Sometime around the fifth century BC, Ahasuerus, the king of the Medes and the Persians, held an open bar party for his friends. They had too much to drink, and the king decided to stroke his ego by parading his wife, Vashti, before them to show off her beauty. She wouldn’t go along with it, and the king elevated a domestic dispute into a national crisis and asked his fellow partiers what “legal” action would be most appropriate for her disobedience to the king. His advisors gave him horrible advice and elevated the issue to the level that the kingdom was at stake. They argued that all the women in the nation would disrespect and therefore disobey their husbands as a result of Vashti’s actions if she was allowed to get away with it. So, they tell Ahasuerus, “If it pleases the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.”

 This verse contained a familiar phrase that most of us have heard. The saying “the law of the Medes and Persians” is still referred to in our own culture. It is used to refer to something that cannot be changed. Manser tells us that the phrase “The law of the Medes and Persians” is retained by all the contemporary versions of the Bible except the New International Version, the New Revised Standard Version, and the Revised Standard Version. But those versions still retain similar phrases that are indistinguishable from “The law of the Medes and Persians.”[1] The phrase has its roots in the Book of Daniel. Chapter six uses the phrase several times, always referring to an irrevocable law. The King regretted his decision to make the decree but ended up throwing Daniel in the lion’s den because he could not undo his proclamation, which was also made at the suggestion of bad advisors. When the King regretted making such a decree, he wanted to rescind it, but the same advisors reminded him that once signed into law, it could not be changed. Daniel ended up in the lion’s den.

The integrity of the king was at stake. He could not go back on something he had decided without losing the authority and respect of the nation he ruled. God, the great King of Kings, had passed laws as well. They came in the form of promises. He promised the nation that even though they would end up in captivity in Babylon, He would bring them back to their own land after 70 years. Of course, that is what happened because God’s integrity and honor were at stake. Jesus made promises to his followers as well. The promises that God made to Israel in the time of their captivity were to inspire them with hope for a bright future yet to come. This is the kind of promise Jesus makes to his followers. As Jesus was preparing for his crucifixion and leaving his followers alone in the world, he passed a law ever much as binding and irreversible as the laws of the Medes and Persian. In John 14:1-3 we can see this promise. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.” So, fellow followers of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

[1] Manser, Martin H., Natasha B. Fleming, Kate Hughes, and Ronald F. Bridges. 2000. I Never Knew That Was in the Bible!. Electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.