Albert Einstein believed, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Some discount the book of Esther because none of God’s names appear in it. While His name is absent, His hand is present and clearly seen protecting His people. Esther shows how God sovereignly orchestrates events to serve His purpose. Imagine God as a master maestro conducting the orchestra of nations, world leaders and global events. Like pawns on His chessboard, He maneuvers them at will to fulfill His bidding. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord . . . He turns it wherever He wishes” (Pr. 21:1, NKJV).
To fully grasp Esther’s story, one must understand Providence—“the continuous activity of God in His creation by which He preserves and governs.” It is the watch care of God over His people and guidance over the universe. Notice the word “provide” is contained in Providence. A simple kid’s song sums it up: “He’s got the whole world in His hands . . .” Skeptics say it’s all random chance, coincidence, fate, or luck. No, it’s the providential hand of God! Benjamin Franklin, at age 81, observed, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere) and sovereign. He can do what He wants, where He wants, when He wants, with whom He wants without anybody’s permission. He is God Almighty! That was obvious in ancient Persia around 483 B.C.
The book of Esther starts with a woman saying “no.” Queen Vashti, whose name means “beautiful woman,” was called by her husband (King Xerxes I) to display her beauty to a palace full of drunken nobles and princes. She refused to parade her body for these guests to gawk at like a sex object and was banished from her throne. She should have been commended for her courage and virtue. This vacancy prompted an empire-wide search, a beauty pageant of sorts, to find and crown the next queen. They assembled beautiful bachelorettes (100’s of virgins) from the 127 provinces of Persia to see who would win the king’s heart.
The winner of the “Miss Persia Pageant” was (drum roll please) . . . the lovely Hadassah. Her Jewish name means “a myrtle,” an evergreen shrub with glossy leaves, white flowers and berries used for both perfume and to season food. She added a lot of seasoning to pagan Persia, and so should we as the “salt of the earth.” She is better known by her Persian name, Esther, meaning “a star.” Truly she shined brilliantly for God in an evil empire as a heroine of faith and a superb role model for women. A Jewish Rabbi (Jehudah) claimed Esther means “to hide” and, indeed, she was hidden in her guardian’s house and later hid her nationality. We know nothing of her parents except they died in her childhood. Adopted and raised by her older cousin, Mordecai, this orphan was chosen by the king over all the single girls of Persia. What are the odds? Coincidence? Mordecai saw the hand of Providence, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Es. 4:14, NKJV)
Meanwhile, a sinister plot formed from a newly appointed, prejudiced Prime Minister—Haman. He was enraged because Mordecai would not bow to him. Greek historian Herodotus wrote, “When the Persians bowed before their king, they paid homage as to a god.” To a Jew, this was idolatry. Haman was the Hitler of the Old Testament. His demonic goal was not just to punish Mordecai, but to exterminate every Jew in Persia. So, Haman bribed the king with 10,000 talents of silver to massacre these divergent people (Es. 3:8-11). Incidentally, if King Saul had obeyed the prophet Samuel centuries earlier, Haman would have never been born. God told Saul to annihilate the Amalekites, but he disobeyed and spared some of them (1 Sam. 15:8-11). Haman was a descendant of King Agag. Lesson: if we don’t deal with our spiritual enemies now, they will come back to haunt us later.
Antisemitism is not new. Ancient Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews, the Canaanites oppressed them, the Romans ruled them, and the Nazis murdered them. Many people still despise them today. Why? Racism is fueled by the spirit of Antichrist and is Satanic. The Jews were and are God’s chosen people through whom He revealed Himself to the world and produced the Messiah—Yeshua. Satan couldn’t destroy God’s people then and he can’t destroy the church now, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18, KJV).
The Persians executed people on gallows (elevated platforms) but didn’t hang them from ropes. Instead, they impaled them on sharp stakes. Haman had gallows built for Mordecai and planned to kill him. That very night, the king couldn’t sleep, so he called for the palace records to be read to him. He learned that Mordecai had foiled an assassination plot and saved his life (Es. 2:21-23). The king determined to reward him and, when Haman pranced into the palace, asked how he would honor a man the king favored. Assuming it was for himself, Haman advised parading this man on the king’s horse wearing a royal robe and crown through the streets with an entourage. The king loved the idea and ordered him do it all for Mordecai! Coincidence or Providence?
God didn’t exalt Esther to be queen just so she could live in luxury and be pampered in the palace. He promoted her to use her influence to deliver His people from destruction. Persian custom dictated that no one could approach the king unless they were summoned, or they could be executed unless the king extended his scepter. The king hadn’t called for Esther in thirty days, but she risked her own neck and crown to save her people and told Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me . . . And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Es. 4:16) God gave her the king’s favor and she exposed Haman’s vile plan. Furious, the king had him impaled on the same gallows he had built for Mordecai. Coincidence or Providence? Plus, Mordecai was promoted to Prime Minister and authorized to reverse the law to destroy the Jews in Persia. On the very day they were scheduled for death, the Jews celebrated God’s deliverance and instituted the Feast of Purim to commemorate it annually. Still today, Jews worldwide read Esther and hiss, boo and stomp their feet when Haman’s name is mentioned to drown it out.
Remarkably, God used an obscure orphan girl to save His people from genocide. His plan for you might not be as dramatic, but your life still has a divine purpose. You are not a coincidence. Providence is propelling you to the higher calling of serving God by serving people.