Our text this morning is in the book of Esther chapter two. Normally people tend to go to chapter 4, and that's often the only thing you hear from the book of Esther. But I want us to read chapter two, beginning in verse 1.
Esther is a strange book. It doesn't even mention the name of God anywhere in the entire book. You find in it no miracles, no prophets showing up to deliver God's word, there are no plagues sent from heaven. There is not one prayer breathed anywhere in this book. As a result, it has been largely ignored, sometimes altogether disregarded. If you go to The Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, Esther is the one book from the entire Old Testament that isn't found—not even a fragment—in the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Qumran community. John Calvin didn't include Esther in his biblical commentaries, and he only referenced it once in the Institutes. Though Martin Luther included it in his Bible, he was very ambivalent about it. "I am so great an enemy to Esther that I wish it had not come to us at all, for it has too many heathen unnaturalities," he wrote in Table Talk. If you look into Adrian Rogers, the great Baptist preacher's library of sermons, you will find only one sermon ever preached from the book of Esther in all his years of ministry. As if that weren't strange enough, in the Veggie Tales version of Esther, it's the only one in which Bob the Tomato never appears.
Esther's moral compromises
Now, the truth is we are uncomfortable with this book. We're alright with that part where Mordecai tells her, "You've come to the kingdom for such a time as this, it's time for you to stand up and to be ...
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Hershael York is pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky, as well as Professor of Christian Preaching and Associate Dean of Ministry and Proclamation in the School of Theology of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.