Graces and Gallows: God at Work in the Shadows

Brian Mahon - 8/1/2021


Call to worship: Hosea 6:1-6

Text: Esther 5

Sermon Outline:

  1. Life, 5:1-8.
    • The support of prayer.
    • The exercise of faith.
    • The experience of grace.
  2. And death, 5:9-14.
    • The god of self.
    • The gods we make.
    • The misery of idolatry.
    • The counsel of the wicked.
    • The irony of retribution.
  3. And God at work.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Esther 5.
  2. What has preceded Esther's actions in chapter 4:15-17? Where is her faith as she takes her life in her hands? How do the prayers of God's people impact the scene? In 5:1, the author uses heavy regal language. Any thoughts as to why? Esther wins the king's favor. Is that active or passive? Is the exercise of faith in God supposed to be a reckless or responsible faith? How do we see thoughtfulness in Esther's tiered approach to gaining the king's favor? Is our faith a thoughtful brand?
  3. In 5:1-8, how are we meant to see God's gracious providence at work? How do we see human responsibility and divine sovereignty collaborating? When given the king's word of favor and promise, would you have pounced then or, as Esther, worked more deliberately towards the desired resolution (even though this king has tended to be wildly unpredictable)? Remember, she doesn't know what's about to happen in 5:9-14. Mordecai may be dead by morning!
  4. In 5:9-14, we're given a vivid depiction of spiritual death at play. What do you discern in terms of Haman's idolatry? What rules his heart? How does it awfully affect him? See how an idol can ruin our enjoyment of good things. What is there in our lives that, if crossed, causes everything else to lose its 'color'? What in our lives, if crossed, causes us to experience wild emotional swings? Are we feeding or starving our idols? Are Haman's companions good ones? Why not? Have we surrounded ourselves with counselors who love our souls enough to turn us from sin, etc.?
  5. How do we see God at work to bring about justice by the unjust designs wicked people intend for the righteous? What are some biblical examples? How will that play out in this case? Is there a providential reason, known only to God, for Esther's waiting another day to make her request? How will God bring the balance into Esther's favor? What's gone before that will come back to win the day eventually? Recall 2:23. Praise God He's working, even while we're sleeping. Rest easy in His perfect plan. How does Christ emerge from all the details of life and death in this chapter?
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