Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Remember (Part 2)

Of all the passages in the Old Testament that use the word "remember", I found 33 of them that are examples of people...not "characters" but people just like you and me...that call out to God in prayer, asking Him to remember something.

In Exodus 32, after the Israelites have created a golden calf to worship and God's anger burns against the Israelites and He is ready to destroy them all and make a great nation out of Moses...Moses asks God to remember His covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He asks God to remember the covenant and turn from His anger and not destroy His people.

In Exodus 33, Moses asks God for guidance in leading Israel. He says, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."

In the Judges, one of the most intersting people to read about is Samson. He was a man who seemed to enjoy riddles. He was a man of incredible strength, which he received from the Lord. There was that time he tied the foxes' tails together (300 of them, btw!) and tied torches to their tails and set them loose in the grain fields. There was that other time that he killed 1,000 people with the jawbone of a donkey. And then there was that time when Delilah cut his hair, and thus, with his Nazirite vow being broken, his strength left him. He was captured by the Philistines, bound in shackles, and his eyes gouged out. But he prayed to God, "O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes."

In I Samuel, Hannah prays fervently, asking God to remember her and give her a son.

In II Chronicles, as Solomon prays at the dedication of the Temple to the Lord, He says, "O Lord God, do not reject Your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David, Your servant."

In II Kings, Hezekiah, who has been one of Judah's few faithful kings, becomes ill. He receives word from the prophet Isaiah to put his affairs in order--he is going to die. But Hezekiah pours out his heart to God, as he weeps bitterly, asking God to "Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in Your eyes."

Nehemiah was an incredible man of prayer, and all throughout his book, you will find him praying that God remember...that He remember His instruction to Moses saying that "If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to Me and obey My commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for My Name" (Neh. 1:8)...that He remember him with favor for all he has done for the people of Israel (Neh. 5:19; Neh. 13)...even that He remember the harm that his enemies have caused (Neh. 6:14; Neh. 13).

Job, as a man under great distress over the circumstances of his life, asks God to remember that his life is but a breath (Job 7:7). He also asks God to remember that He molded him like clay...and asks Him not to make him like dust again! (Job. 10:9) Job asks for God to wait until His anger is passed and then remember His servant Job.

The Psalms are peppered with statements from the psalmists, asking God to remember:

  • "Remember, O Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they are from of old..." (Ps. 25:6)
  • "Remember the people You purchased of old, the tribe of Your inheritiance, whom You redeemed..." (Ps. 74:2)
  • "Remember how the enemy has mocked You, O Lord, how foolish people have reviled Your name..." (Ps. 74:18)
  • "Rise up, O God, and defend Your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long..." (Ps. 74:22)
  • "Remember how fleeting is my life..." (Ps. 89:47)
  • "Remember, Lord, how Your servant has been mocked, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations..." (Ps. 89:50)
  • "Remember me, O Lord, when You show favor to Your people, come to my aid when you save them..." (Ps. 106:4)
  • "Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope..." (Ps. 119:49)
  • "O Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured..." (Ps. 132:1)
  • "Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell..." (Ps. 137:7)

The prophet Jeremiah is another one who, several times, asks the Lord to remember. He prays, "For the sake of Your name do not despise us; do not dishonor Your glorious throne. Remember Your covenant with us and do not break it." (Jer. 14:21) He also prays, "You understand, O Lord; remember me and care for me." (Jer. 15:15) He again pleads, "Remember that I stood before You and spoke in their behalf to turn Your wrath away from them." (Jer. 18:20) Finally, he laments, "Remember, O Lord, what has happened to us; look, and see our disgrace." (Lam. 5:1)

Finally, the prophet Habakkuk also prays, "Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." (Hab. 3:2)

In the midst of all these prayers asking God to remember...there are even a couple asking God NOT to remember...NOT to remember the sins of our youth (Ps. 25:7)...NOT to remember our sins forever (Is. 64:9).

What impresses me most about this lengthy list of people in the Old Testament is that for so many of them...when they prayed asking God to remember...God answered their prayers.

With Moses, God didn't destory the Israelites. He allowed Moses to lead them. He renewed Samson's strength. He gave Hannah a child. He extended Hezekiah's life, made Nehemiah successful, and restored to Job more than he had before...

What about you? Can we add your name to this list? Is there something that you desperately want God to remember and act upon?

Or is there something that you'd rather He did NOT remember?

Why don't you tell Him about it?

He listens...and He answers...He REMEMBERS.