Estherby Peter Lau
As our narrative opens, we are introduced to King Xerxes. He is someone who could probably star in his own reality TV show, ″Lifestyles of the Rich and Powerful″. As we read in verse 1, he rules over a vast Persian Empire stretching from India to Sudan and spanning three continents-Asia, Africa, and Europe.
The powerful king of Persia loves to display his wealth. In the third year of his reign, he hosts a feast for all his nobles, officials, military leaders, and princes (Esther 1:3). This feast lasts six months! Then he throws another party, this time for the people in the citadel (v. 5). Verse 4 says that ″he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendour and glory of his majesty.″ Read verse 6 again and try to visualise the magnificence of the palace and festivities.
Some millionaires walk around in comfortable, worn-out clothes. Others show off their wealth with luxury suits. We know which category King Xerxes falls into. His palace and banquets are extravagant, excessive, and over-the-top.
We see that King Xerxes is no ordinary ruler. Riches and power he possesses in overwhelming abundance, but does he use them well?
When we watch reality TV shows featuring rich and powerful celebrities, we might grow envious. Their opulent lifestyle and widespread influence leave us wishing for just a little of what they have. But wealth and power are always double-edged; if abused, they will come to define and control our lives. As the Bible warns: ″Do not love the world or anything in the world . . . For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever″ (1 John 2:15-17). And as we'll see in the book of Esther, God remains in control even when foolish or superficial rulers are in power.
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and 17-19 to gain a biblical perspective on riches and power. What do you treasure or rely on?
If you are blessed with money and influence, how are you using them? What do you love?