Esther 4 • How God Works in the World


[NOTE: You will want to download the handout “How God Works in the World” in order to complete this study.]

Prior to reading this passage it’s necessary to understand the significance of Haman being an Agagite, a clan which belonged to the Amalekites, and therefore why Mordecai (in Esther 3:1-2) would not bow down to him. (You may want to review 1 Samuel 15 as well.)

The Amalekites were one of the Canaanite groups God devoted to complete destruction.

Saul was specifically ordered to destroy all the Amalekites (descendants of Esau) but instead saved King Agag and some of their choice livestock (1 Samuel 15:8-9)

Samuel was furious with Saul and relayed that the kingdom would be seized from Saul. (1 Samuel 15:28)

Samuel himself “hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal” (1 Samuel 15:33) and thus there has been bitter feelings between the Agagites and Jews for centuries.

Therefore it’s no wonder that Haman – the descendant of Agag – became so upset with Mordecai – the descendant of Jacob – for failing to bow down. (The age-old strife between the eldest and the younger.)

It’s worth mentioning that the nations of Canaan such as the Amalekites were devoted to complete destruction by God because of their complete rejection of Him in favor of false gods. In Haman and Mordecai we have the intersection of the followers of Satan vs. the followers of God.

Read verses 1-3

Q: Why is Mordecai so completely shaken?

A: Certainly the order to eliminate all the Jews throughout the whole world would be enough, but in addition it is being accomplished through the age-old conflict with the descendants of Esau and the Amalekites through Haman. This decree, in effect, has the dual effect of both physical and spiritual warfare.

Q: Is this decree limited to just the Jews living in the capital?

A: No, it extends against ALL the Jews in the whole known world, which would include those still remaining in Israel.

Q: Haman appears to have gained the upper hand at this point. What spiritual “type” or “person” might Haman represent?

A: Satan. Although God is not mentioned by name in Esther, it’s obvious that Satan attempts to work through Haman and God counters by His work through Esther and Mordecai.

Q: What was the reaction of the Jews throughout the empire? Why didn’t they just run away since the date of their destruction is nearly a year in the future?

A: Where would you go if the United Nations, for instance, unanimously agreed that on such-and-such a date all Christians would be killed? The empire is so large that it’s very close to the same thing.

Read verses 4-12

Q: What was Esther’s first response to Mordecai?

A: To address the physical needs and to have him dressed correctly so he wouldn’t be killed for being disrespectful to royalty.

Q: What was Esther’s first response to Mordecai’s request?

A: Like Vashti the queen before her, she thought she might have fallen out of favor with the king and would herself be killed for an unannounced approach to the king. She didn’t see herself as being in the “right place at the right time.”

Q: What was the purpose of such a rigid process for approaching the king?

A: Assassination was the greatest threat against kings. Killing anyone who approached the king he did not know – signified by the raising/or not raising of the scepter – was a security mechanism to protect him.

[FYI: Historically, this king is eventually assassinated so the threat was real.]

Q: What was Mordecai’s personal example to Esther in his approaching the king’s gate and mourning?

A: It illustrated that personal risk would have to be undertaken to communicate the problem.

Read verses 13-17

Q: What was Mordecai’s counsel in v.13?

A: There were at least four aspects:

This last point puts everything into perspective, interweaving the sovereignty of God into Esther’s life, having made her queen not for her own sake but for His purposes. Therefore she IS in the right place at the right time.

Q: Why would we consider Esther’s plan to be spiritually proactive?

A: Not merely reacting to the emotions of the moment, she got people to fast and pray FOR HER. Either the king would be supernaturally moved to call for her or she would have to be prepared to break the law and go see him. In either case, she did not want to do so without SPIRITUAL support.

Overall Application

Esther 5:4, “Esther said, ‘If it pleases the king, may the king and Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for him.’”

Esther 5:8, “’if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and do what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king says.’”