Have you ever been anxious to see God intervene in a difficult situation? It can be frustrating when it seems like God is not acting as quickly as we’d like. In Esther chapter 2, we see the stage being set for God to intervene. The chapter begins with a deceptive little word, later.
As many as four years have gone by since the events of chapter 1. During those years, Xerxes marched his armies into Greece and fought a disastrous war, coming home depleted and humiliated. The historian Herodotus describes his life after this tragic defeat as one of “sensual overindulgence.” Perhaps to cheer him up, the king’s attendants propose that the most beautiful virgins of the kingdom be brought into his harem so the king could choose a new queen (v. 4). It would provide a welcome distraction and display his power. Thus, the order was given.
What is interesting, though, is how this entire story is revealing the true character of Xerxes. So far, we have seen that this king—who supposedly held absolute power—twice allowed others in his court to persuade him to follow their plan. Interestingly, in both cases, the fate of women was being decided.
Commentator Karen Jobes explains that this is an important backstory for the narrative. “The author is carefully stacking the odds against the success of Esther and Mordecai. He is showing that in this world the fate of people is decided not by law and justice, but by the personal agendas of those who can manipulate the self-aggrandizing needs of the powerful.” All of this description of King Xerxes and his court is simply setting the stage for the Almighty God to do His divine work.
>> Power at any level comes with great responsibilities and temptations. We all have areas where we feel that we are in charge. When we realize that God alone is King, what difference will it make in our decision making and attitudes? May we all steward well the roles God has placed us in.
Founder’s Week at MBI begins today and continues until Friday. Our study of Esther is a good companion to the conference’s theme, “For Such a Time as This.” May this be a time of faith building, encouragement, and spiritual growth for the attendees. Learn more at www.foundersweek.org.