Guest Blog: Oliver Archer

Irony. Simply defined it is when the expected outcome is totally opposite of what actually happens. Sometimes irony is laughable and sometimes it is profound. In the book of Esther we find a little bit of both. Take for instance, that Xerxes, king of Persia, dismisses one wife because she won’t come when called, only to marry another who boldly enters his chambers uncalled. Imagine that Queen Vashti’s dismissal was to be an example to the women of the realm that they should obey their husbands, however Vashti’s replacement ends up making her husband, the king, obey her wishes. And all the feminists stand to their feet and applaud.  Of course, feminist or not, there’s something that makes us want to cheer as Haman leads his nemesis Mordecai on a horse proclaiming, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”  The scoundrel, he deserves to be humiliated.  We have no problem when the gallows Haman built to hang Mordecai is used for Haman himself.  Haman was the bad guy; he deserved his comeuppance.  Really?

Then how about this irony?  King David, a murderer, adulterer and cheat, is said to have a heart just like the heart of a loving, merciful, just God.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a threesome that should have been associated with polygamy, lying and theft, end up being associated with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Forever!  Isn’t that ironic?  Think about it.  The Sinless Savior should have been the first to throw stones, but the sinless One was stoneless and stopped all the other stoners dead in their tracks, so a woman caught in the very act could go free.  It’s simply ironic, that the Creator of every herb-bearing seed was hung on a tree, so that we who deserve that curse could have access to the tree of life.  Paul said it best this way, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  Ironic?  But that’s what grace is all about.  I believe grace, not irony is the underlying theme of the book of Esther.  It is the underlying theme of our lives, even when we don’t realize it, even when we don’t accept it; God’s grace is there for us.

This brings me to what I feel is the most profound irony in the book of Esther.  Here in the only book of the Bible that makes no mention of God, God is teaching us that He is always there.  All the evil that the enemy meant for us, He wants to transform it for our good.  The real irony is that although grace is free to all, not all will receive it.  Yet to all who receive Him, He gives power to live beyond a life of irony.