Sunday, February 12, 2017

Some approaches to teaching Esther

I have changed the header on this blog to reflect that I post resources for teaching Scripture to small group.  Here is my resource for Esther.

The challenge of Esther is, of course, that the name of God is not mentioned, nor the covenant or even the law.  It is very Jewish, very sly, very dramatic, very providential.  I think it should just be taught as a whole and should not, I repeat, should not, be allegorized in any way.  I don't think any Scripture should be and should only be studied for what it is directly saying, which I realized cuts into some sermon approaches.

Why do I say sly?  Well, I mean humorous.  Think of these:
--> It is hard not to read Esther closely and see the humor or at least irony..
1.     The noblemen are afraid that their wives will misbehave because of Queen Vashti’s refusal to appear. 
2.     Haman thinks he’s the one who is going to be honored. 
3.     The king makes a law to destroy all the Jews and then forgets about it and honors Mordecai the Jew.
4.     Haman is  a big crybaby after Mordecai is honored.
5.     Haman’s wife is a shrew and worse than he is.
6.     The king is a fool and executes Haman because the king thinks he is trying to assault Esther rather than that he is trying to kill the Jews.
7.     The Persians could not just revoke  a law.  

I was going to start my lesson with this quiz, which might be a good way to pre-test to see how much Esther has seeped into their conciousness--or not.

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1.     Who is the king in the story of Esther? 
a.  Mordecai       b.  Ahasuerus       c.  Haman      d.  Cyrus        e. Darius

2.     Who is Esther’s relative and guardian?
a. Ezra        b. Haman      c.  Mordecai       d.  Ahasuerus      e.  Nehemiah

3.     Who is Vashti?
a.  the queen before Esther      b.  Esther’s maid
c.  Mordecai’s wife                      d.  Esther’s mother

4.     What does Vashti do?
a.     encourages Esther to approach the king
b.     discourages Esther from approaching the king
c.      accompanies Esther back to Jerusalem
d.     refuses to appear before the king and the nobles as the king’s feast

5.     Who is the villain in the story of Esther?
a. Ashasuerus      b.  Haman    c. Mordecai       d. Sanballat

6.     What country/empire is the setting for the story of Esther?
a. Babylonian       b. Assyrian     c.  Persia         d.  Egyptian

7.     The story of the book of Esther takes place:
a.     during the same time as Ezra and return from exile in Babylon
b.     several decades after the time of Ezra
c.      before the time of Ezra

8.     What is the big choice that Esther has to make?
a.     to leave Persia with her family and go back to Jerusalem
b.     to join a beauty contest to be in running for queen
c.      to enter the king’s presence to ask a request
d.     to not eat the food served her

9.     Why does Esther have to make her big choice?
a.     A decree from the king requires the execution of all the Jews
b.     Her family member is about to be executed for praying
c.      The king wants her to do something immoral
d.     She has to decide whether to return to Jerusalem and leave being queen

10. Esther and her family member had been born in Judah and brought as exiles to this pagan country.
a.  yes            b.  no

11. Esther’s Jewish name was
a. Hannah        b.  Hadassah    c.  Rachel        d.  Miriam

Some final takeways:
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1.     What are you here for?  What might be our “such a time as this”  that takes us out of our boxes and requires courage?
2.     What do tragic events in our lives mean? 
Humor? I heard a speaker this week say that if you can laugh at your tragedies, then you can conquer them.  Maybe.  I just think somethings are too awful to be laughed about. 
Theological lessons? (this teaches us about God).
Lessons about ourselves? (makes you stronger).
Existential? (that’s just life, live with it, keep going.) 
To become more like Christ?
           3.  God did not just preserve the direct line of Christ but his culture, too. 

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