Read: Esther 7:1 – 8:17
In every province and city, wherever the king’s decree arrived, the Jews rejoiced and had a great celebration and declared a public festival and holiday. And many of the people of the land became Jews themselves, for they feared what the Jews might do to them. Esther 8:17
I have to be honest – I’ve always struggled some with Esther (I read with interest that Chris also struggles with it some). I’ve read the book several times, I’ve even watched the Veggie Tale episode about it, but it’s always been a hard book for me. Perhaps I struggle with the fact that it’s the only book in the Bible that doesn’t mention God by name. It took me reading an analysis of the book to come to understand that perhaps this absence of mentioning God by name actually fits best with the theme of the book – while I believe that God can and does work miracles and directly intervenes in people’s lives, the book of Esther reinforces the idea that God is often working behind the scenes in ways that we can’t fully see or understand.
As a side note because I know I wondered why it doesn’t mention God by name: There are reasons why God isn’t mentioned by name in this book; one of which might be that if it were written by Mordecai who was living in the Persian empire at the time as many believe, the book would have been destroyed and not distributed if it attributed glory directly to God, so the author credited God in ways that the Jews at the time would understand God was at work without giving it away to the Persian authorities.
In today’s reading, we see the rejoicing and celebration that results from the work God performed behind the scenes (including raising Esther and Mordecai into positions where they could directly act on behalf of the Jews). In Esther 3, we learned that Haman tricked King Xerxes into issuing a proclamation to “kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children”. As we know from today’s reading, Persian law made it impossible to overturn a law that had been written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet ring. The Jews understood that their fate was sealed with Xerxes’ original proclamation. Who’s to know what was going through their minds, but we do know that annihilation wasn’t God’s plan for His people. While the book of Esther doesn’t flat out say it, we know from contextual clues in the text that the Jews were confident that when the new proclamation was given by the king giving them the means to defend themselves, they had actually been rescued by their God, Yahweh, so they rejoiced and celebrated the fact that God was still with them and acting on their behalf. Many of the Persians also knew something special and extraordinary was going on, so they too became Jews and came to know the God who once again rescued His people.
Lord, thank You for wisdom and understanding. Please continue to give me wisdom and help me to understand Your word as I continue to read it daily. Please also help me to trust in You, even when I can’t see You working directly and when I can’t see a way out of whatever situation or struggles I face. I know that You’re big enough to rescue Your people and You’re bigger than any problem or trouble I face. In Jesus’ name… Amen.