Remember To Remember
The book of Deuteronomy is a record of the final words of Moses to the people of Israel. For forty years he had led them, first out of Egypt, then through the desert, and finally to the border of the promised land. But Moses’ leadership was about to come to an end, and the people of Israel would enter the Promised Land and establish their lives there without the benefit of his ongoing wisdom and leadership. We can imagine that, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Moses took great care as he considered the final words of counsel and instruction he would leave with these people as he prepared them for his departure.
One of the dominant themes in Moses’ final instructions is that the people of Israel remember where they had been, and how they had gotten to where they were. Moses understood that it is human nature to forget, but forgetting poses a great danger, because in forgetting where we have come from and how we got to where we are, we can easily lose track of who we are and where we are going. So, Moses charged the people to remember; to remember to remember; to not forget to remember, and to remember not to forget. “Be careful,” he warned them, “and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things you have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live” (Dt. 4:9).
In Deuteronomy 8, which is just a sampling of the counsel Moses gives throughout the book, he charged them:
- remember how the Lord your God has led you through the desert these 40 years (v. 2)
- take care that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments (v. 11)
- when you begin to prosper in the land, do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt (v. 12-14)
- beware that you do not come to think that you have achieved your success on your own, but remember the Lord your God, for it is he who has made you prosper (v. 17-18)
- do not forget the Lord your God and begin to worship other gods (v. 19)
From these examples, two things they were to remember stand out. First, they were to remember the Lord their God; second, they were to remember what God had done for them. By taking care to remember these things, they would not lose sight of who they were, and how they had gotten to where they were. They were God’s people and he was their provider and protector.
Remembering not only helps us to retain our identity as God’s people, it also can encourage and sustain us in the midst of adversity. In the midst of the adversity he faced, the Psalmist declared, “In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted…I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Ps. 77:2, 11-12).
I don’t know about you, but I find that I am continually in danger of forgetting. In times of prosperity I can fail to remember that God is my provider and protector, and I would have nothing if it were not for him. Likewise, in times of adversity I can forget that God is my provider and protector, and I can rest secure in him.
So let us not forget to remember, who we are; whose we are; and all the wonders he has done for us, to bring us from where we were to where we are. And, as we remember the past, let us also take heart for the future, for the same God who gave his only Son to set us free from sin and death is still with us, leading us every step of the way through this life, and he will see us safely home.
Pastor Jon EnrightJune 1, 2020