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Weeki Febrdary1 Ss WHEN SERVICE Is Risky - Background Passage: Esther 3:1—4:17 Lesson Passages: Esther 3:2,5-6; 4:5,8-16 BIBLICAL TRUTH, Believers are to exercise faith as they serve God in risky situations. KEY BIBLE VERSE Esther 4:14 PRONUNCIATION AID Ahasuerus [uh haz yoo EHR uhs) Esther [ESS tuhr] Haman [HAY muhn] Hathach [HAY thak] Mordecai [MAWR duh kigh] Susa [SOO suh] Peover years ago I heard from former students who were serving as short-term international missionaries. When one person to whom they had witnessed accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, he helped start some house churches in the nation, which was generally hostile to Christianity. My former students reported that when the recent convert tried to reconcile with his family, they threatened to have the missionaries arrested. Since I teach min- istry students at a Baptist college, I often hear stories about the risks involved in serving Christ around the world. Unfortunately, many believers think God has promised them a problem- free life. They focus on Bible passages that affirm God’s love and overlook the story of Esther, who knew firsthand how difficult the life of faith may become. God calls us to carry out His purposes, and sometimes our service involves risks such as physical health, jobs, reputations, or even our lives. BACKGROUND PASSAGE OVERVIEW King Ahasuerus promoted Haman to a high position in the Persian gov- ernment. Everyone bowed down before Haman except Mordecai, who was WO When Service Is Risky 1. How did Haman decide to retaliate against Mordecai for not bow- ing down? (3:6) 2. How did Esther communicate with Mordecai? (4:5) 3. Why was approaching the king dangerous for Esther? (4:11) known to be a Jew. Haman decided to retaliate against Mor- decai by killing not just Mordecai, but all the Jews in Persia. A lot was cast to determine the day for attacking the Jews. Haman convinced Ahasuerus that the Jews would defy the king’s orders, and Haman paid a large amount of money to the royal treasury. The king then authorized a decree that was sent throughout Persia, announcing that all the Jews would be eliminated. When Mordecai heard about Haman’s plan, he mourned openly. Esther learned that Mordecai and other Jews were grieving, so she questioned why via a message to him (deliv- ered by a eunuch assigned to her). Mordecai sent Esther a copy of the king’s decree calling for the slaughter of the Jews. He urged her to approach the king and help her people. Esther replied that she would be risking her life to ap- proach the king without being summoned. Mordecai an- swered that she may have been placed in her position to save her people. Esther then told Mordecai to have the Jews fast, and she would fast as well. She would go to see the king. Holman CSB 2 The entire royal staff at the King’s Gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, because the king had commanded this to be done for him. But Mordecai would not bow down or pay 5 When Haman saw that Mor- decai was not bowing down or paying him homage, he was filled with rage. FOLLOWING Gop INCLUDES LOYALTY (EsTH. 3:2,5-6) cay | 2 And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him rever- 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. Week of February 11 1M 6 And when he learned of Mor- decai’s ethnic identity, Haman 6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for decided not to do away with they had showed him the people Mordecai alone. He set out to of Mordecai: wherefore Haman destroy all of Mordecai’s people, sought to destroy all the Jews the Jews, throughout Ahasuerus’ _ that were throughout the whole kingdom. kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. Aven have you refused to “bow down to” someone because of your loyalty to God? (3:5) Verse 2. Sometime after Mordecai had saved the king’s life by reporting the assassination plot, King Ahasuerus promot- ed Haman. Haman was an Agagite, a descendant of the Amal- ekite King Agag (see 1 Sam. 15:8). Samuel had executed Agag after Saul had failed to do so. The Amalekites, a Canaanite tribe, had consistently opposed Israel in the past. After Haman was promoted, all of the royal staff were ordered to bow down in honor of Haman. Mordecai refused to bow down. Although the Bible does not state the reason for Mordecai’s refusal, there may be at least two reasons. First, as a Jew he may have felt that bowing before another human was a form of idolatry. Some Hebrews, however, had bowed down before other humans (see Gen. 23:7, for example). Second, he may have recognized that Haman came from an ethnic group that had long opposed his people. Verse 5. Because the king had ordered that people bow before Haman, the members of the royal staff confronted Mordecai. They repeatedly warned Mordecai to change his behavior, but he would not. Mordecai had told them he was a Jew, which may support the view that he understood bow- ing down to Haman to bea sin. Mordecai determined that his loyalty to God would not allow him to bow before this polit- ical figure. God alone deserves our worship. He alone de- serves our ultimate loyalty. Eventually Haman learned about Mordecai’s refusal to bow down. He was filled with rage. Haman expected every- one to follow the king’s orders. Verse 6. When Haman discovered that Mordecai was a Jew, he decided to eliminate all the Jews from Persia. We might understand a government official feeling disrespected, but Haman’s response hints at a form of racial prejudice or a WOE When Service Is Risky