The following lesson was prepared for a small group of students. The actual lesson is written out to include all the main points of the Book of Esther. The students who attended when this lesson was taught were ages 5-8. It was adapted and modified to their attention span and they stayed engaged and participated throughout the lesson. An option for this lesson is to have part 1 and part 2 of this amazing Book about God using ordinary people to carry out His plans.
Bible Passage: Esther 1-10
Bible Story Title: God uses Mordecai and Esther to thwart Haman’s evil plan
Target Age Group: Ages 5-11 (K-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
Supply List: Bibles, Map of Ahasuerus’ kingdom, activity page printouts, printouts of finger puppets, crayons, scissors, tape
Learning Goal: Students will learn that God uses people to carry out His plans.
Learning Activity #2: Finger puppets Students can make finger puppets and re-enact the lesson from Esther.
Memory Verse: “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21
Bible Lesson: God uses Mordecai and Esther to thwart Haman’s evil plan
(Begin with prayer)
Let’s start by reading our memory verse for today. Recite 2 Timothy 2:20-21. If we are followers of Jesus ‘we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’ (Ephesians 2:10) When we read ‘anyone who cleanses himself from what is dishonorable’, means that we confess our sin and turn away from those things that are displeasing to God (1 John 1:9). When believers choose to walk in the ways that please God according to what is written in His Word, what does Timothy tell us we will be? (A vessel or an instrument) for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work)
As we turn to Esther for our Bible lesson I want you to be thinking about which characters were ‘vessels for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.’
(Brief review) We have been learning about how God punished His people for their sin and disobedience to Him. After plenty of warnings to turn away from their sins, He punished His people by allowing Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon to take them captive for 70 years. After the 70 years they were allowed to return to Jerusalem. Only about 50,000 returned to live in their own land. Many other Jewish people stayed in the land they had lived for 70 years.
No matter where God’s people are He is still their God and keeps all of His promises to them. The Jews were God’s chosen people. God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation from his family. God would bless Abraham’s family. (Gen 12:3) God said that He would be the God of Abraham’s descendants forever (Gen. 17:7) No matter how sinful and wicked God’s people were; He would always keep His promise to Abraham and never abandon His people.
I mentioned these promises from God to Abraham that were made many, many years before the Book of Esther was written. These promises are important to remember because in the Book of Esther God’s name is never mentioned.
- God always keeps His promises He will not abandon His people.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Esther. Let’s find out about the king of the land where the Jews who did not return to Jerusalem are living. Read Esther 1:1-2. Who is the king? (Ahasuerus) How large was his kingdom (Show a map-India to Ethiopia-over 127 provinces) Where did the king live? (Susa, the citadel)
King Ahasuerus gave a feast for all the leaders of the 127 provinces. This feast lasted for 180 days. During the feast the king showed off all his riches and greatness. (1:4)
The king had a second feast for all the people who were gathered in Susa. This feast was 7 days and it took place in the king’s garden.
While the king was having his feast his wife, Queen Vashti gave a feast for the women in the palace.
On the last day of the feast the king who had been drinking wine wanted to show everyone at his feast his beautiful queen. He sent 7 of his men to bring her to his feast.
Queen Vashti refused to come to the king’s feast. When his seven men returned saying, “Queen Vashti refuses to come” the king became very angry. The king asked his wise men about what to do about the queen’s behavior. They told him that he should not allow her to be queen anymore because she set a bad example for all the women living in the kingdom. If the king didn’t punish her disrespect, all the women in the kingdom would behave this way towards their husbands. The king was pleased with their advice and sent out letters to all the people living in his kingdom.
The king’s young men who served him suggested that all the beautiful young unmarried women be brought before the king so he could choose a queen to replace Vashti. The king liked their suggestion so they went out to gather all the beautiful young unmarried women.
King Ahasuerus is one of the four main characters in the Book of Esther. We are going to discover 2 more in the next verses we will read. Let’s read Esther 2:5-7. What did you learn about Mordecai from these verses? (Jew, Benjaminite, taken to Babylon as a captive, brought up Esther (Hadassah) his cousin because her parents died) What do you learn about Esther from these verses? (She is also called Hadassah, her cousin Mordecai raised her when her parents died, had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at)
Mordecai and Esther were Jews who did not return to Jerusalem. We don’t know why they didn’t return to their own land but we will soon discover how God used Esther and Mordecai to carry out His plan.
