March 4, 2017
Today we begin a three week series on the book of Esther.
This week’s study is titled, “Where Are You God?”
Week two is titled, “For Such a Time as This.”
Week three is titled, “If I perish.”
Why study the Old Testament book of Esther especially considering the following?
Paul gives us the answer. Read Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 10:11.
Discuss Murray’s words:
The early church fathers in considering which books should be included in The Cannon of scripture chose to include Esther but why, as it does not contain the any five points mentioned above? It was discerned as being the inspired Word of God because… It is a clear example of the sovereignty of God and the protection of His people.
The book of Esther was written approximately 470 BC during the reign of King Xerxes in Persia. Many Jewish exiles had returned to rebuild Jerusalem (as we had seen in recent studies of Haggai 520 BC). Other Jews remained scattered across the Persian Empire.
3. Summary of Esther.
In order to understand what happened you can begin by reading the book’s 10 chapters or the following summary.
Drama, power, intrigue-this is the stuff of which best selling novels are made. But far from a modern piece of fiction, those words describe a true story, lived and written centuries ago. More than entertaining reading, it is the story of the profound interplay of God’s sovereignty and human will. God prepared the place and the opportunity, and His people, Esther and Mordecai, chose to act.
The book of Esther begins with Queen Vashti refusing to obey an order from her husband, King Xerxes. She was subsequently banished, and the search began for a new queen. The king sent out a decree to gather together all the beautiful young women in the empire and bring them into the royal harem. Esther a young Jewish woman, was one of those chosen. King Xerxes was so pleased with Esther that he made her his queen.
Meanwhile Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin became a government official and during his tenure foiled an assassination plot. But the ambitious and self serving Haman was appointed second-in command in the empire. When Mordecai refused to bow in reverence to him, Haman became furious and determined to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews along with him.
To accomplish his vengeful dead, Haman deceived the king and persuaded him to issue an edict condemning to Jews to death. Mordecai told Queen Esther about this edict, and she decided to risk her life to save her people. Esther asked King Xerxes and Haman to be her guests at a banquet. During the feast, the king asked Esther what she really wanted, and promised to give her anything. Esther simply invited both men to another banquet the next day.
That night, unable to sleep, the king was flipping through some records in the royal archives when he read of the assassination plot that Mordecai had thwarted. Surprised to learn that Mordecai had never been rewarded for this deed, the king asked Haman what should be done to properly reward a hero. Haman thought the king must be talking about him, and so he described a lavish reward. The king agreed, but to Haman’s shock and utter humiliation, he learned that Mordecai was the person to be honored.
During the second banquet, the king again asked Esther what she desired. She replied that someone had plotted to destroy her people, and she named Haman as the culprit. Immediately the king sentenced Haman to die on the impaling pole that he had set up for Mordecai.
In the final act of this true life drama, Mordecai was appointed to Haman’s position, and the Jews were guaranteed protection throughout the land. To celebrate this historic occasion, the Festival of Purim was established.
Because of Queen Esther’s courageous act, the whole nation was saved. Seeing her God-given opportunity, she seized it! Her life made a difference. Read Esther and watch for God at work in your life. Perhaps He has prepared you to act in “such a time as this” (4:14) #
4. Setting the Scene.
Read about the events preceding and preparing the way for Esther to become queen. Esther 1:1-21,
Read the following and discuss Queen Vashti’s position and the difficult situation King Xerxes was then in.
Queen Vashti refused to parade before the King’s all-male party, possibly because it was against Persian custom for a woman to appear before a public gathering of men. This conflict between Persian custom and the king’s command put her in a difficult situation, and she chose to refuse her half- drunk husband, hoping he would come to his senses later…….Whatever the reason, her action was a breach of protocol that also placed Xerxes in a difficult situation…… While preparing to invade Greece, Xerxes had invited important officials from all over his land to see his power, wealth and authority. If it was perceived that he had no authority over his own wife, his military credibility would be damaged-the greatest criterion of success for an ancient king. In addition, King Xerxes was accustomed to getting what he wanted. #
How important is God’s principle for wives to ‘respect their husbands’ even in the world? (The counter is for husbands to ‘love their wives as themselves’ Eph. 5:33.)
Discuss Esther’s attitude as a Jew and being God’s child and the favor she gained because of it allowing God to put her in such an influencing position. Esther 2:16-20.
The key events and life events are linked to 6 dinners/feasts recorded in Esther which give it a framework. They are:
Familiarize yourself with the main characters and the life principles you see and share with each other what you find.
Through out the book of Esther we will see the invisible hand of God at work as He cares for, guides and protects His people.
We too have an Omniscient and Omnipresent God even though we may not see His hand at work or be aware of His Presence and His behind the scenes activity.
# Taken from ‘Life Application Study Bible’