When the people of Judah had begun to return to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon to rebuild the city and its temple, they were still under the jurisdiction of Medo-Persian empire. Though they had been granted permission by King Cyrus to return home, there would still be demonic forces opposing them every step of the way, persistently seeking to destroy both them and the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
While many people returned home to Judah after the seventy-year exile was up, a large number stayed behind to live comfortable lives throughout the Persian empire. King Xerxes, called King Ahasuerus in this biblical account, was fair and generous to all of his people. A highly respected warrior in his battles against an emerging empire of Greece, Ahasuerus’ biggest flaw was his attraction to alcohol, and the foolish behavior and decisions he would make while under its influence.
Though dark spiritual forces were at work against the Jewish people, God would use two seemingly unrelated events in the lives of two of them to preserve the Jewish nation as well as the lineage of Jesus: 1) the rise and establishment of Esther as Queen of Persia, and 2) her relative, Mordecai, learning of a plot to kill the king and thus saving his life.
5 There was a Jewish man in the Shushan palace whose name was Mordecai, son of Jair son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjamite, 6 who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the captives that had been carried away with King Jeconiah of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had taken away. 7 He had raised Hadassah—that is Esther—his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The girl was attractive and had a beautiful figure. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her to him as his own daughter. Esther 2:5-7 (TLV)
Mordecai raised Esther as if she were his own child. Although Esther was also of Jewish descent, she kept this to herself, at Mordecai’s direction.
10 Esther had not disclosed her people or her lineage, because Mordecai had commanded her not to make them known. Esther 2:10 (TLV)
In one long, drunken, and pride-filled escapade, King Ahasuerus deposed his innocent wife, Vashti. His decree being irrevocable, the king now looked about to find a replacement for queen. After reviewing numerous candidates from throughout the kingdom, the Lord worked behind the scenes to present Esther before him. The king was smitten with her and chose Esther to be the new Queen of Persia.
17 Now the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the other virgins. So he placed the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
18 Then the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his princes and servants. He proclaimed a holiday for the provinces and distributed gifts in keeping with the king’s wealth. Esther 2:17-18 (TLV)
Queen Esther was now in a position of great influence alongside one of the most powerful people on earth at the time. Step one of God’s plans to save His people was now in place.
Meanwhile, during one of the king’s ceremonies:
21 In those days while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told it to Queen Esther. Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. 23 When the matter was investigated and found to be so, they were both hanged on a gallows. It was then written in the book of the chronicles in the king’s presence. Esther 2:21-23 (TLV)
God used both Esther and Mordecai to achieve His purposes without them even realizing it. In fact, Mordecai’s important role in saving the king’s life was quietly recorded in a chronicle and quickly forgotten. But God did not forget. And Mordecai’s action would come back into prominence one special day down the road.
Can you think of a time when God was working in your life to arrange a future event without you realizing it? God is always working for good and will even use the foolish or harmful behavior of others to achieve His holy purposes.
One way that God reveals His presence around us is through “coincidences”, favorable things that happen in our lives or unlikely people we run into that we assume are just a matter of chance. Yet over time, as more and more of these types of events occur, we realize that the hand of God is behind them. Some have referred to these occasions as “God-incidences”.
Have you observed any “God-incidences” lately?
Lord, thank You for being present in our lives, for blessing us, and protecting us from evil. Help us to walk a holy path, following You today and always. Free us from harmful addictions and behaviors that bring heartache to ourselves and others. May Your divine word burn within our hearts, strengthening us and encouraging us to live pure lives to reflect You and Your love to those around us. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.