It’s so hard for us today (as no doubt it has been for people from various cultures through the centuries) to understand the customs and tradition of the ancient Persian Empire, where the story of Esther unfolds. One thing is certain, though: the Lord had used that empire in the process of fulfilling the covenant promises to the nation of Israel, promises that went back to Abraham (see Gen. 12:1-3, Isa. 45:1, 2 Chron. 36:23) .
The young Jewish girl Esther found herself as queen. Though her ascent was through a route rather different than, for example, Joseph’s in Egypt or Daniel’s in Babylon, she was (as Joseph and Daniel were) just where the Lord wanted her to be, and she was used by God in a powerful way, one that illustrates how the great-controversy theme can play out in history.
Read Esther 3:8-11. Keeping in mind what God’s plans were for the Jewish people, especially in regard to the coming of the Messiah, what consequences would the success of this decree have?
“Little did the king realize the far-reaching results that would have accompanied the complete carrying out of this decree. Satan himself, the hidden instigator of the scheme, was trying to rid the earth of those who preserved the knowledge of the true God.”-Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 600, 601. And from these same people, too, would come the Savior of the world.
How fascinating that the issue started over worship (see Esther 3:5-8) and the refusal of a distinct group of people to follow the laws and customs of the ones in power. Though, of course, the context will be different at the end of time, the reality behind it-the great controversy between Christ and Satan-is still the same, and those who seek to be faithful to God will face something as the Jews here did. We have been warned that, in the closing scenes of earth’s history, the decree will go out, declaring that “as many as would not worship the image of the beast [are to] be killed” (Rev. 13:15). The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.