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YOUTHWORKS BIBLE STUDY SERIES

O L D T E STA M E NT

The unseen hand of God

Matt Brain


First published September 2009 Anglican Youthworks PO Box A287, Sydney South NSW 1235 Ph: 612 8268 3344 Fax: 612 8268 3357 www.publications.youthworks.net Copyright Youthworks Press © Matt Brain This book is copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the publisher. Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. National Library of Australia ISBN 978-1-921137-88-4 Written by Matt Brain Edited by Julie Firmstone and Valerie Williams Designed by Rebecca Jee Printed by Focus Press


The Old Testament Book of Esther reads like a great movie script. In it, we meet characters that hold our attention through the whole story: • Xerxes - the King, with the power of life and death. He is willing to dismiss his wife (the Queen) for the slightest insult. • Mordecai - the old man who remains obedient to his faith and refuses to compromise. • Haman - the power-broker, mad with desire for fame, fortune and prestige. and • Esther - the young beauty, plucked from the city streets and destined to become Queen and carry the destiny of her people on her shoulders. God is there through all the events in the story of Esther though he is never actually mentioned. He works in the lives of his people and controls everything. When we look back at ordinary events, we can see with hindsight that God has been caring for us, bringing us to him and making us more like Jesus. Esther’s story will capture you with its charm, betrayal and intrigue and then strengthen you with steel found in few stories. How do we cope with a world gone mad? How can we deal with injustice? How do we face those who do wrong - and get away with it? How can we trust God in the midst of turmoil when we doubt that he will come through? Esther discovered the truth and this is her story.


Mordecai (Esther 4:14)


ESTHER 1 AND 2 What is your favourite movie? Describe some of the characters in this movie and explain why you like or dislike them. The book of Esther has all the ingredients of a blockbuster movie intrigue, action, love, violence, suspense - what more could we want?! Better still, mixed into the story we see the God who comes through for his people. Today’s study will introduce the main players in this story and set the scene for the rest of the book.

Read Esther 1 and 2 What are your first impressions about the world that is described here?

What do you think life would be like in these times for: • a King (like Xerxes)?

• a Queen (like Vashti)?


• an ordinary citizen (like Mordecai or Esther)?

Let’s take a look at a profile of each of the main characters: Character 1: Xerxes Where did Xerxes come from? (1:1-2)

What are some things he does in these chapters?

Draw a picture of what you think Xerxes looked like, then explain your description.


How would you describe his personality?

Character 2: Esther Where did Esther come from? (2:5-7)

Draw

our des cripti on.

What is her part in the story? (2:8-18)

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What kind of person is Esther? (2:19-22)

Character 3: Mordecai Where did Mordecai come from? (2:5-6)

What is his part in the story? (2:5-7, 10-11, 19-23)

What kind of person is Mordecai?

Draw a picture of what you think Mordecai looked like, then explain your description.


There is one character in the book of Esther who is not mentioned once throughout the whole book, and yet he is the main person in the story. God is the silent character in the story of Esther. However, as you read the story, you will see that while you cannot see him, God is clearly at work. There are no coincidences in the story of Esther, but God works to save his people and all things work together for the good of his people by his unseen hand. Think: In the story so far, where can you see God at work?

YOU AND GOD Esther is crowned Queen and yet she continues to show obedience to her guardian Mordecai. What does this tell us about the kind of person Esther is? How can her attitude be an example for us?


Esther is given an important place in society. What kind of expectation do we usually place on people with this kind of responsibility? (For example, famous actors or singers, sports people, politicians etc.)

YOU AND OTHERS What kind of responsibilities do you have as a Christian in your own situation? (Think about school, home, time with your friends, work etc.)

Spend time praying Pray that you can be a good witness in whatever circumstances God places you in each day.

In Philippians 1:20, Paul writes: I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.


Do you ever have times when you feel God is absent from life? How can you cope when it seems like the bad guys are in control? How can you stand up for your faith when the odds are stacked against you? The book of Esther shows us that there are no coincidences in life, but reveals the God who is always in control, even when you can’t see it. About the author Matt Brain has been involved in youth ministry for 15 years and is currently the minister of the Anglican Church in Kalbarri, Western Australia. He is co-author of The Bible Overview. About the Youthworks Bible Study series More than ever, young people today need answers to life’s big questions. The Youthworks Bible Study series is designed to challenge and encourage young people to be confident in their faith in Jesus in a changing world. The Studies have been written by experienced youth leaders and are arranged into one of three categories – Old Testament, New Testament and Topical – for a clear overview of the Christian message. ISBN 978-1-921137-88-4

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