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Esther Lesson 8: A Plan Petitioned

  • Thomas Klock Harvest Ministries
  • 2008 12 Feb
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LESSON 7 IN REVIEW

Esther 7 recorded the demise of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. That day began with him having a pity party, then he was escorted to the palace for the second banquet with Ahasuerus and Esther. Before the day was over, Haman’s body was on display some 75 feet above the ground for all to see how the king dealt with those who betray him! It started with Esther’s response to the king’s offer to do whatever she asked, in which she revealed her request was for her life and the lives of her people to be spared from the evil planned for them. Infuriated, Ahasuerus yelled, “Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?” Esther’s shocking reply: “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” (From Esther 7:5-6, NKJV).

Ahasuerus was beside himself with anger and stormed from the room. Haman was out of his mind with fear, pleading at the feet of Esther to spare him, ending up collapsed on top of her on the couch. Ahasuerus returned to the room to this sight, thinking Haman was trying to rape Esther on top of everything else! He was arrested immediately, and thanks to the suggestion of one of the eunuchs, Haman was executed on the very device he had built to execute his enemy, Mordecai, with.

The enemy of the Jews was gone, but his evil plan still was in effect. This week we’ll see how this serious problem would be dealt with, and how God continued to demonstrate His faithfulness in helping His people through Esther and Mordecai.

DAY ONE: A Bittersweet Victory

Please carefully read Esther 8:1-3 and answer the following questions.

1. What did Ahasuerus do after the death of Haman, and how was the link between Mordecai and Esther revealed to him (v. 1)?

NOTE: The word for enemy here meant an adversary, oppressor, rival, or one who harasses someone else.[i]

2. What was Ahasuerus’ reaction to the news that his beloved queen and Mordecai were cousins, although they had more of a father-daughter relationship (v. 2)?

NOTE: Remember from early in Esther that the signet ring was like the King’s platinum card, giving the user his full authority. Thus we see Mordecai promoted at last!

3. This victory over their enemy was bittersweet, however. Esther couldn’t stand the pain in her heart another minute. Why was this, and what did she do (v. 3)?

NOTES: Many people interpret v. 3 as introducing a new scene in the story, but actually it appears to be a continuation of the events of vv. 1, 2.[ii] The NIV translates v. 3, “Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite...”

4. God has not only forgiven us in Christ, but He put us into a place of prominence with His Son, much like Ahasuerus did for Mordecai. Since God shares His authority with His Son, we too share this by His amazing grace! What are some ways He has done that for us according to the following passages?

Matthew 28:18-19; Acts 1:8

John 17:21-23

Romans 8:14-17; 1 John 3:1

Scripture Memory: This week we will be memorizing Psalm 97:11-12. Review the passage several times throughout the day each day this week, and by the end of the week, you should have it memorized completely.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. (Psalm 97:11-12, NKJV)

DAY TWO: A Desperate Plea

Please carefully read Esther 8:4-6 and answer the following questions.

1. How did Ahasuerus honor Esther’s heart for her people (v. 4)?

2. At first view, Esther’s plea (v. 5a) seems repetitious, or almost like a woman using her “feminine wiles” to get her way. But carefully look at the beginning of her plea and find four different things she based her request on. After that introduction, what was her plea to Ahasuerus (v. 5b)?

NOTES: Unfortunately, the NLT translates this in a way you’ll only see two reasons mentioned. The word pleasing meant beneficial, good, well pleasing, and favorable; favor meant grace, favor, kindness, used in a sense of a superior extending favor to an inferior; right is the word kasher, meaning right, straight, acceptable, and is only used three times in the Old Testament (Esther 8:5, Ecclesiastes 10:10, Ecc. 11:6), and later became the word kosher, something that met the criteria of Jewish rules of ritual purity.[iii]

3. How did Esther bare her heart to Ahasuerus (v. 6)?

4. We look at this plea of Esther and can draw one of two conclusions: Either she was pouring on the “feminine wiles” to get Ahasuerus to do something about this, or that this was truly the crushing burden of her heart to see her people saved. This author feels that the latter is the case, as Esther was willing to risk her life to take any step to save her people. Read the following passages regarding some who used “feminine wiles” (conniving) to get their way, contrasted with some who were moved out of self-sacrificial compassion for others. List their heart attitudes and techniques, and make your own decision about Esther’s methodology and motives.

