When Stones Really Do Talk

Could a Pebble control your life?

In Luke 19:40 when the people are praising Jesus, the Pharisees deride him, and Jesus answers that if the people were silent, the stones themselves would testify of His greatness.  As we continue the series on the simple proclaiming God’s greatness, there is an Old Testament passage where a pebble overthrows the edict of an emperor.

Imagine if you were a Jew in 5th century Persia, on your way to worship you pass by the market and hear the proclamation, “On the 13th day of the 12th month Adar, anyone of Jewish descent is to be destroyed, including women and children, and whoever destroys any Jewish inhabitant, can have their goods, homes, businesses, and livestock for their own. – Signed Haman by order of his Lord Sovereign Ahasuerus the King.”

Would you feel much like worshiping? It is very easy as a believer to watch as similar declarations that attack the moral fiber of our nation are made on a continual basis. It is no surprise that this world is not a friend of righteousness and in fact many in the name of love have vehemently persecuted and sought to destroy those who stand by the truths of Scripture.

As we continue the series on the greatness of God shown through the small things, I was struck by a phrase in Esther 3:7, “They cast Pur, that is, the lot….” What is taking place in this passage?

The Empire’s second in command Haman in a revengeful act planned to eliminate the entire Jewish race, fortunebut his superstitious nature would not allow him to do it without the blessing from the pagan soothsayers. After the lot is cast, Haman is told that the best time to have the blessing of the gods is on the thirteenth of the last month of the year. Haman gets the blessing and edict of the king, and begins to wait nearly 11 months to destroy the Jews. And this is a very good thing.

How is that a good thing? At the outset, God’s chosen people would be destroyed by an irrevocable edict sealed-1240922from the king, but the Persian king’s edict is predicated by an even greater King’s edict. The Persian King Ahasuerus signed his edict with his signet ring, and commanded heralds to be sent throughout every province of his kingdom, the Heavenly king proclaimed His will with a little more subtlety, but with even more certainty.

Let’s take a quick look at the practice of the casting of the Pur. The word Pur is not Jewish, both times when the word is mentioned it is then explained as the Hebrew goral which refers to a rough object or pebble (Strong’s). Before the Jews even knew they were in trouble, Haman went to consult a bunch of rocks. The passage does not state the particulars, but it was common in ancient times especially amongst fortune tellers, to have a bag of different colored or shaped pebbles that when aligned or chosen could be interpreted by the priests.

“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:33)

Even amidst the horrendous decree, God is in control before the decree hits the Persian courtroom floor. Haman who refused to be ruled by God and set himself up as the ultimate authority in his life is still being controlled by God. Haman is living out the oft forgotten principle that, “It’s kinda hard to outrun Omnipotence.”

If we were to step back from the immediate context and work through a few details, we can see the unwavering hand of God. Why wait 11 months to kill the Jews, because the red pebble says so. Where did pebbles-1388488the red pebble come from, Shanbenezzer picked it up by the river. Why did the river deposit the rock for Shanbenezzer, because of the late spring flood. Why the late spring flood, because of the barometric pressure in the western mountains. Why the western mountains, because that is the way God sculpted the world. Why the topography of the earth….Because God knew Shanbenezzer needed to find the red pebble for Haman, because He loves His people. God was thinking about Esther and His people for a long time. And God is thinking about whatever red pebble seemingly dictates your life and mine.

In fact, God is a master at redeeming horrendous circumstances and trials in order to show Himself strong. The Jews had nearly 3 months to seek God’s face, repent, and pray before God moved to officially change the Persian king’s edict (Esther 8:9). But the fact remains that God is big enough to use a vengeful man, pagan priests, and a little pebble, to ensure that His power is known, because after all, God’s edict never changed.

Is God’s Will Knowable?

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     If you could ask one question of God, and He guaranteed an answer, what would it be? If you could ask Him one thing about your future what would it be? 

Genesis 24 sets forth a great pattern for those who would seek to do the will of God.

