November 1, 2023

What Is The Story Behind The Peasant King?


In researching this period of history were there parts you enjoyed the most?

The rich historical data available from this period provided a lot of additional information where the Bible is silent. Before the Israelite captives could be set free from Babylon, God had to implement several other rescues. What became evident through my research was that transforming the small nation of Persia into a global empire mighty enough to defeat Babylon needed God’s intervention. These historical accounts were fun to read about. More importantly, they encouraged and strengthened my faith.

Could you tell us about the thread involving Old Testament Prophecy in this novel and why you were interested in this topic?


While Persia was still a relatively small country, Isaiah prophesied that Jerusalem and the Temple would one day be rebuilt with the help of a Persian king. This is a shocking prophecy on many levels. For one, the deliverer of God’s people would be a Gentile. He is the only Gentile to whom God refers as his anointed one (Isaiah 45:1-3). Also, at the time of this prophecy, Persia was a minor nation, itself under the rule of the Medes. There was no way it had the power to rescue anyone. It would be a little like in WWII, if instead of the US coming to the aid of the Allies, the Bahamas had come to the rescue. It just wouldn’t have had the same impact. At the time the prophecies were given, the Persians simply did not possess the power needed to defeat Babylon.

In a later prophecy, Jeremiah predicted that the kings of Media would be the ones to destroy Babylon. In other words, the Gentile king that Isaiah named would one day rule the Medes. He had to first defeat the powerful nation of Media before he could even set his sights on Babylon.

As I studied history, I realized how many miracles God had to work for this part of the prophecy to be fulfilled, in order for the Persian king named in Isaiah to become the ruler of Media. It gave me a deeper appreciation of God’s influence, power, and protection over nations as well as individuals throughout time.

This was the story I had to tell because I found it incredibly encouraging. It doesn’t matter how impossible the circumstances; God will find a way!

What are some key Scripture passages that inspired The Peasant King?

In addition to the prophetic verses I used from Isaiah 45:4-5, Isaiah 44:24, 28, and Jeremiah 51:11, one verse captured what is a central theme in this novel. When Israel was about to begin its conquest of the Promised Land, Moses told them that God would drive the nations out little by little, rather than all at once (Deuteronomy 7:22). Often, we find this to be the case in our own lives. God’s transformations and impartations come little by little. They are a process rather than instant cures. Jemmah, who struggles with a painful situation, is learning to navigate God’s little-by-little grace rather than the all-at-once her heart desires.

Jemmah, your protagonist, thinks of herself as unexceptional. Why do you think many of us feel we are too ordinary to be used by God in big ways?

On the one hand, we really are ordinary. We are the girl next door, the average student, the run-of-the-mill mother, the regular Joe. The mirror shows us an ordinary face with an ordinary mind and an ordinary body. It’s easy to stop your story there. To see that much and no more. And to conclude that God needs someone more extraordinary to accomplish anything important. The problem is that when we think that way, we utterly miss the spectacular reality that God has made us in his own image. More astounding still, through Christ, the Spirit of God dwells in us (Romans 8:11). This means that as followers of Jesus, no one is ordinary.

I think God’s view of who is extraordinary is radically different from ours. The Father looks for obedience, for love, for patience, for faith. These are the qualities that make us more like Jesus, and therefore, extraordinary.

What did you learn while writing The Peasant King?

My research reminded me that the will of God in this world is opposed. The plans of God will meet resistance. Every heavenly promise has an obstruction. But our Father is the God of the impossible. In studying secular history alongside biblical promise, I was astounded by the way God broke through every barrier to fulfill his plan. And he is still doing that today!

We are delighted Tessa Afshar shared some of the background of this story. The Peasant King releases November 7. Be sure and order your copy now.

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