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Leading Question: When faith is out of favor, is it best to keep it quiet, or to openly stand for truth and let the chips fall where they may?

Scripture Focus: Esther 2:1-10, 3:1-15, 4:1-14, 9:1-12; Daniel 1:1-12, 6:1-9

The Big Idea: God is always at work and can accomplish his purposes even through the messiness of our lives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Both Daniel and Esther find themselves in a foreign land that is not particularly receptive to their Jewish faith. Daniel makes his faith (and its behavioral expectations) clear. Esther, on the other hand, does not. In fact, nowhere in the book is God or even prayer mentioned.
    1. What should we make of this stark difference? Is one method better than the other? Who should we emulate—Daniel, or Esther?
    2. What are some of the challenges you face as you attempt to live out your faith in your own culture?
    3. Is your own culture supportive or antagonistic to people of faith?
  2. Esther not only keeps her identity secret, she doesn’t seem to protest taking part in an immoral competition to become the queen. After a year of preparation, she spends a night with the king and manages to please the king more than any of the other young virgins in the competition.
    1. Is Esther a good example for us?
    2. In the Septuagint (the early Greek translation of the Old Testament), the book of Esther is considerably longer than the original Hebrew version. The added material includes lengthy prayers, mentions of God, and Esther’s dislike for having to sleep with the uncircumcised king. Why do you think Jewish “translators” added this religious material? Have we done the same thing when we tell the story to our children?
    3. Do you think Esther really was religious, and it was just left out of the book?
  3. In some parts of the world, open faith in Jesus can lead to imprisonment, torture, and death.
    1. Are these times when it is best to hide our faith, or are these precisely the times when we need to openly confess Jesus and trust that God’s will will be done?
    2. On the plain of Dura, Daniel’s three friends didn’t hide their commitment to the Lord, and God brought about a great deliverance. What if Esther had done the same?
  4. Central to the story of Esther is the conflict between Mordecai, a Benjamite, and Hamann, and Agagite.
    1. After a bit of sleuthing, can you see why these two men, given their family history, would have been so bitterly opposed to each other?
    2. How much of our dissatisfaction in life stems from our inability to forgive and forget the injustices of the past?
  5. Despite the messiness of Esther’s story, we can clearly see that God was at work, even though he is nowhere mentioned in the book.
    1. What qualities did Esther have that we can emulate?
    2. What do we learn about how God works from the story of Esther?

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