Today’s Scripture: Jeremiah 29:4-7; Daniel 5:26-31; Nehemiah 1:11
Years before the time of Esther, God had warned the Israelites repeatedly that if they continued to be unfaithful to Him, He would allow them to be taken captive by their enemy, the Babylonians. However, the Lord is incredibly faithful—and extremely generous. He assured that His love was unfailing and, even if they were in a foreign land, He would be with them. In fact, God instructed them to “build houses and settle down; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.” In other words—thrive while you are in captivity.
For seventy years, the Israelites were held captive in Babylon, located in the area today we know as Iran (formerly Persia). In the first group of Jews transported from Israel to Babylon was a young man named Daniel. God’s hand remained on him and, in time, he became second in command to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel never returned to his beloved homeland, but remained in Babylon until his death. He served under different kings, and even prophesied that Babylon would be conquered by the Persians—an event that occurred the same night Daniel predicted.
Nehemiah was born while the Israelites were in captivity. The Lord raised him up to the position of cupbearer to King Xerxes, who eventually gave Nehemiah permission to return to Israel and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.
Esther was also born in Persia to Jewish parents. After her parents died, she was raised by her older cousin Mordecai. After King Xerxes and Queen Vasti had a disagreement, the queen was banished from his presence. He went on a search for a new queen and demanded that all the available virgins be brought to his palace so he could choose his next queen. Esther, probably a teenager at the time, was selected. She lived and died in Persia, never seeing her Jewish homeland.
Esther became queen by choice, not by chance. Although King Xerxes may have thought he was wielding his royal power, God’s hand directed the entire process. She was the right person in the right place at the right time for a divine purpose.
- Daniel, Nehemiah, and Esther all became people of Godly influence in adverse circumstances. What influence do you have where you are right now? How are you using that influence to build God’s kingdom?