Intro to Esther

Beth's Notes

The Book of Esther was the last of five Books in a collection known as the Megilloth – scrolls that were designated to be read publically at the feasts of Israel.  Other included Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations and Ecclesiastes.  Esther – and was to be read at the Feast of Purim, the commemoration of the great deliverance of the Jews that God brought about through Esther.

To get the dates straight in our minds for this Book, Xerxes became King of Persia in 486 B.C. this was about 34 years after the temple was completed in Haggai.  Esther became Queen in 479 B.C. and the first Feast of Purim was held in 473 B.C.  The events of this Book took place about thirty years prior to the return of the exiles to Jerusalem under Ezra around 458 B.C. and Nehemiah around 445 B.C. even though in the canon of Scripture, Esther comes after the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  It is thought that the accomplishment of Esther, Mordecai and Daniel all helped pave the way for the returning Jews. 

The Book of Esther is not just a story with a moral it is a very important historical event – the Hebrew nation’s deliverance from annihilation in the days following the Babylonian captivity.  No Hebrew nation, no Messiah; no Messiah, a lost world.  This beautiful Jewish girl of long ago, though she herself probably had no inkling of it, played her part in paving the way for the coming of the world’s Savior.  Amazing.  Red Flag, Red Flag:  One rarely, if ever, knows the full impact of their obedience or disobedience for that matter to God’s bidding and the importance there of.  Never underestimate the power of a faithful and obedient life.  Never.  It will be all too clear in heaven.

This story shows us that God’s favor can cause civil law to be reversed.  It also shows how God uses His faithful servants to influence and direct ungodly authority.  What a comfort this is for us in our world today which has so many ungodly leaders.  So much strife!  We must be faithful to pray for the civil servants so that God’s plan can be done through them as it was with Esther.  Indeed, Scripture states:

1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.   1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)

Although the Name of God is never expressly mentioned in Esther, the finger of God is certainly evident.  We see His all-powerful Hand directing every minute event for the bringing about of His purposes which, of course, included the deliverance of His people.  The main theme is clearly God’s providential care for His own.  The mighty Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus), King of Persia, was never beyond the control of God.  Scripture tell us:

1 The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.   Proverbs 21:1 (NIV)

Solomon also states:

5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.   Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NIV) 

Isaiah also tells us:

13 Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? 14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.   Isaiah 40:13-15 (NIV)

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”   Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

Lastly, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that we simply do not see the full picture:

12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.   1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

Haman schemed to exterminate the Jews in the Persian Empire, and since virtually all Jews lived within the realm of the empire (which extended from India to Ethiopia), Haman’s plot threatened to wipe out the Jewish people completely.  Yet Haman’s diabolical plan to exterminate God’s people was sure to fail while God was protecting His own.  The fact that Esther asked the Jews residing in the capital city to fast demonstrates that she was relying on God’s help to resolve their desperate situation.  Just as God took ways to defeat Haman’s plot, so too, does He still orchestrate the protection of those that are His.  His plans will never be thwarted.  God is ever on His throne, providentially ruling and overruling, working out everything according to His glorious will.  Job states:

1 Then Job replied to the Lord:  2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.”   Job 42:1-2 (NIV)

God Himself states:

8 “Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. 9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”   Isaiah 46:8-10 (NIV)

“When omniscience has lost its eyesight, and omnipotence falls back impotent, and Jehovah is driven from His throne, then the Church of Jesus Christ can afford to be despondent, but never until then.  Despots may plan and armies may march, and the congresses of the nations may seem to think they are adjusting all the affairs of the world, but the mighty men of the earth are only the dust of the chariot wheels of God’s providence.”   T. Dewitt Talmage 

God is so totally other – unique in every way.  Proofs of His uniqueness include His knowledge and control of the future.  Isaiah also records:

21 Declare what is to be, present it-- let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. 22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.”   Isaiah 45:21-23 (NIV)

God protects His people and He will always have a remnant.  Always.  He is orchestrating His purposes toward His desired end.  This is demonstrated throughout all of God’s Word from the beginning to the end.  A few examples would be:


1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”  2 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.   Genesis 15:1-6 (NIV)


7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey--the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” 13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”   Exodus 3:7-14 (NIV)


16 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 17 And as if this were not enough in your sight, O God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men, O Lord God. 18 What more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant, 19 O Lord. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises. 20 There is no one like you, O Lord, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.”    1 Chronicles 17:16-20 (NIV)


37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:37-40 (NIV)

