The God unseen yet sovereign
And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. Esther 8:17
I want to add something to the devotional I wrote a few days ago (the September 15 post). There, the point was made that though the devil is at work in this world, and though he is doing many things contrary to the cause of God and truth and often seems to be triumphing, the reality is that God is at work too. And whatever the devil can do, he cannot overthrow the kingdom of God. The gates of hell will never prevail against the church. Indeed, it is not the church which is being besieged; it is hell itself, and the church will win in the end.
But the other observation from the book of Esther that needs to be said is this: though God is at work, it is not always obvious that he is. In other words, we need to be careful that we don't gauge the extent to which God is working by our ability to see it. This is one of the implications of the book of Esther in the very way it is written. It has often been observed that God is all over this little book - and yet his name never occurs even once! Yes, God is not like men; he does not need to be seen in order to get his will to be done.
Elijah struggled with this. After the mighty encounter with the prophets of Baal on the top of Mount Carmel, he was perplexed that fire from heaven and the overthrow of false worship was not enough to bring about the needed change in the land of the northern kingdom of Israel. Indeed, evil seemed ascendent as ever. Jezebel was still threatening to kill him. "Lord," he cried, "they have killed your prophets, and cast down your altars, and I am left alone, and they seek to kill me." But God reminded Elijah that he doesn't need earthquakes and fires and windstorms. All God needs is a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). For that reason, we need not despair in the day of small things (Zech. 4:9-10).
God was at work in Esther's day, delivering his people. And he is at work in our day, bringing people into his kingdom despite all the devil may be doing. The Spirit is still like the wind, blowing where he sovereignly wills and yet none can see him (Jn. 3:8). So let us not lose heart but be of good courage. Just as it was in Esther's day, God's people will be finally triumphant. We will yet praise God and no matter what we face today or tomorrow, the reality is that days of joy and gladness are coming for the people of God.