John Piper once did a series on the book of Joseph, and I remember him quoting a verse that will always stick with me,
“You mean it for evil, but God mean it for good” Genesis 5:20.
I am convinced that this same theme runs through the book of Esther. If you’ve ever read this book, you know that God’s name is never actually mentioned but He is the main leading role in the entire story. Throughout this book we see how God’s hand moved and implemented events to be used for His good that would ultimately change the course of history and show how powerful God is. There are three main lessons that display God as the leading role in this book. We see this through God’s providence, His timing, and His Sovereignty.
There are three different ways in which we see God’s providence play out. The first and second ways are seen through her physical beauty in the beginning and end of the story. The third way is God using Haman’s sin to bring out his own demise and protect His people.
From the very start of the book of Esther, God very quickly selected Esther to stand out from all the rest. She was handpicked by God very carefully and specifically to become the Queen that would save an entire race. It did not take her time to win favour in the eyes of the man in charge of beautifying the selected women nor the king Himself. Chapter 2:7-9 gives us a glimpse of how much influence her physical beauty had in God’s plan. “And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem.” The words “very quickly” point to how God’s hand was swiftly and without delay advancing His mater plan to save His people. There was no detail left unturned that God used to put display His control over these events. In order for Esther to have gained such favour in the eyes of the King, God used her beauty to get her there. He planned it so that she stood set apart from all the rest. There was no hesitation of the spotlight being placed on her. She was God’s chosen vessel and beyond her beauty, God’s intended use was to instil a courageous and obedient hear to save the nation of Israel.
Her Beauty-The End
Chapter 5:1-8 we see how her beauty had not only won her favour but now God was showcasing that into action. Her specific requests were being granted and here God’s plan is being taken to the next step. She was being faced with the daunting task of drawing the king’s attention to the imminent danger that she faced. In verse 8 of chapter 5, we see exactly how much God can dow with something as simple as Esther’s beauty, “And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” There is no question that God could have used any other means to save His people, but here we see that God will use us just as we are to do His work. God’s control and providence knows now bounds.
God used Haman’s sin to bring about his ultimate demise. Haman intended to build the gallows to bring about destruction to Mordecai and the entire Jewish nation. What was built to cause harm, God used to protect His people. Our
God is not a God who sits on the sidelines of life and watches as events take place. His hand is always moving and controlling every detail that goes in this world. Nothing happens by coincidence or chance. Haman’s plot is torn down to the point of his death. In the beginning of chapter 3, we see how Haman rose in status. “After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. 2 And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage.” The Kings servant’s were now bowing to him.
In verses 8-15 we see his confidence level reaches to the point in which he uses his high ranking position to go to great lengths to make a law against destroying the Jewish race. The amazing thing we see here is Haman is doing this evil deed being completely unaware that Esther, who has more favour with the king then anyone else, belongs to that same group of people in which Haman seeks to destroy. However, God was providentially building Haman’s rank only to show how in the end only God has the final say. In Chapter 5:9 we see just how far man can go when driven by hate and having no fear of God.9 And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. “But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai.” Haman was a man filled with hatred and deceit and it drove him to go against a chosen group of people in which God was lovingly protecting. Chapter 7:9-10 concludes the final portion of Haman’s plan and how we providentially see Gods’s hand at work. When we finally come to end of Haman’s demise, God not only stops this from happening and destroys the man who who started this plot, but gives victory to the entire Jewish nation. Haman is hung on the very gallows that he thought would improve his ranking in the kingdom. In the end they triumphed over their enemies and furthermore, anyone who was still left to be a threat to them, including Haman’s family, were also destroyed.
Throughout this story it is easy get impatient with having to wait for God to act to save His people. We are faced with the reality that we cannot force a situation to go faster and the harder we try the more we miss out on God’s blessings in our lives and His glory being put on display.
Reading verses 12-14 I think speak volumes of God’s sovereignty, Mordecia’s faith and God’s providence. It also speaks to the fact that its not Esther who will be delivering the people, but it ultimately points to God’s hand being the leading role in bringing deliverance to the Jewish people. I love these verses simply because it reminds us that this world does not operate outside God’s control and it’s an amazing picture to see how this story is points us back to the fact that we are merely vessels that God uses to help bring events to pass but that His plans and His will is not dependent on our human capability but on His. This is not just a story about how God swoops in and comes to the rescue, its also not a story about how Esther is deemed to be this feminine hero that we should applaud. It is about how God has been active all along and that Esther was just a tool that He used to bring about His master plan to save and deliver His people.
I love how Mordecia says “14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place,” has nothing to do with Esther but everything to do with God. I just think it’s amazing to think that we can rest on the promises in His word that God is always faithful. Its who He is and that its always His will that plays out in the end and we should be humbled when we read about God using man to help carry out His plan and even more humbled when He chooses us. Romans 9 also specifically talks about how God used Old Testament events and people to ultimately carry out His plan for redeeming His people and that lead to the work on the cross and saving all of us from eternal death and punishment. This is a story not only hope, and encouragement but in bearing witness to God’s complete power and control over everything. God’s Grace is not dependent anything we could do but on who he is.
I am humbled when I think about how God is not wait around for any of us to turn away from our sin and then accept Him. It is through His love and grace that He decided to send His son, to die and take our place and that thought should cause us to come and bow before him thanking Him with all our hearts that it was because of His will hat we are set free and causes to keep living a life that honours and glorifies Him.