Est, providence in
Like Ruth the Book of Esther is an illustration. It records a
slice of life out of the Exile period that illustrates a great revelation. While
the Book of Ruth illustrates God's redemption, that of Esther illustrates God's
Providence means foresight. Our word comes from Latin and
means to see the affairs of life before they happen. The acquired meaning of
providence, what it has come to mean through usage, is activity resulting from
foresight. We can see at once that people can never exercise providence as God
can. We have very limited powers of foresight. We do not know what a day will
bring forth. God, on the other hand, foresees all things and can act because of
The doctrine of providence is that God both possesses and
exercises absolute power over all the works of His hands. The Book of Esther
illustrates God's providence. The writer did not speak of God directly, but
God's acting as a result of His foresight is obvious in what he wrote. Even
though God hid Himself in the Book as a whole, he was at work in the life of
Esther reveals three things about divine providence.
First, it reveals the method of providence.
It shows that even though people do not acknowledge God's
presence He is always at work. His control becomes especially clear at the end
of the book (Est 10:3). Events had turned around completely from the way they
were at the beginning of the book. Instead of being in peril, the Jews were now
at peace. God not only rules over the major issues in life, but He also uses the
trivialities of life to accomplish His purposes. Some of these trivialities
God's providence is all-inclusive. That is part of its method.
No person or detail of life escapes God's control: "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" (Rom 8:28). "All things" includes all individuals and
all events -- whether pleasant or unpleasant.
- the king's decision to summon Vashti after he got drunk,
- Haman's hatred for Mordecai,
- the king's insomnia, and
passage his servant read to him.
Second, Esther reveals the principles of providence.
God proceeds on the basis of perfect knowledge: intimate,
accurate, absolute knowledge (Psa 11:4).
Another principle of His providence is His undeviating
righteousness. God's providence works in harmony with man's freedom. It never
coerces people. The king made his own decisions; God did not compel him to act
as he did. Haman plotted his own intrigues, made his own arrangements, built his
own gallows. The same was true of Mordecai and Esther. Yet the sphere in which
they made their decisions was God's sovereignty (Acts 17:28: "In Him we live and
move..."). Haman built his gallows for Mordecai, but God hanged Haman on
A third principle of God's providence is that of absolute
power. God is great enough to give people genuine freedom and yet cause things
to turn out the way He wants them to. God causes human freedom to contribute to
His divine purpose.
Third, Esther reveals the results of providence.
On the human level there are two results:
We can see these results most clearly in the characters of
(1)         Esther and Mordecai, and (2)         Haman.
- Those who recognize divine providence receive great confidence and
- However, those who do not recognize it receive panic and
On the divine level the result of providence is that God
progresses toward His ultimate goal: he is, of course, Yahweh -- The One who
"will be", the One who is constantly "becoming"! Throughout all of Scripture we
see this identical mighty movement toward the absolute fulfillment of His
The message of this book is that God exists, and God acts
through history to accomplish His purposes regardless of whether humans
acknowledge Him or not.
There are many arguments for the existence of God: the
argument from providence is one of these. The fact that human events are
harmonizing with God's ultimate purposes as He has revealed these in Scripture
testifies to God's existence. When people forget God, He still molds history and
governs life in harmony with His purposes. We cannot escape God's hand; we only
change our destiny. We become His friends or His foes by our attitude toward Him
How do we apply the message of this book? By taking God into
account. Trust Him and cooperate with Him, or you will suffer destruction. God's
providence may seem very impersonal and austere. However, William Cowper has
reminded us that, "Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face." Rom
8:28 is perhaps the most concise word on the providence of God that the
Scriptures contain. God will complete His plans. We determine our own destiny as
we cooperate with His will or oppose it.
Our choice affects our destiny, but it does not frustrate His
plan. Consequently it is very important that we know God's plans and make them
known to others. He has revealed His plans in His promises in Scripture.
Therefore we should pay very careful attention to the promises of God. The
covenants of promise are His comprehensive formal undertakings. Even though many
people in the world today ignore God, His plans will become reality eventually.
This fact should make us confident and optimistic in the present.