Fulton County Gospel News

a work of the mammoth spring church of christ


For such a time as this

By Marvin Rickett

Esther was made queen of Persia in place of Vashti. Queen Vashti had refused the command of the King Ahaseurus to put her beauty on display in front of the princes and nobles. The king replaced her with a new queen chosen from among the fair beauties of the land. Hadassah, a Jewess, cousin to Mordecai, was chosen; and her name was changed to Esther.

After Esther became queen, an evil plot was made to destroy all the Jews of Persia. Mordecai and the Jews appealed to Esther to help them. She was hesitant because of the delicate matter of going uninvited into the king's presence. Mordecai reminded her that she, being a Jew too, would be included in the orders to destroy them. Then he said, "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). Mordecai was saying that perhaps God's providence had placed Esther in the position of queen to save the Jews from destruction at this time. As it turned out, God did indeed use Esther to save His people.

The providence of God means, "God provides for His people." In times past, God sometimes used miracles to provide for His people. He provided manna for Israel in the wilderness by causing a nourishing food to fall from heaven like a frost (Exodus 16). He provided water for Israel by causing a barren rock to gush forth a spring of water (Exodus 17).

Many times, God provided for His people in a non-miraculous way, as in the case of Esther. He provided for Jacob and his twelve sons to be spared during the seven years of famine through Joseph. Joseph was sold by his brothers to Ishmaelite traders, who sold him to Potiphar, who cast him into prison, from which he was brought forth because of interpreting dreams, because of which he was made second ruler in Egypt, prepared for the seven years' famine, and brought his family to Egypt where there was bread. In all of these transactions, God's providence was working. The only thing miraculous about it was Joseph's ability to interpret dreams.

The word "providence" is often used today to indicate God's non-miraculous working to accomplish His purposes. Providence means with and by natural law. Miracle means without and opposite natural law. Providence means God maneuvers within natural laws to work things out for the best. This is what Paul meant in Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." God works within His natural laws to work out His purposes. Why should it seem incredible to us that God can and does use His natural laws, which He gave us in the first place, to work out His purposes in our lives?

Some folks believe that God either must work miracles or He doesn't work at all. This is a misunderstanding of God. God has not withdrawn from the scene. He is present and active in His providence.

Some folks have the view that the only way God can answer prayer is by working a miracle, that if one doesn't expect a miracle it is futile to pray. But answer to prayer doesn't have to be by a miracle. It can be by providence. God can do just as much by providence as He can by miracles, and give man a lot more freedom in the process. God does indeed answer prayer. Paul says, "Be careful in nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:5). But He does not answer prayer today by miracle.

Some folks think that God heals only by miracle; that if one is healed naturally, God had no hand in it. Therefore, each of their prayers for healing is a request for and expectation of miraculous healing. Yet, why cannot God, who established the laws of healing, manipulate them so as to bring about a recovery? To heal by natural law is no less God's work and no less amazing. God does not heal today by miracles, but he may use His natural laws to speed healing.

Miracles have ceased, because God said so: "Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away . . . when that which is perfect is come" (1 Corinthians 13:8,10). Miracles ceased when the perfect law of liberty, the New Testament, came to completeness (James 1:25). Miracles never were a permanent part of the church. They were given to bring it to a maturity (Ephesians 4:11-16). The church reached this stage of maturity with the completing of revelation. Miracles ceased.

Sometimes, a religious group will invite others to come to their revival by saying, "Come, expecting a miracle!" They are promising what the Lord has not. If you went, what would you find? When the facts are known, these alleged "miracles" are results of psychological manipulation, natural cause, or just plain old human imagination. God is not the source of their religious fantasies. Miracles have ceased.

However, just because miracles have ceased, do not be deceived into believing that God doesn't work among us today. He does?by His Divine Providence.

P.O. Box 159
Bay, AR 72411



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