Saturday, August 24, 2013

Esther - A study of Divine Providence

The book of Esther opens with a swirl of events that quickly see Queen Vashti deposed from her position and essentially exiled from her husband the King of Persia.  God did not ordain that this should happen to Queen Vashti.  Generally the messes we make of our family relationships, whether we are the ruler of an empire or just a lowly commoner, are of our own making.  God is not in the business of breaking up relationships.  God is not in the business of separating husbands and wives.  But although God did not ordain that this should happen, God did in His divine providence, take and make use of the situation.  God often takes the messes the world makes and overrules it to cause it to work out for the good of His people.  As it is written; “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). The Lord reigns.

Now trouble was on the way for God’s people.  Yet there was no one who knew, no one who even suspected the deep scheming of Satan.  But before any of God’s people even suspected the need of prayer, He who knows the end from the beginning was already in action turning the course of events to work for the good of His people.  “And it shall come to pass” God says, “ that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24).

Before we even know to pray, God has already heard.  Before we even suspect danger, God is already making a way of escape. But God kept his purpose hidden.  To Mordecai and Esther it must have seemed like events were spiraling out of control.  A decree came that the most beautiful women in the kingdom must be brought to the king.  The command is definite, it could not be disobeyed.  One can only imagine the intensity of prayer these two sent up pleading for deliverance from this decree, but none came.  This was a most trying time for both Mordecai and Esther, but little did they know that in all this God was answering a prayer that they did not even yet know to pray.  He was working out a deliverance that they did not even yet know they needed. And He was delivering not just them, but their whole people from a danger that they did not even suspect existed.  How often is it so with us?  The very thing we pray so earnestly for deliverance from is the very answer to a most urgent prayer we do not even know to pray.

And God allows the wicked to prosper.  God allowed Haman to be exalted above all of the other attendants of the king.  God allowed Haman to be granted special favors and honors.  God allowed Haman to obtain a decree from the king condemning all Jews to death on a certain date.  God allowed Haman all the resources of the Persian state to put this decree into action.  God allowed Haman to build a king-sized gallows on which to hang Mordecai. “I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree.” (psalm 37:35).

By this time Mordecai, Esther, indeed the whole Jewish world may have been wondering where God was.  Didn’t He know?  Didn’t He care?  All appears lost.  In outward appearance all God’s people have on their side is hopeless hope and unanswered prayers.  But at that very moment when their enemies are celebrating their anticipated triumph, God lifts the veil and reveals His providential workings.  And suddenly, apparently out of nowhere, the enemies of God’s people suffer a most complete and most humiliating defeat.  They are wholly overthrown.  All of their plotting and scheming come to nothing.   God’s people are delivered.  And more than that -- God is glorified.

Psalms 37:12 The wicked plots against the just, And gnashes at him with his teeth. 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is comeing.