One of the most powerful passages of Scripture about God’s providence never mentions His name, but it’s filled with His presence. It’s found about midway through the suspenseful book of Esther.
Esther was a beautiful woman who was selected by the King of Persia to be his wife; however, as detailed in the book, he didn’t know she was a Jew (Esther 2:9-10). At the request of his jealous assistant Haman, the king unwittingly issued an edict that the Jews were to be put to death (3:8-10).
Esther chapter four recounts Esther’s decision to approach the king about the Jews impending demise. This was risky, because it would violate protocol to approach him uninvited, could be considered a security threat and, not the least, would expose her as a Jew.
In our text, Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, urged urged her to take action: “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV). Consider four spiritual principles from this passage:
1) Evil can intimidate good people into doing nothing: “If you remain silent.” Peer pressure urges those who are younger to do things they shouldn’t, then as we get older it pulls at us to not do things we should. Peter was lured to deny Jesus by those beside him (John 18:25-27). Barnabas found it too hard to go against the group mentality (Gal. 2:13). When it is within our power, we must help those who are in distress.
2) God is so powerful, versatile and persistent that evil cannot thwart His providence when His people call for it: “relief will arise from another place.” Ezra later said the Lord gave them more than relief – He gave them a revival (Ezra 9:9). God’s plans baffle the enemy: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:7-9).
3) God’s providence will not compensate for our unfaithfulness to Him: “your father’s house will perish” (cf. v. 13). For Esther to benefit from God’s providence, she could not sit idly by and be confident of any benefit. The Lord Who sends “our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11) has not promised to provide “if any would not work” (II Thess. 3:10).
4) Perhaps God has placed us where we are for a good purpose. The meandering path of life could have actually been a journey to exactly where God wants to use us:
- “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Prov. 24:12). God is not surprised by any developments in human activity.
- “For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever; 16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord?” (Philemon 15-16). The Lord is able to turn misfortune into fortune when we place our activities under His direction.
- “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me” (Phil. 2:30). When we are consumed with serving God’s purpose, He can turn our shortcomings into a blessing.
God’s providence is appropriated through our faithfulness to Him. Faith requires a willingness to risk our security.