia. All others were to bow to him; however Mordecai would not bow to him. Mordecai knew who Haman was, and saw his heart. Mordecai had also overheard a plot to assassinate the king, revealed it and the perpetrators were hanged (2:21-23).
One verse that stands out in the book of Esther is one that is well known to many of us –
“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 (KJV)
This occurs following the murderous plot of Haman to exterminate the Jewish people. It is not yet known that Esther is Jewish, and Mordecai, as the uncle of Esther, is telling her that it is time to reveal the truth of her identity, for the salvation of her people. Mordecai is asking Esther to enter the throne area of the royal house without invitation, and that in the Persian courts could be deadly, meaning immediate and sudden death, if the king did not recognize the one entering by holding out his scepter (4:11); and after three days of fasting she enters the throne room, and the king holds out the scepter (5:1-2).
The night before the banquet of Esther the king cannot sleep remembering what Mordecai had done saving his life from the plot of the two who were hanged for their assassination attempt. Haman’s plot is known by the king, he has even given him the authority to send the message with the kings signet ring seal on the documents authorizing its execution. The following day, however, Haman is put to humility by walking Mordecai around the streets of Jerusalem, exalting him for the great deed he has done in exposing the plat of assassination. Haman probably realizes by now that “his goose is cooked”.
It becomes even more apparent when Esther reveals it to the king at the banquet. Haman has built a gallows on which to have Mordecai hanged; and finds himself hanging on the device of his own imagination.
God, though not named, is also a prominent presence in the book. His hand of Providence is seen, in the elevation of Esther, a Jew, to the seat of the queen of Persia; the man despised by the Agagite is exalted to the Agagites position after his plot is foiled. God’s people do return to Jerusalem; and the Messiah is born, dies on the cross for the sins of the world, is buried, and rises bodily from the grave conquering sin, hell and death.
Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God ever lives; that those who trust in Him might live too.
Christian take note of the Providence of God; even when you do not think He is present and working; take another look.