By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
One of the most informative and faith-building Books in the Bible is the Book of Esther.
Throughout this Volume, we are reminded of the incredible providential care of God for His people during their darkest and most difficult times.
Indeed, we see how God can take the schemes of the enemies of God and turn them around so that the enemies of God are overthrown and the people of God are delivered!
Without a doubt, Esther is a Book of great value to the child of God for all ages.
Many teach that while Esther declares for us the incredible providence of God, it never uses the name of God Himself.
In some ways, this is true: for the actual “NAME” of God does not show up in the English translations of the Book of Esther.
However, it is fascinating to learn that God’s Name is actually found in at least three ways throughout this text!
The following lengthy quotation from Bill Cooper is well worth our time and consideration:
“We mentioned in the Introduction – and promised to say more on the matter the common misconception that the Book of Esther does not contain either the Name or any title of God, and we have been led to that belief by an untold number of western Bible commentators, critics and scholars. The trouble is, our western scholars have not known – and have never bothered to learn – what the Jewish scribes, the soferim , have known for the past two and half thousand years. To the soferim it has always been common knowledge that the Name of God, YHWH, is given no less than five times in the Book of Esther. And there are places where more occurrences of His Name are embedded in the text. This is no hidden code. It is there in the plain open text for all to see, would they but look. Let me explain. To begin at the beginning, we must first shed the common western notion that the name of Esther has something to do with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, and other such nonsense. It doesn’t. Deriving from its Hebrew root sathar – to hide, it denotes a thing which is hidden. God Himself uses the Hebrew word on which the name of Esther is founded when He says to Moses, “…haster ‘astir…” which means “…hiding, I will hide…” (Deut. 31:18). 1 And so it is that the Name of God in the Book of Esther is hidden to those of us in the west who have been trained to give the Book of Esther no more than a cursory reading. When we do that, we miss what is there, hidden in plain sight. As with all else in Scripture, once we have looked at it, we must then look into it, and once we begin to do that, then Scripture becomes a treasure house which is full of surprises – as, indeed, we are about to discover. The Name of God, YHWH, appears in the Hebrew text of Esther at verses 1:17; 1:20; 5:4; 5:13; and 7:7. In each case it is given in the form of an acrostic to produce the Name YHWH. In two instances, it appears as the first letters of certain words, and in three instances, it is the last letters of certain words. Furthermore, in two instances the letters are given in reverse order. We shall see why in a moment…The first occurrence of the acrostic, found in Esther 1:17, is given thus: “… et- vash·t i ham·mal·ka h le·fa·na v ve·lo- va·’a h .” – ihvh. 2 The second is written in Esther 1:20, but in reverse order, thus: “… h i v e·chol h an·na·shim y it·te·nu…” – hvhy. 3 The third instance appears in Esther 5:4, and is written as: “…y avo h amelech v ‘haman h ayom…” – yhvh. 4 The fourth is in Esther 5:13 is given in reverse order thus: “ za h ainen u shove h l i …” – huhi. 5 And finally, the fifth is given in Esther 7:7 as: “…k i chalta h aila v hara’a h …” – ihvh. 6 There is a wonderful symmetry displayed here. In occurrences 1, 3 and 5, the letters composing the Name of YHWH are given in their proper order. But in occurrences 2 and 4 its letters appear in reverse order, and there is a gloriously simple reason for this. Occurrences 2 and 4 appear in sentences spoken by gentiles – and pagan gentiles at that – Memucan and Haman respectively. The rabbis and soferim of Israel have always understood this, but our western critics and scholars are seemingly unaware of it. No wonder they have misunderstood let alone have woefully misrepresented the Book of Esther all these years. Not seeing what is really there, what else could they have done?…There is the curious occurrence in the Book of Esther of what at first appears to be a misspelling of the word Yehudim – the Jews. In Esther 4:7; 8:1; 8:7; 8:13; 9:15; 9:18 respectively the word is spelt with a double yod. However, we know by now that the soferim do not ‘accidentally’ misspell any words, which means that this curious spelling is deliberate and has been embedded in the text since day one. In each case, the double yod is used only in spelling the word Yehudim – the Jews. Even when speaking of Mordecai the Jew (singular, as in 8:7 for example), Yehudi is still spelt with a double yod, this making the transliterations to read Yyehudim and Yyehudi . But here’s the intriguing thing. Only in the Book of Esther does the double yod appear when spelling Yehudim . In all other instances in the Bible, Yehudim is spelt with a single yod. Now why should this be? Out of all the Books of the Bible, why is the Book of Esther unique in this? Well, the extra yod, it seems, is an abbreviation of YHWH, and in the Book of Esther, it is the consistent and hidden hallmark that God – YHWH – is still with and among His chosen people Israel. He is, in every sense of the word, embedded in them so that He and they cannot be separated whatever their outward circumstances – and however hidden He may be from their sight and ours! But even that is not all. Throughout the Hebrew Bible there is found a most curious word which consists of just two letters. They are aleph which is the first letter of the Hebrew alephbet, and tav, which is the last letter. It is like finding the letters AZ sprinkled liberally throughout an English book. It is, however, never translated simply because it is said that English has no equivalent for it….Aleph and Tav, being the first and last letters of the Hebrew alephbet, are equivalent to the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, and this has great and significant meaning for the Christian Bible reader. Our Lord and Saviour calls Himself the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. What else then can the Aleph- Tav be in the Hebrew Old Testament but the very signature of Him who is called the Word of God, and by Whom and through Whom all things were created? In Isaiah 44:6, God – the Holy One of Israel – says this of Himself : “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his [Israel’s] Redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”…In other words, throughout the Old Testament we have the very Name and Title of the Lord Jesus – the Aleph- Tav – embedded in the text, and in the Book of Esther it is embedded at least 74 times!