     Follow the Words of God. In Genesis 24 the servant of Abraham, Eliezer, is commanded to seek out a wife for Isaac. God specifically stated that Isaac was not to marry an ungodly women (Gen 24:2-4).  Eliezer listened to the commands of God.  God will not give you a map of tomorrow if you are not willing to listen today. Following involves studying and applying God’s Word. It would have been much easier for Eliezer to disobey God and find a wife near home for, but it would have been partial obedience.

I should not expect that God will show what He wants for my future if I am not willing to follow what He is showing me today.

I must realize that disobedience has consequences. If I am not willing to obey, then I lose the blessing and power of God (James 4:4). I lose the help of God. If I am considering something that is ungodly, God will not help me. It would be like a terrorist asking the United States government for money. In disobedience, I lose the peace and surety of God.

Obedience and preparation walk hand in hand along the road to success and accomplishments. Abraham’s servant, expressed his concerns about the low chances of success regarding his quest of wife hunting (Gen 24:5), but then he prepares himself and obeys.

In order to achieve God’s guidance, we must be willing to prepare ourselves for God’s blessing and that is done through obedience to what I know to be true today.

The best time to prepare for the future is today. The best time to prepare to be a good husband or wife is before you are married. As I pursue my marriage to Christ, I will unlock understanding that is needed in my human relations. A lot of Christians know God in the same way that someone can swim through taking a correspondence course.

In our preparation, we must never forget to depend on God, “And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.” (Gen 24:12) If I am not depending on and seeking God, how will I know if I am in His will? Eliezer sets forth a pattern that is worth following of dependence and prayer. I can only rely on God, because my heart is going to fail me, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9 )

We must be doing. It is impossible to steer a parked car. We so often wait and treat our service to God like a menu. We sit down and look at what God has to offer and decide what we will take. “I being in the way, the LORD led me… (Gen 24:27). God will not reveal tomorrows plans, if I am not willing to follow today’s. We often step into subtle rebellion. We do not outright deny God, but we wait to see if it is safe. We sit and stare at the stop light like a 15 year old getting his permit afraid to go in case the instructor might flunk us, and forget that our hesitancy is more dangerous (1Sa 15:23).

God rewards the diligent (Mt 25:28), one of the ways God rewards us is with bigger tasks. Eliezer had been diligent and sacrificed for God. Eliezer was going to lose out on some big time temporal blessing for helping Isaac. Before Isaac, Eliezer was going to receive Abraham’s wealth (Gen 15:2). Because of his faithfulness, Eliezer is able to play a part in assisting the line of Christ, and now has his name memorialized in Scripture.

     Eliezer was successful in his journey and God revealed to Him His will as he faithfully followed the Words of God, and got busy doing what he know to be true.

These dual ideas of following God and doing His will are reflected in another character in this passage.

Genesis 24:16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.”camel-737239-m

Rebekah was busy doing. She was from a wealthy family, yet she was doing servant’s work for her family, and she volunteered to serve others. Men, if the women you are interested in is not currently serving, run! Rebekah was using her body and her resources for others. These wells often were over 100 feet deep and all she had was a 3 gallon pitcher. A camel can consume up to 10 gallons of water apiece. If you do the math, she would have made over 30 trips and drew over 100 gallons of water for an old guy, unbathed servants, and 10 ugly camels. Rebekah was busy using the things she had for others. So to make it personal: 

What things do I have that could bless others?

What talents do I have that could bless others?

How have I been using these to bless others?

We not only see that Rebekah was busy doing, she also was faithful. She was pure, “And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin.” (Gen 24:16). God specializes in using unclean vessels such as Rahab, but God will not use a vessel that is not committed to Him. Purity does not come by accident, purity is a choice to put God above everything else.

In the end of the story, Rebekah finds a godly husband (Isaac is worshiping God on the mountain when she finds him) becomes fabulously rich, and is immortalized as a women of faith. Because of their faithfulness Eliezer and Rebekah both found the will of God, not only for themselves, but their actions still play out in the lives of every believer, because Rebekah was the great… Grandmother of our Savior.

What does God want for my future? Exactly the same thing He wants for my present. He wants me to follow Him in every command big or small, and get busy doing. I being in the way, the Lord led me…

The beginning…