Now it took place in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces,Esther 1:1(NASB)
The book of Esther was written to offer Jewish exiles, and those who had returned to the land of Israel with Ezra, great encouragement, and the assurance that God is a covenant-keeping God Who is faithful to His Word and watches over His people, even when they disobey Him.
Years earlier, the 70-year long Babylonian captivity had ended, just as Jeremiah had prophesied, and Cyrus the great Persian king decreed the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the return of Jewish exiles to their homeland.
Some returned with Ezra the priest, but many were tempted to remain in the prosperous Persian empire (which had over 127 provinces and stretched from the far reaches of India into southern Egypt, the Sudan, Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, and all the land west of the Red Sea).
Before their captivity under Nebuchadnezzar, prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah instructed the people of Israel to return to their promised land, once a prophesied period of exile was completed. The Law of Moses even commanded it, so that God would be able to bless them as a nation once again. But the wealth and power they enjoyed in the Persian empire was more enticing to many people than obeying the will of God and returning to the land of Israel.
Esther is the thrilling tale of a Jewish girl in Persian exile, who was chosen to become the queen of the vast Persian empire and was used to prevent the first great pogrom against the Jewish nation. In the opening scene, the book pinpoints some very specific historical dates and geographic details: "Now it took place in the days of Ahasuerus," we are informed, "the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia, over 127 provinces."
The story that is about to unfold before our eyes is not some little tribal quarrel between a few disgruntled people, but something that happened in one of the greatest world empires during the reign of Ahasuerus.
A plot to assassinate the emperor Ahasuerus, a military coup to seize his power, and a conspiracy to massacre the entire Jewish race, was intercepted by the uncle of the queen. God used them to expose this wicked plan, bring the traitors to justice, and prevent the slaughter of all Jews and the extermination of God's chosen nation, Israel.
The book of Esther may be a fast moving thriller, with plot, counter-plot, conspiracy, and intrigue, but it teaches many spiritual truths and life-principles that can be applied in our own lives, for our eternal benefit, and God's greater glory. One lesson it teaches is that God can use the smallest of things to forward His plans and purposes in the lives of those that trust Him, and it confirms that He is the God of the impossible and that nothing is too difficult for Him.
Perhaps the most important thing we learn is that God is in control, even when it appears contrary to human logic. God is able to influence the most powerful people and can use the most insignificant person to achieve His end. It also shows that He is never in a hurry, but will fulfil His plans and purposes at the right time and in the best way.
Another important principle to learn is that we all need to be concerned with the things of God and not to allow worry or fear to hamstring us, and that God is able to use anyone who is available to Him to forward His plans and purposes when they, like Esther, are willing to say: "If I perish, then I perish, nevertheless, Thy will be done in my life."
Contrary to the teachings of so many pulpits today, we do not have to compromise the truth or set aside godly principles to be used by Him. May we be ready and willing to let Him work in our life in whatever way He chooses. May we be faithful to fulfil any call He makes on us, knowing that God may have placed us in a particular place at a particular time for a particular purpose.
Heavenly Father, thank You that no problem I face in my life, church, local community, or nation, is too difficult for You and that You are the God of the impossible. As I read through the book of Esther, I am reminded that You are fully in control. Thank You that You have a perfect plan and that nothing can thwart Your programme of redemption. Thank You that Your purpose for Israel can never be derailed and that the day is coming when all Israel will be saved and receive their promised inheritance. And thank You that Your purpose for the Church is also being carried out, and the day is coming when we will receive our heavenly inheritance. Praise Your holy name! AMEN.