The Many Faces of Remembering

Remembrance and its opposite - Twelfth and final in a series

A single verse found twice in Scripture summarizes what we should recall about the Lord: Remember his marvelous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth. (1 Ch 16:12; Ps 105:5)

As we do, when our spirits are low we will rise up with wings as eagles (Is 40:31) and keep the faith, sustained by our memories of God's mighty acts and wonderful words.

Much more could be stated and explicated about what Christians should remember about the Lord, but perhaps we are at a stopping point; we can rest here knowing he has promised never to leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5), and he has engraved us on the palms of his hands so how could he forget us? (Is 49:16) He who cannot lie promised us eternal life even before the world began (Tit 1:2), and in Christ all of God's promises are yea and amen. (2 Cor 1:20)

If you are presently suffering in a lengthy trial, remember this: God does not always plow to sow; a joyous time of reaping a harvest is coming for the faithful doer. (Is 28:24)

For those in Christ, there is no opposite to being remembered. You will be fully disciplined, tested, taught, guided, helped, strengthened and perfected.

For the rebellious, there is no opposite to being remembered, but remembrance is severe judgment. God keeps records. (Mal 3:16-18; Rev 20:11-13)

For man, the opposite of remembering God's ways and wonders is anxiety, sorrow, darkness and confusion, but remembrance brings peace, gladness, hope and praise.

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. (Psa 77:11)

Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. (Is 26:8)

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. (Ps 143:5)

God favors his followers

Remembrance and its opposite - Fifth in a series

There are three persons in the Bible who are called out as remembered by God. The first is Noah: But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. (Gen 8:1)

The second is Abraham: So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. (Gen 19:29)

The third is Rachel: Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. (Gen 30:22)

We established in the previous posts of this series that God is not in any way forgetful, so is there something to learn from these special passages?

God remembered Noah… (Gen 8:1)
In the first instance we have a man who is preserved from severe judgment but is nevertheless in need of deliverance. Man was not made to live in a ship indefinitely, nor were animals. Thus, after the deluge that poured from above and surged from beneath, the waters slowly decreased, and in the seventh month on the seventeenth day, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. (Gen 8:4) Nisan* 17 was also the day that Christ was raised from the dead, so as we remember God’s faithfulness to Noah we likewise rejoice in God’s work of salvation for all mankind. That special connection, however, is not the takeaway for this post.

Noah was remembered because he was upright; he walked with God. (Gen 6:8-9). Somehow, amidst the evil that had overtaken the earth so that EVERY imagination of men's hearts was ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY (Gen 6:5), Noah was above the fray. He was in the line of righteous men; his great-grandfather was Enoch who “walked with” God. (Gen 5:22, 24)

God remembered Abraham … (Gen 19:29)
Abraham, too, walked with the Lord. He was God’s friend. (Isa 41:8) Thus in response to his intercession for his nephew Lot, God remembered Abraham and sent angels to pull and to lead Lot to safety before fire and brimstone were poured from heaven on the totally corrupt cities of the plain.

This is the Bible's first instance of intercession. Lot's deliverance from Sodom depended upon Abraham's faithfulness and prayer. If you would like to read more on this, see God Remembered Abraham, a Bible study on this website, which includes a contemporary application of this truth, about a wife's intercession for her husband.

God remembered Rachel … (Gen 30:22)
Finally, God remembered Rachel. This was a more complex remembrance. We may wonder: Did Rachel walk with God?

At the beginning of Genesis 30 we find that Rachel could not have children so she envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. (Gen 30:1) This made Jacob angry at her, and Rachel's solution was to give Jacob her maid, whose child would be in place of the one Rachel could not bear. Jacob accepted her notion and two sons were born, Dan and Naphtali.

She did not prevail for long. Not to be outdone, Leah then gave her maid to Jacob and Gad and Asher were born. Then Leah had two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, crediting her good fortune to having been so generous as to give her maid to Jacob! (Gen 30:18)

By now Rachel had had time to consider that her rash suggestion was unwise. Rather than endearing her husband to her, it had served to divide him even further to two other women. It did not increase her stature but rather provoked a new level of competition as Leah turned the tables on her.

