Ever hiked a trail where you know there is a stream nearby because you hear sound of water even though you can’t actually see the water? Then suddenly through the rocks or out of the earth you see the water bubbling through. Then again as you continue, the water may disappear and reappear as it traverses in and out of the earth as it flows. That stream is always flowing and at work whether or not you see it and just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean the stream is not there.
And that could be how we can describe God’s work in the life of the Israelites aka Jews while they are in Exile. God is always moving, always at work and always present in the lives of His people whether or not one can perceive it or acknowledge it.
So this week for our Bible journey, we will zoom into one very interesting narrative, which to any reader, clearly expresses God’s creative work even though God is not mentioned even once in the entire narrative.
I am talking about the book of Esther.
The setting is in the Persian empire where a large number of Jews are in Exile. Through some unusual circumstances, our star of the story, a Jew, Esther who was raised by her uncle Mordecai becomes the queen to the Persian king while managing to keep her Jewish identity a secret.
It turns out that such an appointment is God ordained because soon Esther’s courage and bravery is tested as she is tasked by her uncle to help the Jews whose very existence is threatened because of a cruel man named Haman who had managed to have the king issue a decree to kill all the Jews. At first Esther is hesitant to take on this task but proceeds at the prodding of her uncle who utters these famous words:
Talk about pressure! Esther faced a tremendous sense of responsibility to rescue the destruction of Jews.
So Esther calls on for a time of fasting and approaches the king with all the bravery she could muster and eventually exposes Haman’s plot to kill the Jews (including herself) leading the king to issue another decree that allowed the Jews to instead destroy their enemies. Thus, rather than being victims, they turn out to be the victorious ones.
But this was not just about Esther and her bravery for stepping into the task that was set before her.
God was so much at work. To summarize:
- God made the way for Esther to be queen
- God helped Mordecai to expose conspirators against the king
- God caused Esther to find favor with the king so that she is not killed for entering his presence without being summoned.
- God later caused the king to remember that he hadn’t rewarded Mordecai for his excellent work. This is timed and staged so perfectly that it inhibits Haman’s plot to kill Mordecai and humiliates Haman beyond what he can bear.
- God helps Esther to convey clearly to the king about Haman’s plot to kill Jews.
- God protects the Jews and helps them destroy all their enemies.
- God raises and exalts Mordecai to be second in command after the king.
Yes, Esther and Mordecai stepped up and did their work part but they were 100% backed up by God’s favor and working behind the scenes.
This should be encourage you and I in our journeys as well.
Even when it may seem like God is absolutely missing in the picture, never ever dismiss His ability to silently work behind the scenes to bring change and deliverance.
He is always working and when it’s your time to step up in boldness and courage to do what God has ordained and called you for, go forward without hesitation because His power will back you up.
Now, please do take some time to read this entire story for yourself.
For a people living in exile under Persian rule, when their destruction seems sure, their deliverance comes in the most unlikeliest of circumstances through Mordecai and Esther who are strategically placed in leadership and find favor with both God and the king.
Weekly Reading Plan
And now here is the weekly plan for you to read through this short and exciting story of Esther.
If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:
- Use the above schedule to read through all of the text
- Watch this video on Esther done by the Bible Project team
- Optional (if you want to really read through the Bible in a year): Read Psalms 76-78
And that is it for week 27!
Happy Bible Learning!