January 26, 2018

Esther

By: Larry Shaffer

We are at a Love Fosters Hope gala. Like Stevie Wonder used to say, “Isn’t she lovely?”

Introduction to Esther

I sometimes complain about the challenge of gaining devotional insight from some of these narrative books in the OT. Nevertheless, I’m drawn toward Esther as my next devotional study. To challenge my devotional perspective further, did you know that God is never mentioned in the book of Esther? The reality is that we’ll find God all over the book even though He is never mentioned. Hmmm, this should be interesting. The events of Esther took place around 475BC. This makes it one of the last books to be written in the OT. Esther is a Jewish orphan who was raised by her older cousin, Mordecai in ancient Persia.

Satan is scheming

The back drop of the story of Esther is that Satan is scheming to wipe out the Israelite nation. Throughout history, Satan has inspired various nations and individuals of power with aspirations to wipe out the Jewish nation from the face of the earth. From the Egyptians to the Philistines to Haman (here in Esther) to Hitler, Satan has wielded his limited power to raise up the proverbial sword against God’s chosen people with a view toward usurping God’s Covenants. This goes back to the curse of God upon Satan in Genesis 3:15. God tells Satan that the seed of the woman he deceived will eventually crush his head. The seed of the woman is Jesus and Satan has attempted to disrupt or destroy the Jewish lineage that leads to Jesus.  Once Jesus completed his redeeming work on the earth, Satan continues to inspire hatred toward the Jews because, well, he just does. He’s a really sore loser.

The game’s not over till it’s over

The amazing events of Esther, which we will explore in the coming days, ushered in the Jewish festival of Purim. Purim is a celebration of God’s sustaining of the nation of Israel as told in Esther and symbolic of God’s continual intervention to preserve them throughout the ages. God never loses. He may allow the game to go to the bottom of ninth inning, but He always manages to come up with a “walk off home run”, (if your unfamiliar with baseball, it’s a dramatic way to win the game at the last minute).

Another twist of drama in Esther is that the antagonist, Haman, is an Agagite.  500 years earlier, God told King Saul to utterly wipe out the Agagites from the earth. And He meant UTTERLY wipe them out. When reading the story back in I Samuel it seems God is being very harsh. Well, Saul did not obey God and chose to not utterly destroy them. A remnant of the Agagites survived and Haman, as an ancestor, harbored tremendous resentment toward the Jews and the book of Esther will unfold his story. Haman is a true villain in this story.

Lord, we look forward with much anticipation to what You will teach us in this book. Even though You’re not mentioned in the text, You are always present. Just like in our lives. Even when You are not “top of mind” to us for much of the day, we are always Your first thought always! You are always with me! Amen.