I just read the book of Esther, a spellbinding narrative in the Old Testament about a woman who becomes queen and risks everything to save her people. The story is riddled with fortuitous events which clearly show God’s hand of providence surrounding the lives of Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews. Some such events are not without irony that is so thick it’s comedic.
For those who are not familiar with this tale, it involves the rise of a young Jewish woman named Esther who, initially because of her exquisite beauty, is made queen in Susa. (Queen Vashti was deposed, after which the king decided to have a beauty contest to find a replacement.)
From this office in government, Esther learns of a plot on the part of the king’s newly-appointed advisor Haman “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews.” Those are the words of the edict itself; it certainly didn’t leave any room for uncertainty.
Esther herself was Jewish, but the king wasn’t aware of that. Because the king had fallen for her so deeply, there was a chance that she might be able to persuade the king to repeal the edict.
But before she did, Mordecai, Esther’s closest friend, warned her to act. He tells her, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will rise from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” The first thing I noticed here is Mordecai’s faith. He is absolutely certain that the Jewish people will not be destroyed. He is certain they will be delivered– somehow. There is no question as to that. But at the same time, he is using his trust in (presumably) God’s sovereignty, God’s faithfulness to his covenants, not as a reason why Esther is safe lying low, but as a spur to action. It is his knowledge that God will act in history to accomplish his decree that motivates Mordecai to act immediately to rescue the Jews from jeopardy. He urges tactical action on Esther’s part, noting that it may have been for this specific reason (to intervene on behalf of the Jews) that Esther now finds herself in her current position.
He understood God’s sovereignty, and also understood that God has sovereignly ordained the use of means or causes, namely human action, to carry out his unchangeable plan. What he understood was that Esther had been providentially put in a place where she could be a part of God’s deliverance of the Israelites. Esther understood this too, and for Esther, that was more of a privilege than she could pass up.