Minister’s forum: God is at work behind the scenes
June 5, 2007
The last three weeks I’ve been preparing to present at our church’s adult Sunday school class the story of Esther. What was interesting to me about taking this portion of the Bible to discuss has to do with the fact that he word God is never mentioned in the 10 chapters of the book. In fact, it’s the only book in the Bible that does not mention praying, begin directed by God or the committing of sins by the characters. You can see that what caught my attention was trying to understand why Esther’s story was included in the Bible.
To summarize the plot, the story of Esther was that good triumphs over evil in the Jewish faith. Victory is celebrated by the Festival of Purim. It has to do with this young unknown, attractive Jewish girl becoming King Xerxes of Persia’s wife and being able to influence the king to save her people. It sounds unbelievable. This occurred through a series of coincidences or you could say unexpected events. Briefly, let me tell you some of them. First, there’s the current queen who refused to show up at a six-month party that the king put on to celebrate the winning of a war against the Greeks. He asked his queen because of her beauty to come to his party to show her off and she refused. With the help of his advisors he found a way to depose her from the throne.
Over the next several years the king looked for another queen and brought many eligible women to his palace as a possible new queen. And, of course, Esther was one of these women whom after spending a night with the king was chosen. She kept from the king the secret that she was Jewish. Her cousin, Mordecai, had taken care of her while they were in Persian captivity for 50 years. He was part of the king’s staff and discovered a plot to kill the king. He told Esther, she told the king and the plot was stopped, and it was written in the scrolls of the king’s library that Mordecai saved his life.
The most important event is another plot by a man called Haman, who was second in command to the king. His plan was to kill all the Jews who lived in Persia because many years ago the Jews killed most of his people. Sounds like a soap opera. There’s many other unexpected events. But, to get to the conclusion, the gallows that Haman made for all the Jews was used to hang him and his henchmen instead of the Jews. This happened because Esther, whose life was at stake, found out about the plot for Mordecai and with great courage told the king at a dinner she arranged for the three of them that she was a Jew and Haman planned to kill her and all her people. The king was in shock, but was able to hear her request, and because he loved and respected her he granted her request to do away with Haman the next day. He also gave her all of Haman’s rulership which she gave to her cousin, Mordecai, who became the second in command to the king – remember, he save the king’s life earlier.
The conclusion I came to from the study was that God can work anyway He wants. He is in charge. In this story God worked indirectly through Mordecai, Esther, King Xerxes and Haman to accomplish His purpose. What we call chance is God’s way of showing up often against all odds. In the story of Esther, God doesn’t have to be described in religious terms to act.
Too often as Christians we wait for a sign, a direct message from God, perhaps in prayer or even Scripture to take any action because we are not sure it’s “God’s will.” I believe the book of Esther is in the Old Testament Bible to reveal to us that God is always there. He wants to save his people regardless of what it requires, as long as the people he wants to save step up even at the risk of their own lives. The Apostle Paul, a Jewish Christian, tells the people in Romans 3:29-30 “After all God’s not the God of Jews only is He? Isn’t He also the God of all mankind? There is only one God … and we are accepted by Him … only by faith.”
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– Robert Andrew M.D. is a minister at Sierra Community Church.