MERE COINCIDENCES? – Purim 2017

Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. [Isaiah 46: 10 (NLT)]

black-crowned-night-heronYesterday was the Jewish festival of Purim. One of the most joyful days of the Jewish calendar, its reason for being is found in the Book of Esther. Filled with suspense, conspiracy, reversals, poetic justice, coincidences and twists of fate, it’s a wonderful story.

Was it just luck that, out of all the beautiful young virgins in the entire kingdom of Persia, it was the Jewess Esther who pleased King Xerxes so much that she became his queen or that Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem, took a special liking to Esther and helped her, not once, but twice? Was it by chance that Esther’s uncle Mordecai happened to be at the city gate precisely when two guards plotted the king’s assassination? Was it mere coincidence that, when Mordecai foiled the plot, Esther made sure his name got written in the account of the event? The king’s chief administrator Haman became angry when Mordecai refused to bow down to him and plotted the extermination of the Jews by convincing Xerxes they posed a threat to the kingdom. Yet, when casting lots to determine the date of this extermination, was it just good luck that the fateful day was nearly a year distant, giving Esther and Mordecai time to respond to the threat? Was it just an accident that Xerxes, unable to sleep one night, had an attendant read him the history of his reign or a fluke that the portion read was the account of Mordecai saving the king’s life? Realizing Mordecai was never honored for his good deed, the King decided to reward him. Was it just fortuitous that, at that moment, the evil Haman appeared at the king’s door? Although he sought permission to execute Mordecai, Haman didn’t when the king asked how to honor a man who pleased him. Thinking Xerxes was speaking of him, Haman described a lavish and public reward. What a delightful twist of fate when it was Haman who led his nemesis Mordecai about on horseback while proclaiming the Jew’s honor. In another providential reversal, when Esther exposed Haman’s plot against the Jews, it was Haman who ended impaled on the pole once intended for Mordecai’s execution. Although the edict directing the slaughter of the Jews could not be rescinded, Xerxes signed another one allowing the Jews to defend themselves and kill anyone who attacked them. When the new edict arrived, many of the people of the land became Jews themselves and, when the day of massacre arrived, the Jews defended themselves and 75,000 Persians died. God’s kingdom was expanded without one mention of Him in the entire narrative. Nevertheless, we can’t help but ask if all of those events were mere coincidences or God-ordained events.

The Book of Esther illustrates that seemingly random and insignificant events are actually controlled by our sovereign God. With God’s wisdom and foresight, He puts people in places at specific moments to accomplish His purpose. His name may not appear in the account, but those amazing coincidences tell us God was as present in the Book of Esther as He is in our lives. What may seem random to us is managed by a supreme God who knows the past, present and future. What seems inconsequential eventually may be of major importance to us or someone else. Unexplained events, unplanned meetings, unexpected calls—they are all part of God’s plan. “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” said Mordecai to Esther. God has put each of us where we are at this very moment. What does He want us to do “at just such a time as this?”

Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? [Esther 4:13-14 (NLT)]

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