Providence–Book of Esther #4: “The Providential Flip” ~ Esther 5:1-7:10


Providence, Part 4

The Providential Flip

Insights from the book of Esther

Bruce A. Hess

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Please take out the word of God now and let’s turn in it, in the Old Testament, to the book of Esther and chapter number 5, in the book of Esther.

Have you ever noticed that as we view the circumstances and events of life, that much of it appears to be random? If often feels happenstance. It appears to be chance or coincidence or luck, luck both good and bad. Have you ever felt that way? As we feel that way, we need to remember that our human viewpoint is shallow and restricted. From the divine viewpoint we learn that random and chance and luck do not exist. God’s providence is always on duty. The reality is, even the good and the bad and the ugly are still utilized in His providential plan. He, God, is the Lord of the random. God is always at work.

We are learning that in this series of messages that we have been in, entitled, ‘Providence, Insights from the Book of Esther.’ As we have been looking at this series, I have been sharing with you a number of quotes defining what providence is. I want to share another one with you this morning. It is from T.H.L. Parker. He says, “Providence means that the world and our lives are not ruled by chance or fate, but by God.”

We have been saying over and over again that providence means God is behind the SEEN! S-e-e-n.

We’ve been saying that providence is His superintendence of all that happens in life, all that happens

remains within God’s control and divine purpose.

Now, the title I have given to today’s message, is, ‘The Providential Flip.’ I regret that time restricts us from reading through everything we are going to cover today, which is actually chapters 5, 6, and 7. We don’t have time to read through three chapters, but I do want to simply give to you an outline of what we are going to be looking at today.

We have:

  • Esther’s intervention. You remember there was this decree that could not be revoked, to destroy, kill and annihilate all of the Jews. So, she is going to intervene and we have that intervention in chapter 5. In the first four verses she approaches the King.
  • Then, we have Haman with her and the King in banquet number one in verses 5-8.
  • Then, we have Haman struts in verses 9-14.
  • Then, we have the providential flip happening in chapters 6 and 7.
  • We have the King’s insomnia in the first three verses of chapter 6.
  • We have Haman consulted by the King in verses 4-9.
  • We have Haman directed by the King in verses 10 and 11.
  • We have Haman distressed in chapter 6, verses 12-14.
  • And, then we have Haman and banquet number two in chapter 7. This is where Esther’s request actually surfaces, in the first six verses.
  • Then, we have the King’s response in verses 7-10.

So, are you with me? Is it worth looking at those verses? Let’s do it together. Let’s begin by looking at Esther’s intervention as she approaches the King in chapter 5. Now, again, remember last time we had this decree that has been written and sent out to the entire Persian Empire that the Jews, all of them, were to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated.

We saw last time that Mordecai challenged his stepdaughter, who was Queen Esther, to act and he said to her, “Perhaps you have attained royalty for such a time as this.” Last time we saw that Esther moves from hesitation, should I really do this, it could risk my life? She moves from hesitation to determination. What she says is, ‘I want you to tell all the Jews in Susa to fast and my staff will also fast.’ The implication with fasting is that there would be prayer involved.

So, remember now, another factor in Persian law, it said that no one, including the Queen, could approach the King without being summoned by the King. We saw last time that she hadn’t even seen the King for a month and she was wondering, you know, does he really still care at all?

That leads us to chapter 5 and verse 1, “It came about on the third day, (after this fasting) that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne, in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace.” It is important that we climb into stories when we are reading them. Let me ask you this about Esther, knowing her life was at risk, do you think her heart was beating rapidly? Yeah! Do you think her stomach was churning? Absolutely.

It is interesting that Queen Vashti, back in chapter number 1, had risked her life by NOT appearing before the King and now we have Queen Esther who is risking her life BY appearing before the King, without having been summoned. Some of you might be saying, ‘Well, wait a minute, I don’t really understand this, why did she not just send a note of request to the King? Why didn’t she just text him, you know? Can I come by? Why wasn’t there some kind of communication like that?’ We really don’t know exactly why but, remember who Haman is. He is the Prime Minister in the country, he is number two. It is very likely that he is screening those who would like to see the King. And, if he received a request, Haman did, from her to see the King, no doubt he would have demanded, ‘I want to know exactly why you want to see the King.’ And, she didn’t want to unveil any of that.

