FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS: Why Study the Book of Esther
For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? —Esther 4:14 (NKJV)
Among the 66 books of the Bible, Esther stands alone. Apart from the Song of Solomon, there is no obvious direct mention of God. Aside from the Book of Ruth, it is the only Bible book that has a woman as the main character and namesake. No reference is made of religious observance, prayer, the temple, sacrifices, Biblical holidays, priesthoods or prophets. Even the Feast of Purim, which is introduced in ‘Esther,’ is a decidedly secular affair. It begins and ends with a feast and there are 10 feasts mentioned (1 for each chapter) as well as a total fast of 3 days duration.
Despite these seeming deficiencies, Esther has an appropriate place in the Canon of Scripture. Esther is a superbly told story of the Jewish people faced sure and total annihilation and then, at the 11th hour, they were delivered from destruction. When God is in the picture, the good people triumph over the evil ones. Vindication, enlargement, favour become their portion. More importantly, had Haman’s wicked plot to destroy the Jews succeeded (and, in the natural, it should have), there would have been no Jewish people, no Jewish Messiah, and no redemption of the world (John 4:22 says salvation is of the Jews).
Some major themes you will learn in Esther include:
1. Anti-semitism: You will learn how this irrational, satanically-motivated phenomena nearly succeeded in destroying the Jewish people but, for the hand of God, it failed. Its modern counterpart is no less virulent yet is equally destined to fail;
2. Sovereignty of God: Though God is not mentioned directly, His sovereign hand is obvious for anyone to see. The series of ‘coincidences’ are no coincidence; it is God who is acting on behalf of His people. He promised Abraham that his descendants would be numerous as the stars in the sky and sand of the sea (Genesis 15:5). Through Jeremiah, He declared that His people would remain as long as there is sun, moon, and stars in the sky (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
3. Christ in Esther: Like every Bible book, Esther has a portrait of Christ. You will learn how this story parallels the life and times of the Saviour. He is the courageous advocate who risks and surrenders His own life for the sake of the world.
4. Our victory: You will see how Esther’s victory over Haman and the forces of anti-semitism benefited all of us, not just the Jewish people.
5. Current events: The Book of Esther will give you a ‘heads up’ about today’s headlines, especially involving Iran, Israel, and the Middle East;
6. Redemption: Like the Book of Ruth, when all seems to be lost, bring God into the picture and redemption comes in like a flood.
The story starts Vashti, Queen of Persia, being deposed by her husband Xerxes I (Greek), also known as Ahasuerus (Hebrew) and Khshayarsha (Persian). He reigned from 486 until his assassination in 465 BC. The book itself covers the period from 483-473 BC, between the 6th and 7th chapters of the Book of Ezra. The king goes on the hunt for a new wife and Esther, the beautiful orphaned Jewish girl, becomes queen in the place of Vashti. Mordecai, the older cousin and guardian of Esther, falls out of favour with Haman, who wickedly decides to destroy him and also his people, the Jews.
Haman convinces the king to sign the decree of extermination, which is irreversible. How will the Jewish people survive? Upon Mordechai’s behest and after a 3 day fast, Esther courageously approaches the king and, after a couple of feasts, exposes Haman’s wicked design. He is hung on his own gallows which he prepared for Mordechai.
Yet how could the irreversible decree of Jewish destruction be thwarted? The answer: Write a counter-decree. The new decree: Jews can defend themselves on the day of their appointed destruction. When the Day of Adar comes, the Jew’s counteraction was so powerful that their enemies were defeated and many others became Jews.
Like Esther, you are a person of destiny. When you follow the LORD, according to His tempo, timing, terms, and territory, you too can be His instrument of blessing and deliverance for those He sends your way, for such a time as this.
Chapter 01: Vashti Divorced
Chapter 02: Esther becomes Queen; Mordecai Reveals Assassination Plot
Chapter 03: Haman’s Decree to Murder the Jews
Chapter 04: Esther and the Jews Respond to Haman’s Plan
Chapter 05: Esther’s First Feast, Haman Plans to Murder Mordechai
Chapter 06: Haman forced to Honour Mordecai Instead
Chapter 07: Esther’s Second Feast, Haman Indicted & Hung
Chapter 08: Mordecai Given Haman’s House, Preparing for Victory
Chapter 09: Victory Day
Chapter 10 Fame of Mordecai