One of the benefits of technology is that you can easily search for words in the Bible. In preparing for a recent sermon, I searched for the word “remember”.
It appears hundreds of times. In studying the various occurrences, I began to see a deep connection to the spiritual renewal of God’s people, corporately and individually.
It begins in Exodus with the commands to remember God and His loving deeds. In Exodus 3:15 after God revealed to Moses His identity as the great “I am”, He instructs Moses that He is to be remembered by this identity. In Exodus 13:3 God commands, the first of many times, that the people remember how they were brought out of the slavery of Egypt by the strong arm of the Lord.
The celebration feasts, as Passover and Purim, were commanded as a way of remembering God’s love and care of His people Israel. It demonstrates God’s plan to keep their spiritual condition strong by keeping them constantly connected to the unfolding of the great story of His love expressed in power on their behalf, generation by generation.
Spiritual amnesia wasn’t far behind. For example, in Judges 8:34, we find that the people no longer remembered the Lord. As the story continues to unfold, we find forgetting and remembering as a significant key to God’s people growing cold and then being renewed in their relationship with the Lord.
Much of the worship modelled in the Psalms is based on giving thanks for all that God has done. Gratitude, to be authentic, requires accurate and thorough remembering. It is in the act of rehearsing in our hearts and minds what God has done that we rightly relate to His power and presence, For Christians, the Lord’s Table is a centrepiece of remembering. Jesus said it clearly. “Do this in remembrance of me.” Gathering around His table is a reviving experience.
But can we restrict remembering and renewal to those who gather there? What about the people who have either forgotten or have never heard what God has done?
The first part of Psalm 78, in addressing the challenge and responsibility of delivering the faith to the following generations, is relevant, I believe, in understanding how we share the faith to the world.
Psalm 78 talks of teaching our kids the requirements of a holy God. God’s way is a particular way. He has not left His people guessing how to live. Jesus, in summing up this requirement, taught to love God with everything and love other people.
Psalm 78 also instructs us to share with our youth and by extension all who have not heard or no longer remember. We are called to rehearse for them all that God has done-in history and currently. We serve a powerful God who continues to do powerful and amazing things in all generations.
The surprise of Psalm 78 is it reverses the order that I reported here. Introducing the powerful deeds of God is commanded in verse four. Instructions in His law are in verse five.
By giving the powerful stories of God’s saving power in history and the present, we introduce people to the loving God they can begin to remember. Then and only then, teaching them His law can be done in a context of His loving care for His people. As one preacher says it, “We are telling about God’s guardrails and not His roadblocks.”
Remember and be renewed. Share your remembering and pray God will allow you to share in the revival of others.