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What Not To Wear (Sabbath Meditations)

I heard a comedian joke that, when it comes to clothing style, we men are hopeless. Basically, most of us pick out a point of time in our lives when we felt at the top of our game looks wise and, whatever style we were wearing at that time, we just ride out for the rest of our lives. You can walk down the street and see a guy over 40 and pretty much pick the year. It’s funny but true.
There was a time when you probably would look at me and say ... “ahh...1986.” But that all changed when I came home from work one day to find my closet empty and all of my clothes sitting in garbage bags on the floor in our side entrance. To my dismay, while I was at work, my wife and daughter had performed a ‘What Not to Wear’ on me.
Frankly, I was a little distraught. Gone were my pleated, cuffed dress pants. Gone were my favorite mock turtle necks. Gone were my sear sucker sport shirts. And gone was my collection of beloved sweaters and sweatshirts I’d accumulated over the years. All gone.
Admittedly, I wasn’t all that much into fashion. In fact, for the most part I really could have cared less. But, even so, I was shocked at how my self-image took a hit that day. I really didn’t think I had looked that bad. In fact, I kind of liked the way I dressed. The 1980s were good years.
It took me a while to recover from the shock. Any confidence I had in my ability to dress myself went immediately down the drain. For some time after that I was afraid to leave the house without first getting the thumbs up from one of my two self-appointed fashion consultants.
Now, in looking back, the whole thing makes me laugh. I’ve come to appreciate the women in my life who love me enough to make sure I don’t look like a throwback from the 1980s.
As Christians, living in this physical world, focused on physical things, it’s easy for us to get a little too wrapped up in maintaining a certain image sometimes. We walk around wearing remnants of the old man, focused on self-image, self-preservation and self-promotion. Remnants of pride or human fearfulness at times cause even converted people to go to great lengths to cover up their blemishes, to dress up their faults, to maintain the image they want others to see. Publicly hiding behind facades of wholeness, they privately nurture areas of brokenness and pain.
James 5:16 instructs us to “Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
1 Thessalonians 5:10 tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
This Church thing that we are a part of isn’t some spiritual fashion show. It’s not so we can parade around displaying how put together we are. God put us in the body to do just the opposite. It’s a place we share our hurts, we share our weaknesses and our burdens, so that we might together find strength and encouragement to overcome and grow up into Him, Jesus Christ, in all things. We can’t do that if we are protecting an image.
You know, it might not be a bad idea, if, as Christians, we all did a spiritual ‘What Not to Wear’ on ourselves once in a while. In fact, occasionally going through our spiritual closets and cleaning out some of the outdated remnants of the old man is something scripture tells us we are supposed to do from time to time.
Romans 13:14 encourages us to put off the remnants of the old man and to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are to put on the attitude, the heart and mind of our Savior, who we are told in Philippians 2, “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!”
If only we as His disciples could lay aside aside our facades, lay aside our pride and be clothed with the kind of humility that would allow us to share our weaknesses, to carry one another’s burdens, rather than hiding and shielding them from others. God could and would use to help us to heal. How much more powerfully could God’s Spirit work among His people to grow us and mold us into His image? If only we had the courage to open up our spiritual closets and start tossing.
When I came home to find my clothes in garbage bags, I have to admit that I did rummage through to reclaim a couple of my favorite old sweatshirts. I only got away with it after promising my two fashion consultants that I wouldn’t wear them in public. It was a small price to pay to hang on to some sense of my former identity. Now, they too, have found their way to the garbage. I’ve finally let go of the 1980s and moved on.
My spiritual wardrobe is still a work in progress. There is still some cleaning out to do. I know the same is true for all of us. The more we strive together to put on Christ, in humility sharing, encouraging and building up one another in Him, the clearer we will see to discard the remnants of our old man. Clothed with His heart and mind, we’ll never have to worry about going out of style.

