One of the lessons churches have been learning through the pandemic is that we have been, perhaps, too Sunday-focussed. The Bible story is not just about Sundays and what happens ‘in church’. So much of the story takes place in the every day world; and out of doors rather than indoors. Wendell Berry wrote: ‘I don’t think it is enough appreciated how much an outdoor book the Bible is. It is a…book open to the sky. It is best read and understood outdoors, and the farther outdoors the better…Passages that within walls seem improbable or incredible, outdoors seem merely natural…What the Bible might mean, or how it could mean anything, in a closed, air-conditioned building, I do not know.’
Now whether you agree with Berry’s point or not; whether you think it exaggerated or not – he does have a point. Quite a lot of ‘Esther’ does take place indoors, but certainly not in a church building. In this book, God is never mentioned, but His presence is felt throughout. It’s not just about Sundays. It’s about a God who is everywhere, everyday. Whether people are aware of Him or not; whether they feel Him or not; whether the speak about Him or not, He is the God who is there. He is there in the royal court as well as in the temple. He is present in the middle of personal problems and national crises. He is active in the midst of sin, to bring about deliverance and redemption. Whatever moves men may make against His people (and ultimately against Him) He cannot be defeated. As someone once said, when you make a move against God, it’s like moving against a chess grand-master. Even the moves made against Him He uses to defeat His opponents.
‘Though the name of God does not occur in this book, yet his hand is everywhere manifest. His name does not often occur in the daily press, which records the history of our times; yet we may ask whether the workings of God are not also clearly recorded there.’ F.B.Meyer, ‘Devotional Commentary’,p.210.