18 – The Queen’s Supplication

18 – The Queen’s Supplication2017-12-31T20:32:55+00:00

Sabbath School Lesson 18 – The Queen’s Supplication

Special Sabbath School Offering for Northeastern Africa–”The Horn of Africa”

God bless your generous offerings coming from a devoted, loving heart!

Sabbath, May 5, 2018 

“… Conditions in the Medo-Persian realm were rapidly changing. Darius Hystaspes, under whose reign the Jews had been shown marked favor, was succeeded by Xerxes the Great. It was during his reign that those of the Jews who had failed of heeding the message to flee were called upon to face a terrible crisis. Having refused to take advantage of the way of escape God had provided, now they were brought face to face with death.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 600.

Malice against an entire people

1. How far did the unjustified hatred of Haman against Mordecai go? Could the Jewish people imagine that such hostile feelings against them were being advanced?

Esther 3:6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

“Through Haman the Agagite, an unscrupulous man high in authority in Medo-
Persia, Satan worked at this time to counterwork the purposes of God. Haman cherished bitter malice against Mordecai, a Jew. Mordecai had done Haman no harm, but had simply refused to show him worshipful reverence. Scorning to ‘lay hands on Mordecai alone,’ Haman plotted ‘to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.’ Esther 3:6.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 600.

2. What deadly decree did he advance with the approval of the king?

Esther 3:7-10 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar. 8And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. 9If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries. 10And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy.

“Misled by the false statements of Haman, Xerxes was induced to issue a decree providing for the massacre of all the Jews ‘scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces’ of the Medo-Persian kingdom. Verse 8. A certain day was appointed on which the Jews were to be destroyed and their property confiscated. Little did the king realize the far-reaching results that would have accompanied the complete carrying out of this decree. Satan himself, the hidden instigator of the scheme, was trying to rid the earth of those who preserved the knowledge of the true God.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 600, 601.

3. Can we imagine what effect such an edict would have on the people of Israel who had not returned to Canaan? Did they only mourn and weep, or did they earnestly seek help from the Lord?

Esther 4:1-3 When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; 2And came even before the king’s gate: for none might enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. 3And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

“ ‘In every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.’ Esther 4:3. The decree of the Medes and Persians could not be revoked; apparently there was no hope; all the Israelites were doomed to destruction….

“The crisis that Esther faced demanded earnest, quick action; but both she and Mordecai realized that unless God should work mightily in their behalf, all their own feeble efforts would be unavailing.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 601; Review and Herald, January 23, 1908.

Seeking the Lord with fasting and prayer

4. What great sacrifice was Queen Esther ready to make for the sake of her people? What message did she send to Mordecai for all the Jews living in Shushan? 

Esther 4:15-17 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, 16Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. 17So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

“But the plots of the enemy were defeated by a Power that reigns among the children of men. In the providence of God, Esther, a Jewess who feared the Most High, had been made queen of the Medo-Persian kingdom. Mordecai was a near relative of hers. In their extremity, they decided to appeal to Xerxes in behalf of their people. Esther was to venture into his presence as an intercessor. ‘Who knoweth,’ said Mordecai, ‘whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Verse 14.

“… So Esther took time for communion with God, the source of her strength [Esther 4:16, 17 quoted.]” –Prophets and Kings, p. 601.

“So Esther took time for communion with God, the source of her strength, and the One in whose hand is the heart of every earthly ruler, to turn it whithersoever He will, as He turneth the rivers of water.” –Review and Herald, January 23, 1908.

5. With what moving message did Esther address the king after two invitations and dinners with Haman? How did King Ahasuerus feel when he heard such terrible news?

Esther 7:3-6 Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: 4For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage. 5Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so? 6And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

“If the love of life causes earnest pleadings with those that can only kill the body, how fervent should our prayers be to Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell! How should we pray for the salvation of our relatives, friends, and all around us! When we petition great men, we must be cautious not to give them offence; even just complaints must often be kept back. But when we approach the King of kings with reverence, we cannot ask or expect too much. Though nothing but wrath be our due, God is able and willing to do exceeding abundantly, even beyond all we can ask or think.” –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Comments on Esther 7:1-6.

