Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me. Isaiah 46:9
Let us look to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2
Recently World founder, Joel Belz, offered this observation in a commentary about remembering the works of God.
It’s pretty hard to remember something you didn’t know in the first place. And that fact, sooner or later, could put a lot of people in jeopardy when they come face to face with God.
God tells us repeatedly in the Bible to remember his mighty acts. That involves two crucial steps: You have to know the acts themselves. And you have to recognize them as coming from God.
People’s ignorance today on both fronts is profound. They’re ignorant of the simple facts of what is happening in the world. And they’re ignorant of the reality that what is happening is God’s doing.
It is vitally important that we know what God has done in order that we remember what he has done. That seems obvious. But to remember in the biblical – and especially the Old Testament – sense is more than finding the correct piece of data on the spinning hard drive. It’s more than calling something to mind and having that oh-yeah-I-had-forgotten-that moment.
Good as that may be, there is a deeper sense of meaning around remembering that requires faith. In the Old Testament the act of remembering was not so much a matter of having data in one’s brain as it was about placing yourself back into the event which you remembered. In other words, it was an act of imagining you were actually present at that time and place of God’s acts. To remember the Exodus was a visceral experience of slogging through the receding waters of the Red Sea as they dried up before your feet and walking that path with the whole throng on dry ground (cf. Exodus 14:22).
Such is a faith-requiring and faith-bolstering experience! Put yourself into the story because God desires all of us to receive the gifts of his redemption. Put yourself with the armies of Israel as David slays Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Place yourself at Isaiah’s side as he encounters God (Isaiah 6). Go with the disciples into the upper room at the Last Supper where Jesus commands, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22).
I love to ask people what is their favorite story of Jesus. I have received some interesting answers from time to time (including some references from the Old Testament!). It is good to remember those stories and to place ourselves in them in some manner. Perhaps you will recognize yourself as a judgmental Pharisee when the sinful woman came to anoint Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50). If that’s the case listen ever more clearly to the story Jesus tells of the forgiven debtor, and remember that God welcomes sinners and even eats with them. Enjoy the meal!