Grievous Wolves (Children of God)

The apostle Paul had an ardent devotion, not only to all the brethren, but also to the elders who had been appointed to spiritually care for and feed them. But Paul carried a painful ache in his heart for he knew that the Church would be tested and tried by relentless trials. Paul said:

I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverted words, to draw away disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29-30)

How did Paul know that malicious ministers should spring from this meeting at Miletus? Not only had the Old Testament given adequate examples that many in the ministry – perhaps most – would go astray and become apostate, but Jesus Christ warned that deceitful ministerial imposters – in sheep’s clothing – would deceive many. Jesus said:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew7:15-16)

Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near: go ye not therefore after them.” (Luke 21:8)

Brethren, it is our desire that those who are being duped by those ravening wolves be able to awaken to the knowledge of God’s will for His Church people. The shattered plight of the Church today is a terrible predicament – but a wonderful opportunity to show God where our heart resides. The fact that the Church is prophesied to go through trials and scattering is not a reason to welcome or embrace the devastation within the Church of God. Rather, it is something that we should mourn over. We know that Jesus Christ indicts the ministry – but He also charges the brethren for their part in causing conflict within the Body of Christ.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:2)

The wording against false Christianity is very strong. “Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.' (Ezekiel 34:2,4)

The prophet Ezekiel issued a dire warning to the end-time Church of God – ministers and brethren alike. Likening the Church brethren to a flock of sheep, Ezekiel wrote against the shepherds (the ministers) and criticized them for driving away the sheep (the brethren). But, it is not just those in the ministry that are in jeopardy! The brethren, too, are warned by God not to get caught up with the special interests groups that say, "My church is better than your church," because there is an denunciation of those who are a part of the problem:

As for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, and the rams and the he-goats.” (Ezekiel 34:17)

Ezekiel described the disunity and condescending disdain between group and group – and between brethren and brethren. This is a frightful warning for the brethren to realize that they too are complicit in Church problems. God calls the sheep to task for their lack of brotherly love for each other.

Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: "Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a victim; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.” (Ezekiel 34:20-22)

We should be working to patch up the injured and round up those who were driven away by force and cruelty. God is not going to save just one of the groups. He is not doing “The Work” through one of the corporations. He isn't dealing exclusively with one man. One organization does not possess the secret to the Place of Safety. Politics and favoritism have no place in the household of God.

The one thing we can be sure of is that God is going to put a stop to the false ministers. God will not hold guiltless those who are mistreating His people. God will hold the shepherds to account for the loss of the flock. Brethren, do not be a part of it, and do not support it. Stand against it.

My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them...Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock.” (Ezekiel 34:6,10)

In God's Church, it seems, we have always had a feeling that we were preaching the Gospel for the purpose of “getting members.” That is not correct! We do not have any grandiose ideas that we will do a work that will gather all the sheep into one flock - that is the task that only Jesus, Himself, can accomplish. “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

That is what Jesus will do upon His return. He denounces those who are not practicing real Christianity. No one group will be successful in “rounding up” all of the dispersed brethren into one fellowship. Jesus will gather the scattered flock upon His return. In God's Church, are we living Christian lives and being a light to the world?

The Amalek Factor (New Horizons)

