The Bible is filled with accounts of God delivering His people. So why didn't God deliver Jesus, His only begotten Son, from the cross? Why doesn't everyone recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah? We'll hear answers today on Truth for Life.
Alistair Begg is teaching from the closing verses of chapter 9 in the book of Esther. Obligation is almost a dirty word now, isn't it? You know, we tell people, I don't want to make you feel obligated in any way.
Oh yes, I do. I want my wife to make me obligated to her entirely. I want my children to be obligated to me in the jurisdiction of parental authority—not when they're beyond it but when they're in it. And the obligation that extends throughout interpersonal relationships is, first of all, an obligation on the part of the individual to God. And they recognize God has provided this deliverance.
This feast is a celebration of God's activity. Therefore, they said, we will obligate ourselves. You will notice, verse 27, they obligated themselves and their offspring. They obligated themselves, they obligated their children. It was gonna take obligation.
You see, that's why in Deuteronomy 6 you have that classic passage that we read at the time of baby dedications. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And these things today shall be upon your hearts, and then you will teach them to your children when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.
The progression is vital. If it's not on your heart, you will never obligate yourself to it, and you'll never obligate your children to it. Just let me say something to you in passing. Our unwillingness to obligate, if you like, those who are in the framework of our influence speaks to them about the things that are important and vital to us. So, for example, let's say that you routinely come to the second service in the morning, and then Aunt Mabel from Minnesota, who doesn't really like church, she came to stay with you over the weekend. Are you gonna say to her, Well, now that you're here, Aunt Mabel, we need to give up our obligation. Or are you gonna say, Hey, Aunt Mabel, if you want to ride to the airport, you gotta come with us to the second service. Now, there's great skill and wisdom in this, and I'm not laying down a lot of the Medes and the Persians, but you'd be surprised how many times the Aunt Mabel's will actually come along. If they know this matters to us, if they know this is on our hearts, if they know this marks our steps, but when we suggest that their visit can overturn the routine and the rhythm of our lives, then we convey something about ourselves, and we convey something to them about exactly what's going on. I wouldn't want to overstate that.
I've stated it. You will notice how comprehensive this obligation is in verse 28, and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation. So this is not a sort of, we'll do this for a couple of generations and let it go. No, 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.
That's quite a commitment, isn't it? You see how amazing the deliverance was? We faced absolute ruin and destruction. We were dead. But now we're alive. We never want to forget what God has done. So we're going to do this, and we're going to obligate ourselves to do it, and we're going to make sure our children understand it, and we're going to make sure that everybody everywhere in the hundred and twenty-seven provinces, both near and far, that they all understand it as well, and we will never allow this to fall into disuse.
We pledge ourselves to that. And here we are, two and a half thousand years later, and it still goes on. Did you check with your friends this week? I did. I asked questions, anyone that I could find.
I phoned the folks at the Maltz Museum. I found a lady who was kindly, and I said, Talk to me about Purim. She told me in Reform circles they don't hold as tightly to it, but in Orthodox circles, it is imperative that the Orthodox Jew, on the occasion of the celebration, attends for the entire reading of the Magala, which is the scroll of Esther, and that it is incumbent upon them to have rehearsed in their hearing these things. And on the following day, as it goes from the evening of one day into the new, then the children will be part and parcel of that.
The celebratory aspects of it will emerge from the solemnity of the reading of the scroll. And apparently, the children all dress up—some of you have come from this background, and you know this—and some would dress up as Mordecai, some would dress up as the queen, and some, poor soul, would have to dress up as Haman. And cookies are made by the mothers, and the cookies are called hamantachin, which apparently means Haman's ears. And so the children would eat Haman's ears. And as they celebrated and as they shouted, every time the name of Haman was mentioned, then they would take their groggers—which I got from the local synagogue—and every time Haman's name was mentioned, they would drown it out. We don't want to hear the name of Haman.
We don't want to hear the name of Haman. Two and a half thousand years on, you say, Well, this is Cleveland. There are a lot of Jewish people in Cleveland. Mm-mm.
This is everywhere. Just randomly, I went on the website at Harvard University, I thought, I wonder if there's anything about Purim at Harvard. Sure enough, February 23, 2013, 6.30 p.m., the celebration and Megillah reading in Smith Hall. The invitation is, Join us to celebrate and retell the story of Purim.
