Today’s reading: Esther 1-5.
Much is made of the absence of God’s name in the book of Esther. He is the secret agent working behind the scenes, through his providence, to provide everything that is needed to save the Jews from destruction.
- He creates a vacancy in the position of queen for King Xerxes.
- Esther, a Jew, wins that title.
- Esther’s guardian, Mordecai, finds a place in the king’s court and also is able to save the king from an assassination attempt.
- When Haman, offended by Mordecai, schemes to kill all the Jews, he uses the casting of lots to set the date. By providence the date is set for almost a year later, giving time for action to save the Jews.
- Esther and Mordecai are positioned at high levels in the government to be able to intervene on behalf of their kinsmen.
And that’s only the first half of the story!
The greater secret in the story, besides the invisible action of God, is the hidden faith of Esther and Mordecai. They are not open about their faith as the story begins. Rather than criticize them for hiding their devotion to God, let’s accept them as they are. Many of us have been, and may still be, in the same position. We believe, but don’t let others know about it. Maybe we are afraid of speaking out, or embarrassed, or fearful of persecution. The world is full of secret disciples, and the encouraging message of Esther is that God uses even them to accomplish his will.
Esther and Mordecai’s secret discipleship doesn’t remain hidden. Haman’s threat forces a crisis in which Esther must decide whether to act on behalf of her people, at the risk of her own life, or try to remain a secret Jew. In faith she puts her trust in God, surrendering completely to his will, and chooses to reveal her secret.
“I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16
Perhaps this is the greatest accomplishment of God’s providence in the whole story – maneuvering Esther to the place where she was willing to take a public stand for God.
Image by AJ Cann on Flickr, CC by-sa 2.0