A Few Remarks about Remembering

Memorial Day is a time to honor the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for defending this great nation and, by extension, anyone who has served our country in the Armed Forces. For some, however, it’s is just an extended weekend with additional time off, opportunity to enjoy friends and neighbors around a grill, or a chance to catch up on yard work, house chores, or catch something on sale at the local stores. Truth be told, I fall into both camps enjoying friends and family and sales and whatnot, but I also hold in high regard those who paid with their lives to defend my freedom to celebrate this day and every day.

In the spirit of remembering, I offer a few passages below (in canonical order) that speak to the importance of remembering on this Memorial Day. I recognize there are many positive renderings of remembering in Scripture (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3, et al.), but of the more than 900 occurrences of the term “remem*” that I find in Scripture, the majority of them are cast in a tone of warning or admonition. So too is the point and purpose of Memorial Day. We are negatively “encouraged” by the service and sacrifice others have made to not forget them.

  • God’s faithfulness to remember his covenant with “all living creatures” invokes a reverent fear in us to avoid moral failure (Genesis 8:1, 9:15).
  • The great redemption story of the Israelites brought out of slavery begins with God’s faithful remembrance of his lasting covenant, Exodus 2:24.
  • Numbers 15:37-41 points to prescribed articles of clothing in worship intended to jog the memory about the importance of obeying God’s laws over pursuing one’s own desires.
  • Deuteronomy 8:11-20 is a stern warning of dire consequences for taking pride in our own efforts and failing to remember the Source from whom all human effort derives.
  • After hearing Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel 1:11), God “remembered” her and gave her a son (1 Samuel 1:19-20) teaching us that God does not forget us.
  • And the Psalmist tells us that when God seemingly delays in meeting our needs, we can appeal to what he has done for us in our past by remembering (Psalm 77:7-12)
  • In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus insists that our worship is hardly meaningful if we forget the moral debt we incur by offending others and the necessary steps to reconcile.
  • Because the dangers of holding on too tightly to this life can be deadly, Luke 17:32-33 records Jesus’s challenge to “remember Lot’s wife!”
  • Recalling this nation’s sordid past with great divisions from the Civil War to the Civil Rights era to Ferguson and Baltimore, should be a thunderous call for the need of a reconciliation that only the Gospel message brings (Ephesians 2:11-13).
  • Peter urges every believer to remember the “great and precious promises” God has made in salvation (2 Peter 1:3-15) and is the basis for all ethical living.
  • Finally, lest we forget, God assures us that he does not forget our sins. Every person everywhere from all time will account for moral failure and the willful neglect of his warnings to remember will end in judgement (Revelation 16:19; 18:5).

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