Hidden In Plain Sight
In the introduction to his commentary on Esther entitled “Inconspicuous Providence”, Bryan R. Gregory points out five literary techniques that show us God in the book of Esther. He titles these techniques, “coincidences, peripeteia, naming, point of view, and allusion,”. I would like to take a few moments to explore the technique called “peripeteia” as I think it highlights how we can learn more than we think by simply observing closely.
What is peripeteia? Quoting Gregory: “In literary terms, peripeteia is the sudden or unexpected reversal of a situation.” The first of these that we encounter in the book is how Queen Vashti’s fall from grace opens the doorway for Esther to become queen. Another is when Queen Esther fears she will be killed but then she finds favor from the king. Several of them include Haman. In the first one he is extremely excited by the invitation to dine with the king and queen but within 24 hours it turns to disgrace. Haman builds a gallows to hang Mordecai on but instead is hung on the same gallows. Lastly Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews becomes an overwhelming victory for the Jews.
Any one of these events in a vacuum could mean nothing. Put together in context with the rest of the book and they show us God. Quoting Gregory again “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 at the mercy of blind fate or of malign powers, whether human or supernatural.”
Isn’t it wonderful to know that we as Christians are never at the mercy of blind fate or earthly powers. Esther helps us to know that when we are in the worst of times, humanly speaking, God is still in control and is working behind the scenes to accomplish His good will.
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:37–39
Never forget that the biggest example of Peripeteia in human history happened at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal savior have had a massive change of fortune at the cross. We have gone from under God’s judgement to under His blessing. From under the penalty of death to having everlasting life. From being under the dominion and power of death and Satan to being Slaves of righteousness and ambassadors of heaven.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” – John 1:12