I wish I could understand the double layers of history – the factual one that we see and the spiritual one that the Lord sees. For example, I think I’ll meet Iraqi Christians in heaven who will tell me that they only became Christians because the U.S. invaded – wrongly or rightly.
The book of Esther exemplifies a realistic view of how we see history in contrast with how the Lord views it. It is the only book in the Bible that does not mention God. Yet, He is working. There is a string of “coincidences” that, if they had not happened, the Jewish people would not have been spared.
Esther had to become queen in order to be in the position to convince the king that the Jewish people should not be killed, as was Haman’s plan. How did Esther come to be queen?
King Ahasuerus got drunk, bragged about Queen Vashti’s beauty to his fellow friends, and then asked Vashti to display her beauty before the drunken crowd. Yet, in an act of radical bravery, the queen refused (1:12). The king became enraged and banished her from his presence, making her an example to all women in the province so that all men would be master of their own household.
To replace Queen Vashti, the king set up a beauty contest for all the young virgins in the province to win his affection. There were only four options for any woman: (1) she could not please the king and be banished, (2) she could please the king and become a concubine, (3) she could greatly please the king and become a wife, or (4) she could please the king the most and become the new queen.
Although she was a Jewish orphan, Esther pleased the king the most: “ … the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” v. 17, ESV
If the king would not have gotten drunk, then Vashti would not have been requested nor had the opportunity to refuse and then be dismissed. If Esther would not have been pretty, then she would not have been there to answer the king’s call and replace Vashti.
Lots of ordinary decisions are the sum of major things. When God works in ordinary ways, we think He isn’t working, but He is. His silence is not absence. He is keeping his promises even when it seems like He is not.