Three Lessons from the Book of Esther
We can learn many lessons from the Book of Esther that will strengthen our walk with the Lord. Let me offer just three:
1. God is always here, but His presence is sometimes veiled.
Although God’s name is not mentioned once in the Book of Esther, His presence is always felt. There is a series of “providential events” (holy coincidences) that could only have been orchestrated by the one true God of Israel. This tells us that He is always aware of the troubles and challenges faced by His people.
For example, the very circumstances leading to Esther’s selection to replace the fallen-from-favor former Queen Vashti were providential in nature. After Esther met King Ahasuerus for the first time, he immediately fell in love with her and chose her as his new Queen (Esther 2:18). God was evidently at work behind the scenes, preparing Esther for her nation-saving role in the not-too-distant future!
2. The Lord places His people in the right place at the right time to accomplish His will.
This is perhaps the major lesson of the entire Book of Esther. Many believers throughout the centuries have memorized and quoted the words of Esther’s uncle Mordechai, who said,
“…Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
We learn from the Book of Esther that the Lord is always in control. He places His servants in the right place at the right time for His purposes. The Jewish people would certainly have been destroyed if the Lord had not intervened through Esther!
Sometimes the Lord begins moving us into these “right places” well before the time comes to perform the particular task He has in mind. Our responsibility is to be open to His leading and ready to go!
Years ago, I was serving the Lord in San Francisco when my dad, living in Brooklyn, had a massive heart attack. I traveled east immediately to be at his side, but because he was in the Coronary Care Unit, I wasn’t able to spend hours at a time at his bedside. I would take many walks around Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, praying for my dad (who was not a believer) and for the many Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish people I was passing on the streets.
At the time, I was very happy in San Francisco: enjoying a fruitful ministry, being the new father of two little girls, living in a nice home and much more. But as I walked around Brooklyn, I became profoundly unsettled and sensed the Lord was calling me to move back to Brooklyn, where I was born!
This sense in my soul grew over time, and I could not deny that it was the Lord’s leading. We moved our young family to Brooklyn and initiated a wonderful ministry among Russian Jews through planting a Russian-speaking congregation and establishing English as a Second Language courses and other outreach activities. For a long time, I thought our ministry among Russian Jews was “the end of the story.” After all, we had seen dozens and maybe hundreds of Russian Jewish people come to faith in Jesus; it had been exciting and fruitful. But now I realize that our past ministries among Russian Jews in Brooklyn were only Chapter One! The Lord seems to be writing a novel, with the next chapters about the Brooklyn Messianic Center and seminary program being written right now!
You see, like Esther and Mordechai, we often know very little about why God places us in a certain family, community, congregation or ministry until He is ready for us to know. We do not need to understand every detail of the full plan ahead of time; all we need to know is the next step and to be willing to take it. The only question that really matters is this: are you available for God to use for His Kingdom?
3. God will never allow His chosen people to be destroyed!
The third and final lesson I’d like to share is that the Lord arranges earthly events for the sake of His glory. He made sure Mordechai was honored by the king. He placed Queen Esther in just the right time and place to save her people from the destruction that the wicked Haman had devised.
The Book of Esther is a poignant illustration of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises and to the Jewish people. Historically, God has judged those nations that have tried to destroy us. This is His promise—not because of the righteousness of the Jewish people, but because of God’s choice and faithfulness (Romans 11:28-29).
Let’s continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for the salvation of Jewish people, and for our country and churches to be a blessing to Jewish people. Let’s keep remembering that the greatest blessing we can bring to God’s chosen people is His most precious gift—the Messiah Jesus.
Have a joyous Purim—and remember that we serve a God who always keeps His promises!
Your brother in the Messiah,