We might say we need to remember that Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska for the seven across answer on a crossword puzzle, or that in ‘1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue’ – facts, mere facts. However, remembering in the Bible is different; Jewish culture treats remembering as a behavioral response, just as hearing and obeying are synonymous. Some 235+ times remember is mentioned. In the Hebrew, it literally means ‘to properly mark, so as to recognize.’ The first mention is found in the story of Noah. God puts Noah, his family and the animals in a big boat, while outside the rains are in a downpour, the waters rise and the boat stays afloat for many days. “But God remembered Noah and all… and He sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.” (Genesis 8:1) God remembered, did He temporarily forget? No. The Omniscient God (All-knowing) does not forget. His plan was implemented and in process. He remembers, He rescues and He acts. God marked Noah. Genesis 9, the ark now sits on dry ground, Noah and family are out, the animals disperse, God promises not do THAT again, promise to not destroy everything with water. Sealing the deal, He gives a rainbow as a reminder. We all know the story; God put the rainbow in the sky to remind us. Or did He? No, not so much for us.
“I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:13-16 NIV, emphasis mine)
The sign of the rainbow was a reminder to GOD, even though mankind seems to always keep mucking it up, continuing in disobedience – yet when the bow appears, He remembers, His response will be consistent with His covenant. Remember. Isaiah speaks on behalf of God, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25, see also Hebrews 10) God’s response is consistent with His character, He Himself declares before Moses, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth…” (Exodus 34:6)
God often directs His people in the Old Testament to remember their past and all that He had said and done for them: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you… Remember the Sabbath… Remember the law...” Why? So their behavioral response would reflect relationship, they are His. Remember.
When I was young my dad would often say, “Remember, you’re a DeBus.” It was not said in anticipation that we would forget our last name, he was expecting our behavior reflect the family standard, the standard of ‘minding your manners’ and always leave the campground cleaner than we found it.
Interestingly, Jesus also speaks of remembering. The Last Supper, Jesus instructs the disciples to take the bread and the cup, representing His body and blood and “Do this in remembrance of Me.”(Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 11) His intent was not assuming we’d forget Him throughout the week, and as we walk into church, seeing the elements up front, and think, “Oh, that’s right, I forgot about Jesus.” No, when we come to the table, and partake of the bread and wine, we remember, we remember ALL that He is, all that He did, we remember His covenant, His character, and yes, He expects a response. “The memory of the greatness of the sacrifice should cause the believer to abstain from sin.”* We properly mark and recognize God, a response of worship, of lifestyle. Anytime we encounter a God moment, we should walk away different from when we arrived.
Do we reflect the Family standard? We know God does.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
*The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament.