Situated on the celebrated Silk Road, modern Hamadan was once a place of magnificent splendour, an Achaemenid royal capital known in antiquity as Ecbatana.

Little evidence of that former glory remains. Today a visitor finds a town centred around a memorial to the Iran-Iraq war. One of the longest and bloodiest conflicts of the 20th century, this war of attrition cost over a million lives and deeply scarred every Iranian family.

Close to the centre of Hamadan, an ancient mausoleum houses two elaborately carved wooden sarcophagi, believed by some to be the tombs of Esther and Mordecai. Although long dead, their story lives on 2500 years later, for it speaks of eternity. Mordecai and Esther were raised up from among their exiled people to prominent positions in the Persian Empire; they saved their people from annihilation, leaving for us an account that can transport our minds to the grandeur and splendour of the Kingdom age. What a contrast to the stark reminders of war and suffering evident when visiting modern Iran.

King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), King of Persia and Media, Great King, King of Kings, and King of the Nations (of the world) chose Esther to become his queen.

The king desired his queen to be a reflection of the glory of himself and of his kingdom. He wanted to display the glorious richness of his reign and the rare magnificence of his greatness (Est 1:4). He wanted to show his queen in all her beauty, wearing the royal crown (Est 1:11), just as our King desires to fill this earth with people who manifest His glory (Num 14:21; 1Cor 11:7). Esther was indeed fair and beautiful, being a true type of the ecclesia, holy and without blemish (Est 2:7; Eph 5:27).

King Ahasuerus desired to share his paradise garden feast with all the magnificence of its royal setting (Est 1:5-6), inviting his guests to drink his wine without constraint as each desired (Esther 1:8), for freewill was the spirit of his kingdom. The euphoria of the wine (Est 1:10) illustrates our joy in appreciation of God’s work in Christ, which is our extraordinary hope.

The king sought for willing obedience from his queen, as she was to be a manifestation of his principles by showing him honour in their marriage (Est 1:15-16), just as our marriages are a reflection of our relationship with our heavenly Father (Est 1:20). The king wished to extend his royal dignity to his bride (Est 1:19 LSG) to bestow on her access to the grace, liberties and privileges of his Kingdom.

This story of Esther truly is a fabulous cameo of the Kingdom, illustrating for us the characteristics our King desires, vital characteristics in our quest for eternal life. Our King is seeking a people who freely give Him service, willingly obedient to His will (John 15:14; 8:29; Heb 10:7), for freewill is the spirit of His Kingdom. Are we a people who willingly reflect the glory of our King?

God’s providence assuredly overshadows the lives of all His saints; the righteous will ultimately triumph. We have a humble position in this life, but like Esther, a glorious destiny awaits us, for by God’s grace we have been called to become royalty in His Kingdom.

Footnote:

On a personal note, although these tombs are unlikely to be the actual resting place of Esther and Mordecai, it is intriguing to visit this ancient site. The custodian is an aged, eccentric pen-collecting Jew who proudly unlocked a low stone door and ushered us into this elaborately decorated tomb. His knowledge and warmth of hospitality on a sub-zero January day made for yet another memorable Iranian experience.