Message: Commanded to Remember
Commanded to Remember
Today we are looking at remembering.
As you may recall, at least two passages we have frequented since the first of the year encourage us to remember or warn against forgetting.
2Peter 1:8-14, “(8) For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. (9) But concerning the one who lacks such things – he is blind. That is to say, he is nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins.
(10) Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin. (11) For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you. (12) Therefore, I intend to remind you constantly of these things even though you know them and are well established in the truth that you now have. (13) Indeed, as long as I am in this tabernacle, I consider it right to stir you up by way of a reminder, (14) since I know that my tabernacle will soon be removed, because our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me.”
“Therefore REMEMBER from what HIGH state you have fallen and change your heart. Do the kind of deeds you did at the beginning…”
I thought to look up how often God encourages His people to remember all He has done both in creation for all mankind and for them in particular. One site insisted that it is in fact the most repeated command from God in the Bible. While I cannot confirm that, it probably is not far from the truth. Another reference claims the injunction to remember has 240 mentionings in the Bible.
However frequent and whatever the number, remembering is clearly an important aspect of a walk before God which is pleasing to Him and that alone is all the incentive we need.
“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”
“Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
One that will stand out from our recent studies is…
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
[Tools for remembering… sometimes great effort must go into it…]
“(1) Then Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people: “Pay attention to all the commandments I am giving you today. (2) When you cross the Jordan River to the land the LORD your God is giving you, you must erect great stones and cover them with plaster. (3) Then you must inscribe on them all the words of this law when you cross over, so that you may enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, said to you. (4) So when you cross the Jordan you must erect on Mount Ebal these stones about which I am commanding you today, and you must cover them with plaster. (5) Then you must build an altar there to the LORD your God, an altar of stones – do not use an iron tool on them. (6) You must build the altar of the LORD your God with whole stones and offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God. (7) Also you must offer fellowship offerings and eat them there, rejoicing before the LORD your God. (8) You must inscribe on the stones all the words of this law, making them clear.”
“(1) When the entire nation was on the other side, the LORD told Joshua, (2) “Select for yourselves twelve men from the people, one per tribe. (3) Instruct them, ‘Pick up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests stand firmly, and carry them over with you and put them in the place where you camp tonight.’” (4) Joshua summoned the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one per tribe. (5) Joshua told them, “Go in front of the ark of the LORD your God to the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to put a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the Israelite tribes. (6) The stones will be a reminder to you. When your children ask someday, ‘Why are these stones important to you?’ (7) tell them how the water of the Jordan stopped flowing before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the water of the Jordan stopped flowing. These stones will be a lasting memorial for the Israelites.”
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”
To do this God had the Israelites create reminders like the stones in the Jordan, but also by creating tassels on the corners of their clothing.
“(37) The LORD spoke to Moses: (38) “Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make tassels for themselves on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and put a blue thread on the tassel of the corners. (39) You must have this tassel so that you may look at it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and obey them and so that you do not follow after your own heart and your own eyes that lead you to unfaithfulness. (40) Thus you will remember and obey all my commandments and be holy to your God. (41) I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.”
Also God instructed them to place key scriptures in leather containers on their forearms and on a headband as well as inscribing them on the door frames of their houses so as to remind them.
“(6) These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, (7) and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. (8) You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbols on your forehead. (9) Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and gates. (10) Then when the LORD your God brings you to the land he promised your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you – a land with large, fine cities you did not build, (11) houses filled with choice things you did not accumulate, hewn out cisterns you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – and you eat your fill, (12) be careful not to forget the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, that place of slavery.”
What was all of this for? What did God have in view by giving them various methods of remembering?
An ongoing connection with God which was rooted in the past, but reaching out to the future.
No doubt there are many in the church today who would call this legalistic and unnecessary but God seemed to think it was a good idea. Now that it could be done superficially and therefore NOT serve its intended purpose is obvious. All the prevention and reminders in the world will not make soft a heart that is hard through pride and self-importance.
