Note to the teacher: Before preparing this lesson, Esther Bible Study - Esther 3 - 7 please read our approach to planning a Sunday School lesson.
This lesson has the same format as our lesson planning sheet.
In preparing your lesson, we suggest that you:
1. Print the planning sheet.
2. Read the Bible passage.
3. Fill in your lesson planning sheet.
You will find it helpful to have a printed copy of the lesson planning sheet along side as you read the lesson. The progression will make more sense.
Esther Bible Study
Bible Passage: Esther 3 - 7
The human need this passage meets is: to learn how to be more dependent upon God.
Learning Goals: by the end of this session, each learner should be able to...
(Know) Know the basic facts of the story of the book of Esther.
(Feel) Feel the personal risk that Esther took when she decided to intercede on behalf of her people.
(Do) Identify the areas where God wants you to be more dependent upon Him.
As a person, what number would you give yourself on a "RISK SCALE?" Is your tolerance of risk LOW? (You never leave home without an umbrella. You only ride the merry-go-round at an amusement park. You like to maintain control. You like a guaranteed outcome.) Is your tolerance of risk HIGH? (You go skydiving. You are daring, exciting, and unpredictable. You are fine with no control and no guarantee.)
Share your answer with your neighbor.
It is impossible to follow Jesus and "play it safe." When you choose to follow Jesus, you are no longer leading, He is. The essence of the Christian life is dependency on God and unconditional love for others. Both of these things involve personal risk.
After Moses' death, God speaks to Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites. In Joshua 1:6 - God says, Be strong and courageous.
In Joshua 1:7 - God says, Be strong and courageous.
In Joshua 1:9 - God says, Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. The Lord will be with you wherever you go.
Why did God repeat this so many times? Because the journey would have risks and surprises. The journey was not guaranteed "safe". God was telling Joshua to depend on Him; His presence; His power.
The temptation is very great to ask God for a "risk free" Christian life. There is no such thing! This is a lesson that Esther learned.
In this Esther Bible study, we will discover two aspects about Esther's dependence upon God
Lesson #1 from the Esther Bible Study
1. Esther's dependence on God came from her confidence in God's providential guidance.
The book of Esther tells one story. Let's quickly review the first 3 chapters of Esther to set the stage. (You can read them on your own to fill in the details.)
At this point in history, many of the Jewish people were living in exile in the land of Persia. The King was Xerxes (or Ahasuerus). After becoming angry with his wife, Xerxes set out to choose a new queen. Esther was chosen. She was a Jew - but this was unknown to the king and the other palace officials. Esther was an orphan, but she had a cousin, Mordecai who was her guardian.
Let's pick up the story at Esther 3:1-6. (Read the verses aloud.)
What was Haman's biggest sin? Pride! He wanted everyone to bow down to him. When Mordecai didn't - he not only wanted to kill Mordecai, but his whole race!
Proverbs 6:16-19 gives a perfect picture of Haman -
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness that pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Haman, with the king's blessing, made a proclamation that on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, all the Jews in the kingdom would be killed. That would probably have been about 15 million Jews.
Let's continue with the story in Esther 4:1-11. (Read verses.)
Mordecai began a period of mourning for his people. Esther found out what the problem is. Being the queen, she had limited access to the world beyond the palace, so she didn't know what was going to happen in about 11 months. However, even if she wanted to help, she couldn't. Why? Because no one can go into the king's presence without being invited. To do so, would mean death. The one exception was if the king held out his scepter to the person. However, Esther had not been invited to see the king for a whole month.
Then, Mordecai spoke these wise words to Esther - "Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:13-14
Esther was challenged to depend upon God and His sovereignty. Perhaps God placed her in the palace to save the Jews. But, to act would jeopardize her own safety.
Lesson #2 from the Esther Bible Study
2. Esther's dependence upon God led her to wise action - even though it involved risk.
Esther answered with faith and dependence upon God. "I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish." Esther 4:16
Esther asked Mordecai to ask all the Jews to fast for three days - and she would have her maidservants do the same. Then she would approach the king. Esther was not relying on her own beauty, influence, or persuasive powers. She was relying on God.
She believed that God was in control.
Let's continue with the story - Read Esther 5:1-8.
On the third day, Esther went to the king and the king holds out his scepter to her. She is welcomed! She invited the king and Haman to a feast. Haman was so happy to be favored by the king and queen, but when he saw Mordecai (still not bowing to Haman), he was even more angry. He decided (with his wife's urging) that he will hang Mordecai!
At the feast, Esther requested that the king and Haman come to a second feast. In the ancient world, this was even a greater honor! At this second banquet, Esther presented her wish to the king.
Read Esther 7:1-10
The king and Haman had no idea that Esther was a Jew - the race that was set to be slaughtered. In the end, Haman is hung on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai; Mordecai is promoted to an official position and the Jewish race is spared.
Esther's dependence upon God led her to act. She trusted her safety to God.
What does this Esther Bible study have to do with us?
Our lives are being governed by the same God. Following His resurrection Jesus said, As the father has sent me, I am sending you. (John 20:21). For every member of the body of Christ, there is a purpose, a plan and a place. None of us is the leading character in the story of our life. Like Esther, God has put you where you are for a reason.
The older I get the more I have the sense that some things are mean to be. I simply mean that I am more aware of God's providential guidance. I see how God is governing my life and arranging circumstances. I recognize that the Lord is going before me and preparing people for me and me for people.
I experienced this when our daughter decided to go to China for an extended time. First of all, before she even thought about going, my wife and I were asked to lead a Bible study for Chinese people living in our city. God knew we would need to be prepared for her announcement! He went before us and set this up to prepare us. How good and kind is our Lord!
Then, just a couple of months before she left, we met a man at the Bible study. He was the husband of one of our members, but we had never met him because he lived in different city. He went up to Paul and said, "I understand that your daughter is about to go to China. She is going to my hometown. I have many friends there. If she needs anything, please email me and I will get people to help her." Then he handed us his business card. Again, God went before us! While we never had the need to use this man's help, we were greatly encouraged.
Consider the people in your life. Many within your relational network are people that you routinely see every day. Could it be that God has brought you together for a reason? God often finds people in the middle of their daily routine. When God is at work, doors open. At anytime God can guide us to someone who is searching. He can arrange events to get us where He wants us to be even when we don't know He is doing it. God puts us in the right place, at the right time, to say the right thing to the right person. Confidently depend on God that He has put you where you are "for such a time as this." Lives are at stake.
As we learned from the Esther Bible study --
“God is preparing his heroes and when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their places in a moment, and the world will wonder where they came from.” A.B. Simpson
Discussion Questions for the Esther Bible Study:
1. Share one time when you knew that God had providentially gone before you to prepare you for someone or someone for you.
2. How can you develop more trust, faith and dependence upon God?
3. How do believers in Jesus distinguish between taking a wise risk in dependence upon God and just being rash or careless?
4. Identify 2 traits that reflect where you feel God is helping you grow to become more dependent upon Him.
5. What one part of this Esther Bible study was more meaningful to you?
Author of Esther Bible Study: Paul Schlieker
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If you benefitted from this Esther Bible study - take a look at our other resources -
What's Missing Inside You? - Discover the leader character in the story of your life.