THE BOOK OF ESTHER:By Henry Jaegers
We come now, to the final section of the historical books ending with the book of Esther. Although Esther appears last among the three final historical books, the events took place prior to the arrival of Ezra to Jerusalem. It covers the period Of time when Israel was summoned through the edict of Cyrus to build the temple of God. The people living during the time of Esther, were those who refused to go to Jerusalem and chose rather to stay behind. This little bit of history is significant because unlike the other books, it mentions nothing about the temple, the law, the sacrifices or even God himself.
Some have questioned why this book is part of the word of God, but by careful examination we find, that although the name of God is not mentioned, the activity of God is very much in place. G. Campbell Morgan, uses the word “Providence” to explain the absence of God in this book. The word “Providence” he defines as the foresight of God resulting in activity. This idea of “Providence” can only be attributed to God Himself.
When we think of this term “Providence”, we then begin to see God in operation and totally in control over his people. There is nothing coincidental about activities in this book for as we think of God's foresight, we are forced to consider that although he is operating in the shadows of history, he is not inactive and his power is still in operation as he maintains sovereignty over his people.
The main character in this book, of course, is Esther, but actually there were five in this book which deserve our consideration for in the lives of these individuals we see the activity of God clearly. Ester’ name before she became queen, was, “Hadassah”. The name comes from the beautiful flower sent forth by the Myrtle tree formerly unknown in Palestine, but later became the tree of the nation of Israel because of its beautiful flowers and fragrance. That word describes not only the outward beauty of Esther, but the beauty of her character within. When she arrives in Persia, her name was changed to Esther not much different than her other name. It refers to a star but the star in mind describes the shape of the flower on the Myrtle tree. There is no doubt that as we read this marvelous book we are captivated by the inner beauty of Esther and it is no wonder that her beauty caught the attention of the king. But all of that falls into insignificance when we recognize the purpose of God in all of this.
There are five main characters throughout this book and to each of these we see the providence of God in operation. Beginning with the king, Ahasuerus
and his wife, Vashti. We may wonder how God could be active in such ungodly situations but he stands in the shadows and remains in control despite the will of man determined to please himself.
The third character, although the main one, is Esther. Her relationship to her uncle Mordecai, and her marriage to the king enabled her to be an intercessor which proves to be very important.
The fourth person of importance was Mordecai, although he was a man of low position, he was able through his activities to detect danger. And spoke to Esther on behalf of the people he represented to the king.
The fifth person was Haman: A man who was highly favored by the king and given him such an exalted position that men were forced to pay him honor whenever he appeared.
As we consider these five individuals, no matter what their intention was., whether desires were, God remained in control and as it was Haman's purpose to utterly destroy the Jewish nation God stepped in and delivered them, and turned the tables on his wicked intensions.
The full message of Esther is a message that although the name of God is not mentioned, he is providentially present throughout the book, resulting in a positive outcome for His people in the midst of intended destruction.
The message concerns the sovereignty of God. As in the book of Esther, the only book in the Bible where the name of God is not even mentioned, God is clearly seen through his foresight and activity in accomplishing his purpose for his people. That message stands true for all who claim to be followers of God. Romans 8:28 clearly sums up the idea that "all things work together for good to them who trust God; to them who are the called according to his purpose". What can we add to that?
. 1. Compare the events in Ezra chapter 1 with Daniel chapter 5. It is the same God at work in the midst of similar wicked events. How does God differ in his treatment of the king of Persia compared to the king of Babylon? Why do you think it is different?
2. Why do you think Vashti acted in the way that she did? Was it wrong for her to refuse to submit to the requests of the king? Can you think of another way that she could have avoided the problems that occurred? How do you see God at work in all of this?
3. What do these verses tell us about a king who is easily influenced by those around him? Do you think he was wise in listening to their advice as to how to treat the Queen and how to replace her?
4 How do you think it was possible for a Jewish maiden to become the king's favorite? What qualities do you see in Esther that gained her special favor with the King?
5. Do you think that Modecai had some kind of spiritual insights and training which gave him some backbone and humility as well? Even though God is not mentioned in the book, can you see where some former training in the past may have helped him to be strong in the situations that he faced and the wisdom he acquired?
6. Discuss the pride and hatred that controlled Haman and his reaction to the request of the king when he was asked to honor Mordecai?
7. Discuss the determination of Haman to the Jewish people and how his anger and hatred turned the tables upon him.
8. Chapter 4 verses 14 to 17 are considered by most Bible teachers is the theme of this book. What evidences do you see in the light of Mordecai and Esther that reveal a deep faith and commitment to God.?
9. In chapter 8 discuss the dilemma that the king faced concerning the decree that he made against the Jewish people. What action did he take to resolve the problem?
10. In chapter 10, discuss the final victory and the memorial that was set up for the people to remember that great victory God accomplished in the nation of Israel at that time do you think that there was singing of praise to God at that time even though his name is not mentioned?