Friday, September 10, 2010

Bible Study of Esther - Intro

Bible study: The Book of Esther

I am SO excited about this study of Esther!

Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention the name of God even once.
Not. even. once.
Not only that, but no where else in the Bible do we see a quote from the book of Esther, nor are any of the characters in Esther mentioned elsewhere.

So why on earth are we going to study Esther?

Because Esther is in God's Word and Romans 15:4 says “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
God's not appearing on the pages of Esther on purpose because He has lessons to teach us about when we cannot find Him with our eyes and have to look into the Word and see the things through eyes of faith.

Because Esther demonstrates the providence of God. God's name is not in Esther but that doesn't mean He isn't there. My friends can often tell if I wrote something or if I chose the colors for something because it looks or sounds like me. I don't have to put my name on everything for them to know it's me—they can see my fingerprints all over it. Well, that's how the book of Esther is. God's name might not be mentioned even once, but His fingerprints are all over it.

There's as much to learn about God from Esther as there is the other books of the Bible. Just because He isn't obvious doesn't mean He's not there! He's there, behind the scenes, working things for His purposes.
Studying Esther is studying what might be going on behind the scenes when we don't know where to find God. Esther tells us of the character of the unseen God who manifests Himself in ordinary events. Human flesh and blood may be at work, but the bottom line is that God is at work, and that is providence.
There are times God works through miracles and other times the miracle is simply God working naturally through a person. That is the miracle. That's what Esther is about—God working through the natural events of Esther's life.

Let's take a quick look at the historical background of Esther.

During the days of the kings, the kingdom of Israel divided and eventually they were taken captive by the Babylonians who scattered them throughout the Babylonian territory. It was then that Daniel ended up in Nebuchadnezzars's court with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The Babylonians were later conquered by the Persians and Cyrus the Great issued a decree that the Israelites could return to their homes in Israel. Some returned as we see in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but some chose to remain where they were and they almost disappeared into the Persian culture. Esther and Mordecai were among those who stayed even when they could've returned to the Promised Land, and, it doesn't even appear they longed to return.

They were far from God, yet God was still working in their lives for His purpose. That offers us so much hope in our lives and in our times! How many times have we not been living where or how God wanted us to? (Are we now?) But that does not stop God now just like it didn't in Esther's day!

Later, the Persians were conquered by the Greeks with Alexander the Great at the helm, and that's a name most of us are familiar with. Esther takes place about 483 BC and covers about 10 years. Chronologically, it's wedged between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7, when some of the Jews have returned to Israel and have rebuilt the temple, but not the walls of Jerusalem.

Sometimes God simply does what He wants done, without any human involvement, like when He parted the Red Sea. Other times He requires that people act responsibly and trust God. God did not fulfill Esther's destiny for her. She had to act and obey. In the same way, there's something God is calling you and me to and we need to act and obey, just as Esther did. God is not going to fulfill your destiny without you!

This week, as we do Week 1 in our workbooks, watch for ways that
It's tough being a woman in another woman's shadow.

If you don't have a workbook yet, you can download the first week's lessons here and purchase the book at the Lifeway Christian Bookstores, through the Lifeway site, or through Amazon or CBD.


If you have the audios or the videos of this study, please listen to or watch the Introductory Session. If you don't have them, you can download this week's audio here for $3.99 and the video here for $4.99. These are optional.

If you do not have the audio or the video, you can find the Viewer Guide answers here. This week's viewer guide is on pages 8 & 9 in the workbook.

The book of Esther is full of banquets and beauty. So, to kick off the study and to get to know each other a little, tell me about the best banquet OR the most interesting banquet you've ever attended. I know some of you have some interesting stories and I'd LOVE to hear to them!

For those of you interested in joining the study, but don't know how to leave comments, it's real easy. Between my signature and the bar of flowers, there's a line that says: Written by Patty Wysong. In purple you'll see a number and the word Comments. Click the word Comments and it will bring up a little pop up screen where you can type in your comment. Select Anonymous if you don't have an account and leave your name in the comment.

6 comments:

  1. I LOVE Esther. And everything you have written here about it. God IS there, just not in name.

    Banquet, eh? Not sure that I've been to one per se, but my Bat Mitzvah party back when I was 13 was quite a romp. :)

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  2. I'm with Joanne, LOVE Esther, and I love this study. Finished it earlier this year.

    The best banquet I attended beyond my wedding reception was an advent dinner at a local church. The men serve the ladies and each table had a sponsor. The sponsor brought in her own china and decorations and each table had a theme. The room looked so beautiful I remember I had tears because I knew it was a small glimpse of heaven.

    To top it off, the speaker was Ellie LaFaro who asked if she could bring her best friend. Her best friend is Kathy Troccolli and together these ladies ministered and blessed us with word and song.

    I felt like a princess just being there. It was amazing and I pray every woman gets to experience that feeling.

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  3. I am so excited to be joining this study...One question, will it work for me even though I can't afford the audio or video component? I have the workbook already.
    As for the best banquet I've ever been to, I can only recall having gone to one. It was in my early married years and my husband's employer was putting it on. For a couple thousand people. I remember it as very crowded, but everyone was pleasant enough. It was fairly decorated for the season (Christmas). St. Vincent's hospital was the one throwing it.

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  4. Hi Shelley! It's so good to see you here!! =]

    You do NOT need the audio nor the video. Not at all.

    There's a link on my post for the viewer guide answers so you can have the info to fill in the blanks without the audios, which I REALLY appreciate! I was so thankful to see that! =]

    I'm so glad you're joining us! =]
    Hugs!

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  5. Jo and Julie! Thanks for stopping by! I'm about bouncing in my chair over this study! =] =]

    Hugs to both of you.

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  6. I love the story of Esther! Hmm. Banquets? We've held a few gatherings for employees. My favorite was in Switzerland at the Grand Victorian Hotel in Interlaken. We arranged a banquet in one of their ballrooms. The women dressed in gowns,guys in tuxedos, the music. Most of all the memories!!!!

    I can only imagine the Banquet He will set before us!!!!!!!!

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