Look at chapter 5, verse 2, “When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight.” That is that idea that we’ve seen before about obtaining favor. This is providential “And the King extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand.”

Reminds me of what it says in Proverbs 21:1, it says, “The King’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord.” Somehow, God is at work. We see the same thing in Ezra, the book of Ezra, chapter 1 and verse 1. It says there that “The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia,” who was two predecessors away from our King Ahasuerus. The King’s heart can be channeled by the Lord and Cyrus had given proclamation that the Jews could go back to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple.

Well, verse 3, the King looks at her and he says, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom it shall be given to you.” And, you are thinking, ‘Whoa! That is quite a statement.’ But, it is really an idiom. It is an idiom that existed not only in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, because when you look at the gospel of Mark, chapter 6 and verse 23, when King Herod, he has this daughter, Herodias, he says the same thing to her, ‘I’ll give you whatever you want, up to half the kingdom.’ It didn’t mean that literally, it was just an idiom to say, hey, whatever you want. It can be really, really big. Whatever the cost, it can be big and I will give it to you.

Her response is kind of interesting. She says, ‘Well, here is really what I would like right now. I would like you and Haman to come to a personal banquet that I have prepared for you today. That is really what I am going to ask. I have a greater request, but I want you to just come to the banquet.’ You think, ‘well, why doesn’t she just let it all out right away?’ She’s got this hearing with the King. But no doubt, there were, in the throne room, many attendants and many guards and she is thinking, ‘If I have to make this risky request, I would rather do it in my apartment with a good meal sat before the King.’

So, the King goes, ‘That sounds like a great idea.’ Then, we have Haman and banquet number one in verses 5-8. I am sure part of what she was doing here was lowering Haman’s guard. Remember, he is Snidely Whiplash in this melodrama. She knows that he is so taken with himself that he will be really impressed that he gets invited to such a banquet.

So, they come together in this first banquet. If you go down to verse 8, basically the King says, ‘I’m ready for your request’ and she goes, ‘Well, you know what? I’ve got another banquet tomorrow that I would like you to come to and Haman to come to.’ Again, we want to say, ‘Why the delay? We’ve had not going to mention it in the throne room, not going to mention it at the first banquet, why is she delaying it to a second banquet?’ We really don’t know the answer to that question. We don’t know, maybe God was leading Esther and God knew that providentially there was another step that needed to be taken in the story, which is going to happen later on. We don’t really know. Maybe Esther really knew Haman well and knew that if he was invited to a second banquet, between banquet one and banquet two, he was going to become even more full of himself, which he was prone to do. That he would sort of replay that overnight, how great he really was. So, we don’t really know why, but she says there is going to be a second banquet tomorrow.

Which leads us to Haman strutting, in chapter 5, verses 9 and following. Look at verses 9-12. It says, “Haman went out that day glad and pleased of heart.” Man, oh man, I am really something. Then, it says he saw Mordecai again at the King’s gate and Mordecai didn’t stand up and bow down before him and he was filled with anger against Mordecai, but he kind of controls himself, you know. I’m going to control myself. So, he goes to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh.

What Haman is going to do now is, he is going to make like the boxer, Muhammad Ali. You remember Muhammad Ali, who was a boxer back in the 60’s and the 70’s, those of you who are a little older will remember him. He had this phrase he loved to use over and over again. Do you remember this one? He would say, ‘I am the greatest!’ That is exactly what Haman decides to do. He is going to be a Persian Muhammad Ali. So, you need to look at the pronouns here. He goes to his house, he collects his friends, and his wife and he talks about his riches and he talks about his sons and he talks about how the King has magnified him and how the King has promoted him. Let’s just review this friendly little gathering, ‘I am the greatest!’

Then, he goes on to say, in verse 12, ‘Not only all of that, but the Queen is taken with me also. I mean, the Queen invited the King and I, just the three of us, to a banquet in her apartment! Probably no one else in the history of the kingdom has ever had that privilege. And, they’re, when I’m with them, you know, I was privy to their private conversation back and forth. I am the greatest!’

What he was really thinking is, ‘My position in the kingdom…rock solid.’ Then, look at verse 13, “Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” ‘I am the greatest. My position is rock solid, but, another one of those big buts, ooooh Mordecai, he gets under my skin.’ [to make someone highly annoyed]

So, look at verse 14, “Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, no doubt they had been talking behind the scenes, ‘here is what we think you really ought to do, you’ve got to get rid of that guy. You need to build a gallows fifty cubits high and, in the morning, go ask the King to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then, you can joyfully go on and enjoy the banquet.” You know, get rid of the guy whose bothering you, giving you the big but, in life. Then, you can go and you can partyyyyy! With the King and the Queen.

It is interesting, he mentions there a gallows fifty cubits high. When we think of a gallows, we think of the Old West, you know, when they would build this platform and they would hang people by the neck. That is probably not really what they were doing. Literally, the word for gallows is the word for tree. What the Persians would do is, they would hang people, but they would hang people on a high stake. They would hang them by impaling them. See, what the Persians did was really the forerunner to crucifixion. The Persians invented it, the Phoenicians perfected it a little bit more and the Romans perfected it even further.

So, the idea was that he was probably going to be hanged by impaling and this was rather a tall tree. It says seventy-five feet, that is twenty-three meters. That is what fifty cubits is, seventy-five feet, twenty-three meters. How could you get anything that big and how are you going to get anybody on it? Well, we don’t really know, but apparently, maybe he erected this on the top wall of his house, because he would have one of those palatial estates, you know, that overlooks everything. Maybe he put it on the top of a building. The idea of doing it up so high was what? The whole city could see him hanging from that.

We learn from verse 14 that he had it made. He directed it that it would be made. Probably the rest of the day and maybe into the night, it was being built.

That leads us to the providential flip in chapter 6 and chapter 7. When we think about what is about to happen, it reminds me of what it says in Psalm 7, verses 14-16. It says this, “The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies. They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves. The trouble they make for others backfires on them, the violence they plan falls on their own heads.” We are going to see that exact thing happen here.

Which then leads us to the King’s insomnia in chapter 6, verses 1-3. Let me just read those first three verses. “During that particular night (when this thing was being constructed and the next morning he was going to come and ask to have Mordecai impaled) the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. It was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to lay hands (assassinate) King Ahasuerus. The king said, ‘What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?’ Then the king’s servants who attended him said, ‘Noting has been done for him.”

Men and women, you look at those verses, there is so much providence there! First of all, we have the King having insomnia on this particular night, not two nights before or three nights later, on this particular night he cannot sleep. It is providential.

Not only that, but he chooses reading to help cure him of his insomnia. He could have done a lot of other things. I’m sure he did on other nights, maybe he called one of the excellent musicians that he had, to play some sort of music until he got groggy and would go off to sleep. He could have chosen to order one of the gals from his harem to come and help get him into sleep. But, no, in providence he says, ‘You know what? I need to have something read so that I can cure my insomnia.’

Then, he could have chosen all kinds of different things to read. But he chooses the chronicles of the nation, which is like our congressional record. Let’s just read the congressional record. By the way, I went to the congressional record this week and I read it. Whoa! That is not exactly pulsating reading. That is what he says, ‘I want you to read from the record.’

Then, providentially, he could have opened the record in all kinds of different places, right? The one who is opening the record, but he opens it to the specific passage of what occurred four to five years earlier. That is providential. Then, he just happens to open to that passage where it goes over the fact of what Mordecai had done and the unintentional overlooking of recognizing and rewarding Mordecai. Providence everywhere here.

Which leads us then to another providential thing and that is, Haman being consulted in chapter 6, verses 4-9. The King hears someone stirring out in the court there and he says, “Who is in the court?” And, they say, ‘Haman just entered the court of the King’s palace. He wants to come and speak to you.’ He was going to speak to him about hanging Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. I mean, it just “happens,” it’s just an “accident,” that just as all of this is happening and all this is being read and he finds out that Mordecai has not been rewarded, it just happens that Haman shows up, perhaps just having finished overseeing this gallows being built up so high. He is there to speak to the King, ‘I have a little suggestion. I’d like to execute this guy named Mordecai.’

He is there early in the morning because he wants to be able to get all of this done and get this impaling done so that he can be free for the party that is coming, you know. Party number two, banquet number two that is going to happen.

So, “Haman came in and the king said to him,” verse 6, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” Now, again, we see providence here, because the King doesn’t mention Mordecai’s name. He could have mentioned Mordecai’s name, but he doesn’t mention Mordecai’s name, he says, “What is to be done for the man for whom the King wants to honor?” And, Haman is thinking, ‘I am the greatest! He wants to honor me.”

In verses 7-9 he says, ‘Here is what I think you ought to do, King, I think what you ought to do is, don’t take the robe that you are currently wearing, but one of the robes that you would wear and you take that robe and you put it on the man. Then, what you do is, you mount that man up on to a royal horse and it is a horse that has a crown on its head.’ We know that there are reliefs from that era that show horses with crowns on their heads. ‘Then, what I want you to do, I think, King, my suggestion would be that you would find a prince, you know, someone who is really special. What he does is, he leads this key man you want to honor throughout the whole city, through the town square. What you do, I’m suggesting, King,’ as it says there in verse 9, ‘that you have this guy walk before this guy and you say, “’Thus is shall be done to the man to whom the king desires to honor.” That is what I think you ought to do, because I am the greatest and it is about ready to happen for me.

Which leads us to Haman being directed, in verses 10 and 11. The king says, ‘I really like you; I like your ideas here. So, here is what I want you to do. I want you to take the robes and the horse and everything that you said you were going to do and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king’s gate. And, listen, Haman, don’t fall short in anything of all that you have said ought to be done.’

So, that is exactly what happens, verse 11, “Haman took the robe and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city square and proclaimed before him, ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.’”

Which leads us to Haman being distressed in verses 12-14. Notice what happens, after this event occurs that “Mordecai returns at the king’s gate, But Haman hurried home, mourning, with his head covered.” Let me translate it in our way of understanding, he had his hoodie up. He had just paraded Mordecai through the town, this is what the King wants to do for the man he wants to honor and everybody had seen him and now he is on his way home so he has his hoodie up. ‘I don’t want to see anybody; I don’t want to talk to anybody. I’m just going home. Humiliation and shame are what I feel.’

So, he goes home, verse 13 and he tells Zeresh, his wife, and all his friends what had happened. They say to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.” Apparently, they were aware, even in the Persian Empire, historically, the blessing that had come to the Jews. Cyrus had done it, Darius had done it, and now they are saying, ‘You know what?’ Ahasuerus is probably going to do it also.

Now, think of everything that is happening to Haman, if you kind of climb into the story, the twists and the turns, the ups and the downs and all this. So, he has to process all this stuff, right. They are all telling him, ‘You know what? This doesn’t look good for you at all.’ Before he has even had a chance to process, the messengers come to take him to banquet number two.

So, we have Haman and banquet number two in chapter 7 and then we first have Esther’s request in the first six verses.  Look at verse 3, the King says, ‘What is your ultimate request that you want to give?’ And, she says, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.” But this is a big, big thing.

It is important we understand, she takes a triple risk here. First of all, she is about to unveil to the King that she is a Jew, which she hadn’t told him and about to identify with the minority group. That is risky. The second risk that she made is, she was about to accuse the Prime Minister, who was the number one confidante of the King. That is a risky thing to do. Then, the third risk she was taking is, what she was about to share could actually embarrass the king. He had maybe married a Jew and he didn’t know it; he had indirectly authorized this decree that went out. You will notice there in verse 4, when she says, “We’ve been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated.” She is quoting verbatim from the decree as we saw in chapter 3 and verse 13. Got all the quote of the words exactly correct.

What is the King’s response? ‘Who are we talking about? I mean, who is this? Who has done this?’ Then, we see her answer in verse 6, Esther says, “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman! Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.”

Which leads us to the King’s response in chapter 7, verses 7-10. Notice what happens at first, “The king arose in his anger from drinking wine and went into the palace garden.” Why does he do that? I mean, his head is spinning. ‘I’ve got to go out here for a minute and ponder and process this thing. I mean, what? My number one guy, the Prime Minister, did I misjudge Haman here? What is going on?’ Then, he has to process because he approved this decree without ever investigating even what people group was being talked about, he has to process that. And, then he has to process…he just found out his wife is a Jew. ‘What? I didn’t know that.’ Then, she’s now doomed to be annihilated. ‘Whoa! I’ve got to process this for a few minutes.’

Then, no doubt he was thinking things like this, ‘Wait a second. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I remember this decree going out, I mean, was the Queen a target all along in this deal?’ You remember that Bigthana and Teresh conspiracy back in chapter 2, was this the next phase of that conspiracy? ‘I don’t know what is going on here.’ So, he is going out in the garden trying to process all this.

What is going on with Haman? He is totally shell-shocked. I mean, think about what he’s been through. He was utterly humiliated earlier in the day when he had to lead Mordecai through the street and then, you know, had to throw up his hoodie to go home. You have that very negative event happening, but at the same time, he has been invited to this second private banquet with the King and the Queen and no doubt that hoisted his spirit. You know, I am the greatest, this is so special, no one else gets to do this but me. Then, you have the other emotional thing, he had been anticipating, he was going to be executing Mordecai and now he is facing an offended Queen and a hot King. This is twists and turns for him.

Proverbs 19:12 says, “The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,” a lion roars just before it pounces.

He is thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I mean, oh, this is all unraveling before me.’ So, he says, ‘What am I going to do? He thinks, ‘My best shot is with Queen Esther.’ His best shot, in irony, as the number one Jew hater in the entire kingdom to appeal to a female Jew. You know, Haman, who had been aggravated with this Jewish man, Mordecai, who would not bow to him, is now finding himself on his knees begging for his life with a Jewish woman.

One of the things you will notice in the chapter, in verse 8, that it mentions there that Esther was reclining on a couch. You might think, ‘What is happening here?” Well, in that culture what they would do when they would drink wine, that is what they would do, recline on a couch. No doubt, she had made the statement about this evil man, Haman, and then the King going out to the garden to ponder things, so she is still reclining on the couch. He is going to now try to appeal for his life with her. And, Persian law said that someone who was not the King should get no closer than seven steps from the Queen.

Look at the last part of verse 8, well notice in verse 8 it says, “The king returned from the palace garden into the place where they were drinking wine and Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, ‘Will he even assault the queen with me in the house?’” ‘I mean, this is nuts, this guy has got to go’ “As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.” This wasn’t just his hoodie up, this was a complete hood now that has been put on his face, because he is going to go to death.

Notice what happens, “Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were before the king said, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve been hearing about these gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of you, king, and rescued your life.’” The king says, ‘Oh, I have an idea, let’s hang Haman on that.’

Men and women, that is a providential flip. That is a providential flip. But there is still a problem. A decree to kill and annihilate all the Jews that cannot be revoked. That is chapters 8, 9 and 10, which we will look at next week.

Let’s do a little bit of life reflection about what we’ve looked at, just pull back for a moment. What I want to do is, I want to address a common thought, a common objection, maybe a common protest that we tend to have about the concept of God’s providence. Hear me out, here. When we say that providence means that the world and our lives are not ruled by chance or fate, but by God, when we say that providence means God is behind the seen, when we say that providence is the superintendence of all that happens in life, that all that happens remains within God’s control and divine purpose, when we start thinking about those things it sounds a little bit like our choices don’t matter. It sounds a little bit like we may be robots because God ultimately makes all the choices. It sounds a little bit, maybe, to some of our ears like fatalism, or determinism. Do our choices really matter? Does providence eliminate responsibility? How are we to understand this? Well, Biblical theologians actually have a term for this. It is a term called, concurrence. Concurrence simply means simultaneous or joint occurrence.

Louis Berkhof has summarized this idea this way, he says, “This divine activity, providence, accompanies the action of man at every point, but without robbing man in any way of his freedom. The action remains the free act of man, an act for which he is held responsible.”

We have this idea of concurrence taught throughout Scripture. You can see it illustrated in the story of Joseph. Remember how his brothers sold him into slavery and in Genesis 50:20, Joseph said to his brothers, “You meant it for evil against me, (you made an evil plan and you made a choice), but God meant it for good.” God superintended all of that as part of His providential plan.

We see it illustrated even in the death of Jesus in Acts, chapter 2, verse 23, where Peter says, “This man, Jesus, was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed Him to a cross by the hands of godless men.” It was the leaders of Israel who made that choice to have the Romans put Him to death. They were still responsible for that, ultimately the nation gets judged for that.

We see this whole idea illustrated also in the story of Paul and the thorn in the flesh that came to him in 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 7. Paul says there, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,” remember God gave him this massive amount of revelation, he wrote, obviously, a number of books in the New Testament, he says, “Because of this revelation, to keep me from exalting myself (I am the greatest) there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan.” Now, just see how all this is working together. This is something that Satan sent Paul’s way. Yet, Paul says, ‘It was given to me.’ What is he really saying? God in His providence allowed it. Satan was the one behind it, but God allowed it. ‘And three times I said to God, would you please remove it and His response back was, no, My grace is sufficient for you.’

So, you go to 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, down to verse 9 and he says, ‘You know what I decided to do? I am going to boast in my weaknesses. I am going to rest and trust in God’s providence and grace, because His power and grace are at work within me.’

See how this works. I mean, God knew about Satan’s fall that was going to happen. God knew about Adam and Eve’s rebellion. He didn’t cause those things. And, all those things had consequences. But here is the idea. His providence mysteriously works in harmony with man’s responsibility and freedom. God never coerces. Haman made his own choices. God does not make anyone sin. He never condones sin and rebellion and disobedience. Yet, He providentially incorporates sin into the outworking of His providential plan.

If you are like me you are thinking this, ‘I still don’t really get it. I don’t fully understand it. I can’t really wrap my mind around all of this.’ Why is that? Well, Paul gives us a clear answer. It is a clear answer for me, it is a clear answer for you. In Romans, chapter 11, verse 33. Here is what he says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”

See, here is what happens, this happens to me and I know it can happen to you, too, we generally get silly. We think somehow we ought to be able to fully grasp the mystery and immensity of God!

Tom Constable put it this way, he says, “It is like pouring the Pacific Ocean into a gallon jug.” We are the gallon jug; the Pacific Ocean is God. See how that works? We just can’t really fully understand it and grasp it.

Often, when life is happening to us, we can at times feel like God is invisible. We can’t really discern His redemptive purpose. Yet, God knows what His redemptive purpose is and one day we will, too. The truth we need to embrace, men and women, is that God is always at work, even when it feels like He is absent. He is always in control, He is always moving in circumstances and events to accomplish His purposes, even when it seems like He is absent, He is present. His desire for you and for me is that we would trust in God’s providential heart, we would trust that His grace is sufficient for us.

Let’s pray together. Father, I’m always so excited by the word of God, it’s a live book, it’s a living book. It’s truth that we need to hear. May we remember that You are always at work, even when it feels like You are absent from the situation, You are always in control. You are always moving in every circumstance and event, even when it seems like You are absent, You are present. May we trust in Your providential heart. May we trust in the fact that Your grace is sufficient no matter what we are dealing with in our life and we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Questions for Reflection

Providence (Esther) – The Providential Flip

Esther 5:1—7:10

1. Can you remember a time in your life when you or someone you loved experienced circumstances that felt much like random luck or mere chance? Share some about that time.

2. Bruce said, God is the Lord of the random, that God’s providence is always on duty. Name some ways that is demonstrated in the story of Esther.

3. What influenced Esther to shift from hesitation to determination? What lessons might there be for you and me today?

4. What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?  Elaborate.

5. Why is pride such a dangerous attitude to have? How have you witnessed pride creating havoc in someone’s life…or you own?

6. How does the concept of divine providence fall short of the notion of fatalism or determinism?  Explain how the theological concept of concurrence sheds light on this issue. Why can these principles be so hard for us to grasp?

7. God is always at work, always in control, always moving in circumstances and events.  Even when He seems absent, He’s present.  Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you trust Him even when things are difficult and confusing.

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