Setting the stage
The most adorable scene is memorialized in a frame sitting in our TV room. Rachel was maybe 6 and Jerad 3. Their little bodies are engulfed in bathrobes and towels are tied about their heads. Around their feet are a number of stuffed animals and Rachel holds a baby doll. For you see, Rachel was Mary, Jerad Joseph, and the corner of the family room a stable. Even without seeing the picture, we can imagine the cuteness from the stage the description sets.
To see the beauty in the story of Esther, we must begin by setting the stage. Xerxes was king of Persia from 486-465 BC. In his third year he hosted a huge celebration in the citadel of Susa. The party went on for days and alcohol was plentiful. On the 7th day, Xerxes having had plenty to drink ordered his wife Vashti to appear before the nobles so they could look upon her beauty. Perhaps she knew Xerxes’ state of mind or maybe she had other reasons but she refused to go. Even at this point we see God setting the stage of provision. God knew the heart and hatred of Haman and was planning for deliverance for the Jews long before they knew there was a problem.
In his drunken state, Xerxes called his advisors to decide his next step in dealing with the queen’s refusal to obey the king. The advisors, likely married men, saw the possible ripple effect the queen’s actions could have on other wives across the empire as they would surely follow suite. Therefore the advisors recommended Vashti be banished from Xerxes’s sight. In his angry and drunken state, the king agreed. Later when Xerxes was sober and his anger subsided, he remembered Vashti.
Into this pagan empire we see God’s hand preparing the way as a search was made for a new queen. From across the huge Persian Empire beautiful women were brought to the king’s harem. Living in Susa with her uncle was a young Jew named Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther and she too was taken. Immediately she won the favor of Hegai the one in charge of the women.
Xerxes was more attracted to Esther than any of the other women so he made her the queen of Persia. The big drama of the story is yet to come. Yet in the first 2 chapters we see the stage being set for God’s providential care of his people.
God still cares for his people and goes to great lengths to make it happen. While we are trying to figure out why things are happening the way they are, God is working.
Today instead of worrying or trying to make sense of what is going on, can we just trust Him? Can we just leave the methods and outcomes up to God? We can’t see ahead like he does so we can’t understand why he is doing things the way his is… but we can KNOW he is working out things for our good. (Romans 8:28).
Lord, thank you for your loving care! Even when I don’t understand why life is the way it is I can trust you. Lord, walk with those who need this reassurance today and help them to trust you more fully. Help me to trust you more fully. Amen