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The Providence of God

Esther 4:14 (ESV) … “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

As you ponder Mordecai’s words, you will learn some basic truths about the providence of God that are important for Christians today. The first is that God has divine purposes to accomplish in this world. God’s purposes involve the Jewish nation as well as the Gentile nations of the world. They also involve the church. God deals with individuals as well as with nations. His purposes touch the lives of kings and queens and common people, godly people and wicked people. There is nothing in this world that is outside the influence of the purposes of God.

Mordecai made it clear that God accomplishes His purposes through people. For reasons we don’t fully understand, God permits wicked people to do evil things in this world; but He can work in and through unbelievers and His own people to accomplish His purposes. While He was not the author of his sins, God permitted the king’s drunkenness and his foolishness in deposing Vashti. He used the king’s loneliness to place Esther on the throne; and, in chapter 6, he will use the king’s sleeplessness to reward Mordecai and start to overthrow the power of Haman. In great things and little things, God is sovereign.

The third truth that Mordecai emphasized was that God will accomplish His purposes even if His servants refuse to obey His will. If Esther rejected the will of God for her life, God could still save His people; but Esther would be the loser. When ministers and missionaries appeal to the church for volunteers for Christian service, they sometimes give the impression that God’s work is at the mercy of God’s workers; but this isn’t true.

If you and I refuse to obey God, He can either abandon us and get somebody else to do the job, and we will lose the reward and blessing; or He can discipline us until we surrender to His will. Two examples come to mind. Since John Mark left the mission field and returned home (Acts 13:13; 15:36–41), God raised up Timothy to take his place (16:1–3). When Jonah ran from God, the Lord kept after him until he obeyed, even though he didn’t obey from his heart. When God isn’t permitted to rule, He overrules; and He always accomplishes His purposes.

The fourth lesson from Mordecai’s speech is that God isn’t in a hurry but will fulfill His plans in due time. God waited until the third year of the king’s reign before taking Vashti off the throne. Then he waited another four years (Es. 2:16) before putting Esther on the throne. It was not until the king’s twelfth year (3:7) that God allowed Haman to hatch his evil plot, and He decreed that the “crisis day” for the Jews would be almost a year away.

If you were reading the Book of Esther for the first time, you might become impatient with God and conclude that He was doing nothing. In chapters 1 and 2, a drunken king and his flattering advisers seem to be in charge. From chapter 3 to chapter 6, it looks as though wicked Haman is in control. Even after Haman is off the scene, it’s the king’s unalterable decree that keeps everybody busy. But where is God?

God is never in a hurry. He knows the end from the beginning, and His decrees are always right and always on time. Dr. A.W. Tozer compared God’s sovereign purposes to an ocean liner, leaving New York City, bound for Liverpool, England. The people on board the ship are free to do as they please, but they aren’t free to change the course of the ship.

“The mighty liner of God’s sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history,” wrote Dr. Tozer. “God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfillment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began” (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 118).

The sovereignty of God doesn’t suggest fatalism or blind determinism, both of which would make life a prison. Only a sovereign God is great enough to decree freedom of choice for men and women, and only a sovereign God could fulfill His wise and loving purposes in this world and even make evil cooperate in producing good (Gen. 50:20). The question is not, “Is God in control of this world?” but, “Is God in control of my life?” Are we cooperating with Him so that we are a part of the answer and not a part of the problem?

To quote Dr. Tozer again: “In the moral conflict now raging around us whoever is on God’s side is on the winning side and cannot lose; whoever is on the other side is on the losing side and cannot win” (p. 119).[1]

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Be Committed (pp. 112–114). Victor Books.


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