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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why things are happening (or not happening) the way they do?

Beginning today the UBF daily bread Bible passage comes from the Book of Esther.

The book of Esther begins saying, "This is what happened..." (NIV) [Or, "And it came to pass..." Tanach, Artscroll Series, a Jewish translation.]

Immediately this phrase raises a question: Why does God cause things to happen (or not to happen) the way they do? We do know that all are in God's hands, and without him nothing happens, just as it is written: "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and I create disaster; I the Lord do all these things. " Isaiah 45:7 So you can rest assured that nothing happens or does not happen by accident.

In case of Esther this is what the Prophet Jeremiah had already prophesied. In Jeremiah 25 the Lord already talked about the 70 years of exile. All the events described in the book of Esther then had already been in the "plan" of the Lord's mind. And things developed as the Lord planned.

What then is the purpose of the Lord causing things to happen the way they happen? What is the Lord trying to accomplish through all these? We find the answer to this question in the prophecy of Jeremiah in regard to the time "span" of the seventy years of exile.

In regard to the beginning and ending point of the 70 years of exile, Bible scholars differ in opinions. Some even say, "Wait a minute. The period of exile is not 70; it is more or less 60 years!" But according to Rashi, it begins with the destruction of the temple and ends with the authorization to complete the temple. In view of Nehemiah who rebuked the Jewish leaders of his day "Why do you neglect the House of the Lord?", I think Rashi is correct. The book of Ezekiel supports the same conclusion, for there Ezekiel describes the Lord's glory departing from the Temple in ten painful steps. Then the temple was reduced to an empty shell.

Nebuchadnezar became necessary for the temple to come down, so in the first year of Nebu, Jeremiah began preaching on the seventy year of exile. Eighteen years thereafter the temple came down,  thus officially beginning the 70 years of the exile. For the temple to come back up again then all other events had to work together like Mordecai taking care of Esther, Esther becoming the queen (or wife of the Persian Emperor) 14 years prior to the completion of the temple, Hamman becoming rebellious, Mordecai becoming the Prime Minister, Esther producing a son (Darius, also known as Artaxerxes) who in turn had to succeed the throne, only to authorize the completion of the temple, officially ending the completion of the exile.

What then is the point of the temple? The Lord mentioned it already: to establish the worship of the Lord, the Only True God. Jeremiah 25:4-6

Later Jesus said, "I am the first and last, alpha and omega, the beginning and the end." (Rev 1:17; 22:13). One of the meanings of the beginning and the end is that all that happened, are happening, and are going to happen are in the hands of our Lord Jesus the only begotten son of the Only True God, the only Judge of all the living and the dead. And he works all things, beginning to end, all for one purpose, that is, [as the Apostle Paul says] "God who gave us Jesus His Son as the Lord and Savior" should be "all in all". 1Co 15:28

This discussion leaves one more question: What is purpose of the worship? Why is it such a big deal? Or more practically, "What is "in" it for "me"?" Well, the Apostle Paul answered the question already: "all in all" - all in the sense of "all" that are necessary for life which is truly "full".  In fact this is the only purpose of His creation, for being God, the Father who sent Jesus, did not need anything for himself. He is all sufficient. Why then did he create the universe and everything in it? The only reason is that He wants to bestow upon his creation the highest good, that is, himself, just as it is written: "God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son that no one shall perish, but through faith in Him all shall have eternal life."

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