At first glance, Jane Roach’s book, God’s Mysterious Ways: Embracing God’s Providence in Esther may look like “just another Esther study,” but don’t overlook this treasure! With simple organization and structure, Mrs. Roach provides more than a lesson on Esther, she faithfully teaches women how to study the Bible. Each chapter is designed to be read in one sitting, yet can be easily divided. Starting with the text reference, the first thing required of the reader is to open her Bible and read a passage. Following the Scripture reading, Mrs. Roach provides a hymn and an opening prayer, encouraging the reader to begin her study worshipfully, prayerfully, and reflectively.
After reading the Bible and going humbly before the Throne, the reader is ready to answer some questions of comprehension and self-reflection. Once the reader has grappled with the text (between God, the Bible, and her own mind) Mrs. Roach then provides a devotionally-styled commentary that both teaches and ministers to the reader. A closing prayer wraps up the chapter and study session.
Plainly, the format for each chapter looks like this: 1. “Verse” (the key verse for the chapter); 2. “Texts” (the verses are listed, and the reader must use her own Bible); 3. “Truth” (the key truth for that particular session); 4. hymn; 5. opening prayer; 6. study questions; 7. commentary; 8. closing prayer. It’s simple. It’s formulaic. And it is the best method for approaching God’s Word.
I appreciate how Jane Roach has constructed each chapter. Her meditative approach to Bible study is noteworthy and one that should be imitated; it’s how I expect a good Bible teacher would encourage her pupils to manage their Bible study time.
Beyond format and approach, the commentary is theologically solid. I have seen many Esther studies (written by women) that appeal to the reader’s ego. Instead of being about God and His providence, the study becomes about the reader and her life’s purpose “for such a time as this.” While Jane Roach does provide appropriate life application throughout, it is by no means the main focus. I’m thankful that Mrs. Roach kept her focus on God and His attributes – teaching sound theology to strengthen the reader’s relationship with God, and her understanding of His character.
For women who are looking to lead a ten week Bible study, this book has everything they need – prayers, hymns and rich discussion questions that will surely keep a group engaged in lively and thoughtful discussion of God and His providence.
Finally, on a personal level, I have been praying and searching for biblical and theological resources from strong Reformed spiritual mothers. We have that here with Mrs. Roach’s work on Esther. Women will walk away from this study with a solid method of how to study the Bible. They will walk away with an understanding of God’s attributes of providence, sovereignty, goodness, faithfulness, and justice.
Whether you choose to use God’s Mysterious Ways for personal or corporate study, you can have confidence that this resource will be a constructive tool for the sanctification of any eager heart.
Title: God’s Mysterious Ways: Embracing God’s Providence in Esther
Author: Jane Roach
Publisher: P&R Publishing, 2016