In part 3 of this series we tackled the subject of “The Feast of Trumpets”, so-called, and found that it was to remember the creation of the world. Strictly speaking, it should have been translated “A Remembrance of Shouting (for joy)” The Lord wanted His people to enter into the joy they had once known, but had its memory pushed into the deep sub-conscious.
In this number, we shall follow up this theme – the MEMORY. It was clear that the Lord wanted the joy of creation to be returned to His people, hence the annual festival of “shouting for joy”. Did He ask that other items of importance be remembered as well?
Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” One might have expected the Lord to say “Observe the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”,but instead He said “Remember.” Just as the annual remembrance of creation, so now the remembrance of that first Sabbath, when God “rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made” was being restored to His people. Both of these were items locked in our sub-conscious, which require a triggering mechanism to bring to the surface once again.
Here is another example, in Exodus 28:12. “You shall put the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before Jehovah on his two shoulders, for a remembrance.” Now here is a very interesting thing. Why should these “stones of remembrance” be treated in the same way as creation and the Sabbath day? It can only be that important parts of God’s plan for the world were set forth at the beginning. This is clearly indicated in an otherwise strange statement in Hebrews 4:3 ” . . . though the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Or, to put it more strongly, as required by the Greek, “though the works came into being from the foundation of the world.”
We are entering into areas that seemingly do not occupy much time or thought to people, even believers. But I have the distinct impression that our Lord desires us to know and to remember certain important things in our life pilgrimage. In fact it could be suggested that the initial act of coming to know the Lord is that of remembrance. This may seem strange when first presented, but is borne out by Scripture. Let’s take a look at Psalm 22:27-31, that great Psalm prophesying the sufferings and glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before Him. For dominion belongs to the Lord, and He rules over thenations. . . . . men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation, and proclaim His deliverance to a people yet unborn, that He has wrought it.” What a magnificent proclamation! Here is a passage that speaks of God’s ultimate victory, based on the death and resurrection of His Son, and in the same context we read about people who have not yet been born. Yes, coming to know the Lord is equivalent to “remembering”. No wonder Solomon encouraged his readers to “Remember now your Creator from the days of your youth . . .” (Eccl.12:1)
Psalm 77:11-13, a psalm of Asaph. “I will remember the works of the Lord; yes, I will remember the wonders of old. I will meditate on all Yourwork, and muse on Your mighty deeds.” Here is a man who has perceived the message of remembrance. He says that he will allow his mind to become attuned the more readily to the recalling of past knowledge.
There are other avenues of discovery in the realm of “memory.” Whereas the Lord wants to bring back to mind all the good things He has done, He also wants us to forget what is bad, even of our own making. The other side of the coin of “remembrance” is “forgetfulness.” David cried out to the Lord, saying, “Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to Your steadfast love remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord!” (Psalm 25:7) The Lord of all graciousness replies through the mouth of Isaiah, “I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isa.43:25) An even stronger version of this same promise is given by the Lord to Jeremiah, “No longer shall each man teach his neighbour and each his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer.31:34)
We may bewail our past sins and misdemeanours. We find we dream about them, and sometimes we can come out in “goose pimples” as the mind recalls events we wish never happened. It’s the same for us all, particularly as we remember “the sins of our youth”, like David. But the Lord tells us that He remembers them no more. They are lost in the sea of His forgetfulness. This is a great relief, and we look forward to the day when our ownmemories will be completely purged of all that the memory finds offensive.
This is a subject of great import. All knowledge of good, holy, righteous, lovely, wonderful things is part of the process of remembering. In this sense we should be “laying up treasure in heaven.” But it is God’s promise that everything bad, unclean, violent, abusive, and lawless will eventually be purged, never to be remembered again. Even the most wretched of sinners may be comforted to know this truth. In resurrection our minds will be wiped clean of all that remains of the past sinful nature, whilst all that has been stored up of a positive nature will become part of our own inheritance. No wonder Paul encourages his readers, “Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil.4:8)