By Ashley Synowicki
This week, in Chapter 6, we find the turning point of the story of Esther. The author of our story has highlighted this section in a clever way hinting to its significance. We find Chapter 6 in the very middle of the 6 feasts described in the book of Esther. Feasts are actually mentioned 20 times in Esther alone, and only 24 times in the rest of the Old Testament. Clearly feasts are an aspect of this book that are meant to catch our attention.
But the turning point of Esther is not what we’d expect. Our heroine, Esther, will confront the villian, Haman, but not yet. Instead of the turning point happening at the climax of our story, we see the story shifting earlier, here in Chapter 6. Why did the author include this detail?
Though the climax is still to come, we have already witnessed some heroic actions. Mordecai repeatedly refused to bow to Haman showing incredible commitment to his God. And Esther was willing to risk her life on behalf of her people. Both are worthy of our praise and admiration. However, neither knows if their obedience will bring about the desired outcome. There is no promise that their choices will yield the fruit they desire. That’s what makes them courageous. They are not guaranteed a good outcome. Neither of them controls the ending.
Instead, an unexpected detail turns the course of our story. Verse 1 tells us:
“On that night the king could not sleep.”
No one in our story, including Esther, is in control of that! This is a detail that no human could orchestrate. Only God could reverse the outcome of the entire story on such a minor detail.
The Greek translation of v. 1 is “The Lord took sleep from the king that night.”
That helps shed some light on what is happening. The Lord is working on behalf of His people through the seeming coincidences in this story. He is the only one in control, and the only one who can save His people.
God sometimes works in big dramatic ways, such as parting the Red Sea in Exodus. He has performed some incredible miracles to display His power. However, He also works in more subtle ways, as He does here in chapter 6. He is so subtle in fact, that His name isn’t even mentioned in the entire book of Esther! The same God who chose to send His Son to be born in a humble manger, is the same one who orchestrated this small detail. Sometimes the ordinary and mundane are pointing to something more.