Sunday, October 25, 2009

Providence Magnified by Peripety

One new word that I learned today from bible study (Esther 6:1-14) is peripety; it means a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or a sudden reversal of circumstances or destiny.  It is a literary devise to make the story more interesting.  I guess it is a devise that is intended to extract a reaction and response from the reader.  The sixth chapter of Esther shows an example of peripety when Mordecai the Jew, scheduled to be the first victim of the newly built top-of -the line gallows, is now going to be honored.  He is supposed to wear the king's robe and crown and will have to be paraded throughout the land on the king's horse.  That is a sudden shift in destiny.  Haman on the other hand, assuming that he would be the only one who deserves to be honored by the king, made very generous recommendations on what should be done to the one His Highness wants to honor.  It turned out that Haman's worst nightmare Mordecai qualified above him to receive all the things he recommended.  Not only did Haman miss the rewards he was also assigned to coordinate the details in order for it to happen as he recommended.  Peripety indeed, but this is not the last shift in circumstances in the chapter.  Haman, who is all consumed to kill, annihilate and destroy the Jews, is going to be consumed in the gallows he had ordered to be constructed for Mordecai, the Jew.  Haman's plan was to end his enemy but before he could accomplish it, he ran out of time.  Events have shifted allowing the unexpected to prevail. 

I will digress here a little bit just to justify myself from feeling disappointed about some things. We can look at a story as literary piece.  We dissect it based on the manner it was written and we appreciate the style and tools that were used by the author.  Beth Moore was led to this direction when she delivered her talk on the sixth chapter of Esther.  She discussed about the chiastic structure and the peripety encountered in the book.  There seem to have been very little reason to brood over these matters when the chapter is filled with interesting events.  It is packed with excitement and yet here we were learning about chiasm and peripety as literary tools.  These are good topics for discussion but the timing is a little bit out of place.  I was a little bit disappointed.  One gal in my group even said that BM must have given her long talk just so she could read a quote from a book that mentioned "peripety".  I thought that was an accurate observation.  Should I call this a mini peripety?  If so, then there must be a bigger plan (God's plan) above my head that I cannot see.  One benefit for me is improvement of my vocabulary.  That is a good thing I must admit.

The peripeties that take place throughout the book of Esther is what I call God's providence.   Providence means that God is watching his creation carefully, he is working within and around the lives of his people carrying out His plans that he laid before the beginning of time.  Stories of the bible are loaded with messages that are intended for us to catch.  Sometimes we get distracted into focusing our attention to the "packaging" and eventually miss what's inside.  God is the author of the Holy Scriptures.  Literary style and structure which He varied depending on whose hand and brains he used to write, is a medium He used to deliver such messages.  It is a mechanism that encapsulates the message so that its intended force or efficacy is achieved.  In the story of Esther, peripety is therefore the magnifying glass that exposes the providence of God in a clarity that we could not miss.

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