Big Idea: God will and does sovereignly intervene in human history to protect His people. We should do our part in God’s larger plan as we wait until He decisively deals with evil.
I. Telling the Story
A. Esther gets Haman’s house and Mordecai is promoted. (8:1-2)
B. The request is renewed for all her people. (8:3-6)
C. The king responds: Remember what I have given you, and here is a blank check for the rest. (8:7-8)
D. The word goes out: Defend yourselves. (8:9-14)
E. Mordecai is glorified and the people rejoice. (8:15-17)
F. The enemies are identified and defeated. (9:1-19)
G. The Feast of Purim is inaugurated. (9:20-32)
II. Timeless Truth and Living Differently
A. God grants delegated authority to the state to restrain evil. (Romans 13)
B. Should Christians take up arms as Christians?
C. In the end, God will decisively deal with evil.
1) What do you think about the phrase, “to the victor go the spoils”? Is it true? Should it be? Why did the king give Esther and Mordecai Haman’s house?
2) Have you ever come down from the excitement of a big win only to realize the bigger match still sits in front of you? Why do you suppose things seem to happen in stages or phases? Why doesn’t God just do everything at once? How do you prefer to experience change – a little at a time or all at once? How do you like to enter a pool – by jumping into the deep end or by slowly walking into the shallow end?
3) Has anyone ever told you to your face that they hate you? What did that feel like? What were the dominant emotions? Has any group ever gathered together to do violence against you? Why do you suppose Christianity is hated in so many cultures? What is the basis for the hatred?
4) Should Christians bear arms against others? Is the U.S. Constitution a higher authority over Scripture? In your opinion, what is the most important principle in answering a question like this? Is defending another person an expression of care for that person? Could our duty to love others demand that we defend them? Does the admonition to turn the other cheek apply to physical harm/assault?
5) If Jesus was a pacifist, why did he clear out the Temple with a whip? If Jesus was not promoting peace, than why did he preach what he did in the Sermon on the Mount?
6) What is the role of conviction and conscience? Can a Christian have a personal conviction in response to the Holy Spirit working in his or her life that is not binding on others?
What is the difference between a personal conviction rooted in a Biblical principle and a universal command in Scripture? Can you have fellowship with someone who holds a personal conviction you do not hold for yourself?
7) When God deals with evil in the end, is He still loving? Can the violent restraint of evil be seen as love, or is that violence an equally sinful choice? When God deals with evil in the end, what are His motives? When should evil be restrained and when should it be allowed to play out?
8) What are your convictions regard self-defense and Christian pacifism?