Esther: Week 3 Discussion Guide

Icebreaker Question: What makes for a good villain in a story?

At last, the villain of our story is revealed: Haman. Who is this fellow? Well, Haman was essentially King Xerxes second-in-command. We’re not exactly sure what he did to earn this position, but he certainly enjoyed having it. In Esther 3:2 (NIV), we’re told, “All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him.” But there was one man who wouldn’t bow… Esther’s cousin Mordecai.

The interesting thing is Haman didn’t even notice at first, until some royal officials decided to tell him. Why? “to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.”

Whoa… that escalated quickly! Why such an extreme response? Well, Haman was a descendant of Agag, the former king of the Amalekites. This is significant because the Amalekites were Israel’s sworn enemy for generations!

So Haman, whom we come to discover was an extremely prideful and yet also insecure fellow, decided he would not only stick it to the man who refused to kneel before him, but also to the nation with whom his ancestors had many conflicts. He does this by essentially bribing King Xerxes into issuing this decree to kill “a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom.” If you notice, Haman doesn’t name the people he wants to kill and Xerxes doesn’t ask. This dehumanizes them.

Consider our world today as you jump into reflection or discussion… The screens we use for just about everything have in many ways created a dehumanizing barrier between us and the people we may disagree with or have some form of conflict with. For so long, our minds have been trained to view that which takes place on screens as a performance (movies, TV shows, even reality TV).

So, with the advent of social media and the overabundance of ideology and lifestyles being given worldwide platforms, it’s become so easy for us to grow cynical, heartless, and condemnatory of entire groups of people.

In many ways, we’ve disconnected the fact that behind every Facebook argument, behind every news story about the opposing political side doing things we don’t agree with, behind every TikTok promoting a dangerous, destructive, anti-Christian ideology, there are real people who:

-Are made in God’s image…

-Are very likely coming from a place of internal brokenness, lostness, and pain…

-Jesus died for…

-We are called to love and reach with the gospel of Jesus…

So, the next time we’re confronted with a situation involving someone who is at odds with our beliefs, convictions, or way of life, whether in person (at work, in your neighborhood, family, or some other public sector) or online, remember these words from the Lord in Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV), “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”

Reflection Questions

  1. What stood out to you in Esther 3-4:3? What can we apply from this chapter?
  1. Throughout this story, we see Haman filled with both pride and insecurity. On the surface, these two feelings seem contradictory, the truth is they’re often linked. How have you seen this to be true in your life and in the world around you?
  1. How can you avoid the pitfalls of pride and insecurity?
  1. How common is it to dehumanize those we dislike? How do we stop this from happening?
  2. When Mordecai hears the edict, he tears his clothes and covers himself in sackcloth and ashes. What’s your response to seeing injustice and evil around you?
  3. In Esther 4, we’re told, “In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” When was the last time you wept with someone or let yourself to mourn, grieve, and lament for/with other believers?

This Week

f you’re feeling like Mordecai today, reach out to someone! Share your struggle and ask Christian friends to join you in the pain and to join you in prayer and fasting. Seek the Lord together. If you know people who are struggling, reach out and pray with them and/or fast on their behalf. Or perhaps the situation doesn’t have to be that close to you in proximity. For example, you can lament, pray, and fast for the persecuted church around the world.

Memory Verse

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”—1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

Prayer Guide

Dear Lord, may my heart be grieved and moved to action by that which grieves You and has Your heart. May my heart be aligned to Yours so I may be moved to empathy and action in those spaces. Amen.

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About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.