…As for the notion that the Book of Esther does not contain any allusion to God, well, as we have just seen, it is positively awash with Him! He has embedded His very Name throughout the Book as a signed guarantee that this is His Word. It is, as it were, the hallmark in the silver cup which tells us that we are drinking from the genuine article, and not from some worthless imitation or other. Those who call the Book of Esther a mere ‘novella’ – or worse, a forgery – have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. The Book of Esther is as much part of the Word of God as is the Book of Genesis or the Gospel of Luke, and its Author has written His Signature into it at every turn so that none can doubt it. For those who take the bother to search out these things, it is a treasure house indeed, and no lie.” (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Esther, 1192-130 (Kindle Edition))
With these things in mind, let’s notice a few things together.
First, the signature of God is found all through His Word, the Bible, in numerous ways.
While His Word has been confirmed through its’ supernatural unity, prophecy and fulfillment, scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers, archaeology, and many other ways; it should give us pause to consider the many ways that God has confirmed His Book.
The Bible is worthy of our deepest respect and admiration.
Second, these facts encourage us to remember that we need to be diligent students of the Word of God.
The Scriptures are a goldmine of incredible insights and depths of knowledge that we will not uncover unless we combine a powerful desire to learn God’s Word with an active and eager determination to apply it personally.
We need to be like Ezra, who the Bible tells us:
Ezra 7:10-For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.
Do you have a heart that desires to seek God’s Law?
Are you prepared to do His Word, following where He will lead?
And are you ready to share His Word with those around you?
Third, the incredible and ingenious ways in which God inscribed His Word into the Book of Esther shows us that He has a wisdom and an intelligence that is far beyond that of mortal man.
We often get sidetracked in this life, uncertain of which way to turn and what to do in difficult situations.
God promises that if we will trust in Him and His Word, taking the one step that He directs us to, He will reveal the way for us and He will guide us, each step of the way.
Several times in my life, I have been faced with difficult decisions, not knowing what to do.
It was during those times that I remembered the example of Abraham:
Hebrews 11:8-By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Abraham did not have everything “figured out.”
He went out, at the command of God, simply taking the steps that were clearly directed by God.
What happened then?
As he continued to follow and to obey God, the Lord revealed more along the way.
In the same way, we must learn to follow where God leads us (through His Word and providentially), one step at a time.
Doesn’t the Bible direct us repeatedly to remember and rely on this incredible wisdom of God?
Psalm 139:1-12-O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. 5 You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
Finally, this knowledge into the Name of God in the Book of Esther is a testimony to the fact that God’s providential care and wisdom may be seen in not only the “big events” of life, but even those that the world deems “small.”
Many believe that God is not really concerned with the personal interest of their lives, that He has “more important” things to deal with.
However, the facts we have been studying show us that God is intimately involved in even the “smallest” strokes of the Hebrew alphabet.
He knows what we are dealing with in our lives, and He loves us and is concerned with us. Jesus teaches:
Matthew 6:24-34-Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own.
God has a wisdom and a love for you that goes beyond your full understanding to perceive intellectually.
Have you gone down the wrong path in your life and feel that God could not love you and or that He cannot help you?
It isn’t true friends!
God loves you so very much that He gave His Son to die on the Cross of Calvary to pay the price for your sins (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). This mission was not without Christ’s full endorsement, for He willingly left the glories of Heaven to come and give His life as a ransom for all people (2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). He died for us, was buried, and arose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
He calls us to believe in Him (John 8:24) when we have heard His Word (Romans 10:17; Acts 18:8), repent of our sins and make Him the Lord of our lives (Luke 6:46; Luke 9:23-27), to confess him before men (Acts 8:37; 1 Timothy 6:12), and to be baptized into Him for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
If you have not obeyed His plan, why not do it today?
If you have obeyed Him in the past and have since left Him, choosing the sin of the world over Him, why not repent today and confess your sins to Him, being restored to relationship with Him (1 John 1:9; Galatians 6:1; Revelation 3:20)?
The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.