While preaching through Esther recently I was reminded that the word “God” is nowhere to be found in the entire book. I remember in my undergraduate days what a challenge this was to my faith.
I must admit, I’m still a bit puzzled by it and I pondered it perhaps even more seriously this time through than previously. But I don’t have any significant new spin to add to that particular discussion. So I’ll just share a few ideas about why I think Esther, although not mentioning God, is nevertheless, a book where godliness is readily observable to those who are willing to look carefully.
Therefore, I offer to you a few of these recent observations.
1) Finding God’s name in a text, while important, is secondary to seeing His actions.
2) Finding God’s name in a text, while reassuring, is secondary to seeing His effect on people’s lives.
3) Finding God’s name in a text, while inspiring, is secondary to witnessing people who live a faith which trusts, hopes and relies on God’s providence.
Consider the presence of God as evidenced in the following:
• Mordecai does not bow down to Haman (Esther 3:3-4) and openly proclaims his Jewish identity. I find in this a clear assumption of God and His shaping of Mordecai’s behavior.
( A key element in the story is that Esther does not reveal
her Jewishness until it becomes most perilous to do so.)
• It is observed that their laws are not the same as the Persians (3:8)
Law, edicts and chronicles are a major emphasis in Ancient Persian culture. The Persians would have understood that the power of laws is found in the law-maker….in their case the King. Their recognition of the Jews as a people having a law suggests a law-giver/law-maker. Is God evident here? Think it over. He’s a plausible presence here.
• Esther puts first the Kingdom of God as she expresses: “….If I perish, I perish.” (4:16) This indicates the recognition that Esther embraces the idea that she has been placed at this pivotal moment “for such a time as this” (4:14) What is the significance of a pivotal moment if there is no story line….no story teller…no story writer here? I suggest that the presence of God is embedded in Esther’s resolve.
Bottom line to my observations:
While it is true that there is no mention of God in Esther, there is Godliness found throughout the book.
While it is true that “God” is not expressed by name in the narrative, “God” is exhibited in outcome in some pretty profound ways.
In our own stories, like Esther’s, we find ourselves living a narrative which presents opportunity for proclaiming God and
His agenda for renewal, restoration and rescue.
At times we will proclaim God by expressing His name, at other times we will reveal Him by exhibiting His nature couched in terms of our own lives which reflect Him with ever increasing glory. ( 2 Cor. 3:18)
It goes without saying that God is present…..always….everywhere….under the grand canopy of His Creation.
In her story and yours.
Evident even when not expressed.