This lesson from Esther focuses on how God rewards (or repays) each person according to their conduct. Students will discover from Esther 5-7 that in God’s time He rewards the righteous for their faithfulness to Him and He punishes those who are wicked. The lesson was created for older elementary students and can be adapted to the needs of your ministry.
Learning Goal: Students will learn all our actions have consequences and God rewards each person according to our conduct.
Gospel Connection: Even in the story of Esther, we see the principles of God’s grace in action. Even the righteous character of Mordecai was a gift of God’s grace, established from long years of humbly walking with the LORD. This humble walk required the same faith in God’s promise that believer’s must express toward Christ. God’s plan to save the world through Jesus Christ was active in preserving the people of Israel during the time of Esther.
Bible Passage: Esther 5-7
Bible Story Title: Reaping a Reward
Target Age Group: Ages 9-11 (3rd-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
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Credits: Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media
Supply List: Bibles, Copies of Word Puzzle (from Calvary Chapel website)
Learning Activity #1: While waiting for students to arrive provide a Word puzzle for them to work on as you visit and talk with them about their week. Calvary Chapel Children’s Curriculum has several Esther Word Puzzles. See the link above for more information.
Memory Verse: Jeremiah 32:19 “Great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; You reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.”
Bible Lesson: Reaping a Reward
When we think of rewards what comes to your mind? (Allow responses) What has been the best reward you have ever received? What did you do to receive that reward?
We usually think of rewards as a positive thing. If you do something good you will get a reward. Rewards can also be negative. (Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”)If you do something you shouldn’t what will be your reward? If you don’t follow your classroom rules what will be your reward?
As we continue our study of Esther we are going to discover that God sees all things and in His time He rewards each person according to his/her behavior. (Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”)
(Open Bibles to Esther 5) In our last lesson we ended by seeing that Esther had asked Mordecai and all the Jews in Susa to fast for 3 days. She too would fast along with her maids. Why did Esther ask for Mordecai to fast? (Because she needed to go before the king about the law made that would kill all the Jews living in the kingdom)
Read Esther 5:1-2. When you see the phrase on the third day does anything come to your mind? (Allow responses) After Jesus’ death on the cross, He was buried and on the third day God raised Him from the dead! After fasting for 3 days Esther dressed in her royal robes and went and stood before the king.
Even though God is not mentioned in Esther who do you think gave Esther the strength to go stand before the king? Why would it take courage for her to do this? (She could be put to death)
How did Xerxes react when he saw Esther? (He was pleased with her and held out his gold scepter and she was allowed to come into his presence)
Sometimes if we don’t approach God’s Word with the right attitude we just see the Bible as a book full of stories. Esther could be a story that we recite details but don’t see God’s truth for our lives.
This scene about Esther approaching King Xerxes is a similar picture of people approaching God. God is the King of the universe. He is perfect and holy (without sin). In the Old Testament, God’s priests were the only ones who could go into the Holy of Holies. The room called the Holy of Holies is where the Ark of the Covenant was located. This is where God’s presence appeared in the tabernacle and later the Temple. The priests had to follow all of God’s requirements to enter His presence or they would die.
Because Jesus, the perfect Son of God died on the cross and shed His blood for our sins, all of God’s requirements to come into His presence have been fulfilled. When a person believes by faith that Jesus is their Savior he/she can come into God’s presence without fear. (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 4:22-24; Phil. 3:9; Heb. 4:16)
As Esther stood before Xerxes she found favor in his sight and was not put to death. We can approach God because of our faith in Jesus we are found pleasing in His sight (Heb. 11:6).
(Esther 5: 3-8) The king asks Esther what she wants. He tells her that she can have up to half of the kingdom. Esther tells Xerxes that she would like him and Haman to come to a banquet that she has prepared. At the banquet Xerxes asks Esther again what she would like and she tells him that she is going to prepare another banquet the following day. She would like Xerxes and Haman to come to this banquet and then she will tell the king what her request is.
There is a truth for believers in this scene from Esther. We do not know why Esther didn’t blurt out that Haman was going to kill all the Jews. Is it possible that after the three day fast that Esther, Mordecai and the Jews in Susa participated in that this was the direction that God gave to her? Remember God’s name is not mentioned but Esther is one of God’s chosen people and fasting implies that they were seeking wisdom from God. (Daniel 2:17-19) If this thought about Esther’s decision is true, believers can learn that we should always ask God for His wisdom in our circumstances.
- Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
- James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
- Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
- James 4:2b-3 “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives”
When Esther followed the directions she was given from God by seeking Him she was doing things in His timing and not her own. God is control over all circumstances and the details of this story in the life of Esther were all being knit together perfectly. (Psalm 103:19 NASB “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”)
(Esther 5:9-13) Our attention turns back to Haman. He is an interesting character. He represents sinful man. Each and every one of us are capable of being filled with selfish pride and ambition (Jer. 17:9). When he was the only one invited to Esther’s banquet he naturally believed it was because of his greatness. When he leaves the banquet and Mordecai doesn’t bow to him he is angered! However, he keeps his anger to himself and goes home. Let’s read 11-13. Let’s look for words that reveal Haman’s pride. What do you see? (Boasted, “I” and “me”)
After bragging about himself and all that he had he complained that none of these things made him truly happy because the one person who got under his skin was still living. Who was that person from verse 13? (Mordecai)
(Esther 5:14) Haman’s wife and his friends encouraged him by suggesting that he build a gallows 75 feet tall where Mordecai could be hanged. With a gallows that tall Mordecai’s death could be seen by many people. This idea delighted Haman and he had a gallows built.
