With Vashti banished, Ahasuerus needed a new queen. As the sovereign ruler of the empire, he could take his pick. With the wave of his hand, anything he desired would be his. Say it, and it was so. He was king!
Internet dating sites weren’t available, so a trusted court jester suggested a beauty contest, an empire-wide search for the new Miss Persia. “ ‘Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in each province of his kingdom, so that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem at the fortress of Susa … Then the young woman who pleases the king will become queen instead of Vashti’ This suggestion pleased the king, and he did accordingly” (Esther 2:2-4).
The search was on! Willing or not, fresh-faced young ladies were conscripted from every corner of the Persian Empire. Soon, camel caravans were crossing the dessert, coming from every direction, carrying gorgeous girls, each fear-filled and uncertain about her future.
Like shopping for a new pair of shoes, the king set out to pick a new queen. And like show animals at the county fair, the contestants were paraded through the king’s bedroom. Night after night, the king stole the virginity of innocent young girls.
Sadly, sickeningly, today’s human-trafficking networks are searching for a girl to fulfill the lustful desires of a repugnant sheik or baron. It’s unthinkably evil, but it’s a reality. Put that on your ever-growing prayer list… please.
Hadassah, a Hebrew exile living near the palace in Susa, had a “beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking” (Esther 2:7). One among many, she was taken into the king’s custody.
On the appointed evening, Hadassah, a.k.a. Esther, “was taken to King Ahasuerus in the palace… The king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won more favor and approval from him than did any of the other virgins. He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti” (Esther 2:16–17.)
Esther, a young Hebrew girl was chosen as queen. What are the odds?
You too were chosen. Not by an evil king, but by a gracious and loving One. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Jesus declared, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). From all the people throughout all the empire, God chose you. Amazing!
Instead of debating or disputing the theology of election, “we ought to thank God… because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
We are not able to understand how everything the Bible says about election fits into a neat logical system. Our business is not to pry into the secret counsel of God but to share the message of salvation with everyone and to be grateful that we have been delivered from darkness into light.