Esther 1&2

Revolting Developments

Back in Chapter 6 of Ezra we read that Darius I issued a decree that the Temple was to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. God also sent Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to get on with the work. Four years later the Temple was completed and the Psalms in our study exemplify the rejoicing that followed. Darius will continue to reign for another 30 years before he dies and Ahasuerus or Xerxes takes his place. Toward the end of the reign of Darius I there was an Ionian revolt that Darius I attempted to put down known as the first Persian invasion of Greece. This invasion went badly and the Persians were defeated at the Battle of Marathon.

The defeat of the Persians at Marathon emboldened Egypt and Babylon to revolt which Darius I tries to suppress but he dies before these revolts are put down. Before Darius died he charged Xerxes to put down the revolts and punish the Greeks. When Xerxes becomes king he starts to plan the second invasion of Greece. This will be a huge undertaking. He is planning to have an army upwards of 2 million men for the invasion. He will dig a canal and build two pontoon bridges in order to stock pile provisions for his vast army. Preparations will take several years and require a lot of resources. This is the background of what was going on in the opening chapters of the book of Esther.    

In Chapter 1, Xerxes is throwing a huge party to gain support for his planned invasion of Greece. He is also trying to demonstrate the greatness of Persia even though they suffered defeat at Marathon and revolts are taking place. With all that going on it was not a good time for the queen to rebel.

It was Persia that allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple. It was also Persia that was used by the enemy of the Jew to get a foot hold for anti-Semitism that nearly destroyed the Jews. As we read this book, and focus on what is going on in Persia we need to not lose sight of what God was doing in Jerusalem.

In spite of all that is going on in Persia, God is in control. He will make a way when there seems to be no way and His plan for Israel will be accomplished.

As Xerxes is making preparations for war with great fan fair, God is quietly making preparations for war as well. The second invasion will also end in defeat for the Persians. God will win the battle against anti-Semitism. That is what the book of Esther is about.

May God’s Kingdom come!

Pastor Dave