Wasn't Nehemiah a great story? And it is all true....it really happened all those years ago. Now we are going to go back in time a little bit to about 40 years before Nehemiah rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. The Bible is not in chronological order. Which means it isn't in order of how things happened. The book of Ester is set in Persia after Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon were overthrown by the Persian Empire. The story of Esther is set about 30 years after the temple in Jerusalem was built and Ezra was the prophet of the time. At this time most of the Jews are still scattered throughout Persia.
Now there was a king of Persia named Xerxes. Here ruled over all 127 provinces, from India down to Ethiopia. He had been king for 3 years when he decided to throw a huge party for all the princes and military officials. The party lasted 6 months! Then just when you think the party was over, the king throws a 7 day party for his palace servants and immediate officials. In the meantime, Queen Vashti was throwing her own party for the women of the kingdom.
On the seventh day of the party, after the king had a little too much to drink, he started bragging about what a beautiful wife he had. Then he sent some of his servants to go bring the queen to him so he could show off her beauty in front of all the other men. When the message was conveyed to Queen Vashti that the king wanted her to parade around in front of a bunch of men who had been drinking for seven days, she refused. Disobeying the king was unheard of at the time. A queen would never refuse the request of the king!
As soon as King Xerxes heard about Queen Vashti's response, he became infuriated and called his consultants together and asked their advice, because they were experts in Persian laws and customs.
"What must be done with Queen Vashti?" The king asked. "What does the law say about a penalty for a queen who disobeys her king?"
One of the other consultants spoke up. "If it please the king, let Queen Vashti be banished from the kingdom and never come before the king again! ... And let her position be given to another who is more worthy! Also send out a decree that all wives must honor their husbands because he is the master of the household."
King Xerxes agreed and the queen was banished from the kingdom, never to be heard from again. Soon the king began to regret what he had done. If he had not acted so prideful, he would have not requested that the queen come before him and all the men then she would not have had to refuse. He was sad because he missed her.
The Bible says that pride leads to destruction. (Prov 16:18) and patience is better than pride. (Eccles 7:8) God does not like pride. Pride hurts us and God doesn't want that. If we humble ourselves, God will lift us up. (James 4:10) The next time you feel like showing off or bragging about yourself... remember that it may make you feel like a big shot at the time, but eventually regret will set in, just like it did for King Xerxes.
Some of his advisors saw that the king was down in the dumps over the whole situation and one spoke up. "May your servants travel to each of the 127 provinces of Persia and bring back to most beautiful virgins. We will hold a Miss Persia contest and whom ever you choose, will be the next queen of Persia!" The king liked the idea and the servants were dispatched to find the most beautiful virgins in all the land.
Next time we will get an inside look at the Miss Persia contest.