The Most Godless Book in the Bible


The most godless book in the Bible is the book of Esther.

Esther is a story about a beautiful Jewish orphan who lived in Persia and became queen. It’s a godless book because the name of God is entirely absent from the book. 

God’s very name does not appear anywhere, in any form, and the only trace of his name is by implication. It is inferred by the group of people who place their hope and trust in him: Jewish people.

Esther was also the most godless book in the Bible because it was around the most godless time in biblical history. God was absent from his people—at least as far as the human eye could see. He wasn’t favorable toward the nation of Israel, leading them from out of captivity or anything. Instead, he was pretty quiet and very inactive—not doing his typical God-sized and God-shaped miracles. 

The book of Esther is one of the last books we have before that long stretch of waiting that God’s people experienced, known as the “intertestamental period.” For hundreds of years, God was silent. 

Not a single word of Scripture was penned. No work or wonder of God was carried out. The only thing that God’s people had were his great works of old, and his promise of something new—a Messiah who was to come—sometime off in the distant future. 

The same God who led his people out from under the tyranny of Pharaoh in pillars of fire and in a massive Red Sea parting was completely silent with the Jews while they were in exile. But the very fact that the Jewish people were not wiped off the face of the earth, even while in exile, just goes to show that the promises of God will ultimately never fail. 

Even when God is silent, he is never absent but is present with his people in the smallest of ways. He kept a remnant alive, through whom “the seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:15) would be born and through whom all nations would be blessed. 

There is an emphasis on this “seed of the woman,” in a very obscure but not insignificant way. That’s of course, often the way God works in the world. He hides himself and works in the smallest and most mysterious of ways—but he’s still working. Esther is a personal name that means “a star.” Her name is tied to “Ishtar,” or the Star of Venus, who is the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility. 

It’s interesting that even among a godless nation (one that did not know the true God of Israel), God still used a people without God to instruct us and encourage his Jewish people that he has not forgotten his promise. That ancient promise to give birth to a Redeemer that God made to Eve was kept alive even when it looked as if all hope was lost and that lineage was dead. 

This short story of God preserving his people is a reminder of his covenant faithfulness to Abraham, and before him, to Adam and Eve. Even though God was visibly absent from his people and audibly silent, he was nonetheless still present with them. 

It may be a godless book in that God’s name is not written in it (and also because it was a very dark and dull moment in Israel’s history with Yahweh), but the very hand of God’s providence marks each page of this short story with Esther. The name of God may be absent, but the finger of God has left its mark on this book. God has not abandoned his people. God’s promise is sure, and he is faithful.

Nicholas Davis

Rev. Nicholas Davis is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.

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