This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!
The Big Picture of Esther:
Around 100 years after God’s people were taken into exile. In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah we heard about some of the Jews who had gone back to Jerusalem. However, many stayed where they were. Esther was one of those people and this story takes place in the capital of the Persian Empire at that time. Early on in the book we see that the king gets mad and gets rid of his wife and starts a search for a new one. Unknown to him, Esther, the woman he chooses as his new wife, is a Jew. This become a problem, and also a good thing, when one of the king’s “right-hand” men, Haman, comes up with a plot to wipe out the entire Jewish race. Esther has some big decisions to make as she navigates this tough situation. Thankfully, she is not alone and has some key people helping her along the way including her uncle Mordecai. While God’s name is never mentioned in the book His hand is clearly at work in all kinds of amazing ways to save His people. This story also explains the history of the Jewish festival of Purim which is celebrated for the firs time at the end of the book.
The Main Point:
“Despite exile… and Israel’s moral compromise, God has not abandoned His promises. It invites us to see that God can and does work in the real mess…” – The Bible Project
A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:
Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse (two this week since we’re in two books!). This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.
- Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: ‘Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?'” (Esther 4:13-14 NLT)
REFLECTION: Where might God be calling you to “not keep quiet? Is there something you are uniquely positioned to do? What fears creep in and encourage you to keep quiet or not act?
- “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die. (Esther 4:16 NLT)
REFLECTION: We may or may not literally be facing death with something God is calling us to do, but whether literal or figurative, where is one place God is calling you to say, “I will trust you God and if I must die, I must die.”?
- “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.” Esther 3:5
REFLECTION: Who is trying to get you to kneel down or pay honor to someone or something other than God? What does it look like to have courage in that situation?
God’s Grace in Ezra and Nehemiah:
As we mentioned before, God’s name is not mentioned even once in the whole book of Esther. It’s fascinating but perhaps intentional. I am thankful for this book because sometimes in life it feels like God’s presence is a little hard to find, it’s not right there on the surface. However, just because God’s name is absent doesn’t mean God is. His work is clear throughout the book from our perspective, however at the time of these events, when individual lives along with a whole nation were on the line, I’m sure they wondered at times where God was. He showed up through, in ways bigger than they could imagine. The same is true for us!
Some Other Resources:
- The Bible Project summary video of Esther
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for Esther
- UPDATED: The 66 in 52 Schedule and Tracking Sheet (Somehow the sheets got in the wrong order originally; this fixes that. Those were the only changes made.)
So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!