Lastly, Paul:

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”  Acts 9:10-16 (NIV)

Throughout Esther we also see portrayed a profound interaction between God’s sovereignty and human will.  Esther, as do we, as did Abraham, Moses, David, Paul and even Jesus – had a choice to be obedient or not and it was a scary one.  Believe me, most of our choices are!  “Fear not” is a most common phrase in Scripture!  Yet, we see the golden thread of the theme of obedience throughout Esther.  As noted, obedience often carries with it great fear (if not most often!).  Yet all our fears and sufferings will one day be incomparably upstaged for believers in Christ – praise Jesus!  We must remember this when we have to step out in faith (and in fear) not knowing the outcome yet trusting in the One Who is leading us.  F. B. Meyer writes: 

“We sometimes seem to forget that what God takes He takes in fire; and that the only way to the resurrection life and the ascension mount is the way of the garden, the cross, and the grave.  Think not, O soul of man, that Abraham’s was a unique and solitary experience.  It is simply a specimen and pattern of God’s dealings with all souls who are prepared to obey Him at whatever cost.  After thou hast patiently endured, thou shalt receive the promise.  The moment of supreme sacrifice shall be the moment of supreme and rapturous blessing.  God’s river, which is full of water, shall burst its banks, and pour upon thee a tide of wealth and grace.  There is nothing, indeed, which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; though as he puts down his foot he finds a rock beneath him.”   F. B. Meyer

It is also important to note that the dangers we go through are carefully measured – God sets limits just as He did for Job.  I think of Joshua after the death of Moses prior to leading the great throng of Jewish people into the Promised Land.  He had to be terrified!  God tells him:

5 “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:5-9 (NIV)

“A fixed, constant attention to the promises, and a firm belief in them, would prevent solicitude and anxiety about the concerns of this life.  It would keep the mind quiet and composed in every change, and support and keep up our sinking spirits under the several troubles of life…Christians deprive themselves of their most solid comforts by their unbelief and forgetfulness of God’s promises.  For there is no extremity so great but there are promises suitable to it, and abundantly sufficient for our relief in it.”   Samuel Clarke 

“It is not the business of the servant to decide which work is great, which is small, which important or unimportant – he is not greater than his master.  If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider ‘not spiritual work’ I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”   Amy Carmichael

“But Jesus is calling us to stop and notice. To live alert. To give a special touch that may heal a heart or cheer a weary soul…I once heard it said that Jesus’ real ministry was the person He found standing in front of Him…Who is that for you today?”   Karen Ehman

“The main place you do the work of God is as you go along. It doesn't have to be in high profile, important positions. It will happen, if it happens at all in the routine, in unspectacular corners of your life. As you go along.”   John Ortberg 

Jill Briscoe states – “Go where you’re sent, Stay where your put (until He moves you), Do all you can.”  

Also, we can be sure that if God sends us forth on perhaps stony paths He will also provide us with strong shoes.  His servants go forth equipped with His power to do His bidding for His glory and for our good.  He is ever looking for the obedient to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him:

9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.   2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV)

Obedience requires action on our parts.  Many times God calls us to wait on His perfect timing but then there are times to go forth in His power and protection.  Just as He told Joshua, Moses, Ananias He tells us.  And if we don’t do it we who miss the blessing – He will send someone else.  Don’t be mistaken, His will is always accomplished.  It is we who are the losers.

When we are fearful when we walk forth in obedience, like the song “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” we sang today, we are to lean upon His everlasting, all-powerful, loving arms.  He does the work in us and then through us.  Nothing eternal is ever accomplished through fleshly power.   

27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, “Destroy him!”   Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV)

“God will not give us an assignment and then just walk away to let us do the work alone. He provides the resources we need to get the job done. He walks with us every step of the way, guiding us and encouraging us. He will never abandon us when we allow Him to work through us. In the words of the psalmist, ‘. . . you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel’ (Psalm 73:23-24).”   Michael Youssef 

“God, the eternal God, is our support at all times, especially when we are sinking into deep trouble. There are seasons when we sink quite low…Dear child of God, even when you are at your lowest, underneath are the everlasting arms.”   Charles H. Spurgeon

“However low the people of God are at any time brought, everlasting arms are underneath them to keep the spirit from fainting and the faith from failing, even when they are pressed above measure…everlasting arms with which believers have been wonderfully sustained and kept cheerful in the worst of times.  Divine grace is sufficient.”   Matthew Henry  

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

Continue Reading
Next Episode