We are having a woman’s bible study on the book of Esther. Several ladies have asked for notes because they had to miss the study. So I thought I’d just post them right here. These are just notes I took during the discussion. If you happen to have done the study, please feel free to post your notes as well! 🙂
We are using Beth Moore’s, “Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman” book. To get the study guide pages with or without answers, visit http://www.lifewaystores.com/lwstore/product.asp?isbn=1415865965
- The biblical book of Esther is written on a scroll (megillah), to be read on the festival of Purim. Every year the story is recited in synagogue. It is permitted to decorate the scroll since the text does not contain the name of God. Because of the length of the story, a long drawn-out tale is also known in Jewish circles as a megillah.
- Esther is regarded as the scroll par excellence, and is often referred to simply as ha megillah, or ‘The Scroll
- It is the only book in the Bible in which there is no mention of God.
- The story takes place in Susa. The modern Iranian town of Shush is located at the site of ancient Susa. During the reign of King Ahasuerus, the Persian king.
- Jewish exiles from the Kingdom of Judah who had been living in the Babylonian captivity (6th Century BCE) found themselves under Persian rule after Babylonia was in turn conquered by the Persian Empire.
- In Susa itself, besides the local population and the Iranians, there were large number of Babylonians, Egyptians, Jews and Greeks. The Jews living in Susa were a strange group of Jews because they blended with the Gentiles. There is no longing by these Jews to return to Jerusalem. Many Judeans were so preoccupied with eking out a living that they took little interest in the rebuilding of the Temple.
- Summary of the story: http://www.angelfire.com/pa2/passover/shushan-purim/
- God will lift you up in due season. In the book of Esther, God is in the background, working things out. He is not in the foreground. You don’t know what he is doing for you.
(9/16/09) Character Sketches (Esther 2:1-7)
- Mordecai or Mordechai – a Jew, the son of Jair, of the tribe of Benjamin
Tribe of Benjamin. He was from the upper class of Jews. V 5:13 we see him referred to as “that Jew,” there was no popularity found in being a Jew. Mordecai went from a place of position to poverty. Poverty is poverty, unless you come from a place where you know what you are missing. He was “bringing up” Hadassah, his cousin. He probably had her from a young age.
- Esther was born with the name Hadassah. Her parents died. She began her life parentless – motherless. Nothing about her, other than beauty, qualified her to be a Queen.
- 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. God is attracted to weakness because it makes more room for His strength in you.
- Your past and your future have the same root. Esther doesn’t separate her history from her destiny. God uses your history to shape your destiny.
- There are four classes of women:
- Wants everyone to think she is beautiful
- Wants men to think she is beautiful
- Doesn’t want anyone to think she is beautiful
- Hopes just one will think she is beautiful
(9/23/09) Meanness (meanness always has a history; meanness perceives a threat; meanness catches like a virus; meanness is curable) (Esther 3:1-5)
- Haman as his name indicates, Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites.
- Haman and Mordecai.
- God commanded what attitudes Jews should have toward Amalek in Deuteronomy 25:17-19 referring also to Exodus 17:8-16
- Haman was full of pride and was cruel. Today people are offended when people do not honor and praise them. This is how Haman was. Mordecai has proven himself trustworthy by saving the king’s life.
- When Mordecai would not bowl to Haman, he was also disrespecting the king. His conduct would have been noticed but he chose to stand for God’s will regardless of the opposition. He refused to sin.
- Haman requests decree of death of Jews, five years after Esther had become queen. He cast pur (lot) for month and day which came up as the 12th month and 13th day.
- Haman’s ancestors should have been destroyed but Saul chose to let Agag live.
- Haman offered 10,000 talents for approval of his plan to eliminate the Jews. Ten thousand talents of silver is equivalent to 375 tons! The King refused the money but approved the plan.
- Haman used half truths and false insinuations.
- Coming in contact with a mean girl brings out your mean girl.
- When meanness is stirred up inside of you, try to identify the threat.
