by Jeff Curtis
In the book of Esther, the Jews were slated for annihilation. Using the language of a mystery novel or play, someone might ask, “Who did it?” Who was responsible for bringing them to the point of being destroyed? That question could be answered in a number of ways. Of course, Haman did it. He was responsible, he was the person who got so mad at Mordecai that he had to find a way to not kill him, but all of the Jews.
In addition, Ahasuerus did it, though he might not have wanted to be counted guilty. He allowed himself to be tricked, once Haman possessed the signet ring, he had authority to do whatever he wanted to do to the Jewish people. The king didn’t have to be so gullible. He could have investigated the situation for himself and discovered the truth instead of trusting Haman.
Besides that, the king’s servants did. Haman had not even noticed Mordecai’s insolence until they brought it to the king’s attention. If they had not been talebearers, Mordecai might not have come to Haman’s attention and the Jews might never have been endangered.
In a sense, Mordecai himself did it. He probably could have acted respectfully toward Haman without breaking God’s law. In a sense, he was responsible for his own (and his people’s) danger.
What should we conclude about who was responsible for this sequence of events? The answer is “All of the above!” In the providence of God, all three various elements worked together to produce the result God desired.
As we read this story, we are reminded of the story of Joseph in Egypt. Joseph, a former slave, became the prime minister of Egypt. Then Joseph and his family moved to Egypt. After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that he would take vengeance on them. Joseph said, “Do not be afraid, for I am in God’s place? As for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20). To think of all that was involved in bringing about the result is amazing. A father’s unfortunate favoritism, Joseph’s lack of wisdom in bragging about his dream, the brothers’ enmity and sinful act of selling Joseph into slavery, the lust and the lie of Potiphar’s wife. The dreams interpreted and fulfilled, the cupbearer’s forgetfulness, “natural” prosperity (seven years of plenty) and a “natural” disaster (seven years of drought), and Joseph’s own faithfulness to God.
All these elements combined in the providence of God to draw the Jews into Egypt and prepare the way for their deliverance and becoming the chosen people of God. Who did it? God! In the case of Joseph, all these things worked together to bring about “good” (Romans 8:28).