Connivers:

Sarai, Genesis 16:1-2

Rebekah, Genesis 27:5-10, Gen. 27:41-46

Rachel and Leah, Genesis 30:1-6, Gen. 30:9, Gen. 30:14-16
Compassionates:

Moses, Exodus 32:30-33

Ruth, Ruth 1:16-18

Paul, Romans 9:1-5

Scripture Memory: Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

Light is sown for the _______________________, and gladness for the upright in heart. _______________________ in the LORD, you righteous, and _______________ thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. (Psalm 97:11, 12, NKJV)

DAY THREE: A Plan Petitioned

Please carefully read Esther 8:7-10 and answer the following questions.

1. In response to this, Ahasuerus recounted what had been done, no doubt for his chroniclers to record (probably for some other sleepless night’s reading!). How did he begin to officially recount these actions (v. 7)?

2. What did he suggest Esther and Mordecai do in view of the situation, and why (v. 8)?

3. How did they go about this right away to make sure the word got out quickly about this (vv. 9, 10)?

NOTES: According to the NLT, the date of this edict (v. 9) would have been June 25, 474 B.C. Also, you may remember from our introduction that Esther 8:9 is the longest verse of the Old Testament in Hebrew, with 43 words and 192 letters,[iv] and the longest in the entire Bible in English, being translated out to 80 to 90 words long.[v] It is all the more interesting to think that the longest verse in our Bible is about actions to bring deliverance for the Jewish people.

4. Daniel 6 confirms for us the irrevocability of Persian laws once established. Similarly, God’s law has never changed. Its death grip on mankind still exists and sounds forth, as in the words of Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die” (NKJV). There was no way to blot out this eternal consequence of sin, so there had to be devised another “law” that would supersede the law of sin and death.[vi]

What is the sinner’s plight (Romans 3:23, Rom. 5:12), and how did God work to set forth a new way to be set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2-4)?

Scripture Memory: Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

Light is ___________________ for the _______________________, and _______________________ for the upright in heart. _______________________ in the LORD, you righteous, and _______________ thanks at the ________________________________ of His holy name.  (Psalm 97:11, 12, NKJV)

DAY FOUR: A Reversal of Fortune

Please carefully read Esther 8:11-14 and answer the following questions.

1. What would this new edict allow for the Jews, and how is it exactly opposite of the one written against them in Esther 3:13 (v. 11, 12)?

NOTE: Again, the NLT reminds us that this is the date that was chosen by Haman by lot (pur), March 7, 473 B.C. (see Esther 3:7).

2. Why was there such haste (v. 13)?

3. How was this process quickly carried out (v. 14)?

4. Some readers of the Book of Esther are bothered by the Jews’ being given permission to wipe out and plunder their enemies, seeing this as taking a non-Christian attitude toward non-believers. But a careful reading of this passage clarifies for us that they weren’t given permission to attack others, but to only defend themselves from those who would assault them, thus being vessels of God’s judgment on those who sought to touch the apple of His eye (see Zechariah 2:8-9).[vii] What should the believer’s attitude be toward those who are at enmity with us, misuse or persecute us?

Matthew 5:10-12, Matt. 5:43-4

Romans 12:14-21

Scripture Memory: Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

Light is ___________________ for the _______________________, and _______________________ for the ___________________________ in heart. _______________________ in the ________________, you righteous, and _______________ thanks at the ________________________________ of His _________________ name.  (Psalm 97:11-12, NKJV)

DAY FIVE: A Joyful Resolution

Please carefully read Esther 8:15-17 and answer the following questions.

1. For the first time in this book, we see a joyful resolution coming about! How does verse 15 describe the presentation of Mordecai as the new Number Two man of the Persian Empire?

NOTE: Wearing the crown/turban and the royal colors of the Persian Empire showed that this second reward outdid the first he received.[viii] Great rejoicing (to shout or cry out a loud sound of delight) and gladness (being joyful, a state of rejoicing)[ix] broke out, but was it among all the people? Many feel that it was the Jews of Susa that were rejoicing, not the people in general.[x] We don’t know either way for certain.