Comparing ourselves with others nearly always leads to disaster. Whatever the paths or good fortune of our sisters and brothers, our only directive is to follow Jesus, and to be content. (Heb 13:5)

Then came the time when God remembered Rachel. Jacob felt a new lease on life: it was time to return to his home with his large and extended family. Surely if his first love had born him a son, God was no longer angry and would bless him on his way. (Gen 30:25)

The answer to Rachel's prayer for a child was a sign of God's grace and love. We can safely assume that Rachel had overcome the adversary and had begun to walk with the Lord.

We know from Scripture that the Lord sends both rain and sun on the just and unjust, but for these three special mentions of remembrance, we see a pattern of God's favor to those who are his, who walk with him. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Ch 16:9a)

* Nisan is the first month of the Hebrew year. corresponds to March or April on the Gregorian calendar.

Crocodile tears and coverup

MALACHI -Eleventh in a series

Malachi 2:11-12 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.

In verse 11 of Malachi 2, Malachi gives credit to the Jews for loving God; at least there was some record of this in their past. But now they married foreign women, profaning his holiness (Lev 21:14). This was a sin both of those who held positions of leadership, the masters— the priests, and their underlings, the scholars who learned their ways.

Both would be cut off for this practice. God is no respecter of persons.

The next verse is interpreted in varying ways by commentators:
Malachi 2:13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.

One interpretation is that the priests invited the wronged wives to cry out to God and their tears figuratively covered the altar of the temple. Their tears were regarded, but the offerings of the priests were not.

The other idea is that the priests cried out for answers to prayers with profuse tears, because God did not regard their offerings nor answer their prayers for the people. In this view, the tears were "crocodile tears."

Do crocs really cry? A bit of lore, to explain the phrase:

The 16th Century slaver John Hawkins and his crew observed crocodiles in the Carribbean and reported that they would "cry and sobbe like a Christian body". In doing this, it was claimed, they would lure sympathetic victims into range, before surprising them and devouring them. The imagery behind the story is so powerful that belief in it continued well into the 18th and 19th Century. (ref)

The weeping priests were insincere, attracting attention of the dupes who believed them to be in agony.

This latter explanation seems on target as we continue to the next verse:
Malachi 2:14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

The priests protested they did not "get it"— Wherefore? Malachi thus points them to the truth of Scripture, that the wife each took in pledge when young was the companion approved by the Lord. This is elaborated in the next verse:
Malachi 2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

Malachi reminds the priests that God created man (humankind), Adam and Eve, from one substance (Gen 1:26-27; 2:23-24). They were a unity by design, which Jesus also refers to as he teaches the meaning of adultery (Mat 19:4-6). Importantly, man— both the husband and the wife, Adam and Eve, had the "residue of the spirit." The word "residue" means something left or parceled from a larger base of the same substance or type. The mode of creation reflects the purpose of God in joining only one man with only one woman, namely that they would rear godly children by the help of the Spirit.

Going further, Take heed to your spirit is repeated for warning and emphasis:
Malachi 2:16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

John Calvin states that the men thought they might cover their violent treatment of their wives by retaining them in the home while adding new ones. Such treachery was cruel and filthy.

Nevertheless, they pretend not to understand the Lord's accusations:
Malachi 2:17 Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

Now we turn to apply the last half of Malachi 2 to Christians today. In the same way as the 5th century Hebrews were indifferent about their sin, even going so far as to believe God accepted their practice of divorce or polygamy since he had not exiled them from their land as he had in the past, do we believe God is lax in judgment? Are we comfortable in sin because he is long suffering?

What would Malachi say about the Supreme Court decision to permit homosexual marriage?

How long will it be before three can get a marriage license or two from the same family, or child and adult? Not long, for the slippery slope cannot be maneuvered; it can only serve as a chute.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

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Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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