Introduction: Do you have to be careful about what you say
regarding your religious beliefs? A few years ago, when the
lessons involved a comparison of Islam and Christianity, one
of my translators told me that she must be cautious about
what she wrote about Islam. Apparently, what I wrote in the
lesson was questionable! Having lived in the United States
all my life, and being a lawyer defending the free speech of
other Americans, I reject the idea of compromising my right
to share the gospel. Not everyone reading this lesson has
this same freedom. Even in America the right to religious
free speech is currently under attack. Elite universities no
longer protect free speech, and parts of the federal
government have been actively working to suppress speech. We
need to learn what the Bible teaches us about sharing our
faith in a hostile culture. Let’s start now!

I. Mordecai

A. Read Esther 2:5-6. What does this teach us about
Mordecai? (He is Jewish. He (or his ancestors) were
part of the group that was taken to Babylon when
Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem.)

1. Read Daniel 1:6-7. Think back to what you know
about the story of Daniel and his experience
as a new captive. Were the Babylonians trying
to preserve Jewish culture and religious
beliefs? (No. They changed their captives’
names as part of an effort to have them adopt
Babylonian culture and beliefs.)

B. Read Esther 2:7. What else does this tell us about
Mordecai? (He believes in family. He has compassion
for Esther who is an orphan. He takes her into his
home and treats her as his daughter.)

C. Let’s skip down to Esther 2:19. Was Mordecai just
loitering? Or does this tell us something important
about him? (This is one of three texts telling us
that Mordecai sat at the King’s gate. This strongly
suggests that he is a judicial official in the

II. Esther

A. Read Esther 2:7-8. What do we learn about Esther?
(She is a fabulous looking woman. So beautiful that
the king’s agents collect her because of her

B. Read Esther 2:9, Esther 2:12-13, and Esther 2:15.
Not only is Esther a beauty, what else do we find
out about her? (She has a winning personality. She
has emotional intelligence.)

C. Unless you know the back story, you might wonder
what is happening to Esther. Does the government
routinely capture beautiful women and then make
them even more beautiful? Read Esther 1:10-12 and
Esther 1:17 and Esther 1:19-20. Why is there an
opening for the job of Queen in Persia? (Queen
Vashti has been disobedient to the King. The
concern among the men is that this might spur a
rebellion among all of the wives. Vashti is removed
from her position, and Esther is part of the search
for a new queen.)

D. Read Esther 2:10. Would it be a problem for the
King to pick a Jewish queen? (Apparently Mordecai
thought so.)

1. What do you think about the honesty of what
Mordecai and Esther are doing? (Nothing in the
text says that Esther lied about her ancestry
in response to questions. Instead, she did not
volunteer the information. This is advice I
routinely give clients when they are being
questioned under oath. They do not need to
volunteer information.)

III. Haman

A. Read Esther 3:1-2 and Esther 3:5. Why do you think
Mordecai refused to show respect to Haman? (Read
Esther 3:3-4. When Mordecai is asked that question
he answered that “he was a Jew.”)

1. What do you think that means? (Certainly
Mordecai would believe it was wrong to worship
a human. See Exodus 20:3-5. The Bible
Knowledge Commentary argues that the issue is
not worship, but rather showing respect to
Haman. It is unlike the story in Daniel 3
where actual worship of the image was

2. Some argue that as a Jew, Mordecai would
resist showing honor to someone descended from
Agag, King of the Amalekites. The Bible
Knowledge Commentary points out that Agag
lived 600 years earlier, thus the link to Agag
is unlikely. Rather, archeologists found a
province in the Persian Empire called Agag,
and it is more likely Haman came from that
province. What do you think about these two
different points of view?

3. Notice that Mordecai told Esther not to reveal
that she was Jewish (Esther 2:10), but
Mordecai tells those who ask why he is
violating the law that he is Jewish
(Esther 3:4). Why the different responses?

B. Read Esther 3:5-6 and Esther 3:8-11. The decision
of Mordecai results in an order to kill all the
Jews. Is this a result of a clash between the
pride of Haman and the pride of Mordecai? Or is
this the result of Mordecai following the Ten
Commandments? (This is an important question which
every one of us must consider. Are we in trouble
with pagans because of our pride, or because of
obedience to God?)

1. Look again at Esther 3:8. Does this suggest
this is a matter of pride, or a matter of
religious belief? (Haman reports that the Jews
follow their own laws. I think the better
understanding is that Mordecai took his stand
for religious reasons.)

IV. Rescue

A. Read Esther 4:1. What has Mordecai done? (His
actions will cause his people to be destroyed.)

1. Mordecai and Esther could have returned to
Israel. Have they made a mistake staying in a
pagan nation?

2. Do you think God would say regarding the
decision not to return, “You made your choice,
now you have to live with it?”

B. Read Esther 4:8 and Esther 4:10-12. What is the
problem with Esther obeying the command of
Mordecai? (She could die.)

C. Read Esther 4:13. Do you agree with Mordecai?
Remember that he told Esther not to tell the king
that she was Jewish.

1. If you were Esther, would you seriously
consider that you might escape the death
decree? (I think it likely she would escape.
Haman would not attack the Queen. But, she
would surely lose Mordecai.)

D. Read Esther 4:14-16. On what do Mordecai and Esther
agree? (That God will help the Jews.)

1. Notice that Esther 4:16 only calls for fasting
and not prayer. Read Daniel 9:3 for a point of
comparison. Do you believe that they prayed
and the text merely omits this? (There is a
concern that Mordecai and Esther were not
religious. Why did Mordecai refer to
deliverance “from another place” and not refer
to God delivering His people?)

E. In Esther 5 we discover that Esther takes her life
in her hands and appears unbidden before the King.
He grants her an audience (rather than having her
killed) and she invites the King and Haman to
dinner. Read Esther 5:12-14. What is Haman’s plan
for dinner with the King and Esther? (He will
attend and enjoy the idea that Mordecai be hung.)

F. The royal dinner is served! Read Esther 7:3-10.
Has Haman been outwitted? Has God turned the
tables? How do you explain this outcome? (On the
issue of whether Esther and Mordecai are religious,
the outcome is so amazing that this must be the
hand of God. We can see God’s hand from the very
beginning of the story.)

1. What does this teach us about being faithful
in a pagan country?

G. Read Esther 8:1-3. Revenge is complete against
Haman and his house, but what terrible threat
remains? (The death degree for the Jews.)

H. Read Esther 8:11. What do you think about this
answer? Is this what is going on right now in

I. Read Esther 8:15-17. Is this a great triumph for
God? Are there many converts to Judaism because of
fear? (We don’t like to think that we should use
fear to convert others, but consider how this
elevates the Great God of Heaven over all other
gods of the land? I think fearing the power of the
true God is what is meant here.)

J. Friend, what an adventure for Esther and Mordecai!
Will you trust God in terrible circumstances? Will
you be willing to sacrifice yourself for the
benefit of others?

V. Next week: The End of God’s Mission.

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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