Family feuds often fester for generations. One recorded in the Bible lasted a thousand years - and by some accounts continues to this day. Its cause was the jealousy incurred by the action of a son of Isaac. Esau (Edom) despised his birthright inheritance, selling it to his brother Jacob for a meal to satisfy his momentary hunger (Hebrews 12:16).
The moment came in the divine plan when the Creator looked for someone He would trust. Abraham was selected and his mettle proven. To him was allotted the promise of a perpetual kingdom as His representative nation, to be passed on through his son Isaac and his descendants as a blessing to the entire world.
Initially intent on killing Jacob, after twenty years Esau was reconciled with his twin brother. But not so Esau’s illegitimate grandson, Amalek (Genesis 36:12), who came to be leader [Agag] of a powerful nation (the ‘Amalekites’). He stirred the feud - and incurred a devastating judgment from God stretching down the centuries. God would never cease to oppose him. Subsequent history vindicated God’s choice of Jacob.
Fast forward to the time of the deliverance of that chosen nation, Israel, from oppression in Egypt. The nation whose territory they had to traverse, Amalek, didn’t like it and went to war with Israel. They fought dirty: ‘Remember what the Amalekites did to you as you were coming from Egypt. They had no fear of God, and so they attacked you from the rear when you were tired and exhausted, and killed all who were straggling behind’ (Deuteronomy 25:17-18). The LORD adds: ‘Therefore ... you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shalt not forget it’ (v.19).
Despite their tactics Amalek, with God’s help, were defeated (Exodus 17). But the feud didn’t end there: ‘the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation’ (v.16). They were later defeated by Gideon (Judges 6-7), by King Saul (I Samuel 14-15), and by David (I Samuel 27:8-9 & ch 30).
End of story? No - for a whole book of the Bible focuses on this same people, the Amalekites, four centuries later in the 5th century BC. The hero is the (Jewish) Queen Esther, the villain is Haman the Agagite. The account is embedded in the book of Esther. The saga of this ancient feud between Jacob and Esau comes to a head here, for Haman - raised by the King to be ‘prime minister’ - is in fact the hereditary heir of the now weakened Amalekite kingdom. (Agag is a title, like Pharaoh.)
Haman’s purpose was ‘to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus’ (ch 3:6). Several times he is called ‘the enemy of the Jews’. In the end Israel prevailed and Amalek was quashed. The feud has echoes in the group of nations confederate against Israel as recorded in Psalm 83 - considered by many to be a prophecy for the end-time.
Again, Amalek/Edom is at its heart, in alliance with those Islamic nations still surrounding modern Israel. Their stated purpose is the same: ‘They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance’ (v.4). Fifty years after Esther the prophet Malachi records God’s continuing displeasure with the descendants of Esau: ‘I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom says, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus says the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever’. (ch.1:4).
To this day the territory of ancient Edom is indeed a barren uninhabited wasteland (Google map the area in northern Arabia!), whereas they had, on Jacob’s death, received ‘fatness’ as their inheritance. The nation has moved on, but we can assume its purpose remains unchanged - as does the LORD’s.
The Amalek factor assures us that God is steadfast in His hatred of evil and will patiently - perhaps over centuries - pursue His perfect purpose.

The Estates of the Realm (Morning Companion)

Below is a draft of a white paper on the Book of Revelation. I welcome all comments, positive and negative, regarding style, clarity and substance.

Introduction

The book of Revelation is best known for its colorful symbols of dragons, beasts, strange-looking angelic figures, oblique allusions to Old Testament, and puzzling timelines. Analysis of these features is a legitimate study, but a different way to study the book can add a different level of insight. Suppose instead of looking at the book with a microscope, we instead take a few steps back and view it the way one might view a painting. Up close, a painting might appear to be random brushstrokes, but take few steps back, and a theme begins to appear. Stand back even farther, and a full picture emerges.

This brief paper will look at Revelation in the context of what we know about history and how the world looks today. Hopefully this will provide us with some additional clues of what the book is telling us to watch for – and to watch out for.

In Medieval times, society was thought to have three “estates”, or centers of influence. They were:

1. The Established Church, personified by the clergy. The Church was to provide spiritual guidance.

2. The Nobility, or the civil government, from which came the military.

3. The Peasants, whose agricultural production supported the other two estates.

In time the mercantile class came to be regarded as the Third Estate. Their role was trade, finance, and other forms of economic activity.

History can be seen as a struggle for supremacy among these three estates. For example, Henry VIII of England objected to being subservient to the Pope in matters of his many divorces. As a result he separated from Rome and established the Church of England, placing himself at its head. Even today the Queen is considered to be the titular head of the Church of England.

The Medici were a family of traders and financiers, and they became powerful in politics throughout much of Europe. Four Popes were from the House of Medici, rendering them a force in all three estates.

