A Firm Obligation
“Obligation” is a fairly unfashionable word in contemporary Western culture. People commonly say things like “I don’t want to make you feel obligated in any way.” But obligation is often necessary and good. I want to be obligated to my wife entirely, and I want her to be obligated to me. When my children were young, I wanted them to be obligated to me in terms of respecting my parental authority. And in fact, the obligations that extend throughout interpersonal relationships are first of all obligations to God Himself.
After being rescued from destruction at the hand of Haman, the Jews “firmly obligated themselves” to the task of remembrance. They were not half-heartedly committing to observing their new tradition, only keeping it if it was convenient for them when the time came. They were definitely going to follow through. That’s the nature of duty.
The Jews not only committed themselves but also obligated their children and “all who joined them.” They made this a comprehensive commitment throughout all locations and every generation. And 2,500 years later, the tradition of Purim still goes on. Jewish communities throughout the world continue to celebrate the feast because of the obligation these people made never to allow the generations that followed to forget God’s intervention on their behalf in Esther’s time and through Esther’s bravery.
Our culture tells us that we don’t need to obligate ourselves to anyone or anything, that we can just live for ourselves in the here and now, and that most commitments can be rethought in future if we feel they are inconvenient or unsustainable. But in the kingdom of God, obligation matters. After all, God has obligated Himself to save and keep His people. What you commit to and hold to speaks of what matters most to you. So, commit yourself to the celebration of the gospel, including partaking in those great moments that God has given us to remember what He has done for us: the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And, so far as you are able, ensure that these things pass from one generation to the next. Even if Christ has not yet returned a thousand years from now, there will be those who know and stand for the gospel because of the obligation we have made in our generation.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
The Feast of Purim Inaugurated
20And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
23So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.2 26Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.
29Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. 32The command of Queen Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.
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