Today we begin our journey through the book of Esther. We will take this is smaller chunks, so we may understand the important historical contexts that make up this amazing story. As we understand the history behind the story, we will see what the Lord wants to say to us in our generation – what we can learn and apply to our lives.
The book of Esther is a drama, set not in fiction or folklore, but in history and actuality and truth. Some scholars have argued that the book of Esther does not belong in the Bible, as it bears no mention of God’s name or references to Him. But yet, we see God’s Providence at work behind the scenes, caring for and protecting His people.
So what is Providence? R. Kent Hughes offers a definition: “The sweet doctrine of God’s providence is this: God sovereignly works in and through the everyday, non-miraculous events of life to effect His will.” (from PreceptAustin.org).
Providence shows us God’s involvement in our everyday lives, down to the smallest detail. Jesus reminds us (as He reminded His disciples when He sent them out on short-term missions trips) that He has our best interests in mind:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
(Matthew 10:29-31 NIV)
This does not mean that our lives are all good and no pain. Quite the opposite. Jesus said addressed this thought with His disciples, right before He was taken prisoner and crucified:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NIV)
Understanding God’s Providence means that God will redeem each situation, however bad, to His glory. Paul reminds us of God’s ability to turn even the worst situation or circumstance into good for His kingdom:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
(Romans 8:28 NIV)
As we understand God’s Providence, we can begin to understand His hand in the story of Esther, and in our story.
As we understand God’s Providence, we change our vocabulary and replace impersonal words like “lucky” and “fortunate” with thankfulness and praise for God’s Providence in our everyday lives.