In Spain the Church was the driving force behind the Inquisition imposed by Ferdinand and Isabella. Under their reign the established church sought out ”heretics”, then turned over to the state for prosecution. The Protestant was not innocent in this, including John Calvin and his arrangement in Geneva and the persecution of Catholics in Protestant England.

At times two of the three estates would unite in opposition to the third. One could make the case that Napoleon joined with the mercantile class in opposition to the church.

If we read the Book of Revelation with the Estates of the Realm as our template, we see some interesting patterns emerge. As an example, Revelation 13 speaks of two beasts.  The first comes out of the sea (verse 1) and has great political and military power. The other one comes out of the earth (verse 11) and seems to have characteristics of a religious power (“like a lamb”, “performs signs”, etc.) The two beasts clearly work together in a sort of symbiotic relationship.

The symbols of Revelation 17 (the famous woman “Babylon” riding the beast) also seem to have strong overtones of the first two estates, being a sort of marriage of convenience between an established church and the state, although not everyone in the beast’s coalition is happy with the arrangement (verse 16: the ten kings “hate the harlot”).

It should also be noted that the symbol of the woman riding the beast does not necessarily mean that the woman controls the beast. It could just as easily depict the beast controlling the woman. The “Woman Riding the Beast” symbol finds its origin in ancient mythology, something that would have been well known in John the Revelator’s day. In the pagan Greek version, the god Zeus becomes infatuated with a beautiful princess from Phoenicia  (modern Lebanon) named Europa. Zeus turns himself into a bull, whereupon he seduces and kidnaps her. In fact the modern day Euro coin, today’s common European currency, bears the image of Europa riding on the back of a bull.

The woman riding the beast could very well be a symbol of the beast seducing and controlling the woman, and that’s probably the way the ancients understood it, with the caveat that she eventually does use her wiles to reign over the kings of the earth (17:18). The struggle for dominance and supremacy never ends in this world, even when it seems that one estate has been completely vanquished.

The vision in Revelation 17 not only reveals two of the estates in bed together, but also suggest that third estate (the merchant class) benefits from this unholy alliance. After the great city falls (Revelation 18), both the kings of the earth and the merchants of the earth mourn her passing (verses 9 and 11). The merchants became rich under this system and wail over their loss (verses 11-19).

The Founders of the United States, who had a firm grasp on history, seemed to understand the inherent danger to liberty that these three estates posed should they join forces. In the Constitution, they not only insisted on a separation of powers within the Second Estate (the governing and war making estate), they also envisioned a system where all three estates would be kept away from each other as much as possible.

The First Amendment is very clear that there was to be no “established” or official church as was extant throughout much of Europe. The federal government was to leave the churches alone and not favor one over another. The economic system was to be a free enterprise system as described in the contemporaneous work of Adam Smith, whose book Wealth of Nations (written in 1776) was to be the underpinning of American economic model of commerce with minimal governmental interference.

When we look at the book of Revelation in this light, we get a clearer vision of its warnings.  As much as it is a Revelation of the “things that must shortly come to pass”, it is also a warning that too much power concentrated in too few hands is a danger to all. Among other things, it’s a warning to God’s people not to be deceived when these various estates promise to spread wealth and prosperity to all. Their interests lie in nothing more than accumulating and exercising power, and this becomes an even greater threat to liberty when they in some combination join forces. Their goal is control and domination, not freedom and prosperity.

Appendix I

The spirit of ‘76 and the time preceding it led to the recognition of the Fourth Estate: a free press. A free press was to be a watchman, a prophetic voice, if you will, whose job it was to keep an eye on the other three estates. Their function was to keep the public informed, educated, and therefore free. They viewed this as being of such importance that they enshrined this, along with religious and political liberty, in the First Amendment.

In more recent times a Fifth Estate has been identified. The Fifth Estate are those considered outside the mainstream estates and can be thought of as the folks who are outside restrictions of the other groupings. Independent bloggers can be thought of as the Fifth Estate, but the concept goes well beyond that.

Can we find these two additional estates (the free press and the Fifth Estate of free thinkers) in the book of Revelation in addition to the original three Estates of the Realm?

