1. Esther is a stunning story.
Esther and Ruth (which was one of the favorite Bible books I’ve ever preached) are the only two books of the Bible in which the human hero is in fact a heroine—and a single childless one at that. This book of the Bible has some of the most amazingly complex and intriguing characters—from the god-like Xerxes who appears to this day in the video game Assassins Creed II and Frank Miller’s film 300 , to Esther the orphan girl raised by her cousin Mordecai, and the scoundrel Haman—you simply cannot beat the cast of characters in this story. Those wanting to watch a movie based upon the book might enjoy One Night with the King .
2. Esther is painfully normal.
She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.
3. Esther has been widely avoided.
Zero commentaries on the book were published in the first seven centuries of the Christian church. As far as we can tell, John Calvin never preached from Esther, and Martin Luther despised it, saying, “I am so great an enemy to the second book of Maccabees, and to Esther, that I wish they had not come to us at all, for they have too many heathen unnaturalities.” Very few preachers in the history of the church and more recent years have touched the book. Occasionally a preacher will do a handful of messages from the book, but rarely if ever has a well-known preacher preached through the entire book. The best commentary on the book, written by Karen Jobes, goes so far as to recommend that the entire book of Esther not be taught. So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. We will walk through Esther verse by verse.
4. Esther has been grossly misinterpreted.
Feminists have tried to cast Esther’s life as a tragic tale of male domination and female liberation. Many evangelicals have ignored her sexual sin and godless behavior to make her into a Daniel-like figure, which is inaccurate. Some have even tried to tie her story in with modern-day, sex-slave trafficking as she was brought before the powerful king as part of his harem. What’s the truth? We will see, as I’m still studying and praying. At the very least, the Community Group and Women’s Bible Study discussions around Esther will be interesting.
5. Esther is a godless book.
God is never mentioned in the book. Esther is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. Except for explaining the origins of the Jewish feast of Purim, the book seems entirely secular and without any remote reference to God. No one prays, no miracles happen, and God never shows up in any way. But, as we will see, God is throughout the book like a silhouette. He works throughout the book, not through his visible hand of miracle, but rather his invisible hand of providence. For those who wonder if God is in their life because they have not seen or heard him, Esther’s life is like yours and God’s work in her life will reveal to you God’s work in your own.