The LORD will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. — Psalm 121:7–8
This week Jews around the world will celebrate Purim, the Divine deliverance of the Jewish people from certain annihilation, in the events described in the book of Esther. Please enjoy these devotions from my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, in his loving memory.
— Yael Eckstein, President
The events described in the book of Esther took place more than a century after Nebuchadnezzar exiled the southern kingdom of Judah into captivity in Babylonia. One of the most noted features of this portion of Scripture is what it significantly does not contain —any mention of the name of God.
Despite this unusual omission, the sovereign hand of God can be seen as He orchestrated the unfolding of this dramatic story of the deliverance of the Jews from certain annihilation.
God was quietly working through Esther, and we see His “fingerprints” all over this story — from the very beginning as Esther wins the “beauty contest” to replace Queen Vashti, to Mordecai’s revealing a plot to kill the king, to the king’s inability to sleep one night, and thus, discovering that Mordecai had never been rewarded for this heroic deed.
Certainly, God answered the fervent prayers of the Jews as they fasted and prayed for Esther before she went before the king. Not only did King Xerxes welcome her into his presence, but he told her to ask for whatever she wanted! Esther received an open invitation — not a death sentence!
Finally, we see God’s hand as Haman justly received the punishment he deserved — death on the same gallows he had built for Mordecai. While the king couldn’t repeal his decree, the Jewish people were allowed to defend themselves against any attack — and had months to prepare! And when the time came for the attack, no one dared go up against the Jews. It was a total victory for God’s people.
The story of Esther is a wonderful reminder that even though it may not be evident to us, God is quietly at work in our world. Although we may question certain circumstances in our lives, we must have faith that God is in control, working through both the pleasant and difficult times so that we can serve Him effectively.
God’s miraculous deliverance of the Jews in Esther’s day is also a powerful reminder that He is our Rock and the Refuge of all who trust in Him. We may often feel weak and inadequate to face the challenges and trials of our lives, but God invites us to come to Him each day and ask for His strength.
The Lord is faithful to bring about salvation for His people — and that includes you and me!Inspiration Reflections on Rabbi Eckstein