Sermon Audio & Review
Pastor Kent Hobi
- Category: Sunday Evening Series
- October 1, 2017
God’s divine providence compels us to obedience.
If God is providentially in control of all things working out everything to the end of keeping His promises, then what part to I play? What does providence expect of me?
The book of Esther is a book about Divine Providence. This is foresight or making provision beforehand. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary states that “When applied to God, the idea takes on a vastly larger dimension because God not only looks ahead and attempts to make provision for his goals, but infallibly accomplishes what he sets out to do.”
A critical component of God’s providence is that He has an eternal personal and loving plan for the universe. This plan is not just what He desires to do, but is in fact responsible for the very makeup of the universe and explanation as to why it is the way it is.
A second critical component of God’s Providence is that He works out His loving plan in a way that is consistent with the natural laws of time and space as He created them. He does so in ways He has not revealed to us (Deuteronomy 29:29). The counterpart to God’s providential power is miracle. In miracle, God intervenes by breaking the normal, natural laws of time and space.
The first truth we learned in Esther was that God’s providential control over all things is comprehensive. The second truth we learned was that God’s providential control over all things is precise and personal. Tonight, we will observe from Esther 4-5 that God’s divine providence compels us to obedience for several reasons.
God’s providence compels obedience because the Laws of nations are ultimately the servants of God’s plan (Esther 4:2, Romans 13:4).
At this point in the account, the plots tension intensifies. Mordecai is wailing loudly and bitterly as Jews were in “each and every province,” and all are dressed in sackcloth and ashes. Mordecai’s identity is now front and center!
God’s providence uses the law of the land to protect Esther’s identity. No one was permitted to wear sackcloth in the king’s presence. Thus Mordecai could get no closer than the king’s gate. Mordecai completely and publicly identified as a Jew and in so doing endangered the life of anyone who would come into contact with him. In verse 4, Esther sends clothes so Mordecai could come to her, for going to him would clearly indicate her allegiance if not her identity as a Jew.
Providence knew that exposure at this point in the story would foil the greatly-needed buildup of Haman’s pride and ensuing destruction. It gave Esther the upper hand in communicating with Mordecai on her terms.
However, Mordecai does not accept the clothing, forcing the necessity of communicating in some way with Esther. In verse 4:5, she sends Hathach and in so doing literally puts her own life and Mordecai’s and the lives of all Jews in the hands of this eunuch. Still, her identity is safeguarded from the two critical people it needed to be safeguarded from: Ahasuerus and Haman.
A second law was no obstacle for God’s providence: Death for those who come into the king’s presence without being summoned (Esther 4:10). Esther had not been summoned for 30 days. This law is used of God’s providence to mark the tempo of God’s ultimate deliverance as Esther contemplates the gravity of what she must do. It forces her to the great confession of courageous obedience.
God’s providence compels obedience because it eliminates the possibility of a “you alone” existence (Esther 4:13).
In 4:13-17 we have probably the most profound statement in all of Scripture regarding the realities that govern in the presence of the God of providence! Remember these are not spiritually good times nor morally good people. Still, they are subject to the realities of the great God of providence.
God’s providence has an ultimate reference point. It is not you and it is not me. It is Himself, and specifically, the fulfillment of the promises He has made! A “you alone” mentality of self-preservation and self-fulfillment is just not in God’s providential machinery. (See Samuel’s rebuke to Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22 and David’s reflections in Psalm 50:7-15.)
Mordecai rescues Esther from the temptation of living under such fantasy. He reminds her of two things: God’s providence has put you in life for service and not for your own self-interests (Esther 4:14). And God’s providence prioritizes the family of faith over individual concerns (4:15). Sin seeks isolation; obedience flourishes in mutual dependence.
In a New Testament context, the family of faith is the Church. We have many commands of how to operate within this family:
- Pray for one another. James 5:16
- Encourage one another. Hebrews 3:12-13
- Build one another up. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
- Confess our faults to one another. James 5:16
- Love one another. John 13:34-35
- Be devoted to one another, honor one another. Romans 12:10
- Serve one another. Galatians 5:13
- Bear with one another. Colossians 3:12-13
- Submit to one another. Ephesians 5:19-21
- Spur one another on. Hebrews 10:24
- Be hospitable to one another. 1 Peter 4:8-9
- Greet one another. Romans 16:16
A “you alone” mentality is a hot bed for disobedience of every kind. It in effect fantasizes removing God from the throne of the universe and replacing Him with self-interest (James 3:14-4:2).
God’s providence compels obedience because it encourages resignation (Esther 4:15-17).
Resignation must be differentiated from fatalism. Fatalism leads to passivity, pessimism, defeatism, despondency and despair. Resignation leads to acceptance, acquiescence, acknowledgement, submission and forbearance.
The difference is what or who controls the universe. Does mere cold, indifferent fate and chance control the universe, or does a warm, personal, providentially powerful God? Esther resigns herself to the Divine providence of God, knowing He is all-powerful in life and in death. The result of Esther’s recognition of God’s providential power is her obedience in dependent, courageous faith.
God’s providence compels obedience because it insures that you and God will always make a majority (Esther 5:1-14).
Esther providentially obtains favor once again. Haman is quickly made a critical player, as divine providence works to his final destruction. Ironically, Haman’s own wife suggests the very method that becomes Haman’s demise.
- Our lowest spiritual points do not truncate God’s providential power. Remember that help will arise from another place if you persist in a “you alone” mentality! Your life will forever be the commentary of the difficulty that results from that mentality. However, because God is in Heaven, perhaps you have come into this life for this very time! Resign yourself to God’s providence. Once again, exercise a dependent faith and courageously obey.
Unbeliever, don’t be like Haman who unwittingly prepared his own doom. He thought he had the upper hand over God’s people and Mordecai, when all the while he was simply preparing his own gruesome fate.
Believer, know that God’s divine providence compels you to obey, even when you are in a low spiritual state. God will keep his word to you, both the blessings and the points of chastening. May God help us to resign ourselves to God’s care and obey.