Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 27

Prayer Point:  It is the hope of the resurrection, the prospect of living forever with God, that allows us to face the suffering of the present.  Pray that God will deliver us from fear and give us the faith to believe that our true hope is that Jesus is coming soon and we will live forever with God.

John 12:44-50

What does it mean for Jesus to be the light of the world? What does his light illuminate?

When we believe in Jesus, we also believe in _____________________.

When we see Jesus, we also see _______________________.

Jesus came to save the world. Who judges those who hear Jesus’ words, but does not keep them? Who directs Jesus’ mission and guides his words? Where do the commands of God lead?

Acts 17:16-34

What distressed Paul about the city of Athens? In what two settings does Paul preach the gospel? Why is Paul brought before the Areopagus? The Areopagus was a council made up of the leading academics and philosophers in Athens. These men were responsible for ruling on matters of religion and morality (ESV Study Bible).

How did Paul’s careful observations of Athens help him tailor the gospel message specifically for the Areopagus? What sources does Paul quote in his sermon (see verse 28)? How is the God that Paul preaches different from the Greek gods (see verses 24-29)? What is God asking the Greeks to do in verse 30?

Why do many of the Greeks scoff at Paul’s message? What do they find unbelievable in the gospel?

Esther 2:5-23 – Vashti creates a job opening

In this chapter we are introduced to Mordecai son of Jair … the son of Kish. From what tribe does Mordecai come? (Mordecai is of the tribe of Benjamin.)
Mordecai is also related to a fellow named Kish. This is important because Kish was the father of Saul who was the first king chosen to rule Israel so many years before. It also means that Mordecai would have been considered as royalty had not Saul taken himself out of the running as king. Let’s just say that Mordecai might have been considered as someone of some influence. Who is Hadassah? (Hadassah is also known as Esther. Esther is her Persian name.))

What is Esther’s relationship to Mordecai? (Esther is Mordecai’s cousin but because she was orphaned at a young age he treated her as his own daughter.)
Who is Hegai? (The answer to this question is actually in verse 2:3. He is the king’s eunuch and in charge of the king’s harem – a wise choice for the king.)
What brought Hegai and Esther together? (An edict from the king ordered all the beautiful girls (read virgins) of the kingdom to Susa to be placed in the care of Hegai. From this harem the next queen would be chosen. The bible tells us that Esther was “taken”. When I see “taken” I think that there was an element of force attached. The bible does not tell us that Esther was “willing”.)

What similarities can you see between Esther and Joseph (Jacob’s son)? (Like Joseph, Esther found favor in the eyes of the king’s eunuch. She, like Joseph, was treated well. In her case, she was given special food and beauty treatments. Of course, the aim was to make her most pleasing to the king.)
What bit of information had Esther withheld from the court officials? (Esther did not tell the court officials that she was a Jew.)
Why would Esther withhold this information? (Esther was instructed by Mordecai not to reveal that she was a Jew. This will become important as the story unfolds.)

What kinds of rigors was Esther subjected to in this process of elimination? (“Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes [aka Ahasuerus], she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics.” (Esther 2:12 NIV) [A year’s beauty spa! – j.t.])

How did the king manage to choose one among so many? (The “candidate” would go to the king in the evening and in the morning she would go to another part of the palace where the previous “candidates” were kept (by another eunuch). This eunuch was, in fact, in charge of the concubines. From that one may assume that the “interview” with the king was probably of an intimate nature.)

How was one of the “candidates” to win a “second interview”? (No one could return to the king unless he had asked for her specifically by name.)
Esther, like Joseph, manages to win favor from everyone she comes in contact with. What of the king? Was he impressed? (“Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins.” (Esther 2:17 NIV))

Esther was the fairest of all the virgins in the empire and thus King Xerxes [aka Ahasuerus] crowned her as his queen. [Almost sounds like a fairy tale. – j.t.]
We know that King Xerxes [aka Ahasuerus] likes to throw a party, what does he do for Esther? (“And the king gave a great banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.” (Esther 2:18 NIV)

Meanwhile, Mordecai was not twiddling his thumbs. What does Mordecai happen to overhear? (“During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. [aka Ahasuerus]” (Esther 2:21 NIV))

What does Mordecai do with this information? (Mordecai brings this information of the plot to Queen Esther who, in turn, brings it to the king giving credit to Mordecai. When the investigation of the charges is proven true, the sentence of the king is: send the traitors to the gallows. (Esther 2:22-23))

While Esther may be the queen, she shows significant deference to Mordecai, as one would show to a parent. This submissive attitude will be displayed throughout the whole book.

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