When Esther was taken with the other beautiful young women, the man in charge of their care Hegai was pleased with her and she won his favor more than the other women. He quickly provided her with makeup, food and seven women to help take care of her. He let her live in the best place of the house that the young women were staying.
- We don’t know what Esther did to win Hegai’s favor. Even though God’s name is not mentioned in this book we can look to His Word to see how a person can gain favor in the sight of others. “For You bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12
Esther loved Mordecai and honored him as her father. He had instructed her not to tell anyone that she was a Jew and she obeyed his instructions.
When it was Esther’s turn to go before the king he loved her more than all the women and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the other young women. He chose her to be his new queen and threw a great feast for his officials and servants.
One day Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate and he overheard a plot by two men to kill the king. He quickly sent a message to Esther and she told the king what Mordecai overheard. The men who were plotting to kill the king were put to death.
The king promoted a man named Haman to an important position in his kingdom. He commanded that all of his servants at the king’s gate to bow down to Haman and show him honor.
Let’s read Esther 3:2-5. We are reading a book of the Bible that doesn’t mention God’s name but one of the main character’s behavior points to the One, True God. Who did not bow down when Haman was present? (Mordecai) How often did the king’s servants try to get Mordecai to bow down to Haman? (Day after day) Why didn’t Mordecai bow and honor Haman? (He is a Jew) Why would being a Jew keep Mordecai from bowing down to Haman? (Jews have God’s laws and commandments) What commandment was Mordecai obeying? (The first and second commandment Ex. 20:3-5)
Haman was filled with anger when he saw that Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him. He was so angry he wouldn’t be happy with only Mordecai’s death; he wanted all the Jews living in Ahasuerus’ kingdom destroyed. He went to the king and told him that there were people living in his kingdom that do not keep the king’s laws. Haman convinced the king to make a law that would get rid of them. He would even pay the king 10,000 talents of silver to destroy them. The king gave Haman his signet ring and told him to do what seems best. Haman made a law that said on the 13th day of the twelfth month all the people throughout the kingdom were to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all Jews. He had letters written and sealed with the king’s ring and sent the letters to every province in the kingdom. With the king’s seal the law could not be changed. The future of the Jewish people was not good news!
When Mordecai learned all about Haman’s evil plan to destroy all the Jews, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes and cried out with a loud and bitter cry. In all of the areas that had received news of the king’s law the Jews did as Mordecai, they fasted, wept and mourned in sackcloth.
Esther didn’t know what Haman had done. She could only see that Mordecai was in a state of great mourning. It troubled her to see Mordecai weeping and crying wearing sackcloth and ashes. She sent her servants with some clothes for him but he refused to put them on. Esther sent someone to find out why Mordecai was acting like this. Mordecai told her what Haman had done and even sent her a letter showing Haman’s plan to destroy all the Jews. Mordecai asked Esther to beg for help from the king.
Esther heard all that Mordecai had told her messenger. She sent the messenger back and said that there is a law that if anyone goes into the king’s presence without an invitation will be killed. She has not been invited to be with the king for 30 days.
Let’s read what Mordecai says in Esther 4:13-14. Esther decided to follow Mordecai’s advice. She asked Mordecai and all the Jews living in Susa to not eat or drink for 3 days (fast). She and the young women who attended her were going to do the same. At the end of the 3 days she would go before the king. Esther was willing to go before the king even if it meant she may die.
At the end of three days Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace. When the king saw Esther, she won favor in his sight, and he held out his golden scepter to her. She touched the tip of the scepter. The king said, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.”
Esther responded with a simple request. She asked if the king and Haman would come to a feast she had prepared for that day. The king quickly sent for Haman and they went to Esther’s feast. Again at the feast the king asked Esther for her request. She said please come to a feast tomorrow and at that time she will tell him her request.
Haman left the feast that day joyful and glad of heart. He had been included in Queen Esther’s feast with the king and he was invited to come the next day too. His happiness quickly turned to anger when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate. It infuriated him that Mordecai didn’t bow or tremble before him! He went home and invited his friends over to his house. He told all his friends and his wife about his promotion and his high position in the kingdom. He told them that he was even included in Queen Esther’s feast. With all this good news in his life, he was ruined by the simple fact that he had to see Mordecai sitting every day at the king’s gate.
His friends came up with a great idea for Haman. They told him he should build a tall stand where he could put Mordecai to death. Haman liked the idea of getting rid of Mordecai so he built the tall stand.
