Lesson: The Power of Influence (Esther 3-4)

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The Influence of Esther
This continues a series of the study of Esther.  In this lesson the students will discover that we all have the power to influence others.  Either we will influence people positively or negatively.  A believer who walks daily with Jesus by reading God’s Word, praying and obeying will make be a positive influence in the lives of others.  This lesson was prepared for older students but can be adapted for the needs of your ministry.

Bible Passage:  Esther 3-4
Bible Story Title:  The Power of Influence
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, Scripture portions with questions (Optional questions prepared at the close of the lesson) printed out for students to read and answer questions from Scripture, pens/pencils

Learning Goal:  Students will learn that knowing and obeying God’s Word empowers them to refuse to give in to negative influences.

Learning Activity #1: As students arrive they can choose a portion of Scripture (at the end of this lesson is a sample of how you can break up the portions of Scripture) to read and answer the questions.

Memory Verse:  Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

Bible Lesson:  The Power of Influence

Let’s recite our memory verse.  In your own words what does this verse mean?  (Allow responses) This verse is for believers.  What are believers told to do in this verse? Be careful how we live.  Be wise and not unwise.  When believers are walking closely with Jesus and obeying Him they will recognize opportunities to point others to Jesus so they can be saved and have eternal life.
Believers have the privilege and incredible responsibility to live a life that influences people positively.  What is the opposite of being a positive influence?  Can you think of an example from your experiences where a person influenced you negatively?  Have you ever been a negative influence on others?
In our study of Esther today we are going to see the power of influence.  Let’s read Esther 3:1-2.  King Xerxes chose to give Haman a position of authority in his kingdom and commanded the royal officials to bow down and honor him when he passed by.  In our opening activity a group studying this passage discovered one man who did not obey the king’s command.  Who would not kneel?  (Mordecai)
Let’s read 3:4.  How often were the royal officials trying to influence Mordecai to kneel and pay honor to Haman?  (Day after day)
The Scriptures do not tell us why Mordecai would not bow before Haman.  Using the clue about who Mordecai was from the end of verse 4 (Clue: He was a Jew) why do you think Mordecai would not bow?  (Exodus 20:3-6)
Let’s imagine being Mordecai and the pressure he may have felt day after day being told by the royal officials to bow.  How do you think he was able to refuse to follow their influence?  How difficult is it when a group of people are trying to influence you to disobey God?  What can we do to say “NO” to negative influences? (Allow responses)  It is so important to know what God’s Word says.  If you know what He says and know that His Holy Spirit will give you the power to obey you will be able to refuse to give in to negative influences.
Haman has been given a very powerful position of influence.  Let’s read about what kind of influence he has on those around him.  Read verse 5-6.  What are some bad character traits we learn about Haman from these verses? (He was angry that Mordecai wouldn’t bow down-possibly prideful/thought highly of himself, murderous, cruel-wanted to kill a whole population of people)
Followers of Christ who are being careful to walk wisely and use every opportunity to be a positive influence should never allow anger to stay in their heart.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:21-22“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’(an Aramaic word for contempt) is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Haman devises a plan to destroy all of the Jews living in the land and even rolls dice (cast lots) to decide which month this plan would happen.  He takes his evil plan to King Xerxes and uses his influence before the king.  Let’s read 3:8-9.
King Xerxes had no objections to this plan and gave Haman his signet ring which gave him authority to make it a law that all the Jews living in the land would be killed.  Letters were written and given to messengers to take to all the provinces declaring that on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar (Our Feb-March on the Jewish calendar) the Jews were to be killed.  Let’s read verse 13.
When I read the words destroy, kill and annihilate I immediately think of Satan.  Do you know why?  John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Based on Jesus’ words who is influencing Haman? (Satan)
What are some observations about Xerxes character?  (Easily influenced to do evil, unwise, etc.) We get a glimpse of both men’s characters from verse 15.  What are they doing when the message of mass murder has been sent out to the kingdom? (Drinking) What are the people in the kingdom doing? (They are bewildered)
Mordecai is devastated by the news of the law to destroy all the Jews.  Read Esther 4:1-3.  What is Mordecai doing?  (Wearing sackcloth and mourning) If you were Mordecai would you feel responsible for the new law?  Do you think he would have bowed down before Haman if it would protect the Jews?  (Answers will vary)
Mordecai’s choice to obey God’s Word was the right choice.  His choice brought difficulty to him personally and to others.  Believers must make decisions to obey God even if trials and persecutions come into their life. 2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (Also 1 Peter 4:12-19)
When Esther heard about Mordecai she was troubled and sent him some clothes to wear.  He refused to put them on.  Esther sent Hathach to find out why Mordecai was wailing and mourning.  Let’s read what Mordecai told Hathach in verses 7-8.
How do you think Esther may have felt when she received the news about the law to destroy all the Jews?  From the group who studied this passage how did she respond about Mordecai urging her to go before the king? (She knew that a person who went before the king without his invitation would be put to death)
Read Esther 4:13-14.  A couple of weeks ago this was our memory verse.  Mordecai told Esther that it was possible that she became queen at this very time to deliver the Jews from the destruction planned for them.
Esther is presented with the power to influence.  What does she do with this opportunity?  Let’s read verses 15-16.  Esther asks for Mordecai and all the Jews to fast for her and she too would fast with her maids.
God’s name is never mentioned in Esther but what does fasting imply?  For Jews to fast it would imply that they were praying and calling out for God’s help in this dangerous situation.
Esther chooses to use this opportunity to influence the king and rescue the Jews.  What is she willing to do to use her influence?  (Verse 16)
Believers have been saved from their sins.  The life we live no longer belongs to us we belong to Christ and each opportunity we are given should be used to shine for Jesus so others can see Him and be saved from their sins.  To follow Christ means we must perish/die to our own desires and obey Jesus no matter what the cost.  Luke 9:23-25 “Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
Believers who choose to be a positive influence are lights in this dark world rescuing others from perishing for their sins apart from Christ. Daniel 12:3 “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
Closing:  Recite the memory verse again.  If you are walking closely with Jesus you will be making it a daily priority to read God’s Word, pray and respond in obedience to what He teaches you.  When you do this you are making an effort to be careful to live wisely and use the opportunities that God gives you each day to be a positive influence rather than a negative influence.
If you are not a follower of Christ it is difficult to be a positive influence for God because you are not a part of His family.  You do not have His Holy Spirit living inside you to enable you to be a consistent positive influence.  Today you can acknowledge your sinfulness before God and believe in the Lord Jesus who died on the cross for your sins, was buried and rose again and be saved.
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1. Who commanded that everyone kneel and honor Haman? (Xerxes)
  2. Who did not kneel? (Mordecai)
  3. What law did Xerxes make regarding the Jews? (They were all to be destroyed)
  4. How did Mordecai respond to the message about the destruction of the Jews? (Put on sackcloth/ashes and wailed loudly)
  5. Why was it dangerous for anyone to go into the king’s presence without being invited? (They could be put to death)
  6. What was the exception to the rule about going before the king? (If he extended his scepter that meant it was OK for the person to come before him)
  7. What did Esther ask Mordecai and the Jews to do? (Fast for three days)
  8. What was Esther willing to do for the Jewish people? (Perish)
  9. What did you learn from studying Esther 3 and 4?
  10. What changes can you make to use every opportunity to be a positive influence?

