Have you ever walked our nation’s capital? It is full of memorials and monuments. They tower and awe in their magnitude, causing the viewer to pause in their simplicity and meaning. Memorials give us an opportunity to remember those who walked before us.
In the Old Testament, Joshua made a memorial out of a pillar of stones after the Israelites had crossed the Jordan.
“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over.” (Joshua 4:21-23)
The Old Testament is full of stories reminding the Israelites of all God had done. Often, holidays and special ceremonies were developed to aid in that remembrance. In the OT, the Hebrew word “zezher” is used for the word memorial. It is used in the sense of remembrance. Sometimes it was an actual monument that was built to remember something that had happened, like the stones Joshua set up on the other side of the Jordan. Jacob also set up a pillar in Genesis 28 to remember when he saw the face of God and lived. God’s very own name is referred to as a memorial in the OT for his people to remember all that he is and has done. In Isaiah 56, God made this promise “I will give them—within the walls of my house— a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!”
In the NT, “mnemosunon” is the Greek word used for remembrance. The woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet, wept over him and prepared him for burial is remembered because Jesus said to her,
“I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”(Matthew 26:13)
And at that final meal before Jesus walked the lonely road to Calvary, he broke bread with the disciples and said “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22)
Remembering what God has done is significant in Scripture. In fact, Moses commanded the Israelites to remember what God had done for them. Whether it’s a story from the Bible, an actual physical memorial or a festival, the act of remembering all that God has done is really an act of recalling His grace. Everything He has done is an act of grace for us. From the act of salvation to our daily provisions to the refiner’s fire–all acts of grace given to us by the very hand of God.
Each time we recall the way He loved us first, each time we remember how He has brought us from death to life and each time we remember all the blessings we experience in this life–we are to offer a sacrifice of praise. A return gift of thanksgiving to the one who paid the most. And that act of thanksgiving in response to grace is delivered to heaven as a sweet fragrance.
Remembering the past graces of God also gives us faith to trust in his future grace.
We can trust Him for tomorrow because we have remembered how He has blessed today and yesterday.
Just as I look at photograph taken years ago and smile at the memory, recalling the blessings of God gives me joy to enter into tomorrow.
The physical memorials honoring war veterans somberly remind us of sacrifices given for our freedom. We learn from those who lives in the past and it prepares us to live tomorrow. In the same way, remembering the sacrifice Christ made for our sins reminds us that His love for us is so great–He will never let us go.
In what practical ways can you remember Him today and everyday?