God’s plan

Published 9:12 pm Monday, May 14, 2018

It caught my attention while I was reading the book of Esther in the Bible. The story unfolds in the summer palace of King Xerxes at Susa. 

It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, going back as far as 4200 B.C. and sits in a fertile valley west of Mesopotamia. The land around Susa is “fed” by the Karkheh and Dek (or Eulaeus) Rivers bringing mud and nutrients down from the Zagros Mountains. Mesopotamia is east of Susa and its fertile plain is fed by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers bringing mud and nutrients from the Zagros Mountains.

After Alexander the Great died, Susa was part of the Seleucid Empire and was known as “Seleucia on the Eulaeus.” It continued as an important city until the Muslim armies destroyed it in 638 A.D., but it was rebuilt only to be destroyed again by the Mongols in 1218 A.D. Later, the much smaller city of Shush was built on the ruins of Susa and the area around it is in the headline news almost every day as Iran, but the capital was moved from Susa/Seleucia/Shush and several other sites to Tehran.

Originally called Persia, in 1935 the Iranian government requested that those nations with diplomatic relations to Persia begin to call their nation Iran which is the name of the country in Persian, which brings us to our story. 

“When Mordecai received Esther’s message, he sent her this warning: ‘Don’t imagine that you are safer than any other Jew just because you are in the royal palace. If you keep quiet at a time like this, help will come from heaven to the Jews, and they will be saved, but you will die and your father’s family will come to an end. Yet who knows-maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!’ Esther sent Mordecai this reply: ‘Go and get all the Jews in Susa together; hold a fast and pray for me. Don’t eat or drink anything for three days and nights. My servant women and I will be doing the same. After that, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. If I must die for doing it, I will die.’” (Esther 4)

Violence and conflict with Israel is not a new thing; it goes back to the beginnings of the history in this area and continues into the present. 

In the story of Esther, Haman pays the king 10,000 large sacks or 375 tons of silver to allow him to exterminate the Jews, because they would not bow down to him. Mordecai uncovers the plot and gets word to Esther; only she has a chance to intervene with King Xerxes and “maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen?” It begs the question about why you and I find ourselves in the places where we live and work; how do we fit into God’s plan?