While Haman is happily planning Mordecai’s death, the king is in his palace trying to sleep. He cannot sleep so he decides to read. He asks for a book of memorable deeds. He begins reading the chapter about how Mordecai overhears two men plotting to kill him. As he reads this chapter he begins to realize that this man Mordecai saved his life. He asks his servants, “Has anything been done to reward Mordecai?” Nothing had been done for Mordecai.
As the king is thinking about how Mordecai had not been rewarded for making the plot known he hears someone entering the outer courts. When he learns that it is Haman he lets him come in. The king asks Haman, “What should I do for the man I delight to honor?” Immediately Haman assumes the only person that the king would like to honor is himself. He tells the king that the person he delights to honor should be clothed with the king’s robe, a royal crown and be seated on one of the king’s horses. The person whom the king delights to honor will be led through the town by one of the king’s nobles proclaiming ‘this is the man the king delights to honor’.
The king thought Haman’s idea was perfect. He said ‘do those things for Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Do not leave out anything you have suggested’. Haman dressed Mordecai in the king’s robes, put a royal crown on his head and led him around the city proclaiming that Mordecai is the man the king delights to honor.
After Haman was finished honoring Mordecai he hurried to his house mourning with his head covered. When his friends and wife heard about his day they said, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” (6:13)
God promised Abraham “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Gen. 12:3)”For thus said the LORD of hosts, after His glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye” (Zec. 2:8)
While his friends were talking with him the king’s servants came and hurried to bring Haman to Esther’s second feast with the king.
At the second feast the king asked, “Esther, what is your request?” She answered him, “Please protect my life and the life of my people. We are going to be destroyed, killed and annihilated.” The king was shocked! “Who is he who would dare to do this?” Esther tells him that the enemy is wicked Haman.
The king is filled with anger and gets up to walk in his garden. While he is out of the room Haman realizes his life was in danger. Queen Esther is lying on a couch and Haman falls on her pleading for his life. The king walks in and thinks Haman is trying to hurt his wife and commands him to be put to death.
The tall stand that Haman had made to put Mordecai to death was used to put him to death.
Esther pleaded with the king to reverse the Haman’s evil plan. Ahasuerus told Esther and Mordecai to write another law that allows the Jews to defend themselves on the day that they were supposed to be destroyed.
Mordecai wrote letters sealed with the king’s ring and had them sent throughout the entire kingdom. When the Jews received the news they were filled with joy.
Read Esther 9:1-5. God used Esther and Mordecai to reverse Haman’s evil plan to destroy all the Jews. On the day that they were supposed to be destroyed they rose up and defended themselves against those who attacked them. On the 14th day they made it a day of feasting and gladness.
Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews living in the land to remember this day every year by celebrating how they got relief from their enemies and their sorrow was turned to rejoicing. They named this holiday Purim and each year celebrated by having feasts and sending gifts of food to one another and giving gifts to the poor. (9:20-22, 26)
Mordecai and Esther were ordinary people. They were instruments that God used for good to save His people from Haman’s evil plan to kill all the Jews.
You and I are ordinary people.
We can be like Mordecai and Esther. As followers of Jesus will you allow God to use your life for good to point others to Jesus so they can be saved from their sins?
We can be like Haman who was an enemy of the Jews. If we are not followers of Jesus we are enemies of God. (Rom. 8:7, James 4:4, Ephesians 2:1-3)
The Jews received very bad news when they heard the king’s law for them to be destroyed. There is very bad news for those who have not put their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. If they do not put their faith in Jesus they will be punished by God for their sins and will be separated from Him forever.
Just as the Jews bad news was replaced with good news, we have Good News today. No one has to die and be punished for their sins. Today is the day of salvation. If you put your faith in Jesus the Savior, who died on the cross for your sins, was buried and rose again, you will be forgiven and will live forever with God.
Close in prayer.
- Why was Vashti not allowed to be queen anymore? (She refused to show off her beauty at the king’s feast)
- Describe Esther and Mordecai. (Answers will vary)
- Why did Haman want to destroy all Jews? (Mordecai wouldn’t bow before him)
- Why was Esther afraid to go before the king? (She could be killed for not being invited)
- What did Esther do before going before the king? (Asked Mordecai and the Jews living in Susa to fast for 3 days)
- How did God stop Haman’s evil plan? (He used Mordecai and Esther to rescue the Jews)
- Which characters were honorable, useful for the master? (Esther and Mordecai)
- If you never told anyone you were a Christian could others know that you were a follower of Christ by the way you lived?
Don’t miss our many other lesson plans based on the story of Esther.