Last week, our focus was on things worth forgetting. Today we turn our attention to things worth remembering.
While writing Exodus, his book detailing the redeeming power of God, Moses recorded the first words he spoke to the Israelites following their miraculous exit from four centuries of slavery. He says to the people. . . "Remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place." Exodus 13:3 (ESV)
Eight hundred years later, their descendants worked tirelessly, while threatened by enemies, rebuilding a wall of protection around the city and temple of Jerusalem. To those assembled, Nehemiah spoke words of affirmation . . . "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome." Nehemiah 14:4 (NIV)
Four and one-half centuries later, to the troubled Twelve, Jesus broke the bread and said . . . “This is my body, which I am giving for you. Do this to remember me.” Luke 22:19 (NCV)
A generation later, Paul wrote to his pupil, Timothy, and charged him to . . . "Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead." 2 Timothy 2:8 (NLT)
Hear the theme and remember it. God calls His people to remember.
As you commenced with your frantic car key search this morning or forgot where you parked your car at the mall this past weekend, you were reminded that you forget. We are, after all, a forgetful people.
What purpose do rainbows, Passover feasts, and Lord's Supper observances serve? They serve as reminders. God, our Creator, knows that you and I need reminders. Reflecting on the importance of remembrance, a 19th century theologian wrote . . . "As long as the remembrance of the mighty works of God continued alive, so long also did active gratitude, covenant faithfulness, endure." (Cassel 56)
What happens when remembrance gives way to forgetfulness?
God's word provides the answer.
Often, I explain that if Hollywood were to produce a movie based on the book of Judges, no one under seventeen would be admitted to the theater. Evil, unrestrained wrath, deception, violence to women, disembowelment, body parts delivered throughout Israel, constant warfare, and idol worship. Not one commandment left unbroken. Ten for ten in the loss column!
The first verse of the book of Judges begins with the words . .
"After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD . . ."
The last verse of the book reads . . .
"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."
Notice the difference between "asked the LORD" and "as he saw fit." The former leads to success, the latter amounts to failure.
Return to verse 10 . . .
Look with me at one particular word - generation.
While faith is not hereditary, it is contagious.
Phillips Elliott refers to the faith of one generation as the . . . "stimulus to achieving a like faith" in the next generation (700).
The onus rests upon each generation to serve as the stimulus for the next generation. The onus rested on the generations in the time of Judges; yet, as Paulus Cassel explains, they grew forgetful as they took the Promised Land for granted. In his words, ". . . in the triteness of possession they utterly failed to acknowledge the indebtedness for it to God." (54)
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to devote time this week to tell God stories to the next generation. Around the dinner table, over the telephone, written in a letter - tell stories of God working in your life. Refuse to allow the past to remain in yesterday; speak it into today. May it be said of us that after our whole generation has been gathered to our fathers and mothers, another generation grew up who knew the LORD and what He did.
The band Luminate sings a song entitled "Love is Loud." Within the lyrics we hear . . . "I was raised up in a family where You were everywhere." Is that true for you? Will you make it true for your children?
God calls His people to remember.
And – while you’re remembering – be sure to remember your Valentine today. 😊
Cassel, Paulus. The Book of Judges. Trans. Peter H. Steenstra. New York: Scribner, 1871. 8 May 2013 <http://archive.org/details/ bookofjudges42cass>.
Elliott, Phillips. The Interpreter’s Bible. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. Vol. 2. New York: Abingdon, 1956.
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