Can Esther, the only book of the Bible that doesn't mention God, tell us anything about Jesus? See Dr. Paul Williams's answer in this excerpt from How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens.
Sometimes it seems as if God has left the building. Certainly it must have seemed so to Esther. She lived under the rule of a foreign world power. Her father and mother were dead, and she was raised by her crusty older cousin, Mordecai. Now she had even been taken from his care by royal decree and brought into the king's harem, where, obeying her cousin's instructions, she kept her Jewish ethnicity secret. Surely none of these events were on her list of life goals. But despite all of these twists and turns in her path, Esther's future looked bright. Of all the concubines in the harem, Esther pleased King Xerxes the most, and he made her his queen. God had not, in fact, left the building.
Little did Esther know that God had providentially placed her in the queenship in order to bring about the deliverance of his people from Haman, who was bent on annihilating the Jews.
Mordecai regularly visited Esther, and during one of his visits he discovered a plot to assassinate the king. Esther revealed the plot to the king and gave Mordecai credit. Later, when Mordecai refused to kneel before Haman, the king's honored official, Haman was furious. He found out that Mordecai was a Jew and decided to take steps to eliminate not only Mordecai, but all of his people as well... Employing all of his slithery skills, Haman succeeded in persuading the king to issue a decree to annihilate the Jews. Mordecai informed Esther of the dire situation and that the life of every Jew was in jeopardy. He persuaded her to put her own life in jeopardy by going to the king unbidden in order to appeal for the lives of her people.
That night, during a divinely induced bout of insomnia, the king had the official records read to him (which, evidently, were a potent sleeping aid), and he discovered written there Mordecai's previous whistle-blowing regarding the assassination attempt. The king decided to publicly honor Mordecai, further enraging Haman. Shortly therafter, at a banquet she had requested, Esther revealed to the king Haman's plan to exterminate the Jews. Now it was the king's turn to be furious, and Haman ended up impaled on the very pole he had prepared for Mordecai. Moreover, at Esther's request, the king decreed that the Jews had the right to protect themselves against any who might attack them. Thus, by God's providential working through Esther and Mordecai, the Jews were saved. There would one day be an even greater deliverance brought about by God, by an individual who would seem just as unlikely a candidate to do so — a lowly Jewish carpenter who lived under Roman occupation.
The Jesus Lens
For the Jews under Persian rule, the odds were stacked against them. Their only hope was that the one to whom all authorities must ultimately answer would somehow provide for their deliverance. And God did just that through Esther and Mordecai. God put Esther and Mordecai just where they needed to be, at just the time they needed to be there, to bring about his salvation.
'When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law.' -Galatians 4:4–5
For human beings under the rule of sin, the odds are stacked against us. Our only hope is that God will somehow provide for our deliverance as well. And God did just that through his own Son. God became human, at just the right time, to bring about his salvation...
[What this Means for Us Today]
'We are Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.' -2 Corinthians 5:20
God used Esther and Mordecai to bring about the deliverance of his people. But his people had to be notified! So Mordecai wrote in the name of the king and sent the news throughout the kingdom by mounted couriers on fast horses [Esther 8:10].
God used Jesus Christ to bring about the deliverance of his people. But his people have to be notified today as well. We have the privilege and the responsibility to carry this news as fast and effectively as we can throughout the world. Okay, maybe not by mounted couriers on fast horses, but by word of mouth, by print and electronic media, by lives that communicate to everyone who sees us that we have good news to share...
Mordecai and Esther. Not so different from you and me?
As Christ's ambassadors, we have been providentially provided to proclaim deliverance through him to those who are perishing. We have been made children of the King...
What does it mean to be Christ's ambassador? What does an ambassador do? Do you speak to others in the King's name and authority or in your own?
Watch the "Jesus Lens" Web Event
Want to know more about reading the Bible through the Jesus lens? Watch the discussion with author Michael Williams.
Learn more about Dr. Williams's book, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens.
- Adam Forrest, Zondervan
(Images & some styling above are web-exclusive features not included in the text of How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens. Image attribution: From a synagogue interior wood panel in Dura Europos, Syria. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer's personal opinions are shared only for information purposes. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)