Divine Reversal

“And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last” (Luke 13:30).
The reversal of fortunes through Divine intervention is a frequent theme of the teachings of Jesus and of the writers of the New Testament. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). Yet perhaps no text in Scripture teaches this doctrine more emphatically than the Old Testament book of Esther. One might say it is the plot of the entire book.
In the story of Esther, Haman, the second most powerful man in the kingdom of Persia, becomes very angry with Mordecai, a Jew and minor official in the King’s court. He determines to kill Mordecai and all his kinsmen, that is, all the Jews. Through various twists in the succeeding events, their roles are exchanged and their fates reversed. Haman is hanged on a gallows he had built for Mordecai’s execution. The Jews defeat their enemies, and Mordecai receives Haman’s wealth and his position of power in the kingdom.
An interesting feature of the book of Esther is that it is made apparent throughout the book that these outcomes are the result of Divine intervention and that providence is supervising the events, without ever once mentioning God or the subjects of faith or religion. One can only speculate as to why the author avoids explicit mention of these things, but the omission is glaring.
We often seem to feel that only direct, even offensive, displays of our faith are adequate to make us “worthy” of the name Christian. Certainly I would want to say nothing to discourage boldness in preaching and living the Gospel. Courageous, public proclamation is often demanded by circumstance. But is there not also a place for quiet, confident reliance upon the power of righteous living? The existence, power, and love of God for his people is, it seems to me, quite evident in Esther. The fact that his name doesn’t appear in the book in no way disqualifies it as a story of faith. So it is that sometimes our lives may proclaim the gospel without spoken words, and especially without ostentatious display. I am reminded of Peter’s advice to Christian wives of unbelieving husbands:
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear (1 Peter 3:1,2).
Christians today are threatened with loss of freedoms to express their religion publicly, even in democracies. They lack those freedoms altogether in many other places. We certainly champion the exercise and retention of religious freedom, but where it is lacking, or if it is lost, there is still ample opportunity to profess our faith by the lives we live. Our message is powerful. Means of sharing it are many. Let us be always open to different and effective ways to bring glory to God and to lead others to faith in Jesus.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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