The death decree challenged

6. What was Esther’s petition in behalf of her people? What permission did King Ahasuerus grant to Mordecai to counteract the effects of the previous decree and save the Jews from death? 

Esther 8:5, 6, 8 And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces: 6For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?… 8Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.

“It was time to be earnest, when the church of God was at stake. Esther, though safe herself, fell down and begged for the deliverance of her people. We read of no tears when she begged for her own life, but although she was sure of that, she wept for her people. Tears of pity and tenderness are the most Christ-like. According to the constitution of the Persian government, no law or decree could be repealed or recalled. This is so far from speaking to the wisdom and honour of the Medes and Persians, that it clearly shows their pride and folly. This savors of that old presumption which ruined all, We will be as gods! It is God’s prerogative not to repent, or to say what can never be altered or unsaid. Yet a way was found, by another decree,…” –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Comments on Esther 8:3, 14.

From mourning to joy and gratitude 

7. With the king’s permission and authority, what did Mordecai immediately do? What did the Jews do on the day that was originally going to be one of terror and annihilation?

Esther 8:9, 10, 14, 16, 17 Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. 10And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:… 14So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace…. 16The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. 17And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

“God wrought marvelously for His penitent people; and a counter decree issued by the king, allowing them to fight for their lives, was rapidly communicated to every part of the realm by mounted couriers, who were ‘hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment.’ ‘And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.’ Esther 8:14, 17.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 602.

Personal questions

  • Was Haman clear and well reasoned in his speech to King Ahasuerus?
  • How great is our responsibility when we participate in human plans that affect the interests and lives of others? 
  • What should characterize the Christian’s conversation and behavior? 

“Everything that Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight. Truth is of God; deception, in every one of its myriad forms, is of Satan; and whoever in any way departs from the straight line of truth is betraying himself into the power of the wicked one. Yet it is not a light or an easy thing to speak the exact truth. We cannot speak the truth unless we know the truth; and how often preconceived opinions, mental bias, imperfect knowledge, errors of judgment, prevent a right understanding of matters with which we have to do! We cannot speak the truth unless our minds are continually guided by Him who is truth.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 68.

For additional study

“The decree which is to go forth against the people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews in the time of Esther. The Persian edict sprang from the malice of Haman toward Mordecai. Not that Mordecai had done him harm, but he had refused to show him reverence which belongs only to God. The king’s decision against the Jews was secured under false pretenses through misrepresentation of that peculiar people. Satan instigated the scheme in order to rid the earth of those who preserved the knowledge of the true God. But his plots were defeated by a counterpower that reigns among the children of men. Angels that excel in strength were commissioned to protect the people of God, and the plots of their adversaries returned upon their own heads. The Protestant world today see in the little company keeping the Sabbath a Mordecai in the gate. His character and conduct, expressing reverence for the law of God, are a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord and are trampling upon His Sabbath; the unwelcome intruder must by some means be put out of the way.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 450.

“The decree which is to go forth against the people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews in the time of Esther. The Persian edict sprang from the malice of Haman toward Mordecai. Not that Mordecai had done him harm, but he had refused to show him reverence which belongs only to God. The king’s decision against the Jews was secured under false pretenses through misrepresentation of that peculiar people. Satan instigated the scheme in order to rid the earth of those who preserved the knowledge of the true God. But his plots were defeated by a counterpower that reigns among the children of men. Angels that excel in strength were commissioned to protect the people of God, and the plots of their adversaries returned upon their own heads. The Protestant world today see in the little company keeping the Sabbath a Mordecai in the gate. His character and conduct, expressing reverence for the law of God, are a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord and are trampling upon His Sabbath; the unwelcome intruder must by some means be put out of the way.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 450.

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