1. A WICKED DECREE CAUSES A GREAT CRISIS
a. What were the names of the Medo-Persian kings that signed the first two decrees (in B.C. 536 and 528 respectively) allowing the Jews to return to their homeland? Ezra 1:1–3; 6:1, 2, 6–8.
b. What crisis did the children of Israel meet during the reign of Ahasuerus in B.C. 510? Esther 3:8–13. What anguish did the decree cause among the Jews? Esther 4:3.
c. What message had the Lord sent to them before the crisis? Zechariah 2:6–9.
“The Lord foresaw the troublous times that were to follow during the reign of Xerxes—the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther—and He not only wrought a change of feeling in the hearts of men in authority but also inspired Zechariah to plead with the exiles to return. . . .
“It was still the Lord's purpose, as it had been from the beginning, that His people should be a praise in the earth, to the glory of His name.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 598, 599.
2. GOD’S PROVIDENCE DEFEATS THE PLAN OF SATAN
a. When faced with a crisis, what should God’s people always remember? Romans 8:31. How did the providence of God work to defeat the plan of the enemy? Esther 2:15, 16.
“Satan himself, the hidden instigator of the scheme, was trying to rid the earth of those who preserved the knowledge of the true God. . . . But the plots of the enemy were defeated by a Power that reigns among the children of men.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 601.
b. Did the king know that his decree would include his own Jewish wife in the prospective massacre? Why did Mordecai find it providential that Esther was now queen? Esther 4:13, 14.
“Mordecai was a near relative of [Esther’s]. In their extremity they decided to appeal to Xerxes in behalf of their people. Esther was to venture into his presence as an intercessor.”—Ibid.
c. What instruction did Queen Esther send to Mordecai? What shows that she was ready to sacrifice her life in behalf of her people? Esther 4:16.
“The crisis that Esther faced demanded quick, earnest action; but both she and Mordecai realized that unless God should work mightily in their behalf, their own efforts would be unavailing. So Esther took time for communion with God, the source of her strength.” —Ibid.
“The trying experiences that came to God’s people in the days of Esther were not peculiar to that age alone. . . .
“The same spirit that in ages past led men to persecute the true church, will in the future lead to the pursuance of a similar course toward those who maintain their loyalty to God. Even now preparations are being made for this last great conflict.”—Ibid., p. 605.
3. WHAT PRAYING AND FASTING CAN DO
a. After Esther had spent three days praying and fasting, what favorable reaction did she receive when she appeared before her husband? Esther 5:1–3.
“At a time when it seemed that no power could save them, Esther and the women associated with her, by fasting and prayer and prompt action, met the issue.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 245.
b. What invitation did Esther extend to her husband and Haman, and what was Haman’s reaction upon its fulfillment? Esther 5:4, 5, 12, 13. What did Haman’s wife suggest to him when she saw his hatred of Mordecai? Esther 5:14.
c. How was God’s providence at work the night before the second banquet? Esther 6:1–3. What did the king tell Haman to do just as he arrived to ask permission to kill Mordecai? Esther 6:4–10.
d. How did Haman feel when he hurried home to tell what had just happened? Esther 6:11, 12. What warning did Zeresh give her husband? Esther 6:13.
“God’s love for us is proved daily; yet we are thoughtless of His favors and indifferent to His entreaties. He seeks to impress us with His Spirit of tenderness, His love and forbearance; but we scarcely recognize the marks of His kindness and have little sense of the lesson of love He desires us to learn. Some, like Haman, forget all God’s favors, because Mordecai is before them and is not disgraced; because their hearts are filled with enmity and hatred rather than love, the spirit of our dear Redeemer, who gave His precious life for His enemies. We profess to have the same Father, to be bound for the same immortal home, to enjoy the same solemn faith, and to believe the same testing message; and yet many are at strife with one another like quarrelsome children.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 222.
4. GOD CAN REVERSE DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
a. What petition did Esther make to King Ahasuerus at the second banquet? Esther 7:3, 4. Astonished by the words of Esther, what did the king ask her? Esther 7:5, 6.
b. What did the chamberlains suggest to the king when they saw his anger against Haman? Esther 7:7, 10. What should wicked people bear in mind when they are intent on hurting others? Proverbs 26:27.
“Mordecai was given the position of honor formerly occupied by Haman. He ‘was next unto King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren’ (Esther 10:3); and he sought to promote the welfare of Israel. Thus did God bring His chosen people once more into favor at the Medo-Persian court, making possible the carrying out of His purpose to restore them to their own land. But it was not until several years later, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I, the successor of Xerxes the Great, that any considerable number returned to Jerusalem, under Ezra.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 602-605.
c. What counter decree was ordered by Ahasuerus? Esther 8:5, 13. How were the Jews, who had been seeking the Lord’s help through prayer and fasting, delivered? Esther 9:1, 2, 16, 17.
“God wrought marvelously for His penitent people; and a counter decree issued by the king, allowing them to fight for their lives, was rapidly communicated to every part of the realm by mounted couriers, who were ‘hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment’ (Esther 8:14).”—Ibid., p. 602.
“For certain things, fasting and prayer are recommended and appropriate. In the hand of God they are a means of cleansing the heart and promoting a receptive frame of mind. We obtain answers to our prayers because we humble our souls before God.”—Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 187, 188.
5. HOW HISTORY WILL BE REPEATED
a. What prophetic words will the commandment-keeping people of God see fulfilled in the near future? Matthew 24:9; Revelation 12:17.
“The same spirit that in ages past led men to persecute the true church, will in the future lead to the pursuance of a similar course toward those who maintain their loyalty to God. Even now preparations are being made for this last great conflict.
“The decree that will finally go forth against the remnant people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews. Today the enemies of the true church see in the little company keeping the Sabbath commandment, a Mordecai at the gate. . . .
“Satan will arouse indignation against the minority who refuse to accept popular customs and traditions. Men of position and reputation will join with the lawless and the vile to take counsel against the people of God. Wealth, genius, education, will combine to cover them with contempt. Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith. By false representations and angry appeals, men will stir up the passions of the people. Not having a ‘Thus saith the Scriptures’ to bring against the advocates of the Bible Sabbath, they will resort to oppressive enactments to supply the lack. . . . On this battlefield will be fought the last great conflict in the controversy between truth and error.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 605, 606.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did God foretell the crisis during Esther’s reign faced by the Jews?
2. What was Esther’s first step in seeking to avert the catastrophe?
3. How did God change the plans of evil men and devils in Esther’s time? Will He do the same today?
4. How did God punish Haman for instigating the crisis?
5. How did God use this crisis, providentially, as a tool for evangelism—and explain the way history will victoriously repeat itself.