2. What was the result of all this for the Jewish people, probably for the first time in their years of captivity (v. 16)?

NOTE: Light was an Old Testament symbol for prosperity and well being.[xi]

3. How was this edict received throughout the Empire, and what unusual thing came as a result of all this (v. 17)?

4. It would appear from how the last part of v. 17 is translated in other versions that the people were not converting because of the witness of the Jews, but out of panic for what might happen to them. The word fear in Hebrew does seem to carry that idea.[xii] Others feel that v. 17 must not be speaking of an outreach by the Jews to their pagan neighbors, for the idea of proselytizing by the Jews didn’t appear until the time between the Testaments. But couldn’t it be that these Persians saw something different in the lives of the Jews, and could see that there had to be some great power behind them to work such a reversal of fortune? Remember, a mixed multitude of Egyptians followed God because of what He did for the Jews, and others of the Canaanites appear to have assimilated into various Jewish tribes.[xiii]

What was God’s original and ongoing purpose for the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 42:5-7)?

What has prophetically been said about the Jews having such an impact on the nations in the future (Psalm 18:43-45; Zechariah 8:20-23)? 

Scripture Memory: Can you write out this week’s passage by memory here below? Give it a try, and keep reviewing the passage several times throughout the day. Psalm 97:11-12

DAY SIX: Living in Such a Time as This

1. Our motive for our behavior and actions makes all the difference in God’s eyes. If we try to manipulate others into doing something we want or are conniving in how we deal with other people, it may accomplish some results, but they will be tainted results. Yet if we serve, act, and behave out of a heart of compassion, we will be willing to take risks to see others helped, and see God’s plans accomplished. Do you see yourself as more of a conniver, or does compassion guide the way you relate to others? Are you entrusting your interpersonal relationships to God and letting His Spirit guide you in them, or are you relying on human trickery or worldly wiles to get your way done? How can you better act in the power of God’s Spirit and treat others with compassion and out of self-denial, not manipulation?

2. We often let opportunities to serve God and others slip by rather than by taking specific actions to do so. Esther had one chance with the king; she and Mordecai also wouldn’t let this one opportunity to save the people slip past them. We too should seek to do all we can to use the opportunities He gives us. As Derek Prime well said, “Today is a day never to be repeated. Let us live it for God!”[xiv] How will you make renewed efforts to do so, starting today?

3. Perhaps you are going through a dark period of your life. So did the Jewish people. All that they knew was taken away from them. They were transported to a land they didn’t know under wicked rulers. Consider what they said of their captivity in Psalm 137:

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us requested mirth,
Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

How shall we sing the LORD's song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill! 
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth —
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, "Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation!"

O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!

Footnotes for Lesson 8

[i] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter eds., The Complete Word Study Dictionary Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), pp. 970, 971.
[ii] Mervin Breneman, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. In E. Ray Clendenen ed., The New American Commentary Vol. 10 (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1993), p. 352.
[iii] Spiros Zodhiates ed., The Complete Word Study Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1999), p. 2316, 2320, 2328.
[iv] Mervin Breneman, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, p. 354.
[v] Jeff Lasseigne, Highway 66:  A Unique Journey through the 66 Books of the Bible (Santa Ana: Calvary Chapel Publishing, 2004), p. 50.
[vi] Warren W. Wiersbe, With the Word Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Publishers, 1993), p. 632.
[vii] Joyce G. Baldwin, Esther (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1984), p. 97, 98.
[viii] John MacArthur ed., The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word Bibles, 1997), p. 691.
[ix] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary Old Testament, pp. 940, 1100).
[x] F. B. Huey Jr., Esther. In F.E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, 1988), p. 832.
[xi] Derek Prime, Unspoken Lessons about the Unseen God (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2001), p. 119.
[xii] Spiros Zodhiates ed., The Complete Word Study Old Testament, p. 2354.
[xiii] Mervin Breneman, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, p. 356.
[xiv] Derek Prime, Unspoken Lessons about the Unseen God, p. 116.

Click Here for Lesson 9


© 2005 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2004-2005. www.Harvest.org

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