Christianity 201

September 13, 2018

When God is Hidden (A Lesson from Esther)

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm

Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times. – Esther 1:13  NIV

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14  NIV

by Clarke Dixon

We have those days where God seems hidden. We don’t see Him, we can’t perceive His presence. Bad stuff happens and He does not seem to care. Either God is not there, or there is not God. He is hidden, like in the book of Esther.

Esther is the only book of the Bible where God is not directly mentioned in some way. We are not told anything about God in Esther, but we are told about life. Hatred, jealousy, violence, heavy-handed patriarchalism, genocide, all the things we see in our world today, they are there in the Book of Esther.

Esther herself is in a bad situation. While yes, she has the opportunity to be the queen in place of the deposed Queen Vashti, King Ahasuerus, better known as King Xerxes, is not exactly a Prince Charming. Had Esther not been chosen as queen, then she would have been a concubine. Since the King could have a different girl in his bed every night, apart from certain perks she was not much more than a concubine anyway. The Book of Esther is no romance novel. Rather it is a story of  the same kinds of difficulties we face in our lives;  bad advice, bad decisions, bad situations. And where is God when this bad stuff happens?

The bad stuff in the book of Esther is not limited to Esther. Keep reading into chapter three and learn about the plot to destroy all of Esther’s people, the Jews. So where is God in all this?

God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther, but He is there. Esther is placed in a unique situation as queen. Her courage will change the course of history. But her courage  did not land her the job of queen in the first place. Someone was directing things behind the scenes.

Mordecai, with his overhearing of a plot against the king is placed in a unique situation to win the king’s favour. Did he just happen to be in the right place at the right time, or again is Someone working behind the scenes to ensure a good outcome? So many different things come together that give rise to a good outcome.

This is how God often works. While God is never mentioned in Esther, He is, in fact, the hero of the story. Despite bad stuff happening, it all turns out well in the end thanks to God’s orchestrations behind the scenes.

These orchestrations of God are a sign of grace. Mordecai and Esther are not perfect Jews. Both have names reflecting pagan deities. You have likely heard the expression “Dare to be a Daniel”. We preachers love that story as we encourage people to have the courage to stand up and stick out for their faith. Esther does not dare to be a Daniel until it is nearly too late, preferring, on the advice of Mordecai, to keep her faith a secret, even from her husband! Where Daniel kept to a kosher diet, we see no such efforts from Esther. The Book of Esther is not a story of God rewarding a good Jew for her piety. It is a story of God keeping His covenant promises despite the imperfections of His people. The Jews will not be wiped out by genocide, for from them will come the promised rescue, the promised Messiah.

The story of Esther is part of a larger story, of God’s grace for all humanity through Jesus. While Esther saved the day through her courage, God was working behind the scenes to set the stage for the salvation offered to you and me. God was there all along!

You may have one of those days where God seems hidden. Bad stuff happens, you can neither see God, nor perceive His presence. It would seem He has gone missing. God seems to be missing in The Book of Esther, but He is there, keeping His promises. When God seems to be missing from your life, He is there, keeping His promises. We may not always be able to perceive what God is up to, but God is up to loving you!

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. Romans 8:28-30 (NLT)

Listen or download the 30 minute sermon on which this is based: Click here.

Read Clarke Dixon’s blog, Sunday’s Shrunk Sermon.

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