Jesus addressed this very thing regarding their external reminders…
“(2) The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. (3) Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. (4) They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. (5) They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long. (6) They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues (7) and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ (8) But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. (9) And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (10) Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ. (11) The greatest among you will be your servant. (12) And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Notice that Jesus did not condemn, nor make light of the use of these things, but rather acknowledged that the same symbols which were to be reminders of all God has done, can also serve as emblems pointing in pride to all we have done and accomplished.
In other words, these are nothing more than tools, but tools themselves cannot create heart change.
At any rate, before it even occurred to me this emphasis on remembering, I had been thinking about those whose walk was exemplary, and what manner of persons they were that made them worthy of note in God’s eyes. Not surprisingly, towards the top of the list was David and as it turns out, David was rather big on remembering as well.
His ongoing connection with God and faith in Him came largely from a heart of remembering. A continual calling to mind all that God has done – not only for himself personally, but for Israel at large.
Faith is birthed from knowing God, and knowing God comes from pondering on WHO He is and WHAT He has done. In others words, this remembering causes us to know and understand the God we are dealing with.
The scriptures tell us that the meditation of our hearts will bring us the understanding. This is something David did with great frequency.
Sometimes the word remember is used in place of another word indicating what remembering is or does in the heart.
For example, Psalm 20:7 substitutes the word “remember” for something akin to trust of faith. It says,
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
“(5) Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. (6) O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar.”
These were not random nor meaningless places to David or Israel.
Jordan was most likely a reference to the farthest point in the land of Canaan, where David himself had fled and where he had many times met with God, but more than that it was the river Israel crossed to enter the land God had given in promise to them.
The heights of Hermon were a summit of impressive mountain ridges and probably a reference to the highest places in the land while the Hill Mizar the smallest and most insignificant. Thus the words of David are that he will remember God bringing them into the land and that God is aware and mindful of all. There is nothing too big for His power nor too small for His concern.
“(7) Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. (8) The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life.
(9) I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (10) As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (11) Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
“(4) Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. (5) My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. (6) When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. (7) BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN MY HELP, THEREFORE in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. (8) My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. (9) But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth. (10) They shall fall by the sword; They shall be a portion for jackals. (11) But the king shall rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.”
It was due to the memories of God’s faithfulness to him in times past, that David was encouraged to trust in God for the present.
“(1) Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! (2) Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
(3) Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
(4) Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
(5) Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(6) The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed. (7) He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. (8) The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. (9) He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
(10) He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. (11) For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
(12) As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
(13) As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. (14) For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (15) As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. (16) For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. (17) But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, (18) To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.”
“(1) Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, And in Your righteousness. (2) Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous. (3) For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness, Like those who have long been dead. (4) Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed. (5) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. (6) I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah (7) Answer me speedily, O LORD; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit. (8) Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. (9) Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; In You I take shelter. (10) Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. (11) Revive me, O LORD, for Your name’s sake! For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. (12) In Your mercy cut off my enemies, And destroy all those who afflict my soul; For I am Your servant.”
I want you to notice though through all of these examples of David calling to mind the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord that he did so with HOPE and NOT despondency. Also, David did not do this just in areas of life which are mild and of small consequence but in issues of life and death as well. Like our example in Psalm 42, nothing was too small for God like the Hill Mizar nor is anything too large like the Mountains of Hermon. David was not presumptuous, nor did he allow himself to wallow in self-pity and doubt.
In fact, more than once we see David acknowledging his sin and asking God to be merciful to him in SPITE of his sin.
Hope IN GOD is a HUGE part of why we are called upon to remember.
The New Testament writers also encourage a heart which does not forget all God has done. This is ALWAYS with the end result in view of holiness in our lives and faith in our hearts.
“(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (11) Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— (12) that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (13) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Like the passage in our graphic this morning, he remembered and THAT kept him from looking at his situations, from wallowing in his failures but lifted his head to believe…
“(1) Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. (2) I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, (3) Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.
Their fathers had told them what they remembered…
(4) We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
They told their children as well…
(5) For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; (6) That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children,
(7) That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;
This is one of the things which circumvents the cycle we have witnessed throughout scripture and in our own society. When a generation experiences God, they live it out and it makes them lights to those around them. BUT IF THEY FAIL to communicate THEIR encounter to their children, their children have nothing to look to but a memory – not their own and such is not a God big enough to save them, love and worship. These reminders should be communicated with excitement and a stirring of their children to encounter God themselves. It is to be the introducing of their children to God from which comes a handshake and the beginning of a life journey with Him themselves.
