We are wrapping up our study of Esther by examining Chapters 9 and 10. In these chapters we read the account of the victory of the Jewish people over their enemies. While the death of so many may be troubling to some, we must remember that those who died were the aggressors, and they sought to destroy the whole Jewish race. The Jews were merely defending themselves, and they repeatedly declined to take the plunder they had been authorized to take by the king’s decree. We also read about the establishment of the Jewish celebration of Purim. Every year during Purim, Jewish people around the globe gather to fast, read the story of Esther, pray, and conclude the celebration with a festive meal and the exchange of gifts. They even make sure to send gifts and food to the poor and needy in their community to make sure everyone can participate in the celebration.
In the commemoration of Purim we are reminded of the importance to remember and celebrate God’s faithfulness to His promises and the importance of passing that collective memory on to the next generation. The edict issued by Mordecai and Esther establishing Purim harkens back to Moses’s charge in Deut. 6:4-7 directing the Israelites to keep God’s commands and to impress them upon their children. Why is this so important? It is important because in the Book of Judges, which records the descent of the Israelites into deeper and deeper idolatry and chaos, we read that all that heartache began with a generation that did not know God or the things He had done for Israel. One generation failed to pass on their faith to the next.
Jaroslav Pelikan once said, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” While it is imperative that we do not fall into traditionalism, it is equally imperative that we cling tightly to tradition, for tradition serves to guide our faith forward through successive generations while protecting us from doctrinal error. When we recite the creeds of the ancient Church and participate in the sacraments, we remember and celebrate with the believers who have gone before us, we celebrate and commune with the believers of our generation around the world, and we proclaim our faith to our children as they follow our example. As we celebrate our Christian seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost, we remember God’s faithfulness to His promises and teach ourselves and our children that our God is trustworthy and true.
- Consider Pelikan’s definition of tradition vs. traditionalism. How would you describe your faith? Why?
- There are those who are suspicious of tradition for fear of falling into traditionalism. What is the danger of abandoning tradition all together?
- Read the admonition of Deut. 6:4-7. Are the commands of God on your heart? How have you been at impressing God’s commands on the next generation? What are some concrete ways you can pass your faith on to the next generation so that there won’t be “another generation who knew neither the LORD nor what He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10)?
- Consider some of the traditions we hold to as a church. How do these traditions help form our faith? How do they help pass that faith on to the next generation? How do they connect us to those who have gone before us?