Providence – Esther 2

Yesterday we saw the terrible decisions made by King Ahasuerus (aka Xerxes), and today the providence of God shines through in the midst of what is going on.

If you haven’t read Esther 2 recently, you can do so here.

There is a time gap of around 4 years between the end of chapter 1 and the start of chapter 2 (Esther 1.3 cf. 2.16), in which time Xerxes led a failed invasion of Greece. Depending on where you read about it, you may come across a battle that was widely popularized in the movie ‘300’, “This. Is. Sparta.”  ¹ .

Coming back from this failure, it seems that Xerxes wanted to cheer himself up, so organizes what is essentially a ‘Miss Persia’ contest (vv.1-4). Considering this was the world’s biggest Empire at the time, the chances of one girl winning were astronomical, but we know that when the Lord has purposed to do something, it happens. History says 400 were chosen to go through to the next stage, so to speak, this intense beauty regime (vv.12-14). Partly to accentuate what is natural, partly to ensure nobody was already pregnant, Esther found herself among this 400 (vv.5-11).

As the King took poor counsel and made poor decisions in chapter 1, here Esther listens to those who know better than her (v.15), and from the 400 she is chosen to be Queen (vv.16-18).

Esther has gone from an orphan being raised by her cousin (vv.5-7), to being the Queen of the world’s largest Empire. If God has a plan for someone so seemingly insignificant as Esther, we can take a great deal of comfort from knowing that He has a plan for us too.

Chapter 2 ends with Esther’s coursing/guardian Mordecai foiling an assassination attempt on the King’s life (vv.19-23), and this again speaks to the providence of God; Mordecai and Esther found themselves in the right place at the right time, and in the right roles, to be used of God to stand up for what is right and report what is wrong. 

Friends, God has a plan for you. It may look different to what you imagined for yourself, but trust Him, His plans are always better than anything we could imagine anyway! Being where you are in the world right now is no accident, being in the job you are in now is no accident, and being surrounded by the people you are now is no accident. We serve a God who is all knowing, all loving, all powerful, and all wise, and either through His declarations or permissions, His good and perfect will is always going to come to fruition. Remember today when things look confusing – God has a plan for you!

Finding God’s Will; 5. Others

In the last twelve to eighteen months, my family and I have been through some major changes. We had a second baby, added two four-legged friends into our lives, and we’ve moved house a couple of times. The biggest change for me was going from working part-time at the church alongside a full-time job in a local high school to working full-time at the church, taking over as the senior/solo/lead pastor (however you like to use those terms) in the summer of 2018.

Throughout the transition process, there were multiple people who would consistently and constantly tell me, “You’re going to do a great job as pastor, whether here or somewhere else.”, and “I am sure God’s plan for your life is to pastor a church.”. Hearing things like that at a time of huge change was reassuring, energising, edifying, but most importantly it was confirming. It was confirming of the consistent message I had been taking from God’s Word. It was consistent of what I had been hearing from the Lord in prayer. It was consistent with the circumstances and how God was moving in our midst.

Other believers within the church, and the church itself, can be vehicles through which God’s will for us is made known.

God’s global Church, capital C, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, and all its local expressions, are God’s chosen vehicle to bless His people and to witness His Word, will, and ways to the nations in our time.

Considering this, it is only logical to think that God would speak through the church, through His church, to communicate His will.

When what God is saying to us through His Word, through prayer, through our circumstances, and through the Godly counsel of His church all line up, we can proceed with confidence that we are living within His will (Henry Blackaby).

Being members of a church family is so important, there is no independence when we consider our relation to other believers, only interdependence. All members of the body belong to each other, and all need each other.

Today, pray for your local church, the church family you are a part of. Pray for wise, Godly counsel to flow through it, pray the church is following God’s will, and pray for God to continue to speak through it.

When all four things we have talked about line up, it is hard to ignore the fact that God is speaking to you, He is revealing His will to you. When this happens, there is only one response…go for it! If you are not sure, reach out to someone who you trust for counsel. Counsel doesn’t have to be a scary word; lots and lots of great counsel is done coffee-cup counsel style, some is done face to face, some over the phone. But, if there is something you are not sure about, do reach out to someone to talk about it.

So, God reveals His will to us through;

His Word to us,

Prayer,

Circumstances, and,

Others.

Seek it, find it, and live in it!

Revelation 12.1-6 – The best laid plans…

Last time in Revelation we saw God’s temple in heaven open and there were signs of His power and might, flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. Powerful indeed. Now another great sign appears in heaven, a pregnant woman.

1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.

3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Anyone who has had children will know how special a time pregnancy is; physical, emotional, spiritual changes and ‘the glow’ that people talk about!

Who then is this pregnant woman from whom a male child will be born, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron?

Well, if we take the child to be Jesus, the woman would have to be the Biblical nation of Israel. When we see that on her head she has a crown of twelve stars, this helps us to see that we are talking about Israel. Genesis 37.9-11 also helps with this sign.

Who is waiting? A great red dragon…actually here we need not wonder who it is as v.9 tells us explicitly…who is called the devil and Satan…He plans to devour the child, the devil tries to do everything that he can do derail the plans of God, even using men such as Herod to try and kill infant/toddler Jesus in Matthew 2.16.

It didn’t happen then, it doesn’t happen here in Revelation, and it will never happen. To quote Gamaliel, a teacher of the law we read of in Acts,

“…if [this plan] is of God, you will not be able to overthrow [it].”

Just like God providentially provided protection for the woman here for three and a half years, just as He providentially protected infant Jesus by allowing escape to Egypt, He will do for you too if you trust Him. Our God is everywhere, knows all, sees all, has power over all, and works everything to our ultimate good, our salvation in Christ.

Poet Robert Burns wrote

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

Our accuser will lay plans against us, and when he sees we are living for the Lord they will be well-laid plans. But, we are to take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world and everything in it, including the best laid plans of mice, men, and dragons.