Bible Devotion Week 5

I want to start with a story about fleas, bats, and the providence of God. When my family moved to Savannah last year, we rented a house that ended up having fleas. The landlord could not get rid of them but also still expected us to move in. It was not the best way to start off in a new city. I seriously thought we were going to have to go to court to get out of the lease. Miraculously, the landlord had a change of mind and we got out of the lease. Still, it was a frustrating experience. We loved that house. Our girls were excited about having the upstairs all to themselves and it was in a prime position being near their school and the church. But fleas are gross. God provided another place for us to live, but we were left scratching our heads about the fleas. Why did we get a place and have security only to lose it and go through insecurity? Why did God allow the fleas? Fast forward to this year. I read a local Savannah news report about a rental home that had a bat infestation. I thought, “Yuck! That’s terrible!” It was yuck and terrible, but I was shocked to discover that the bat infested house was our flea house. The people who were forced to abandon it and work out the details with the landlord, the same landlord we had to deal with, were the ones that took the house after us. God answered my question about “why fleas?” The answer was, “Would you have preferred bats?”

God’s providence is often mysterious. We often struggle to understand his plans as they are unfolding before or around us. The great theologian, John Owen, writing on our perception of God’s providence said, “We are like unskillful men who, going to the house of some eminent artist, so long as he is about his work, despise it as confused; but when it is finished admire it as excellent. Whilst the passages of providence are on us, all is confusion, but when the fabric is reared, glorious" (John Owen, Golden Book, 205).

As we read through Esther this week, I wonder if you caught the providence of God in Mordecai’s life? (I am indebted to Pastor Pete’s observations on this text in our staff devotional). In Esther 6, we read of Mordecai’s being honored for saving the king. However, all of this comes about quite unexpectedly. The chapter begins with a restless night sleep for the king, “On that night the king could not sleep” (v. 1). Since he could not sleep, he decides to read, “he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king” (v. 1). Upon hearing about Mordecai’s delivering the king from an assassination plot, the king asks, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” (v. 3). The answer was that nothing had been done. Now the king wants to rectify this injustice. He could have appointed his nearest counselor or anyone for that matter to honor Mordecai. Instead, for some unknown reason, he asks, “Who is in the court?” At that exact moment, Haman had entered the court to, “speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows” (v. 4). Mordecai is in mortal danger and does not know it, the king does not know it, but Haman does. It is at this moment of all moments, that God works out his plan which supersedes the plans of men. As Haman enters the king’s presence, the king asks, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” (v. 6) Haman, full of pride and arrogance, thinks to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” He answers from selfishness and tells the king that such a man should have royal robes, which the king himself has worn. He should be given a horse that the king has ridden on. Finally, he should receive a crown the king has worn. Then such a man, dressed now as the king, should be paraded through the streets with heralds crying, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor” (vv. 7-9). Haman’s plan was used by God to honor Mordecai as the king responds, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned” (v. 10).

Do you see the intricate details God used to bring about his purposes? What if the king had slept soundly? What if he had simply appointed someone to go honor Mordecai? What if Haman had not entered the court with murder in his heart? What if Haman had been suspicious and jealous of this person the king was talking about and said “send him a fruit basket” instead of such grand honors? Everyone in Esther 6 at some point had to have been confused about what was happening.

Saints, maybe you are in the midst of a confusing season. Maybe you are dealing with random fleas and wondering “what is happening?” The answer may come quickly or it may take a year or two, but when it comes, you will be able to say “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Ps. 118:23)

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