We often feel alone in this world, don’t we? It’s easier to ignore this feeling if we distract ourselves by binging Netflix or notching another political win. But these are Pyrrhic victories. They merely distract us from the question that haunts us: Where’s God in a world that leaves us feeling so cold—so alone?
The book of Esther gets at these questions that keep you up at night. It doesn’t even mention God. He’s invisible, while persecution, marginalization, and suffering are tangibly, painfully visible. Wouldn’t such a book just reinforce our sense of loneliness?
Here are a few reasons why you should read the book of Esther:
- It doesn’t ignore reality. One of the great lies about Christianity is that it ignores reality while offering hope—it’s just a crutch for the weak. The book of Esther doesn’t ignore reality. In fact, it’s firmly planted within history. King Xerxes (called Ahasuerus in the book) led the assault on Greece that led to the famed battle against 300 Spartans. Fairy tales aren’t given such a concrete historical context.
In addition, it shows how bad things truly are for God’s people. They’re dispersed and a non-entity within a great empire. They’re like flies that can be swatted away. Their hopes must rely upon a queen of questionable reputation.
- Hope rests upon the invisible God. What if your God isn’t present with you in pillars of cloud and flame? What if there’s no angel to declare God’s final victory? All you do know is that a decree has been put out that will lead to the destruction of all the people of God—including you. Do you buy your tombstone and curse the light, or do you hope beyond all earthly hopes that the God of your fathers will ride to the rescue once more? This is where the rubber meets the road. Will you still cling to the God of the Bible and all his promises when all hope seems lost?
- We get to see the Lord in a way that they could not. It just so happened that a queen had recently been deposed. It just so happened that Esther caught the king’s eye. It just so happened that the cruel and capricious king would look on Esther’s request with favor. It just so happened that—when all hope seemed lost—the sleepless king turned to the page of the empire’s history that told of Mordecai’s loyalty to the king. This is the hidden hand of the Lord, which alone is our hope.
- We get to see the true hero of the story. This is a battle for the ages in a sense that should remind us of the book of Revelation. The evil Haman is a descendant of the Agagites and represents that anti-Christ line that seeks to put the hope of Christ and his line to death. Haman constructed a gallows for Mordecai, only to be hung there himself. The decree of death against God’s people becomes a decree of life by the end of the book. The climactic battle reminds us that Satan’s own mechanizations against Christ have been thwarted. The cross is now a symbol for victory. The decree of death fell helpless at the foot of the cross for God’s people. The decree of life and vindication in Christ’s name now cascades throughout the world.
The book of Esther reminds us that though we feel alone, we’re not. Although the Lord is hidden from our sight, he’s no less involved in our redemption, our perseverance, and our final victory. It’s a poignant reminder that faith comes through hearing, not by sight. We don’t look for hope in our present circumstances but in the promises of God.
We go to God’s word, and we hope with the patriarchs and saints of old in that final city whose builder and maker is God. We go to God’s word, and we’re reminded by Mordecai that we’re called to seasons such as this, and that God is still sovereign. We go to God’s word, and we’re reminded that—like Esther—we have an intercessor in the court of the (real) king who hears the cries of his people, stands on their behalf, and turns their death into life.