(09/30/09) The Human Dilemma of Destiny (Esther 4:1-14)
- Mordecai had a deep sense of responsibility of his conduct. Mordecai didn’t just grieve, he came up with a way to deal with it.
- Mordecai documented his accusation.
- God is never mentioned but Mordecai reveals deep faith in the providence of God. Mordecai’s response to Esther was another place in the book that was a veiled allusion to God. Like Esther, we need to realize that ‘it” is going to come, but will you be a part of it?
- He had a sense of the covenantal relationship between God and Israel. He knew that the promise to Abraham, Moses, and David could not be fulfilled if the entire nation were wiped out.
- The words, “her people” would have revealed to Hathach that Esther was a Jew.
- He had the right perspective of God’s purposes and timing
- he saw the macro picture – God will save his people
- he also saw the micro – how God can use Esther
- he had a keen sense of God’s timing
- he seized the window of opportunity
- he knew that God will still act if we don’t
- Esther, at first, was like Moses, she looked at the difficulties and made excuses.
- It had been 30 days since she had been summoned.
- She was not living a fulfilled married life. She shared her husband with many concubine.
- Living as Queen was not easy.
- Esther turned out to be like Joseph and Paul, to advantage of her position.
- Use your blessings and advantages to do God’s will.
- Esther was given a place of authority and God was trusting her with something. Find your place of authority, what has God entrusted you with? What are you going to do with it?
- How many times do we feel unworthy of making petitions of God?
- What reasonable expectation have happened in your life? What do you think God does not understand about your situation? Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. God is in it some where! God is bigger!
- We may fear problems we may face if we serve God, but we need to have a much greater fear of the consequences for not serving God. Mordecai knew when to make a stand (remember, he asked Esther to not reveal her nationality).
- God’s will is revealed in scripture.
- Look up ‘you will know’ in the Bible and many times you will find ‘And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’
- You can be a part of something good that is going no where or a part of some thing good going some where – a part of History.
For Such a Time as This (Esther 4:11-17)
(When looking at this section, Pastor Jennifer used reference to the birth process. Pregnancy is made up of many events leading up to the birth of a baby. The birth time is a time of transition. When giving birth, you can not push at the wrong time because it could jeopardize the health of the baby. Everything in you could be telling us to push but you can not push until the Doctor tells you to, no matter how much you want to. We may feel we have good reason to push, but we have to wait until the appropriate time. The position of the baby is also a critical factor in how easy or hard the birthing process is. Keep this process in mind as you read through some of the following notes.)
- Esther had a transformation from verse 11 (self preservation) to verse 16 (to brave determination)
- It is a transition of her life. Sometimes it plays out in events, but it is always about the transition inside.
- Transitions are crucial – a matter of life or death.
- It is about embracing those moments just before birth – taking time to see God, but we want to birth it before it is time.
- Let God do it or you risk the life of the promise.
- We can protect our self right out of our calling – self preservation. Esther showed us there is a part of us that can be courageous.
- We have good reasons but they are not good in the destiny that God has for us. Each and every one of us is playing a vital role in the world today.
- God allows us to make decisions based on the what and the how. We can decide to do the right ‘what’ but with the wrong ‘how’. The how is sometimes the test.
- Overcome self
- Once you make a decision, do not go back. When you know, that you know, that you know, it is what God has called you to do.
- Esther had to get over herself. Se was the biggest obstacle. God does not give up on you.
- Don’t resist God moving you into the place he wants you to be in. Position is everything in the birthing process. it makes the difference in how easy the promise will come. When you get into position, do not try to get yourself out. He has got you in the right place at the right time.
- Side note …
- Do not try to fix everyone. Sometimes when you try to fix things you end up enabling or even getting in the way of what God is trying to do.
- When you see someone on a roller coaster of their own, don’t jump on it and take the ride with them. Wait at the bottom and when they get off, let them know that you are there for them and have been there for them all along.
- Sometimes people have to learn by suffering the consequences (riding the whole ride). Jumping in and saving them from the consequences can be enabling them.
- Let God work in his timing.
More notes to come as the study continues, check back each week for updates.