Esther & Ruth

Esther & Ruth

No mere coincidence

Esther

*fun fact: Today, at the Jewish festival of Purim, the story of Esther is read and the audience boo every mention of Haman and cheer every mention of Mordecai.*

People who are heroes often say that they were just in the right place at the right time. A true hero recognizes a crisis and moves to meet it. This is the kind of courage that Esther exhibited.

The Jews were facing government sponsored genocide because of a vengeful Prime Minister. As queen of one of the greatest powers of that time, Esther found herself in a position to save the lives of her people, even though it meant possibly losing her own life. Esther was part of God’s plan to save His people.

As you read:
1. Study the characters of Esther, Mordecai, Haman and King Xerxes. What were their strengths, weaknesses, ambitions? What do we learn of their true character at crucial moments?
2. Notice God’s love and protection for His people.

Ruth

*fun fact: Boaz was described as Kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 2:2). It was the law that the nearest relative should take as an additional wife the widow of his close relation to maintain the family line.*
Naomi & Ruth seemed to have everything going against them. They were widows at a time when women depended on husbands; they were childless at a time when women who had children were honored. And worse still for Ruth, she was a foreigner. By staying with Naomi, Ruth gave up all that was familiar to her. She was immigrating to a land where she risked being treated as a despised foreigner.

Yet, they clung together and relied on God’s help to see them through tough times.

As you read:
1. Focus on the relationships in this book – that of Ruth’s unswerving and selfless devotion to a bitter Naomi and Boaz’s kindness to these two widows.
2. Sense God’s invisible presence helping & “directing” every step of the way.

Reflections

Esther
Mordecai reminded Esther that perhaps she was in a royal position for such a time as this. Nevertheless, it still took a lot of courage to go before the King and speak up for her people. She was willing to give up everything, even her own life.

Pondering:
Being the right person, in the right place, at the right time comes with responsibility. Will I speak up for someone who has no voice and is suffering an injustice? What am I willing to risk/sacrifice to do this?

Though God is not directly mentioned in this book, it is clear that God controls and directs all the seemingly “coincidental” events such as Esther being chosen as queen, the king’s inability to sleep, the king’s reading of the passage reporting Mordecai’s kindness, the appearance of Haman at the outer court to ask for permission to hang Mordecai, etc.

Pondering:
Just like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces of my life are no mere coincidence. Do I recognize God’s hand in the everyday circumstances of my life? Have I acknowledged His goodness & faithfulness?

Ruth
Under harsh conditions, Ruth stuck it out with her mother-in-law; taking huge risks when she moved to a foreign land. She was loyal and cared deeply for Naomi.

Pondering:
Have I ever treated a friend the way Ruth treated Naomi? Have I ever cared / loved enough to go out on a limb for a friend?

It was no coincidence that Ruth ended up in Boaz’s field. And it was God’s law which brought them together in marriage. And ultimately, it was God’s plan that Ruth would be great grandmother to David whose lineage extends down to Jesus Christ. Her place in the ancestry of David signifies that all nations will be represented in the Kingdom of Christ.

Pondering:
Everyday, I experience God’s love for me through the “coincidences” and circumstances of life. Today, I will pause to give thanks for all the ways I have experienced God’s love.