I said, Well, let's go to the West Coast, let's go to Stanford. Same thing. Join us for the reading of the Megillah and the celebration of Purim. Why? Because of Esther chapter 9. Because of the obligation of these people. Because, they said, we will never allow this to fall into disuse. We will never allow the generations that follow us to be unaware of what God did when he intervened in our behalf.
Loved ones, I jump ahead of myself, but that's the whole point about the nature of the gospel and the celebration of the gospel and the holding of the line and the instilling it in our children and the ensuring that it passes from one generation to another generation, so if Christ does not return in a thousand years from now, there will be those who stand forward and say, Would it not for my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, I would never be here. Because we held the line in our day. Because we were obligated, when people said, You don't have to be obligated to anything.
Don't you understand the world in which we live? You just do your own thing. It's all about you, and it's all about now, and it's all about the moment. No, it's not. It's all about God. It's all about then, and the then giving significant to the now, and the now having a place in the future. Mordecai recorded it, the people accepted it, and thirdly and finally, Esther confirmed it. Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abba Hill, and Mordecai the Jew—you remember, it says in the Bible that things should be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Well, here we have the two cousins side by side, and these letters have been sent to all the Jews, and they've been sent out, verse 30, in words of peace and truth.
Lovely phrase, isn't it? In words of peace and truth. The shalom of the rest of the people of God. The truth of God as revealed in his dealings with his people. Not an occasion for triumphalism, but an occasion for charity and for sincerity. And in the same way, we're told in verse 31 that the people had obligated themselves and their offspring with regard to their fasts and to their lamenting.
Now, Esther confirmed the practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing. Because, you see, the history matters. And the history here is the history of the people of God. And the tradition that is established matters. Matters. That's why Fiddler on the Roof still plays on Broadway. That's why it's still worth resurrecting the CD and playing it again, and listening as Tevye, as the whole thing opens up. Tradition!
Remember? And you have he stops all the time and makes those little statements. Tradition teaches us who we are and what God expects of us. And later on, he says, without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof. We've been studying the Bible long enough now for you folks to understand that all that has been written for us in the past has been written in order that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, so that the deliverances of the people of God in the Old Testament are pointing forward to the great deliverance that is provided in the Messiah Jesus. That's why I say to you frequently it is important that we learn to read our Bibles backwards.
Because when we read in the New Testament about the deliverance that is provided in Jesus, and we go back into Esther, we say, well, this, like the liberation of the bondage of Egypt, is pointing forward so that the people of God might look yet again as they did for the one who was to come, for the one who was the Messiah of God, for the one who would intervene and ultimately grant them freedom from their enemies, set them free. But he came to his own, and his own did not receive him. But to those who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become the children of God.
Now, you'll have to do this in follow-up on your own. Let me just get you started on this line of thought, and then you can continue from there. You needn't turn to these things, but let me just quote to you from Matthew chapter 27. Jesus has now been crucified, and as he hangs upon the cross, they've put a charge over his head which reads, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.
So also the chief priests—yes, the chief priests—with the scribes and the elders—in other words, those who were in the lineage of Mordecai and Esther five centuries preceding this, those who are the beneficiaries of all those great interventions, those who are the forefront of the religious orthodoxy of Judaism in the day—the chief priests and the elders mocked him, saying, Heh, you know what? He saved others. He can't save himself. He's the King of Israel? Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him.
Here we go. He trusts in God. Let God deliver him now, if he desires him. Let God deliver him. God delivers his people. So why doesn't God deliver him? There's the question for the ages, isn't it?
That's the question that the two fellows on either side were ultimately wrestling with when one of them says, You know what? We are up here getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong. This is a great injustice.
What in the world is he doing here? We're thieves and robbers. This is the crime. This is the punishment.
We accept that. But he hasn't done anything. Let's see if God will deliver him. Why wasn't the sinless Son of God delivered from the cross? The answer is, because he was delivered up for us. Listen to how Paul puts it. And he does it again and again when he introduces his letters. You can go virtually to any of his letters.
