Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 10 October 2017
Page 7

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

God’s Plans and Purposes

Marilyn LaStrape

God’s plan and purpose is never more evident than seen in the Book of Esther. His providence is clearly manifested, and yet, His name is not mentioned one time in those ten chapters. Only the Self-Existent One, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe could do that!

The entire Jewish nation was under what seemed to have been an irrevocable decree of complete annihilation; just the opposite occurred. Only God could do that! Following a series of divinely orchestrated events, the king of Media and Persia sent out a command and a decree for a new queen. Mordecai, a certain Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin had been carried away captive from Jerusalem by the king of Babylon (Esther 1-2:6). Esther 2:7 reads, “And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”

In the course of time, Esther was chosen to replace Queen Vashti. Esther 2:18 reads, “Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king.” Esther had not revealed her family and her people as Mordecai had charged her; she always obeyed him.

In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate, two of the king’s doorkeepers became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. The matter became known to Mordecai, who told Esther, who told the king on Mordecai’s behalf. An inquiry was made into the matter; it was confirmed and both were hanged on the gallows. It was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king (Esther 2:21-23).

After this, the king promoted Haman, advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. All the king’s servants bowed and paid homage to him as the king had commanded, but not Mordecai. So, the king’s servants asked him, “Why do you transgress the king’s command” (Esther 3:3)? They spoke to him daily, and he would not listen to them. They told Haman to see if Mordecai’s words would stand because he had told them he was a Jew. Esther 3:5 reads, “When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath.”

However, he would not lay hands on Mordecai alone for they had told him of his people. In the most decisive passive-aggressive deed, Haman pursued a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the whole kingdom. Haman went to the king and said, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain” (Esther 3:8).

Esther 3:10-11 reads, “So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman… the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, ‘The money and the people are given to you, to do with them as seems good to you.’”

Esther 4:1 reads, “When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry.” Verse 3 reads, “And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her, and she was deeply distressed! She sent clothes for Mordecai to take his sackcloth away from him, but he would not accept them. Esther called one of the king’s eunuchs and commanded him to learn what had happened and why Mordecai was behaving in that manner.

Esther 4:7-8 reads, “And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction… that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her to go to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people.”

Esther’s response in verse 11 was very matter-of-fact. “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he many live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” Mordecai’s response was swift and pointed.

“And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’” (Esther 4:13-14).

The remainder of the Book of Esther records her selfless, faith-filled, active response. When she stood up, God stepped in and the Jewish nation was delivered! Their deliverance was celebrated two days every year according to the written instructions and prescribed time. Those days were to be remembered and kept throughout every generation, family, province and city. The memory of those two days was not to perish among their descendants (Esther 9:23-28).

The Bible abounds with God’s revealed plan and purpose being accomplished. God is faithful in all that He says, does and promises. What does that mean? God is utterly dependable, reliable and loyal to all who bow in faithful, obedient submission to Him. The Bible also reveals His plan and purpose being accomplished through those who were diametrically opposed to God in every sense of the word! Pharaoh is a prime example of the latter.

God was forthright in His command to Pharaoh to “Let My people go.” In Exodus 9:13-17, God instructed Moses again to go to Pharaoh. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: Let My people go, that they may serve Me.’” God further instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh if He had stretched out His hand and struck him and his people with pestilence, then they would have all been dead! Verses 16-17 reveal God’s purpose for Pharaoh’s life. “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go.”

Unfortunately for Pharaoh, he continued to resist the command of God, and it ultimately cost him his life and the lives of his entire army! Exodus 15:3-5 records their demise. “The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them; they sank to the bottom like a stone.”

Unlike Pharaoh, Job was blameless, upright and one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1). He was a man of considerable wealth with numerous possessions and a family that was enviable. He lost everything in one day! Job 1:22 records, “In all this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” However, he did have much to say about his agonizing predicament. He wanted God to tell him why he was in such mental and physical torment with boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. He wanted to know why he had lost all ten of his children, all his servants and all his possessions. His wife had told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9)!

Job wanted an audience with God to address his struggle with the justice of a Sovereign God in a world filled with suffering. In the end, God said to Job, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job 38:2). God hit Job with a deluge of questions for which Job had no answer for any of them! Job 42:1-4 records, “Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you and you shall answer Me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

God never did tell Job why he had suffered with such intensity of mind and of body. He did not answer Job on his terms, but He did answer him. In so doing, He merely reminded Job of which one of them was God! God will never allow His plan and His purpose to be subject to our scrutiny.

A passage that speaks directly to God’s eternal plan and purpose is 2 Timothy 1:8-9. Paul had commended Timothy on his genuine faith that was first in his mother and grandmother, and he reminded Timothy to stir up the gift of God that was in him. Paul further stated that God had not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Verses 8-9 state, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”

God’s plans work together with His purposes to accomplish His ultimate will—the redemption of humanity. Proverbs 19:21 states, “There are many plans in man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.” Isaiah 25:1 states, “O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.”


Lemonade

Martha Lynn Rushmore

Martha Lynn Rushmore“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This is one of my favorite sayings. In life, we all have trials and temptations. Many times, we are handed sour lemons. What we do with these lemons is very important. I can sit and mope or I can find a way to make something good from the bad that happened to me.

Consider one situation with which I am familiar. A friend passed away. It was a very sad time for the family. Remember, look for something good out of a bad thing that happened. This elder in the church died, and the very next Sunday, his grandson was baptized. This boy was 18 or 19 years of age. He knew what he needed to do, but he also thought he had plenty of time to become a Christian. Yes, death was hard on the family; however, this young man become a Christian because of the loss of his grandfather. Losing his grandfather made him very aware of what he needed to do. This made something good out of the bad.

Now on a more personal note, Louis lost Bonnie, the love of his life, to cancer in May of 2015. I lost my best friend and the love of my life to cancer in December 2015. Yes, we were both handed very sour lemons. I believe that when we put God first in our lives (Matthew 6:33), in time, our lives will be filled with love and happiness again. It does not always come fast, but it comes in God’s time. God is always in charge. With much prayer and patience, God will give us the answer that is best for us. Sometimes, God tells us, “No,” whereas sometimes His answer is, “Yes” and sometimes God says, “Later.” Every now and then, the answer to our prayers is right in front of us. We just need to be wise enough to look where God has pointed us.

I do not believe God said this is what you must do. I believe that when given lemons, we must look hard and long sometimes for where we go to make the lemonade.

Remember the rain falls on the just and the unjust. God is no respecter of persons. Yes, we were very alone. We both had our families, but they could not take the place of the loss of our lifetime mates. So, in time we made lemonade out of the sour lemons we had been given. We came together as husband and wife. We plan to walk through life together, helping one another and doing as much work for the Lord as possible. Our goal is to go to Heaven and to take as many souls with us as we can.


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