Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
“When winds are raging o’er the upper ocean,
And billows wild contend with angry roar,
‘Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.
Far, far beneath, the noise of tempest dieth,
And silver waves chime ever peacefully;
And no rude storm, how fierce so ever it flieth,
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.
So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest,
There is a temple sacred evermore,
And all the babble of life’s angry voices
Dies in hushed silence at its peaceful door.
Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce so ever it flieth,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord in Thee.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Today’s Study Text:
“After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Hamon the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.”
Esther 3: 1
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“After These Things” Part 19
“God does nothing in time which He did not design to do from eternity.”
How would I define the phrase “After these things?”
If I had lived during the time of Esther, what things would I have witnessed that God had undertaken in order for His providential plans to be accomplished?
“What we weave in time we wear in eternity.”
John Charles Ryle
“In God, time and eternity are one and the same thing.”
One of the tremendous benefits of studying the Bible, book-by-book; chapter-by-chapter; and verse-by-verse is that it becomes much easier for us to identify specific words or phrases which are repeated. And as I’ve noted in the past, when under the inspiration of God, there are thoughts and words in Scripture which are “rerun” several times, it makes me understand that God must have a reason for underscoring concepts or ideas He wants us to notice.
Interestingly, both Chapters 2 and 3 in the book of Esther begin with the same three word phrase: “After these things.” In fact, while these chapters begin with the words, “After these things,” we’ll find as we continue our studies in the book of Esther that future chapters also start with what I refer to as a “time element.” Here’s the list I’ve compiled for your review:
1. Chapter 4 – “When Mordecai perceived all that was done.”
2. Chapter 5 – “Now it came to pass on the third day”.
3. Chapter 6 – “On that night could not the king sleep”.
4. Chapter 7 – “So the king and Haman came”
5. Chapter 8 – “On that day did the King Ahasuerus give”.
6. Chapter 9 – “Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same”.
Throughout the book of Esther, the “element of time” constantly repeats itself. What struck me was the fact that it wasn’t until certain events happened, in a specific amount of time, that God moved again. In her commentary on the book of Esther, author Margaret Hess states that the phrase, “After these things” could mean anytime from two hours to two years.” For example, there was a lot that took place between the last verse in Esther 1: 22 until Esther 2: 1. The same can be said for the time that passed from Esther 2: 23 until the words “After these things” were repeated again in Esther 3: 1.
Frankly, three simple words, “after these things” tells me something which is of critical importance, not only in the lives of Esther and Mordecai but in your life and mine today in the 21st century. If we are to follow the plan God has laid out for our lives, we must be careful to watch for these hiatus points that identify where God has had events that must be accomplished before He will continue moving.
I’ll give you a personal example of how God has moved in my own life and hopefully you will then be able to uncover the way He is moving in your life as well.
God didn’t give me any indication that He wanted Transformation Garden to begin until I had finished writing my book When A Woman Meets Jesus. But it wasn’t until I’d self-published the book under the title, The Man Who Loved Women, and sold over 10,000 copies, that “after these things,” a wonderful Christian agent, Joyce Hart, took on the project and sold it to Revel books. What’s more, after my book was picked up by a publisher, yes, “after these things,” then Joyce encouraged me to write a daily devotional and what I’m finding out right now is that God repeats His actions over and over again in this way. His “after these things” doesn’t happen in our lives just once in a while. Repeatedly God moves, “after these things.” And there’s a reason why.
In her book, Disciplines of the Beautiful Women, which could as easily refer to the life of Esther as well as your life and mine, author Anne Ortlund makes this extremely astute observation:
“Submerge as much of your day as you can, to make it your invisible keel, by eliminating less important things. You need time to look into the face of God, time to read and study His word systematically, time to think and plan for your life, time to praise, time to intercede, time to get wisdom for handling people, and for making decisions.”
Just take a few moments to ponder what Anne Ortlund penned and then lay your thoughts over what transpired not only in Mordecai’s life but Esther’s and the king. “After these things” King Ahasuerus had a new queen; Mordecai had saved the king’s life; the king had lost a critical battle in Greece and as we will find out, Haman the Agagite had been elevated to the “chief” among the princes of Medo-Persia.
“After these things,” in fact, God had two of His most faithful children in key positions in a foreign country. At that time in history, for a young Jewish maiden and her Jewish cousin to be so strategically placed within a foreign government seems to be impossible to conceive. But then, we need to recall that while some of God’s movements took place, literally, overnight, other events didn’t happen with such speed. Instead, they occurred “after these things” helped get everything in perfect order. Then without a visible problem, everything apparently fell into place on God’s schedule within His timetable. I particularly appreciate these words from Joyce Meyer’s book, When God, When? written 12 years ago, but just as pertinent to our lives years later: “I want you to be encouraged that in God’s time you will see the dreams that God has given you fulfilled.” The book of Esther only serves to reiterate these words!
We have no way of knowing exactly the plans and dreams that were carried in Mordecai’s heart. We don’t know what the young maiden Esther longed would happen in her life. I rather doubt that rising to the position of queen of Medo-Persia was at the top of her list.
But then, the God of heaven and earth stepped into her world and “after these things” God had everything in perfect alignment. In one of my favorite passages from Pastor Warren Wiersbe’s book, God Isn’t In A Hurry, we are reminded that “the best thing you and I can do is to stop looking at our watches and calendars and simply look by faith into the face of God and let Him have His way – in His time.” What we’ll recognize is that “after these things” have taken place, not only will God have the events in our lives lined up perfectly, but He’ll also see that we are prepared to follow His leading in the way that is best for His kingdom. As Preston Parrish so perfectly stated, “The Lord God Almighty, since before He spoke creation into being, has been orchestrating all things to harmoniously converge and culminate in the glory, honor, and worship of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why history in His story.” Never forget, the Lord God Almighty is working at this very moment in your life and mine. And “after these things” He will bring to pass His whole plan for your dreams and mine to completion.
“When thou dost look upon my face,
To learn the time of day;
Think how my shadow keeps its pace,
As thy life flies away,
Take, mortal this advice from me
And so resolve to spend
Thy life on earth, that heaven shall be
Thy home when time shall end.”
Inscription on a sundial
Where Is Thy God, My Soul?
“Where is thy God, my soul?
Is He within thy heart,
Or ruler of a distant realm
In which thou hast no part?
Where is thy God, my soul?
Only in stars and sun,
Or have the holy words of truth,
His light in every one?
Where is thy God, my soul?
Confined to Scripture’s page,
Or does His Spirit check and guide
The spirit of each age?
O Ruler of the sky,
Rule Thou within my heart,
O great Adorner of the world,
Thy light of life impart.
Giver of holy words,
Bestow Thy sacred power,
And aid me, whether work or thought
Engage the varying hour.”
Thomas T. Lynch
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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