Let me just give you a couple. Galatians 1, and verse 4. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, here we go, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. Why was Jesus delivered up to the cross? So that we might be delivered from the punishment that he bore on our behalf. He does the same thing when he writes to the Colossians. Colossians 1, He has, again the Word, delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. And classically, he works it all out in Romans chapter 4, but in Romans chapter 4 and in verse 25, describing Jesus who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Now, here, my friends, is the great sadness that our Jewish friends refuse to reckon with the fact that the great relief from their enemies, the great deliverance from bondage, is actually in Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah—that their prophets wrote of him when they wrote, Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
In other words, in the same way that here all those years before—and that's why we celebrate Purim—God intervened in order to turn our mourning into dancing, our sadness into joy, our fasting into feasting, in the same way and in a far more miraculous way. Here, now, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgiveness is there for us. But Paul tells us—and you know his own agony as he mentions it in Romans, how he agonizes for his own people.
He wishes, he says, that he was accursed that his own people would trust in Jesus as Messiah. And when he writes to the Corinthians, he says, The problem is that their minds are hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, the same veil remains unlifted. And here's the line, Because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts.
And I know that when the rabbi's wife gave this to my assistant to give to me, that she was intrigued that I would be remotely interested in Purim. And our contemporary world would then say, Oh, isn't that nice? I guess we're all on the same page. I guess we all believe, ultimately, the same things.
I guess we're all in this together. And the answer is, no, we're not. The only way the veil is taken away from your eyes or from mine is when we understand who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. And our affection for our Jewish friends, our jealousy of their commitment to live opposed, alienated, maligned in a world that pays scant interest in them, does not then bring us to the point where we say, Well, then let's just stop talking about the things that divide us.
Because my Jewish friends say that Jesus was not the Messiah, and I believe that he was the Messiah, and we cannot logically both be right. How does this translate to us? Every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Every time we celebrate the sacrament or the ordinance, we do it in remembrance of Jesus. That's why Jesus gave to his followers just another simple feast.
They were familiar with the Feast of Lights, the Feast of Tabernacles, all of those feasts. Now, he says, Listen, here, this is a feast. This is the new covenant in my blood. When you break this bread, when you drink this wine, you remember what I did when I died on that cross, that I bore for you the punishment that you deserve, and I opened up a way for you to walk. And remember this, and remember this too, that I'm coming back for you. I'm coming back for all who are ready to meet me.
Do you get that? Do you know this great deliverance? Or is your spiritual experience a sort of, Well, I'm kind of interested in these things. There's all a difference in that in saying, You know, I was blind, and now I see. I was trapped, and now I'm free.
I was dead, and now I'm new. Till we know how blind we are, we'll never understand what it means to see. Well, let's pray together. Lord, as these people all these years ago gathered and shared food with one another, so when we come together on the occasion that we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we share food with one another too, and as they distributed their provisions to those who were in need, so we recognize that you have asked us to do the same, so that it is a day of good news, but we don't keep it to ourselves. It is a day of celebration, but yet we realize that the longing of our hearts is that others may come to celebrate with us. So write your word in our hearts, we pray, and grant us the gift of remembrance today.
For Jesus' sake. Amen. God, delivering his people in the book of Esther, points forward to a greater deliverance, the one provided for us in Jesus. You're listening to Truth for Life, that is Alistair Begg encouraging each of us to remember who Jesus is and what he's done, and then tell others.
That's what we do every day here at Truth for Life. We teach the Bible, we tell others about the Gospel, and trust that God will open closed minds and soften hard hearts. One of the key things that we do in Christianity is the doctrine of Jesus' resurrection, and of course, Easter is just around the corner. There's a book about the resurrection we would love to put in your hands today.
It's called With a Mighty Triumph. We often focus on how Jesus overcame sin and death, but this is a book that helps us think about Jesus' resurrection as a foretaste of our own. With a Mighty Triumph is a book that will fill you with hope. It's perfect for reading as we look forward to celebrating Easter. Request your copy of the book With a Mighty Triumph today when you give a donation to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life. You can give through our mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate, or you can call us at 888-588-7884. And if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to Truth for Life at PO Box 398000 Cleveland, Ohio 44139. I'm Bob Lapine. Thank you for listening. How is it that the final chapter in the book of Esther doesn't even mention her name? Guess who does take center stage? You'll find out tomorrow when you join us. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-23 07:16:31 / 2023-03-23 07:25:06 / 9