You cannot live on the faith and experiences of others – BUT their memories, if told faithfully and often will stir the next generation to seek Him themselves.
“(8) And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
(9) The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, Turned back in the day of battle. (10) They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law, (11) And FORGOT His works And His wonders that He had shown them. (12) Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers, In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. (13) He divided the sea and caused them to pass through; And He made the waters stand up like a heap.
(14) In the daytime also He led them with the cloud, And all the night with a light of fire.
(15) He split the rocks in the wilderness, And gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
(16) He also brought streams out of the rock, And caused waters to run down like rivers.
(17) But they sinned even more against Him By rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness. (18) And they tested God in their heart By asking for the food of their fancy.
(19) Yes, they spoke against God: They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? (20) Behold, He struck the rock, So that the waters gushed out, And the streams overflowed. Can He give bread also? Can He provide meat for His people?”
(21) Therefore the LORD heard this and was furious; So a fire was kindled against Jacob, And anger also came up against Israel,
(22) Because they did not believe in God, And did not trust in His salvation.
(23) Yet He had commanded the clouds above, And opened the doors of heaven, (24) Had rained down manna on them to eat, And given them of the bread of heaven. (25) Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full.
(26) He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens; And by His power He brought in the south wind. (27) He also rained meat on them like the dust, Feathered fowl like the sand of the seas; (28) And He let them fall in the midst of their camp, All around their dwellings. (29) So they ate and were well filled, For He gave them their own desire. (30) They were not deprived of their craving; But while their food was still in their mouths, (31) The wrath of God came against them, And slew the stoutest of them, And struck down the choice men of Israel.
(32) In spite of this they still sinned, And did not believe in His wondrous works.
(33) Therefore their days He consumed in futility, And their years in fear. (34) When He slew them, then they sought Him; And they returned and sought earnestly for God. (35) Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.
(36) Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, And they lied to Him with their tongue; (37) For their heart was not steadfast with Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant. (38) But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, And did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, And did not stir up all His wrath; (39) For He remembered that they were but flesh, A breath that passes away and does not come again.
(40) How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert! (41) Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel. (42) They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy, (43) When He worked His signs in Egypt, And His wonders in the field of Zoan; (44) Turned their rivers into blood, And their streams, that they could not drink. (45) He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them, And frogs, which destroyed them.
(46) He also gave their crops to the caterpillar, And their labor to the locust. (47) He destroyed their vines with hail, And their sycamore trees with frost. (48) He also gave up their cattle to the hail, And their flocks to fiery lightning. (49) He cast on them the fierceness of His anger, Wrath, indignation, and trouble, By sending angels of destruction among them. (50) He made a path for His anger; He did not spare their soul from death, But gave their life over to the plague, (51) And destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt, The first of their strength in the tents of Ham.
(52) But He made His Own people go forth like sheep, And guided them in the wilderness like a flock; (53) And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear; But the sea overwhelmed their enemies. (54) And He brought them to His holy border, This mountain which His right hand had acquired.
(55) He also drove out the nations before them, Allotted them an inheritance by survey, And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents. (56) Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God, And did not keep His testimonies, (57) But turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers; They were turned aside like a deceitful bow. (58) For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.
(59) When God heard this, He was furious, And greatly abhorred Israel, (60) So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, The tent He had placed among men, (61) And delivered His strength into captivity, And His glory into the enemy’s hand. (62) He also gave His people over to the sword, And was furious with His inheritance. (63) The fire consumed their young men, And their maidens were not given in marriage.
(64) Their priests fell by the sword, And their widows made no lamentation.
(65) Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, Like a mighty man who shouts because of wine. (66) And He beat back His enemies; He put them to a perpetual reproach. (67) Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph, And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, (68) But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved. (69) And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has established forever.
(70) He also chose David His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds; (71) From following the ewes that had young He brought him, To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance.
(72) So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”