Many people have looked down on the book of Esther, or even questioned its place in the canon of scripture. This rests on the fact that God is not directly named or even referenced in the text. But many rabbis over time have come to the book’s defence saying that “the fingerprints of God” are all over it.
Today’s piece will not be an exhaustive study of the book, but will focus on one of those finger prints.
In Chapter we find that Esther’s kinsman, Mordecai, has discovered the minister Haman’s plan to have the Jews killed. He covers himself in sackcloth and ashes, and fasts and mourns the arrival of the edict’s enforcement. Esther, who has recently been elevated to the status of a Persian queen hears of Mordecai’s actions and sends to enquire about what it all means.
Her servant is told of the edict, and of a request from Mordecai for her to use her status to plead for mercy for the Jews of the land. In response Esther notes (verse 11) “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death . . . .”
Mordecai replies in verse 13, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
The abbreviate the rest of the narrative, Esther after fasting and prayer takes the risk, and approaches the king. She is spared and indeed uses her influence, and some clever manoeuvring to achieve deliverance of the Jews, and to bring about the downfall of Haman.
You might have noticed that I have highlighted the “such a time as this” passage. It is an interesting parallel to a passage in the New Testament. The Jewish people are condemned to perish. There is little, if any hope for their rescue by any ordinary means. Yet, Mordecai calls into question the nature of Esther’s elevation. Is it a coincidence that Queen Vashti falls from Xerxe’s favour, and that Esther is selected to succeed her, just as this crisis arises for God’s people? Is not God’s fingerprint there?
The wording is also important: “such a time as this.” May I suggest that Esther is a type or parallel to the Messiah. All humanity was facing condemnation because of sin. We are condemned to perish. There is little, if any hope of rescue by any ordinary means. “But, when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4: 4-5).” We “in the fullness of time” (Such a time as this) were sent a deliverer, Jesus.
Esther’s deliverance of her people was a foreshadowing of humanities deliverance by Jesus. The book that bears her name is an important testimony of how God works. Sending salvation at an appointed time. Let’s not question this book, but marvel at God’s fingerprints instead.
Pastor Larry reminded us today that despite all of the turmoil of the world, the Lord is not only with us, but hears our calls and petitions. Larry cited the 40th Psalm in his introduction: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
What firmer place to stand than with the One who created dry land, and who calmed chaotic seas (Genesis 1)? Jesus told us that it is the epitome of wisdom to build upon the firm foundation of God (Matthew 7). That wisdom we can see manifested in our Psalm: “He turned to me and heard my cry.”
So why are so many of us silent? When we hear of pandemics, we scramble to buy toilet paper rather than appeal to the Great Healer Himself to aid us. When some see injustice in the world, they scribble placards and take to the streets, rather than asking for the assistance of the Judge of the World.
There is at present not only the rumours of wars, but actual fighting in the streets. Yes, we should be like the early church of Acts (chapter 2) and send aid, but how much more should we send our prayers! Look at Acts 6. The needs were there, and the Apostles had priorities! They appointed the seven so that they could dedicate themselves to “to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Maybe we live in a time when we feel devalued and unlistened to. We get vague acknowledgements of our voices from our peers. We ask, “How are you?,” meaning little more than “Hello.” We are quick to think that our fears, problems, and concerns are not worthy of consideration, because that is how this world treats our appeals. But when we are patient. There is One who is faithful, and will turn to us and listen. And He promises to give us exceedingly, abundantly more than we even ask for. It is the time to not be silent. It is time to be heard.