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Do you ever feel as if you are completely at the mercy of godless leaders? God’s people in the days of King Xerxes must have felt the same. But, as the book of Esther shows, God’s plans are never frustrated by sinful people—and He can even use those same people to accomplish His will.
Clearly Xerxes, as know as Ahasuerus was a sinful unbeliever, and he ruled over the greatest empire of his day. Over a century earlier, the lands of Israel and Judah had been conquered and Jews were scattered throughout the Near East, ruled by Xerxes. Neither Xerxes nor most of his officials worshipped God, and a plot had even been hatched to exterminate all the Jews.
Where was God? What was to become of His people? Not to fear. God was still God, and Xerxes could do only what God allowed. The story of Esther describes how God orchestrated events so that Esther gained favor in Xerxes’s eyes as one of his wives—and she was able to reveal the evil plot to him.
In the end, God’s people were saved, and Xerxes himself ordered the execution of those who had arranged for the Jews’ destruction (Esther 9:14). Xerxes even promoted Esther’s relative to the second highest position in the empire!
Xerxes is usually identified by scholars as King Xerxes I of Persia. This is the same Xerxes whose mighty army was delayed for three days at Thermopylae by three hundred Spartan warriors and whose fleet was destroyed by other Greek city-states at Salamis.