The first thing we observe about the book of Esther is that God’s name and even the title “the Lord” are never directly mentioned. This does not mean God is not active or that this book is not Scripture; rather, it simply gives us a different and indirect window into viewing God’s activity and character, one that exercises faith—which is what the book of Esther is all about.
So, while God may remain hidden, He is surely present. In the book of Esther, God is found in and through His people. When we consider Esther herself, we are overwhelmed with characteristic signs of God’s hand at work.
You see, God’s favor rests upon Esther in such conspicuous ways that they serve as flashbacks to other biblical persons whom God raised up and used for special purposes. They remind us of people like Daniel and Joseph, who also experienced the Lord’s divine favor. But not only will Esther echo these previous biblical figures, she will also foreshadow the Messiah Himself.
But let us dive into the details of the Scripture and let them lead our adventurous search for God’s hidden presence and purposes. God’s presence can be spotted by the way He is powerfully with Esther, giving her immense favor in everybody’s eyes from the beginning to the end of the story. I mean continuously!
Esther Receives Favor
First, she receives favor in the eyes of the eunuch who was in charge of the harem, and then in the eyes of the king so that she became queen (Esther 2:9, 17). An often-overlooked detail is that Esther even had favor in the eyes of Haman, which not even Mordecai received (5:12). This favor in her enemy’s eyes played an important part in causing Haman’s downfall.
Next, it was unprecedented favor that caused the king to extend his scepter to Esther when she transgressed the law of approaching the king without being summoned (Esth 5:2). Finally, it was great, divine favor that caused the king to listen to her, a woman and a Jew, over his highest-favored male advisor, Haman, who had already sealed the edict to destroy the Jews (Esth 7). In the end, the king granted Esther’s request to renounce the edict that he initially granted Haman. This action on the part of the monarch is a wonderful example of the proverb that says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).
This persistent favor is not coincidence or random luck; it can only proceed from God. Also, this kind of divine favor was not new or unique to Esther, and I tend to think both Mordechai and Esther knew it was God’s hand moving around and within them. After all, they would have recognized that it was the same favor of God’s presence that followed Daniel into exile, giving him wisdom above and beyond all others. It was this same favor that had raised Joseph from slavery and prison to be the second highest in command over all Egypt. Of course, we can go on and on.
Esther Learns to Trust God
Esther’s favor reveals God’s necessary and obvious presence, despite His hiddenness. Just as Joseph and Daniel experienced setbacks and suffering despite God’s favor, Esther too experienced very human fears and difficulties. Even Mordechai had to rebuke her fears gently—or perhaps not so gently—to the point of threatening that she and her father’s house would perish if she refused to act.
We have textual evidence to infer that Esther experienced hesitation, anxiety, and temptation toward self-preservation, perhaps a desire to be silent instead of speaking out, perhaps even confusing silence with submission—which many women do! Yet, Esther stands as an example to us all as she overcame all these human shortcomings and performed the will of the Lord, even to the point of potentially perishing. Also, let us not overlook the fact that Esther became spiritually strengthened and more confident after she called for prayer and fasting and sought the Lord.
Most importantly, Esther’s victory came about by discerning and submitting only to God’s authority in all situations. The sovereignty of God in her heart is what set Esther apart from the beginning; this was her true beauty that granted her favor. She is an example to us all today, male and female, challenging us to discern, trust, and follow God’s lead in every circumstance.
Esther and the Messiah
Finally, God includes Esther in the line of great biblical heroes who had the highest privilege of foreshadowing the Messiah himself. Although centuries apart, their stories and themes share much in common. Indeed, they have a similar heart, a similar spirit, and even similar words.
In Esther 4:16 Esther invited the Jewish community and her young women servants to fast with her before going to the king at the risk of death. Likewise, Yeshua invites His disciples in Matthew 26:41 to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane just before going to the Sanhedrin and Pilate at the risk, or guarantee, of death.
Next, we see that Esther and Yeshua shared a courageous willingness to die for their people because of profound love. They both chose the risk of death. In Esther’s famous words, “. . . if I perish, I perish” (4:16), one can almost hear Yeshua’s own blood-sweating words, with which Esther would have had to wrestle herself: “. . . not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Both Esther and Yeshua could say with confidence, “No one has taken [my life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18).
Finally, Esther and Yeshua both functioned as mediators, interceding between life and death for their people—the Jewish people. Indeed, it was the hidden presence and Spirit of Yeshua that moved in the book of Esther and within Esther herself, who foreshadowed the messianic path of selfless sacrifice in order to save God’s people from a far greater death and a far more malicious Haman.
In conclusion, though God might seem hidden in your circumstances, He is very present, working behind the scenes of your life out of a profound, selfless love. When you know in your innermost being that you have such a self-sacrificing mediator fighting for your life and taking your death, you can follow Him into the riskiest and scariest situations of life—or death. Even if we perish, we perish unto everlasting life with our Messiah.
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