How do you expect God to work? In miraculous healing or in the suffering of the ill? In timely prophecies or in taking words written long ago in Scripture and applying them to our lives? In wealth or in poverty? By miracles or by sustaining creation order?
Peter Adam reminded us in chapel today that our God works in all things. We so often miss the ways God works because our view is too narrow. We expect one of these things and discount the other. That’s why we need the whole Bible: Judges offers a different picture from Malachi; Job contrasts with Amos; 1 Corinthians deals with different stuff from 2 Corinthians! We learn a great deal about God from Esther as one part of the whole Bible’s picture.
Peter had 5 lessons from Esther:
1. God uses ordinary people made in his image. It’s tempting to think of Esther as a heroine yet all she does are the good works that she was created to do. Being made in God’s image means being created to do good because God is good! Celebrity has us believe that only some have a great destiny but each of us, especially believers who have been re-created in Christ’s image, have good works to be do.
2. God gives wisdom. As we’ve noted before, Esther’s clearly out of her depth. Yet, when we ask the God of wisdom, he is willing to give it. You can see that in Esther, in the way the diplomacy she exercises in revealing the plot to the king. She couches it as something that will dishonor him because it will hurt his bride. Call is manipulation if you will, but there’s a God-given shrewdness there. We need to be as wise as serpents, but not so wise that we lose integrity. We need to be as gentle as doves, but not so harmless that we lose our mandate to do good in God’s creation purposes.
3. God brings down the proud and 4. God is the God of reversals
Hamaan’s boasting is incredible, how he lists his wealth and those over whom he has power, how he lauds his status and influence with the royal couple. Yet, it is his own gallows on which he is hanged.
As Hamaan is hanged, so Mordechai is made great. This is a theme we see over and over again in the Bible. God rejoices in lifting up the lowly, of bringing good out of something that was meant for evil. Think of Joseph or Moses. The reversals are celebrated in Mary’s song and Hannah’s. Ultimately, they’re seen in Jesus Christ, who in Peter’s words, was crucified yet God made him both Lord and Christ.
5. God works in coincidence. Think about the number of coincidences in this story. It just so happens that Esther is beautiful and a Jew and that she is chosen to be Queen. It just so happens that it’s Mordechai who overhears a plot on the king’s life. It just so happens that the king can’t sleep and it just so happens that it’s Mordechai’s story that is read to him that night. It just so happens that the king returns to Esther’s banquet to find Hamaan in a compromising position. It just so happens that the gallows are ready for Hamaan to be hanged on. It just so happens that Hamaan’s position is vacant when the king wants to honor Mordechai.
Coincidence has been called a ‘visible moment of grace’. We want more of them because we love to see how God works. But coincidence should give us confidence in a God who works in the invisible too. It should lead us to trust God not just in what we can see but in all things.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.