Big Words: Providence, Sovereignty

20 Aug

I’ve been thinking about some “big words” this week. Words that may be familiar, but the meaning not well understood. Or words that are weighty in meaning and difficult in subject matter.

This week’s Bible reading journey took me through the entire book of Esther. Just above the beginning verses of Esther, my Bible points out that the name of God is never mentioned in the entire book. Yet, it also says “…in no other portion of the Bible is God’s providential care of his people more evident.”  (NIV New Scofield Study System)

Providence can be defined as “God’s care.”

If you’re not familiar with the story, you must read Esther to understand why someone would consider it the ultimate demonstration of God’s care for his people. How else do you explain a young, orphaned girl of foreign decent, held captive in a conquering country becoming Queen and a pagan King finding repeated favor for her and her requests?

Consider the detail of providence in the King being sleepless one night and “happening” to have someone read the chronicles of his kingship, from a very section that brought recognition to the secret uncle of Queen Esther, both Jews marked for annihilation.  (There’s a reason Hollywood made a movie of this story!)

One of the most quoted verses from Esther is 4:14. It’s a secret message to Queen Esther from her Uncle Mordecai.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?  

God’s care included cooperation from Esther. It included encouragement and faith from Mordecai. God could have done it any way he pleased, but Esther and Mordecai’s actions show they recognized God’s care and power, and they responded.

I also read about spiritual gifts this week in 1 Corinthians 12. That’s what lead me to consider the topic of soverienty. Just as Esther and Mordecai cooperated and were used with God in his providential protection of the Jews, we have been given spiritual gifts in which we should cooperate with God. He has soveriengly given them to us. That means He is supreme and has chosen in his wisdom for his purpose what gift to give each believer. (See 1 Cor. 12:11 and 18.)

So what did Esther do to cooperate with God? How’d she prepare? Read Esther 4:6 – 17. If you are not sure what gift God has given you to use for his providential care of believers (his people, both Jew and Gentiles through Christ), then perhaps Esther’s response can serve as a model of how to begin to cooperate with God so you can be included in his work.

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