God Behind the Scenes
Read Esther 8:3-6 (ESV)
Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?”
How has the hand of God been evident in your life?
Once upon a time, in the city of Susa, in the land of Persia, King Ahasuerus (some translations say “Xerxes”—the Greek equivalent), held an extravagant banquet to display the glory of his kingdom. He asked for his queen, Vashti, to parade her beauty before his guests but alas, she refused. This, of course, made the king very angry. And so it was that Queen Vashti was deposed.
In order to fill the vacancy, the king held a royal beauty pageant in which beautiful young virgins were taken into the harem of the king by royal edict, given year long beauty treatments, and given one night with the king. Whichever woman pleased the king the most would be chosen as the next queen.
Among these young virgins was a beautiful Jewish woman named Esther (her Jewish name was Hadassah). She lived with her older cousin, Mordecai, because both of her parents were dead. Their family had long ago been carried off into Babylonian captivity from Judah. Lo and behold, when it was Esther’s turn to go to the king, he “loved her more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:17). Mordecai had advised her to keep her Jewish heritage a secret. But the fact remained that Esther, a Jewish exile, had risen to a position of Persian royalty.
In time, Mordecai learned of an evil plot to completely annihilate the Jews in Persia. The conspirator was Haman, the Agagite. He was a descendant of a king of the Amalekites, Agag. The Amalekites had attacked the Israelites during the exodus from Egypt. Also, in 1 Samuel 15:1-33, you can read of how King Saul was commanded to “devote to destruction” every person or living thing among the Amalekites, but he did not complete that command. Now, the tables had turned and it was Haman, a descendant of the Amalekites, plotting to devote the Jews to destruction at this point.
Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not directly reference God. His name is not mentioned at all. But He is evident all throughout the entire narrative. How? His providence. The sovereign hand of God orchestrated every event. The book of Esther covers events from 483-473 B.C. and fits into the gap between the first return of the exiles by Zerubbabel and the second return of the exiles by Ezra. Thus, Esther and Mordecai were Jews that could have already returned to their homeland and yet, had chosen to stay in Persia. God was prepared to use their decision to position them to deliver His people. He ensured that Esther was made queen and He made sure that Mordecai was in the right place at the right time to hear about the plot.
We also see the sovereignty of God when Esther approaches the king unsummoned, risking her own life, and revealing her secret heritage by pleading to the king on behalf of her people. We can perceive the work of God in the willingness of the king to listen to his queen rather than one of his head officials. Finally, we see the perfect, poetic justice of God when the evil Haman is hanged and publicly shamed on the very gallows he had built to execute the righteous Mordecai.
Even though God’s name is not mentioned in the book of Esther, we can see the Scarlet Thread of redemption all throughout the book. Esther willingly put her life on the line for her people and advocated for them just as Christ is our Advocate. Because of that, she is viewed as a type of Christ. Her actions made her the savior of her people at that time. Once again, we see that God worked behind the scenes to preserve His people just as He promised. Even when they were unworthy. Friends, no matter how bleak the circumstances of our lives may appear, even when God is silent, God is always at work behind the scenes. He is always orchestrating events to preserve His people and nothing can thwart His plans to save us.
God, thank You for Your providence. Thank You for always working out a plan to preserve Your people. Thank You for sending the ultimate Savior, Jesus, as our Messiah to save us from our sins. Thank You for Your faithfulness to us. Amen.