Sunday, July 26, 2009

Remember (Part 1)

I don’t know about you, but I like reminders. Without them, I forget. So I’ve got them all around me. At work, when there’s something I need to be certain that I don’t forget to do, I can set my Microsoft Outlook taskbar to pop up with a reminder. At home, my refrigerator is covered with pictures of my niece and nephew, and some Christmas pictures of some friends and their children. And in my bedroom, the walls are nearly covered with collages of photos…people and places that I love…things that I don’t want to forget. So I like reminders.

This week I was struck by the realization that God loves reminders, too! In my ladies Bible study on “Believing God” by Beth Moore, we studied Joshua 4, and Beth brought out a point and made a connection for me that I’d never made before. For me, the implications were incredible. I was in awe to think of my God that way.

In Joshua 3, the Israelites cross over the Jordan River and into their promised land. This is followed up by some instructions that the Lord gives to Joshua, beginning in chapter 4:
“When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.’ So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, ‘Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, “What do these stones mean?” tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.’”

After discussing this passage of scripture, we turned back to Genesis 15 and read of where God first made His covenant with Abraham. Starting in verse 9, it reads:
“So the Lord said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.’ Abram brought all these to Him, cut them in two, and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half…As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him…When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebushites.’”

Upon comparing these two passages of scripture, Beth pointed out that the Hebrew word describing the Jordan being “cut off” before the ark of the covenant of the Lord before the ark was carried through the Jordan was the same as that used to describe Abram cutting the pieces of the animals in two, before the Lord passed through them in establishing a covenant with Abraham. Now, Beth admitted that this is her own speculation or theory, simply based on the similarities of these words in these two passages, but she said, “I believe that God was having His own memorial right there, remembering, ‘Children, I made a covenant with you…I made a promise, and I’m about to deliver!’”

It had a drastic impact on me to think of my God making it a point to Himself to remember something. I guess I find that interesting because I’m not sure it’s possible for an omniscient, omnipotent God to forget anything! So it would seem to me that “remembering” is more than just “not forgetting”. I decided to look into this a little bit more.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word for “remember” used in the Old Testament is “zakar”. There are several very similar definitions given for this word:
1. to remember, recall
2. to be brought to remembrance, be remembered, be thought of, be brought to mind
3. to cause to remember, remind
4. to cause to be remembered, keep in remembrance
5. to mention
6. to record
7. to make a memorial, make remembrance
The last three really speak to me…the idea of mentioning, recording, and making it a point actually make a memorial to something or someone.

A search of the NIV yields the word “remember” 233 times. One hundred eighty-two of those occurrences are in the Old Testament. Sometimes it is used to describe God “remembering” someone. Sometimes it is people crying out to God, asking that He “remember” someone or something. Most often, though, it is God commanding us to remember Him and what He’s done.

I’ll take a closer look at these passages over the next several days and cover some of them in a little more detail in some following blogs/notes. Feel free to leave your own thoughts/comments.

And in the meantime, take some time to purposefully remember what God has done for you today