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The God of Israel

  • September 2016 Issue
Theology Matters

One surprising feature of the book of Esther is that it never mentions God by name. On the surface, it appears to be a story about survival, prejudice, and politics. But for those who know the larger story of the Bible, God’s hidden hand can be discerned in these events, working to protect and preserve Israel.

The story of Esther turns on a series of seeming coincidences. Mordecai happens to learn of a plot to assassinate the king and warns him through Esther (2:21–23). The king happens across the account of Mordecai’s heroism just as Haman begins to make plans to have him executed (6:1–3). The king happens to prefer Esther, which becomes the means of protection for Mordecai and the Jewish people. None of these events were accidents. They reflect the sovereignty of God and the exercise of God’s divine power by which He governs all of creation and causes all things to work toward His ultimate purposes.

The book of Esther illustrates Israel’s unique place in God’s plan. God’s choice of Israel as His treasured possession guaranteed that Haman’s intent to exterminate the Jewish people would fail (Deut. 14:2). They are a people for whom God has a particular purpose and who have been given special promises. This status is irrevocable and continues to this day (Rom. 11:29). This does not mean that God has a different plan of salvation for the Jewish people. Everyone must place their faith in Jesus Christ in order to experience forgiveness and salvation. Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah and the hope of Israel (Acts 26:6; 28:20). He is the key that unlocks all the promises made to the Jewish people. His resurrection is the reason Jews and Gentiles alike can hope in eternal life.

From Hitler to white supremacists to Islamic extremists, many have attempted to follow in Haman’s steps. But they are destined to fail in their ultimate objective just as Haman did. God will continue to preserve and protect the Jewish people. He will fulfill all the promises made to Israel. In the last days there will be a great turning of the Jewish people to embrace Jesus as their Savior. At that time “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26).

For Further Study

To learn more about the hope of Israel, read The Messianic Hope by Michael Rydelnik (B&H)

 

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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