Esther Made Queen (Zechariah 2:1 – 18)

Scripture Text:

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Esther 2:1 – 18

1. If invited for a private audience with the prime minister or president, would you go? What might he or she want to talk to you about? What questions would you pose? How would you dress and prepare yourself?

2. What contest have you ever won? Who was your competition?

3. Verse 1 is a hinge verse, spanning four years (see verse 16 and chapter 1:3). In that time, what happened to the king’s anger? His memory? His decree? His former wife, Vashti?

4. As this king’s search unfolds, how does it compare to the story of Joseph (Genesis chapters 37 – 41)?

5. How do Mordecai and Esther fit into the model referenced in Question #4? Who are Mordecai’s ancestors (1 Samuel 9:1)? How do Mordecai and Esther relate to each other? How do they fit the man-woman household rule in chapter 1:22?

6. How would you describe this search for a new queen? How would the Persian people describe it?

7. How would you have felt if you were Esther (who had no choice in the matter) about being selected for the king’s harem? Flattered? Frightened? Used? Angry? Proud? Embarrassed?

8. Why did Mordecai forbid Esther to reveal that she was a Jew?

  • he was ashamed of the fact
  • he was afraid Esther would be persecuted
  • he was afraid Esther would be disqualified
  • he liked to run Esther’s life
  • something told him it wasn’t the right time

9. What might have happened if Esther had not obeyed Mordecai? How did she manage to keep her ethnic background secret from the king?

10. Of what significance is the year-long preparation period? What in your culture roughly corresponds to it?

11. Nothing is said here about the morality of Xerxes’ seizing or sampling the women as he does. Why is that?

12. How would you describe Esther?

  • charming?
  • compliant?
  • humble?
  • blessed?
  • victimized
  • respectful?

13. In your relationship with God, how do you feel right now?

  • chosen?
  • rejected?
  • overlooked?
  • “cosmetic”?
  • pleasing?
  • joyful?
  • “feasting”?
  • compliant?

14. Where would you fit yourself into this story? A queen fit for a king? A runner-up? A personal attendant? A fretful, fatherly Mordecai?

15. How important is physical attractiveness to you in courting or keeping your mate?

16. How would you feel if God, as King, took four years to fill a “vacancy” or solve some other problem in your life? How important (to you and to God) is time and timing?

17. If you were chosen queen or king, what would be the greatest asset or strength would you bring to your country? Where are you using that gift now?

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Queen Vashti Deposed (Esther 1)

Scripture Text:

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Esther 1

Historical Background: Welcome to the book of Esther! With the temple now completed, the people of Israel are free to go about the job of recultivating the land and reconstructing other buildings in the cities. The resettlement process is laborious. It will take another 60 years to restore the level of civilization that the nation once knew.

During this time Darius has thoroughly subdued Egypt and allowed life there to go on as usual (as he did with Israel). But Xerxes I does not share the policies of his father and grandfather. He comes to power upon the death of Darius in 486 BC. If Xerxes is the king referred to in other records as Ahasuerus (and there is considerable disagreement on the issue), then it is during his reign that this fascinating story in Jewish history takes place.

It is interesting to note that the name of God is never mentioned in Esther and that there is no allusion to the book in the New Testament. However, the book does show (indirectly) God’s heroic concern and providence for the Jewish people (even the “secularized” Jews, like Ester and Mordecai – those who stayed in Persia and didn’t return to Jerusalem from exile).

1. Have you thrown a big banquet or an open-house party? What were you celebrating?

2. What is the biggest bash you have attended in the last few years? Who was invited?

3. What might be the occasion for this opulent banquet thrown by King Xerxes (verses 3 – 8)? What would warrant a six-month “open house”? Who is invited?

4. What do you make of all the architectural, fashion and wine detail given here? What does it tell you about the king’s wealth? Popularity? Ego?

5. Why do you think his wife, Queen Vashti, throws a separate party (verse 9)? Why does he send for her (verse 11)? When she refuses, how does the king react?

6. Who advises the king what to do and why? What is their advice?

7. What is at stake here?

  • the king’s honor?
  • male supremacy?
  • potential anarchy?
  • obeying authority?

8. What would cause a government to establish a law that could not be repealed (verse 19; chapter 8:8)? Explain your answer.

  • trapping a king in a moment of drunken weakness?
  • keeping women in their place?
  • trying to preserve “family values”?

9. With which of the characters in chapter 1 do you most identify? Why?

10. Where in your life are you working on obeying authority? Sharing (not showing) your wealth? Mutual respect? Being the host with the most?

11. For what grand occasion would you and yours co-host a gala affair? Silver anniversary? Graduation? Opening a new business? Other?

12. In decisions affecting other people, who is your “Memucan”? Who else would you feel free to call in the middle of the night?

13. The nobles feared anarchy would result if women were as “independent” as Vashti. How do you work out disagreement in your home (family)?

 

The LORD Comes and Reigns (Zechariah 14)

Scripture Text:

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Zechariah 14

1. How will God remember Jerusalem? What will the “Day of the LORD” be like?

2. Who will fight against the city? What is the inhabitants’ fate (verses 1, 2, 10, 11)? The attackers’ fate (verses 3 – 5, 12 – 19)?

3. What irony, mercy and justice do you see here?

4. What will mark the advent of the Lord? What “holy ones” will accompany him (verse 5): saints? angels? the fleeing hist coming to recapture their city?

5. Why would Zechariah repeat “on that day” over and over again? What is unique about it?

6. What might the “living water” imply (verse 8; see Psalm 46:4; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Joel 3:18; John 4:11; John 7:38, 39)?

7. Who will join the pilgrimage to worship the one God (verses 9 and 16)? Why is special mention given here to the Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:39 – 43; Nehemiah 8:16 – 18)? And to Egypt?

8. How transformed will this new city be (verses 20 and 21)? “Holy to the LORD” is the fulfillment of which intention of God (see Exodus 19:6; Exodus 28:36)? What does it mean that even “cooking pots” will be sacred?

9. How does this vision in verses 9, 16, 20 and 21 compare with Isaiah’s (see Isaiah 2:2 – 4) or Paul’s (see Philippians 2:9 – 11)? What time frame is likely in view here?

10. How will God remember you “on that day”? What promise from God are you counting on? In what area of your life do you need to make special preparations?

11. Are you feeling attacked on every side, like Jerusalem? By what? Are you fleeing or surviving?

12. Through this conflict and the tribulation to come, do you sense God’s love shining through the darkness? Or do you find it hard to believe that there will ever be an evening with only light?

13. Is worship a special part of your day? How so?

14. The High Priest wore an inscription which said: “Holy to the LORD”. Which parts of your life are “Holy to the LORD”?

15. What did you learn from Zechariah? What life-changing application are you making?

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