Which of these risks would you be willing to take?
Babylon, superpower of the time, had overrun the whole Middle East and taken God's people into captivity. King Xerxes was the unquestioned ruler of the whole empire. His queen. Vashti, had refused to be paraded publicly and had lost her crown. To replace her the king had forcibly removed the most beautiful virgins from his empire and had tried them out, one at a time, to find the one he liked best. Esther, a young Jewess, was the virgin he finally selected to be queen. (Tho she kept her nationality secret) Her uncle Mordecai had followed her to the king's court in Suza and spent his days outside the palace waiting for news of her.
READ Esther chapter 3.
1) Why do you think Mordecai refused to do homage to Haman & Why do you think the results of this action were so drastic?
2) If Mordecai had humored Haman this situation would have been avoided. Often Christians face challenges where to compromise or "just do what everyone else does" would make life much easier for them. When have you found yourself in a situation like this? How did you handle it?
3) Haman hated God's people and was determined to destroy them. Few of us in the west will face death for being Christian but we will still face opposition for our faith. How should we behave towards those who oppose or mock us for following Jesus? (How easy do you find it to do that?)
READ Esther chapter 4.
4) a. Some people consider that Esther was a coward because of what she says in V11. Would you agree with that opinion?
b. What factors convince her to speak to the King?
5) When have you hesitated from doing something risky for God? Why did you hesitate? If you went through with it, what convicted you to?
6) Esther's petition to the king was ultimately successful (Ch's 5-9) but at this point she did not know that would be the case. What can we learn from her response in V16 that might be relevant to difficult situations we face?
7) Esther is the only book in the bible that does not directly mention God's name, but you can clearly see him working out his plans to save his people when all seemed lost. Ch4.14b sums the story up.
"Perhaps it was for such a time as this that you have been put in this position"
Think about the position God has put you in now. What do you think he might have put you there for?
1) Doing homage was a form of worship, in many ancient cultures rulers were viewed or treated as gods. Clearly Mordecai was not willing to worship this man - he was a Jew, they believed in only one God and were willing to worship only him. (Similar to the stories in Daniel; lion’s den, fiery furnace etc. which are from the same time period). Amongst Middle Eastern cultures they were unique in being monotheists - and it often got them into trouble!
2) Haman, if you read the story is an arrogant, power crazed man with an ego the size of a planet. He cannot tolerate this disrespect (maybe there's an insecurity thing there too!) but he is clearly anti-Semitic ...as many people were- and still are. It’s interesting (& tragic) to see that God's people have been persecuted throughout history not just in the 20 th century!
3) Jesus tells us in LUKE 6.27- "love your enemies" - not that easy, but what we are called to do! - You might want to get someone to look up the passage.
4) Mordecai told it straight;
This is a mixture of threats, facing up to her fears and trusting God. It’s hard to face the truth when we are afraid, but she comes through in the end.
5) PRAY, PRAY, FAST, GET SOME OTHER PEOPLE TO PRAY, GIVE IT SOME TIME, THEN PRAY SOME MORE - BEFORE YOU ACT! And ultimately…‘if I die, I die!’ I’m going to do the right thing regardless of the cost!
© Ruth Perrin 2008. Last revised on 1 December 2008
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Cloud of Witnesses is a series of Bible studies on the men and women of scripture. You'll find everyone from Gideon and Andrew through to Tamar and Tabitha.
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Ruth Perrin, the author, is on staff at King's Church Durham and holds an MA in Theology and Ministry.
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