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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our Memorial Day


Memorials are good things! Everything from regularly repeated national holidays every year to historical markers on the sides of dusty back highways. They place before our eyes and minds that there is something worth remembering, and thus something to be gained from remembering.

The opposite of memorials and remembering is forgetfulness. It’s when we forget that we often stray off and lose our way. In Scripture, to forget is placed on the same level as despising God’s gifts, refusing to heed His words and outright unbelief. A quick perusal through Psalm 106, for example, makes this connection clear. The writer describes how YHVH delivered His people from Pharaoh and Egypt through the plagues and the Red Sea, and how the people of God responded to this great deliverance,
“Then they believed His words;
They sang His praise” (v.12).
But then, with an almost breathless speed:
They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul” (v.13-15).
Later, after hearing God recite the Decalogue, they quickly had a further memory lapse and things went bad:
“They made a calf in Horeb,
And worshiped the molded image.
Thus they changed their glory
Into the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
Wondrous works in the land of Ham,
Awesome things by the Red Sea.
Therefore He said that He would destroy them,
Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach,
To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them” (v.19-23).
Their forgetfulness continued to dull their hearts, until on the cusp of the Promised Land,
“they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of the LORD” (v.24-25).
The Psalm writer carefully sets out the connection between forgetfulness and faithlessness.

Therefore, our annual memorial day is a good thing, to remember that freedom is never free, as the cliché goes. And it is good to recognize that every Sunday is memorial day for God‘s people, an Ebenezer stone raised up that reminds us, “Thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Sam. 7.12). Each Lord’s Day sets before our eyes, ears and hearts the mighty works of the Lord so that faithless forgetfulness is held at bay.

A significant part of remembering, of memorial, is consumed. YHVH instituted a memorial feast of the Exodus so that bodies and taste buds would conspire to remind and rekindle faith, “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance” (Exodus 12.14). Therefore, it is no surprise that our Lord Jesus, who always did what He saw His Father doing (John 5.19) instituted a memorial feast, a feast of faithful remembering that fleshes out into faithful living, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11.23-26).

Remembering, faith and faithfulness go hand-in-glove.

Mike

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