Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Book of Esther

I love Esther because she is my only sibling. However, she is not who this post is about.

I love the book of Esther for several reasons. I just read it again the other morning and had a great time doing it.

Why do I love this book? Let me count ten reasons:

1. The book of Esther is a constant reminder of the providence of God. Although God is not directly mentioned in this book, His hand is all over it. From putting Esther in the position of queen to Mordecai's discovering the plot against the king to Haman falling on the couch where Esther sits, God orchestrates circumstances that benefit His people.

2. This book reminds us of God's constant faithfulness. It is no small thing that the Jews were under very real threat of extermination. Haman wanted this, the king foolishly decreed it, and Haman was determined to bring it about. God, honoring His promises to Abraham and David, kept it from happening.

3. The book is short enough to read in one sitting. Although books such as the Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, and Acts are obviously beneficial to us, it is nice to read books of the bible at one time. Esther is long enough to be a detailed and fascinating story, but it is short enough to read in 30-45 minutes.

4. Esther is simply a terrific story. We see all aspects of a tale that is gripping. We read of a protagonist-antagonist feud, mortal danger for the heroine, a sudden change of events, and a happy ending. Best of all - it's all true.

5. The hero and heroine are brave and upright. Both Mordecai and Esther are righteous people who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe is right. Mordecai refuses to bow to wicked Haman. Even more amazing, Esther is willing to go before the king twice when not summoned. In 4:16, Esther famously says to Mordecai, "Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."

6. The bad guy gets what's coming to him. Haman is the perfectly evil villain. He wants the Jews dead and does all he can to make it happen. In the end, however, he has a sudden fall. After Esther reveals his plot and he stumbles onto the couch, the king has Haman hanged on the gallows he had constructed for Mordecai. The irony oozes.

7. It is funny. My favorite part of the book is probably when Haman has to parade Mordecai around the city in the king's robes and on his horse. Haman thought he would be the honored one and suggested this treatment. Instead, he has to honor Mordecai. Haman even had to proclaim, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor."

8. This book provides information no other books gives us. We learn a great deal about the Jewish situation during Persian rule. While Ezra and Nehemiah focus on the return to Jerusalem, Esther looks at both the Jews in Susa and their broader situation in the empire.

9. It shows that one person can really make a difference. Esther had a few very significant choices in this book. She stood before the king for her people. She risked her life. She accused the king's favored advisor. Esther made a real difference.

10. We learn why the Feast of Purim exists. Purim is one of many Jewish feasts. Since we, as Christians, are grafted into the Jewish vine, we should be familiar with these feasts even if we do not celebrate them.

Read Esther again sometime. It's a fun, exciting story that loudly heralds the providence and faithfulness of God.

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