Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You Were Born for this: Esther Chapter 2:18-4:4

I'm SO Sorry! I'm so behind this week!!! I don't even have my bible verse printable for you yet. I'm going to have to catch up.

You can listen to Tim Kellers Sermon on this reading here. 

Memory verses.

 (I'll post printables later in the week.)

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

(Genesis 50:20 ESV)

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

In order to understand the history and depth of the relationship of Haman and Mordecai, we need to go back in time to the days of Moses and King Saul.

When Moses was leading the Lords people, the Agagites attacked the people in back, presumably the elderly, the weak, the children. God promised Moses that the Agagites would be wiped from the face of the earth. Thus began the bad blood between the Jews and the Agagites.

Between this time, and the time of King Saul, there were several instances of attacks on the Jews from the Agagites.

Enter King Saul who was told to obliterate the Agagites. Saul did not fully obey this command, and kept the King of the Agagites alive as prisoner.

Check out all of the above Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 25-19, 1 Samuel 15:1-9

See the Jewish Encylcopedia for more on Haman.

Enter Haman, who is given a position very near the Kings. He is a descendant of the Agagites.

We're reading Esther 2:18-4:4

The Players

The Eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh

More Rising Action

Bigthan and Teresh plot to kill King Xerxes. Mordecai, overhears the plot and tells Esther. Esther tells the king. Bigthan and Teresh are killed for treason. Mordecai's service is recorded in the kings book.

Haman gets promoted to the highest position possible in the court. The king orders that everyone must bow down to Haman as he passes. Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman. Haman gets ticked off and goes and tattles on Mordecai. Haman convinces Xerxes that it would be a really great idea to kill all of the Jews because of Mordecai's choices. A law is written and spread throughout the land that in 12 months the Jews are going to be obliterated.

Mordecai is so upset about this he sets outside the castle gates in torn clothes and ashes.

I think that about covers it.

Discussion Questions 

Again, answer the questions that peak your interest, or ask your own. Please feel free to make your own observations.

As I read through this section I felt as though I could identify with every character in different aspects. Most of them sinful aspects. Pride, hate, meanness, lethargy are words that come to mind.

What characters in this part of the story do you identify with?

Hate, and meanness have very little to do with the victim, and a lot to do with the history of the "hater" and the fact that they feel weak and threatened  How does this thought help you forgive meanness?  How does it shed light on the times when you are mean and hateful?

In eastern societies it is customary to bow to people who are in higher rank than you. For example, a student would bow to a teacher, someone younger would bow to someone older etc.

If this was the custom? Why might it have been necessary for Xerxes to command that everyone bow to Haman?

 Whose opinion of you counts? From whom do you desire approval and fear rejection? Whose value system do you measure yourself against? In whose eyes are you living? Whose love and approval do you need?

What was Mordecai standing up for?

Again, one persons actions effect so many people in the known world. If you knew that your choices, no matter how noble and truthful they were, would put everyone you loved in danger, would you still stand up for what you believed in?

What do you fear? What do you not want? What do you tend to worry about?

What makes you tick? What sun does your planet revolve around? What do you organize your life around?

Where do you see God in this part of the story?

At last, Mordecai finally stands for something. He didn't stand up for Esthers purity, but he chose to stand up for what he believed in.  Up till now Mordecai has been assimilating into Persian society. How do you see God working in Mordecai's heart?

How do you see God working in your heart? Where are you more bold now than you would have been weeks/months/years earlier?

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