Does God Have a Plan for History and Us?

Esther 2:17 “Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins.  So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

The crowning of Queen Esther

The book of Esther is a controversial book and this commentary is specifically designed to encourage readers to research the reasons for an against including it in the Holy Bible, to ask questions about Queen Esther and the events in this book, and to discuss or debate the issue on the amount of free will and individual has and the role that God plays in our lives.

From a personal perspective God has played a visible and hidden role in my life as it pertains to education, career, marriage, family, and other events. My personal view is that God has put me in places for a reason and intervened in things I wanted to prevent them from happening. In reflection, these “interventions” (or disappointments at the time) were likely for a reason. In 2020, the world is experiencing a pandemic that is a challenge for most people and devastating for others. How do we understand the event of a pandemic? Is it God’s plan, does God allow the pandemic to bring us closer to faith in God, do we see it as a call to repentance, is it just a random event that occurs once every 100 or 500 years? These are all great questions. Do we answer the question of a pandemic (or an asteroid that lands on our planet, genocides, wars, economic hardships, a vaccine that is a cure for the pandemic, a peace agreement, or an economy that improves each year the same way?

After the pandemic of the flu in 1919-20, many people turned away from God and adopted the phrase ‘God is Dead’ first introduced by Frederick Nietzsche. When it comes to events today, the majority of people accept the philosophy that everyone has a free will and events occur randomly and are not predetermined. Some consider the opposite of free will to be fatalism. The origins of this debate go back to the ancient civilizations. Others, have a worldview that is predetermined by God’s timeline or at least partly determined by God’s intervention. The birth of Jesus Christ was not a random birth but one that was part of God’s plan from Creation. Is our birth any different?

Let’s consider the events in Esther’s life in the fifth century B.C.E. (490-460) under the rule of King Ahasuerus of Persia. The story begins with Queen Vashti’s refusal to obey the command to appear before the king, her husband. As a result the king seeks a new queen and Esther is the one he chooses. Two of the advisors to King Ahasuerus, Mordecai and Haman, report false information to the king and this leads to a decree that allows the population to seize the property of the Jews in Persia with no protection for their lives. This is one of the biggest human rights violations in the history of the ancient world. Tens of thousands of Jews feared for their lives.

  1. Why did Esther hide the fact that she was Jewish?
  2. Why did Queen Esther delay in telling the King to the decree against the Jews?
  3. Why did Esther call fast for three days?
  4. Did the preservation of the Jews occur by chance or was this the work of God?
A 19th century depiction of Queen Esther (Getty Images)

The name of God is not explicitly stated in the Book of Esther and yet the presence of God is obvious throughout the events in this book. There were many beautiful girls in Persia, the edict against the Jews was based on evil intentions, and the circumstances leading to the ending of the decree are very unusual. Martin Luther saw God as active in history and in the lives of each person created y God. Unfortunately, as a result of myopic vision caused by our human nature (sin) many people understand God as passive and inactive.

It is the stories of Esther, Exodus, the rise of Joseph in Egypt’s government, the birth of Jesus, the events of Good Friday and Easter, the conversion of Paul, and my baptism and yours that God reveals Himself as a active and engaging!  We also ‘see’ God in the miracle of birth, the forgiveness of sins, and the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper!

Martin Luther saw a two dimension world – the physical world and the spiritual world. When we drive down the highway or road, we can only see for a short distance as we look ahead. We are not able to see what is 100 feet to our left or right. But when we fly a drone, we are able to see everything differently. We see a bigger picture. This is the way it is with life and faith. Our lives are focused on our experiences and perhaps to some extent on the lessons of history. We cannot see tomorrow or even the next hour. We are familiar with the phrase, “our life can change in a minute or a second.’ With faith, we can see things differently. We are able to see the bigger picture of grace, love, and eternity.

We have reason to celebrate! Comments: hbitten@reverendluther.org

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