John Anderson wrote our sermon application post this week.
This week, per our Pastor’s request, we turned our Bibles to Esther 4. The book of Esther details the account of Esther and Mordecai, two Jewish people living in Susa, of the kingdom of Persia. Persia conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., and the enslaved Jewish people then began their return to the land of Israel. Some Jews, however, stayed behind in Persia, thus setting the backdrop for the book of Esther. Persia functioned as a world power in the 5th century B.C., which is when the details of the book of Esther took place.
Our Pastor focused on God’s providence. Specifically, he keyed in on one very famous statement made by Mordecai to Esther: “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” This statement references Esther’s position as Queen of Persia and the genocide awaiting the Jewish people. Surveying the events in this book, it is difficult to explain the circumstances and outcomes without pointing to the providence of God! Esther, an exile in the land, became queen only because the previous queen was disobedient, leading to a vacancy in the position. Esther was then considered for the role due to her natural beauty, something God given. Mordecai raised and counseled Esther only because she was an orphan and he was her cousin. If any one of these circumstances had not been true, Esther would have never ascended to the throne, and she would not have been able to help save her people! These events point to God’s providence.
Providence is God’s sovereignty (His complete rule and reign) in action. God providentially works out all circumstances, big and small, to accomplish His purposes. No event occurs outside God’s providential scope. This doctrine provides the foundation for amazing promises such as Romans 8:28— “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Without a powerful, ruling God who ensures results; promises such as Romans 8:28 are not promises, but rather empty babble. Believers should take great comfort in the fact that God moves history and events in His direction. He directs them to the grand purpose of redeeming sinners, thus bringing Him glory.
When the stage seemed set for God to save the Jews (Esther being the chief instrument), Mordecai displays one of the healthiest views of God’s providence ever recorded. He states that even if Esther were to wrongly stay silent, “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place.” Mordecai understood God’s saving and compassionate nature. So even if the details showed impending doom, Mordecai knew that God would be at work behind the scenes (from a human point of view) to bring salvation to the Jewish people. Undoubtedly, Mordecai knew the history of his people, a history of God raising them up against unspeakable odds to become a great nation. The accounts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and so many others prove this point. Because Mordecai knew God’s will, he trusted Him with the details.
Some things we can learn from God’s providence and the story of Esther are as follows:
- Know God’s ultimate purpose. His purpose is to glorify Himself by redeeming a people through the shed blood of Jesus. By knowing this fact, we know where God is directing history, events, and circumstances.
- Know God’s plan for the believer. All we know for sure is that if we are in Christ, God is working out or lives to conform us to the image of Christ and, one day, live in glory with Him. We must know the end of our story to trust that God is working out the mysterious details in our favor.
- Know God’s revealed will for our lives. This will is what he holds us accountable to. To be sanctified, to love Him and our neighbor, to be conformed to Christ’s image, etc. This will is what we are to worry about and pursue. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6).
- Admit that we cannot figure out God’s secret will. God’s secret will is the unfolding of all life events based on His eternal decree. His secret will somehow works to accomplish salvation for many and conform them to Christlikeness. Since we know God’s purpose (redeeming people) and his revealed will (follow Him), we can trust Him with His secret will.
Believers with a healthy view of God’s providence, then, will stay away from the sinful boasting recorded in James 4:13-14—
‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.’
As we look back at the account of Esther and Mordecai, we learn that Mordecai, though imperfect, knew God’s heart. God loves His people and brings salvation when they cry out. It turns out that the Lord used Esther to approach the King and plea for the deliverance of her people. The plot of evil Haman was revealed, and the Jews received a decree to defend themselves from any future attackers. God saved the Jewish people! The events unfolded this way because God maneuvered them toward His ultimate purpose: glorifying Himself by saving His people.
Prayerfully, we can continue to grow in our knowledge of God’s ultimate purpose, plan for the believer, and revealed will. If we know these and trust God’s good character, we can function as faithful followers even amidst the soul-wrenching chaos of life’s circumstances.