When it comes to God, you must always keep your eyes open. If you don’t pay attention you’ll miss jaw-dropping glory.
Take the book of Esther, for example. If you’re not careful, you’ll only see a Hollywood-like story of a beautiful young orphan girl who against all odds becomes queen of Persia and, with a little help, recognizes her moment of destiny and courageously faces down a Persian Hitler.
And you would miss the real story.
The real story is not Esther’s inspiring courage or her beauty or Mordecai’s sage wisdom. This story is about what’s really going on behind the machinations of power.
Haman thinks he’s taking super-sized revenge on Mordecai for dissing him by orchestrating a kingdom-wide ethnic cleansing of the Jews. But all he really is is just the devil’s pawn.
Ahasuerus thinks he’s searching for a royal goddess-queen by culling “all the beautiful young virgins” (Esther 2:3) from the 127 provinces in his kingdom and hosting the world’s largest personal beauty contest. He has no clue that he’s God’s pawn to checkmate the devil. Oh, and, by the way, after all that work he “chooses” a Jewish orphan who lives down the street.
The book of Esther is the subtle, ironic living poetry of God where he chooses “what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27) and shouts his total sovereignty over cosmic powers (Ephesians 6:12), raging nations (Psalm 2:1), and the course of human lives without ever mentioning himself once. Nor the devil.
One thing I love about John Piper is that he doesn’t miss the poetry and he helps us see it too. In fact, it stirs the poet in him, which is why he wrote a narrative poem-story based on the book of Esther, now published by Crossway and beautifully illustrated by Glenn Harrington. It has two movements. In the first, 12 year-old Esther asks her uncle, Mordecai, how she came to be an orphan. In the second, 35 year-old Esther tells her own child how she came to be queen.
Often we are helped to see glory by looking at biblical truth through someone else’s lenses. We see different facets by looking from different perspectives. That’s the value of this book. It will help you see more than you might on your own.
And it will remind you to keep your eyes open as you watch God’s living poetry going on around you right now. The real story is often not what is most visible.