Behind the Scenes: God in Esther & Nehemiah – by Pastor Greg

Just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they are not there. No, I’m not talking about spiders. I remember a trip years ago that I took with a family friend from Maine. We made the trek from northern Maine to Florida for a week. While in Florida we made the obligatory pilgrimage to Disney World. Now the part that really fascinated me was not the Small World exhibit nor Epcot, as cool as that is. What was fascinating was when we were given a tour by a friend of my friend’s dad who oversaw the mechanical workings of the park. We were privileged to go behind the scenes and see all that took place beyond the view of the general public. The systems and the myriad of people who worked to make the “magic” happen was stunning. For most people who visit these parks this world is hidden to them, yet they are the beneficiaries of the work and expertise of those behind the scenes. Of course, this concept can be applied to many areas of our life and experience. We notice the behind-the-scenes world most often when things don’t go as planned. A current example is the shortage of items at the stores we frequent. The supply chain is broken, the shipping container shortage, clogged ports and shortage of truck drivers all combine to limit what can be restocked at the local Meijer. When it works, we often don’t notice.

It’s the same with God. He is the One who is constantly caring for and directing the events of the universe moment by moment (Heb. 1:3, Psalm 121). There are many Psalms and other portions of scripture that speak to God’s sovereignty. But it is in the accounts of Esther and Nehemiah that one can see the quiet and hidden hand of God working. Ether is a familiar story to many. A Jewish queen in a foreign land, a plot by an evil man to wipe out the Jews and chance encounters throughout the narrative all make for a great story. Of course, as believers we know there is no such thing as chance and this is made clear from the statement Mordecai makes: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14. Esther was in the right place at the right time. Mordecai helps the king at the right time. The king reads the account and desires to reward Mordecai at the right time. All of these events were under the guiding hand of our sovereign God, working quietly behind the scenes. The story ends well for Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews. Not so well for Haman. 

In the account of Nehemiah, we see a court official, a cup bearer, who was one of the exiled Jews. He has stayed behind to serve the king of Persia after the initial returns under Zerubbabel and Ezra. Though he has not made the journey to Jerusalem, he is deeply concerned about the situation of the city as it is being reported to him, particularly the broken walls. Nehemiah is not a priest or of royal stock, he is a secular court official and yet is exactly where God wants him to be. Nehemiah’s skills as an administrator and builder will be used greatly by God but it is God who is working behind the scenes to make things happen. Upon hearing of the terrible conditions of the wall at Jerusalem, Nehemiah prays that God would give him favor with the king. Nehemiah 2:4-5a says, “then the king said to me ‘What would you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king….”  Nehemiah makes his request and the God of heaven, working in the heart of the King, grants his request and is moved to help Nehemiah. The wall is built against all opposition and God is glorified. 

This is how God works much of the time, in the background, using ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary results Just because you don’t see Him doesn’t mean He isn’t there, working, caring and guiding the entire universe and your life.