Last time we talked about the power of influence. What kind of influence did Haman’s wife and friends have on him? (Negative) The people we choose to call our friends and spend our time with will affect our decisions and ultimately how we will be rewarded for the life we live. (Time permitting: What could Haman’s wife and friends have said that would have been a positive influence?)
- 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
(Esther 6:1-11) Earlier I mentioned that God is in control over all circumstances and the details in the lives of all people. Remember back in chapter 2 when Mordecai overhears the plot for the king to be assassinated? That event was written in a book and put on a bookshelf. Some time passes and Xerxes cannot sleep. He chooses to read since he can’t sleep. The book that is brought to him is the one that tells of Mordecai.
When the king realizes that Mordecai has not been rewarded for saving the king’s life he wants to do something to reward him.
At the very time that the king is trying to decide how to honor Mordecai, Haman is walking into the king’s court to ask if he can hang Mordecai.
I don’t think the story we are about to read about is supposed to be funny but it has some comedic value to any of us who have had an enemy like Haman in our lives. Our true enemy is Satan and his plans to hurt us will not last forever. (Psalm 37:12-13 “The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming.”)
Read verses 6-10. When the king asks Haman for suggestions to honor someone he automatically assumes the king wants to honor him. Pride eventually humiliates us all if we allow ourselves to think so highly of ourselves! How do you think Haman felt and looked as he walked around honoring Mordecai (the man he was planning to humiliate by hanging on his gallows)?
None of those details are coincidental or accidental. Everything in this life happens for a reason. We may not always know or understand everything that happens. If we are believers we can trust that God is in perfect control and works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
It may have seemed like Mordecai’s good deed in protecting the king’s life went unnoticed. But in God’s timing (remember this story is being knit together with perfect detail and timing) Mordecai was rewarded for his kindness to the king.
Esther 6:11-14. Haman’s pride is wounded and he goes home to his family and friends for comfort. This time his wife says, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him-you will surely come to ruin!”
Where were those words of wisdom from his wife back in chapter 5? Haman’s wife spoke truth about harming God’s people. (Zechariah 2:8b “for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye”; Matthew 25:34-46) Whoever harms a follower of Christ is harming the Lord Jesus as well. (Acts 9:4-6)
(Esther 7) The banquet is ready; the guests Haman and Xerxes are seated around the table. Once again Xerxes asks Esther for her request. Now the time is right for Esther to tell Xerxes why she has approached him. She asks the king to spare her life and the life of her people. She tells him that she and her people are going to be destroyed.
Xerxes must not have a very good memory of the laws he makes. He asks Esther, “What man would do such a thing?” Esther points at Haman and says, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”
Imagine the look on Haman’s face when he hears this! The king is furious and goes out into his palace garden. Haman realizes that his life is over. As Esther reclines on her couch Haman falls on her and pleads for his life. (If time permits students may act out this scene) Just as Haman is falling on Esther and crying for his life the king walks in and sees Haman on Esther’s couch. “Will Haman try to harm the queen while she is with me?” Xerxes commanded that Haman’s face be covered so he could be taken to the gallows. As this is taking place someone says to the king, “Haman had a gallows 75 feet tall built in his yard to kill Mordecai the man who helped you.” King Xerxes said, “Hang him on it!” Haman was hanged on his own gallows.
We began our lesson by talking about positive and negative rewards. In our lesson today who received positive rewards? (Esther-gained favor in Xerxes’ sight and was allowed in his presence, Mordecai-helping the king) Who received negative? (Haman)
Many of us have heard the phrase “every action causes a reaction”. As a believer our actions should bring about positive rewards. Let’s recite our memory verse again. God sees all of our actions and we will receive rewards for everything we do whether good or bad. As we close in prayer, take time to ask God to help you make choices this week that will please Him.
Close in prayer.
- True or False On the 7th day Esther put on her royal robes and stood before the king. (F 3rd day)
- True or False Esther asked the king and Haman to come to a banquet she prepared. (T)
- True or False When Haman left the banquet and saw Mordecai he was greatly encouraged. (F he was filled with rage)
- True or False Haman’s friends told him to build a gallows 90 feet tall. (F-75 feet)
- True or False When Xerxes couldn’t sleep he asked for someone to play the harp. (F-He asked for a book of chronicles to be read)
- True or False Xerxes wanted to honor Mordecai for saving his life. (True)
- True or False Mordecai led Haman on horseback through the streets saying, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” (F-Haman led Mordecai)
- True or False Esther finally told the king her request at the 3rd banquet. (True)
- True or False Xerxes punished Haman by throwing him into a fiery furnace. (F-hung him on his own gallows.)