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CHRISTIAN LIFE: Remember…

An important Bible word…..

 Wb 261

 

“Beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” (Deuteronomy 6:12)

 

 

 

 

 

The twin themes of “remember” and “forget not” are prominent in Deuteronomy. Moses, in this book, was addressing the people of Israel before their entry into the Promised Land. On a positive note he encouraged them to remember God’s faithfulness to them in the past. In negative terms he warned them of the dangers of forgetting their God.

 

Deuteronomy 6 lists the commandments of God which Moses reiterated for the people, impressing upon them the need to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord. Looking ahead to settlement in Canaan, Moses anticipated their future prosperity and warned them of the danger of forgetting the God who had led them there.

 

These words are full of meaning for us too. When things are going well and when we are comfortable materially, we are in particular danger of becoming complacent and forgetting the Lord. Like the people of Israel, we also need to take a careful look back and remember where we have come from. The Lord, in His wisdom, has graciously provided us with an opportunity when we can do just that. Like the Passover, the Lord’s Supper was instituted for that very purpose — that we might remember Him and not forget what He has done.

 

As we eat the bread and drink the wine, should we not “fear the LORD [our] God” too? (Deut.6:13) By His death He has delivered us from “Egypt” — which, in New Testament terms, is “the world”. He has brought us “from the house of bondage” (Deut.6:12) and freed us from our slavery to Satan. With J. G. Deck we can say,

“Thy cross has severed ties which bound us here,

Thyself our treasure in a brighter sphere” (1).

 

Recognizing how the Lord has bought us and also where He has brought us, we remember the great cost to Himself before going out, like the Israelites, to “serve Him” willingly (Deut.6:13).

 

 

 

THE PASSOVER

Mention the people of Israel keeping the Passover, and the thoughts of many Bible readers will probably turn to Exodus 12 where this particular feast of the Lord was instituted. The Passover, however, is also dealt with in other places, one being Numbers 9. This chapter is set in the year following the Israelites’ release from the land of Egypt. The Lord had originally spoken to Moses in Egypt and had given detailed instructions about the first Passover. Now He spoke “in the wilderness of Sinai” (v.1) a year after their journey to freedom had begun.

 

How gracious of God to speak to Moses in the wilderness! The Israelites were trekking through barren territory, facing all kinds of discouragements and difficulties. It must have been a tremendous encouragement to Moses, their leader, when the Lord spoke to him. The Lord does not leave us alone either. As we pass through this world (which often resembles a spiritual “wilderness”) He speaks to us too.

 

The Lord’s message to Moses was first of all a reminder that they should keep the Passover. The original event must not be forgotten as its anniversary was approaching. In its “appointed season” (v.2) it must be kept in accordance with all the details the Lord had previously given to Moses (v.5).

 

In the New Testament we find something very similar. Our “remembrance” is the Lord’s Supper. Like the Passover, it looks back to a sacrifice offered and to an act of deliverance. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself instituted this feast only hours before His death, just as the Passover was first instituted only shortly before the great event that it was to commemorate. Some years later a “reminder” about the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, in much the same way that Numbers 9 reminded the people of the earlier instructions in Exodus 12.

 

Today it is our privilege to remember our Saviour by partaking of the bread and the wine – vivid pictures of His sacrifice, suffering, and death for us. It is not the Lord’s intention that this should be only an annual occurrence as it was for the Israelites. As often as possible (1 Cor.11:25) we are encouraged to remember the wonderful deliverance from sin that was wrought for us through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.

 

 

EXCLUSION?

As mentioned, the incident recorded in Numbers 9 occurred in the first month of the second year after they had left Egypt, and the evening of the fourteenth day marked the time when the Passover should be commemorated. A unique situation had arisen. Some men had come into contact with a corpse and thus were ceremonially defiled. They approached Moses to ask why they were prevented from worshipping the Lord in the Passover with the rest of the congregation. Moses, initially, was uncertain what to do and referred the matter to the Lord. The outcome is interesting.

 

Humanly speaking, there were two possible responses. Some might reply that these men could not take part in the Feast – full stop. They must be excluded from it! Others might take the opposite approach and ignore the requirements of the Law. “It doesn’t matter,” they might say. “Just let them in with all the rest.” In the divine solution we see a wonderful blending of two familiar biblical qualities — grace and truth.

 

It is clear, firstly, that the truth of God does not change. The Passover was not an unimportant or optional event in Israel’s calendar, but God’s people must be holy to share in it. Yet God is not rigid and inflexible. In His grace He accommodated those who would otherwise have been prevented from sharing in it — whether through being unclean or through being away on a necessary journey. Provision was made for it to be celebrated a month later — on the fourteenth day of the second month, (v.9-11). The Passover itself had not altered; all the other regulations previously given still applied. God’s grace came into operation just because He ever includes all who sincerely want to worship Him.

 

The application for us is simple: grace and truth must be kept in perfect balance. This Old Testament incident gives us no precedent to be slipshod. As we remember our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God requires us first to examine ourselves (1 Cor.11:28). But neither does the incident give us grounds to exclude any genuine believer — “just to be on the safe side”. Rather, it encourages us to have the heart of our God and to welcome all who are truly seeking to please Him. The Lord desires His people to remember Him.

 

 

 

TO REMEMBER

Some people love to point out that the Lord Jesus did not institute the Supper lest we forget but so that we might remember Him. While this is true, is it not also true that we are human and do easily forget? As Robert Robinson discovered, we are so “prone to wander” and to “leave the God we love”. Only His grace can keep us day by day (2). A regular time of remembrance is beneficial to our spiritual health. If it was not, the Lord Jesus would not have asked His people to remember Him and His great sacrifice in a spirit of thankful worship. The words of Jenny Evelyn Hussey stress this truth:

Lest I forget Gethsemane,

Lest I forget Thine agony,

Lest I forget Thy love for me,

Lead me to Calvary. (3)

As, by faith, we view afresh the sacrifice that was offered for us, we will see afresh how much we owe to our beloved Lord.

 

 

 

BACK TO DEUTERONOMY

Two other verses concerning the dangers of forgetfulness can be applied to the Christian life today. Like the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:23, we must not “forget” the implications of His covenant with us. The Lord has redeemed us that we might be His and that He might rule over our lives. We are no longer our own, for we have been bought with a price (1 Cor.6:19,20). Just as idolatry was a forbidden practice for the Israelites, we are commanded to avoid idols (1 Jn.5:21). Nothing must be allowed to usurp God’s place in the lives of His children.

 

We must also heed the warning of Moses in Deuteronomy 8:11 that when we fail to keep His commandments we are, in effect, forgetting Him: “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping His commandments.” His Word must always be before us. We should meditate upon it daily.

 

As we have the opportunity to do so, we should delight to remember our Lord at His Supper. Let us also beware of the spirit of complacency creeping in when all seems to be going well.

 

END NOTES:- (1)Called from above, by J.G.Deck. (2)Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, by R.Robinson. (3)King of my life, I crown Thee now, by Jenny E. Hussey.

 

 

“Beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

(Deuteronomy 6:12)