Queen Esther And The Ring Of Power, by Russell M. Stendal
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press in exchange for an honest review.]
This short book, coming in at under 200 pages, is an allegorical reading of the Book of Esther as end-time prophecy. In this complex reading, in which Esther stands for the redeemed Church of believers, Vashti stands for false Christianity, Mordecai stands for believers, Haman stands Satan, and his wife and kids stand for the congregation of Satan, and where King Ahasuerus sometimes stands for Jesus Christ and sometimes for the realms and authorities of this world that are often greatly influenced by evil, almost every single aspect of the Book of Esther is read into the author’s very idiosyncratic allegorical and prophetic worldview. This worldview combines elements that will be familiar to many readers, and others that will not. On the more familiar side, Stendal spends a great deal of time reflecting on the Holy Days and their part in demonstrating the plan of God for humanity. This section, with its focus on the importance of the Holy Days to understanding the meaning of scripture , almost makes one wonder if the author himself keeps these commanded assemblies  or urges those who listen to him to do so, as would be consistent with their importance. Those who do follow the will of God and are followers of His way will find the frequent and laudatory references to these Holy Days as encouragement to keep them in Spirit and truth, and for that reason alone this book is a worthwhile one. There are more unfamiliar aspects of this book, including the fact that the author feels it is necessary to try to define every one of the names of this book (and to conflate various figures with other figures, like King Ahasuerus with Darius the Mede) and to dogmatically give these names speculative interpretations to the present age in ways that are provocative and immensely critical.
In terms of its order and structure, this book proceeds step by step through the book of Esther, giving its allegorical interpretation, with supporting scriptures, in orderly fashion. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the particular interpretations of the author, he does provide the scriptures he uses as a reference, and does at least give a pro forma statement as to the validity of the surface historical meaning of the book. It is telling, in light of the allegorical meaning the author assigns to Esther, that he does not account for the absence of the mention of God’s name in the book as a whole, which is one of the major questions about the interpretation of this book, nor does he account for the fact that Esther is among the very few books of the Hebrew Scriptures not referred to or cited in the New Testament, even if it always has been a favorite of mine, for reasons similar to the author, because of the importance it places on the godly example and behavior of women placed in their positions to fulfill God’s will on earth. There is a lot to praise about the book—the author is straightforward and sincere, whether he is sincerely right or sincerely wrong. If he tends to flatten the meaning of the names and numbers and various matters like rings and wine that he takes as deeper symbols, the meanings he assigns are at least one among many possible or likely meanings for these things, and are not entirely off the mark.
Nevertheless, although there is much to praise in this book, there is much to critique as well. If the author’s focus on the obligation of believers to engage in spiritual warfare against evil in high places is to be commended, the fact that the book speaks in a hostile fashion to any kind of orderly religious structure tends to imply a vision of solitary believers listening to what the Holy Spirit says, without the importance of iron sharpening iron with other believers or the need to keep the plain meaning of scripture as a check against heretical interpretation, much less any kind of offices to be filled by those who serve God and the brethren. Likewise, if the book is to be praised for its hostility to the numbing beliefs in rapture that appear to encourage a sense of pietism among contemporary believers that seeks a withdrawal from the world and from its concerns, the author also fails to connect the biblical portrayal of the blood of righteous Abel (see Genesis 4) with the blood of the martyrs symbolized in Revelation 4, leaping to a false conclusion about the fate of believers between their death and resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ into incorruption. Likewise, the author also errs when he attempts to use the acceptable but not commanded festival of Purim as a fig leaf to give the heathen custom of gift-giving at Christmas a biblical veneer. Fortunately, though, even with these errors, this book is still a worthwhile one to read as encouragement to those who already have a tendency both to look for scripture as being full of prophetic relevance to the time of the end as well as those who see in the Holy Days of God clear prophetic relevance . This is reason enough to recommend this book, with some reservations, but warmly enough nonetheless.
 For another example of this, see also:
 It should be noted that they are commanded assemblies, and as the author tends to be hostile to the command to assemble with other believers, his reading of these Holy Days appears to be somewhat muddled and inconsistent. It should also be noted that the value of an allegorical reading depends on the value of the surface reading, and to do no violence to the text in their search for material to confirm their interpretive scheme.
 See, for example: