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Sermons

Divine Providence Working Through Ordinary Events (Pt.1)

March 31, 2019 Speaker: John Bell Series: Esther

Passage: Esther 1:1–2:23

Big Picture: The book of Esther presents an episode in the history of God’s Old Covenant people that threatened their annihilation by the pagan powers of ancient Persia, and God’s deliverance. Here we see that God fulfills his redemptive promises not only through great miracles (such as the exodus from Egypt), but also through divine providence working through ordinary events. Even the actions of people who do not worship him are woven into patterns and purposes determined by the sovereign Lord alone.

  1. Queen Vashti is deposed (1:1–12)
  • The events described in this section will have long-reaching consequences. Even the mighty acts of God in redemptive history are linked through long years of human history by a chain of seemingly insignificant, ordinary events. Xerxes’ decision unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that will culminate in the deliverance of God’s people, fulfilling the promise of the ancient covenant made ages before in a faraway place.

 

  1. The King and nobles react to Vashti’s disobedience (1:13–22)
  • These verses show the inner workings of the Persian court and the escalation of Vashti’s refusal into an empire-wide public event.

 

  1. Esther made Queen (2:1–18)
  • The coronation of a young Jewish girl as queen of Persia begins to show God’s sovereign power to oversee the protection of his people. God does this not through miracles, but through the exercise of his providence through the decisions of pagan people.

 

  1. Mordecai uncovers a conspiracy (2:19–23)
  • In another example of God’s providence, Mordecai thwarts an assassination plot that puts him in good standing with the king (see 6:1–2).

 

Romans 8:28: “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.

 

 Four unshakable promises of God for his New Covenant children

 

  • God works, or is at work, in our lives.
  • God is at work for the good of his people. “Good” = what God deems will be best to assist our growth into the image of Christ (v. 29) and bring us to final glory (v. 30) -  those “good” things in this life that contribute to that final salvation and sustain us on the path to that salvation.
  • God works for our good in all things.
  • God works in all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, not all people without exception.

 

Implications:

  • Humans cannot understand everything God works in our life.
  • God is not obligated to explain anything he works in our life.
  • God deserves praise for what he works in our life and does not explain.

 

Preachers note: This series is greatly indebted to Karen H. Jobes’ Esther commentary; Five Festal Garments, by Barry G. Webb; and From Typology to Doxology, by Andrew D. Naselli.