Scripture Sections for opening activity:
1. Read Esther 2:21-23.
1. WHERE was Mordecai sitting? (Verse 21)
2. WHO was planning to assassinate (kill) King Xerxes and WHY? (Verse 21)
3. When Esther told the king about the plan for assassination WHO did she give credit to? (Verse 22)
4. WHERE was this event written?
5. On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.
2. Read Esther 3:1-6.
1. WHAT did King Xerxes command all the royal officials at the gate to do? (Verse 2)
2. WHO would not kneel down or honor Haman? (Verse 2)
3. WHO did Mordecai tell the royal officials he was? (Verse 4)
4. HOW did Haman react to Mordecai’s refusal to bow down? (Verse 5)
5. On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.
3. Read Esther 3:7-15.
1. WHAT law did Haman suggest for King Xerxes to make? (Verse 9)
2. WHAT does verse 10 say about Haman?
3. WHAT message was sent throughout Xerxes kingdom? (Verse 13)
4. Tell HOW Xerxes and Haman responded to the new law AND how the people living in Susa responded. (Verse 15)
5. On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.
4. Read Esther 4:1-3.
1. HOW did Mordecai respond to the message? (Verse 1)
2. In every province HOW did the Jews respond? (Verse 3)
3. HOW would you feel if you were:

  • A Jew
  • Not a Jew
  • Not a Jew but you were friends with Jews living in your town.

4.  On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.
5. Read Esther 4:4-8.
1. HOW did Esther respond when she heard about Mordecai’s wailing and fasting? (Verse 4)
2. WHAT did Esther send to Mordecai? (Verse 4)
3. WHO did Esther send to find out what was wrong with Mordecai? (Verse 5)
4. WHAT did Mordecai urge Hathach to tell Esther to do? (Verse 8)
5. On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.
6. Read Esther 4:9-11.
1. WHAT did Esther say would happen to anyone who went before the king without being summoned (invited)? (Verse 11)
2. WHAT is the only exception to this rule? (End of verse 11)
3. HOW many days had it been since Esther had been called to see the king? (Verse 11)
4. HOW do you think Esther felt since 30 days had passed since she had seen the king?
5. On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.
7. Read Esther 4:12-14.
1. HOW did Mordecai answer Esther? (Verse 13)
2. WHAT would happen to Esther if she remained silent? (Verse 14)
3. In your own words WHAT do you think it means that ‘Esther had come to royal position for such a time as this’?
4. Read Acts 17:26. WHO determined the times people would be born and the exact places where they would live?
5. On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.
8. Read Esther 4:15.
1. WHAT did Esther as Mordecai to do?
2. HOW many days were they to fast?
3. WHAT was Esther going to do while the Jews fasted?
4. WHAT was Esther willing to do to go before the king?
5. On an index card write out the Memory Verse Ephesians 5:15-16.

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