Yesterday our church finished up a 9-week preaching series through the book of Esther. Click here to listen to any of the sermons.
At the end of every preaching series, I like to take some time and reflect on my own heart, not as a pastor but just as a person. If you let him, God will change your heart as you spend more and more time in the Bible and Esther was no different for me. I have four main thoughts from our journey through Esther.
1. God’s divine providence knows no bounds.
The only caveat worth adding here is that God does never does anything outside the character of God and we know that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). However, we need to be careful to not impose our concept of what we define love to be onto the actions of God.
In a book historically criticized by some due to God’s apparent absence, (God’s name never appears in the book of Esther) it is impossible to miss God’s providential activity.
- What are the odds that Esther, a Jewish girl living in Susa, would be chosen to be Queen of Persia?
- Why were Esther and Mordecai still in Persia? God’s people were no longer in exile but Esther and Mordecai did not return to Jerusalem.
- How was Mordecai, a Jewish nobody, able to maintain communication with Esther after she was crowned queen?
- What are the odds that Mordecai would be the one to uncover the secret plot to kill the king?
- The turning point of the entire book begins with the king’s seemingly random sleepless night (6:1).
God’s divine providence isn’t on center stage in Esther, but it is undeniably moving in the background, moving closer to true redemption all the while using surprising reversals and non-Israelites to accomplish God’s purposes.
Even though we can’t always see how God is moving, we can trust that God is moving.
2. We still have a responsibility to obey.
Even though God’s divine providence moves the story of Esther forward, people are still called to obey along the way.
- Esther eventually realized this and decided to obey with her bold, famous declaration, “If I perish, I perish.” (4:16)
- Mordecai’s wisdom and faithful support of Esther accomplish much at great potential danger to his own life.
- Even King Ahasuerus decides to do what is right and honors Esther’s courage instead of Haman’s evil plan even thought he risked being labelled a “flip-flopper” and losing political collateral.
Is there an area of your life where you know what’s right but you’re not doing what’s right?
“22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” – James 1:22-24
3. Power is a fleeting tool.
Power comes and goes in the book of Esther. The only people who retain it are those who see it as a tool to point others to the glory of God.
- When the book of Esther opens, Esther and Mordecai are displaced Jews with no power. When the book ends, Esther is queen and Mordecai is VP of the Persian Empire (10:3).
- Haman quickly gains and quickly loses power. He dies arguably the most ironic death in Scripture, hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai.
- We first meet King Ahasuerus in the middle of a 6-month long, no-rules party which some scholars estimate was attended by up to 15,000 of the king’s most vicious warriors and most cunning politicians. As great and powerful as his reign was, history tells us King Ahasuerus was later assassinated by his own chief official.
Even though it might not feel like it, you have a certain amount of power and influence. Friendships, work opportunities, and social media profiles can all be leveraged to point others to the glory of God.
4. It’s important to remember and celebrate God’s work in our lives.
The book of Esther ends with the inauguration of Purim, the festival to commemorate God rescuing his people from Haman’s edict to eradicate the Jews from the Persian Empire. Jews today still celebrate Purim by reading and remembering the story of God’s divine provision through the bravery of Esther and Mordecai.
One of the ways my wife and I remember the good, normal days of our marriage is through these photo books she makes every year. Our most recent book just came in a few days ago and I found myself remembering good moments from the last year I would have forgotten if it weren’t for the books.
As Christians, we should remember the landmark moments of our faith. We should celebrate our baptism and other significant breakthrough moments of spiritual growth. But the key to a lifetime of faith might just be the ability to remember God’s everyday goodness even when it doesn’t feel like it’s real. Maybe it’s journaling or telling faith stories around the dinner table on a regular basis, but I would encourage you to find a way to remember and celebrate the good, normal work of God in your life.