Series: Esther (God Remembers) 6 weeks
Description: What if everything in our seemingly ordinary lives are leading toward an extraordinary display of God’s plan? You and I are not where we are by accident, luck or coincidence. God has a plan and we’re in the middle of the action! The book of Esther gives hope and confidence to anyone who needs to know that God is present, powerful and personal. He has strategically positioned each of us as part of His Kingdom to bring salvation to those around us. We hope you can join us!
Dates Titles (Scriptures) Events
May 29 God Plans Ahead (Esther 1-2) Memorial Day Weekend
June 5 God’s People in Peril (Esther 3-4)
June 12 God Gives Courage (Esther 5)
June 19 God is In Control (Esther 6) Father’s Day, Kid’s Camp
June 26 God’s Victory (Esther 7-8)
July 3 God’s Completed Work (Esther 9-10) Youth Camp
Drama, power, romance, 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 a 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 deed, Haman deceived the king and persuaded him to issue an edict condemning the 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 he 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 thank 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 so honored.
During the second banquet, the king again asked Esther what she desired. She replied that someone had plotted to destroy her and 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, a 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).
Purpose: To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and his loving care for his people
Author: Unknown. Possibly Mordecai (9:29). Some have suggested Ezra or Nehemiah because of the similarity of the writing style.
Original Audience: The people of Israel
Date Written: Approximately 470 B.C. (Esther became queen in 479.)
Setting: Although Esther follows Nehemiah in the Bible, its events are about 30 years prior to those recorded in Nehemiah. The story is set in the Persian Empire, and most of the action takes place in the king’s palace in Susa, the Persian capital.
Key Verse: “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (4:14)
Key People: Esther, Mordecai, King Xerxes I, Haman
Key Place: The king’s palace in Susa, Persia
Special Features: Esther is one of only two books named for women (Ruth is the other). The book is unusual in that in the original version no name, title, or pronoun for God appears. This caused some church fathers to question the book’s inclusion in Scripture. But God’s presence is clear throughout the book.
- Esther becomes queen (1:1-2:23)
- The Jews are threatened (3:1-4:17)
- Esther intercedes for the Jews (5:1-8:17)
- The Jews are delivered (9:1-10:3)
The book of Esther is an example of God’s divine guidance and care over our lives. God’s sovereignty and power are seen throughout this book. Although we may question certain circumstances in our lives, we must have faith that God is in control, working through both the pleasant and difficult times so that we can serve him effectively.
|God’s Sovereignty||The book of Esther tells of the circumstances that were essential to the survival of God’s people in Persia. These “circumstances” were not the result of chance but of God’s grand design. God is sovereign over every area of life.||With God in charge, we can take courage. He can guide us through the circumstances we face in our lives. We should expect God to display his power in carrying out his will. As we unite our life’s purposes to God’s purpose, we benefit from his sovereign care.|
|Racial Hatred||The Jews in Persia had been a minority since their deportation from Judah 100 years earlier. Haman was a descendant of King Agag, an enemy of the Jews. Lust for power and pride drove Haman to hate Mordecai, Esther’s cousin. Haman convinced the king to kill all the Jews.||Racial hatred is always sinful. We must never condone it in any form. Every person on earth has intrinsic worth because God created people in his own image. Therefore, God’s people must stand against racism whenever and wherever it occurs.|
|Deliverance||In February or March, the Jews celebrate the Festival of Purim, which symbolizes God’s deliverance. Purim means “lots,” such as those used by Haman to set the date for the extermination of all Jews from Persia. But God overruled, using Queen Esther to intercede on behalf of the Jews.||Because God is in control of history, he is never frustrated by any turn of events or human action. He is able to save us from the evil of this world and deliver us from sin and death. Because we trust God, we are not to fear what people may do to us; instead, we are to be confident in God’s control.|
|Action||Faced with death, Esther and Mordecai set aside their own fear and took action. Esther risked her life by asking King Xerxes to save the Jews.||When outnumbered and powerless, it is natural for us to feel helpless. Esther and Mordecai resisted this temptation and acted with courage. It is not enough to know that God is in control; we must act with self-sacrifice and courage to follow God’s guidance.|
|Wisdom||The Jews were a minority in a world hostile to them. It took great wisdom for Mordecai to survive. Serving as a faithful official of the king, Mordecai took steps to understand and work within the Persian law. Yet he did not compromise his integrity.||It takes great wisdom to survive in a non-believing world. In a setting which is for the most part hostile to Christianity, we can demonstrate wisdom by giving respect to what is true and good and by humbly standing against what is wrong.|
Watch Messages: YouTube-Upwards Church
Source: Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 767-768.