God is Active When Hidden

by Frank Jones


"One thing it does is to set Esther off sharply from some deliverance narratives, such as the exodus from Egypt or the exploits of the judges, and align it closely with others, such as the stories of Joseph and Ruth. What these point to only partially, however, Esther carries to its logical conclusion. God is present even when he is most absent; when there are no miracles, dreams or visions, no charismatic leaders, no prophets to interpret what is happening, and not even any explicit God-talk. And he is present as deliverer. Those whom he saved by signs and wonders at the exodus he continues to save through his hidden, providential control of their history. His people are never simply at the mercy of blind fate or of malign powers, whether human or supernatural. Proverbs comes very close to distilling the theology of Esther in a single aphorism: ‘The lot is cast into the lap, but its decision is wholly from Yahweh’ (Prov. 16:33, my translation). But, as Baldwin notes, Esther goes even further than this: ‘even when the dice had fallen the Lord was powerful to reverse its good omen into bad, in order to deliver his people’ (1984: 23)." (Webb, Barry. Five Festal Garments, 124-125.)