Esther 1:1-12 - Darius Shows Off The Glory Of His Kingdom
We just celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends over the last several days and many people are now worn out from all the preparation and entertaining. We may have had a lot of fun but now life can get back to normal. Hopefully over the holiday none of us experienced too much tension or conflict as the pressure was on to set the table and as we interacted with a larger group of people.
How quickly celebrations can turn sour.
How quickly parties can take a turn for the worst.
How quickly a cheerful mood can become melancholy.
How quickly a knee jerk reaction in anger define much of our future.
All of these things we will see in our text this morning.
Our text this morning begins in the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus (3). He is better known by his Greek name Xerxes which means ‘ruler over men and hero's’. Ahasuerus began to rule over the kingdom of Persia after his father, Darius the Great, died and he inherited great wealth and a massive kingdom.
After taking over the throne from his father Ahasuerus spent several years putting down revolts in Babylon and Egypt because they had tried to free themselves from Persian rule. Now that those revolts had been dealt with successfully Ahasuerus celebrates these victories in Susa with his nobles, governors, officials and military leaders for 180 days. Th is a time when Ahasuerus rewards those who helped him to suppress these revolts and he also uses this time to plan for his invasion into Greece.
Ahasuerus’ military success is emphasized in the beginning of this book when we are told that he ruled over 127 providence’s. We are meant to see that in just three years Ahasauerus’ kingdom is larger than the kingdom his father had ruled over. We see this in Daniel 6:1 when we read, “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom.”
Do kings rule only by the strength of their might? Are the events in this world random? Do the strong rule over the weak or is there a sovereign God who is at work behind the scenes who is accomplishing His will in all of these things? Do kings rule by their whims and make decisions based only by the counsel of the few men around them or is God still in these situations and ultimately directing things?
At first glance we will see the glory and power of Ahasuerus and his kingdom. But we will soon see that the LORD is ultimately in charge of all things at all times. The Bible shows us that the LORD is sovereignly working to accomplish His will even centuries before things happen. Let me give you an example.
About a century before the events that we are looking at this morning (486-465 BC), Daniel had a dream in which there were four great beasts (Daniel 7:1-7). He interpreted each of these beasts to be different kings who would come and rule over Israel (Daniel 7:17).
Two years after that dream Daniel had another dream in which he saw a ram who was very proud and powerful. This ram was connected to a city named Susa (Daniel 8:1-4). Daniel interpreted the ram to be a prediction of the kings of Media and Persia. Let’s look at Daniel 8:1-4,
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.