Sadly, the original Fourth Estate, the free press, has been largely co-opted by the other three, and having those four estates all sleeping together is dangerous for liberty. But if the Fourth Estate is to play the role of prophet (“Cry aloud, spare not, show my people their sins”), then I would submit that God provides his own Fourth Estate, and in the book of Revelation we see it personified in the form of Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3 – 12).

What of the Fifth Estate – those not a part of the other estates? Revelation talks about 144,000 and an innumerable multitude from all nations and peoples who stand before God and refuse to bow down to the beast (Revelation 7). Jesus spoke of them as being “in” the world, but not “of” the world (John 17:14-18). The message to them is, “Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4).

Appendix II

The Old Testament seems to endorse the idea of separation of powers, most notably in the separation of the estates of the realm. King Saul received a severe rebuke and lost his kingdom for usurping religious functions that belonged to the prophet (I Samuel 13:8-14).  A later king of Judah, Uzziah, also suffered consequences for usurping the role of the priests (II Chronicles 26:16-23).

Another “estate” of sorts in ancient Israel was that of elder. While in modern usage the term “elder” is often used as a position in the church, our English language has terms whose etymology points back to the concept of “elder” as a secular political office.  Such terms as alderman, mayor, and senator are all rooted words from precursors to English that bear some semblance to the concept of “elder” as used in the Hebrew scriptures.

Holman’s Bible Dictionary alludes to the considerable influence these men had in areas of jurisprudence and even in the selection of a king.

Elders in the Old Testament From the beginning of Israelite history, the elders were the leaders of the various clans and tribes. When the tribes came together to form the nation of Israel, the elders of the tribes naturally assumed important roles in governing the affairs of the nation. Moses was commanded to inform the “elders of Israel” of the Lord's intention to deliver Israel from Egypt and to take the elders with him to confront the Pharaoh (Exodus 3:16, 3:18). Similarly, seventy of the elders participated with Moses at the covenant meal at Sinai (Exodus 24:9-11). As the task of governing Israel grew in complexity, part of the burden was transferred from Moses to a council of seventy elders (Numbers 11:16-17).

During the period of the Judges and the monarchy, the elders were prominent in the political and judicial life of Israel. They demanded that Samuel appoint a king (1Samuel 8:4-5); they played crucial roles in David's getting and retaining the throne (2Samuel 3:17; 2Samuel 5:3; 2Samuel 17:15; 2Samuel 19:11-12); and they represented the people at the consecration of the Temple of Solomon (1Kings 8:1,1Kings 8:3). In the legal codes of Deuteronomy the elders are responsible for administering justice, sitting as judges in the city gate (Deuteronomy 22:15), deciding cases affecting family life (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Deuteronomy 22:13-21), and executing decisions (Deuteronomy 19:11-13; Deuteronomy 21:1-9).

Holman reference: http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T1763

God Meant It For Good (Early Christian)

Have you ever been through any trials in your life? Sure, we all have. Often times we think the trials we face may be due to something we are doing wrong; that God is trying to show us correction or discipline us. The examples of people and even nations in the Bible having to be brought low before they receive correction are extensive. But the nature of trials is not so cut and dry.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is with Paul. Acts 7:58 - Acts 8:3 shows Paul before his conversion actually holding the cloaks for those who stoned Stephen to martyrdom. Paul was energetically persecuting the Church of God for years after this going from town to down and dragging believers in Messiah back to Jerusalem to be jailed and punished for their faith. Paul had to be stricken blind and visited by the risen Yeshua in order for him to be converted. He had to be brought incredibly low before he, an incredibly educated Jew and Roman citizen, could admit his errors and convert.

However, being brought low was just the beginning. Paul had to publicly and repeatedly repent. He had to prove to the brethren that he was no longer a threat. Surely they must have been scared to be in the same room as the guy who delivered so many to the Jews. Then Paul had to go on to be punished in the same manner that he punished others. Beaten, whipped, stoned and left for dead. But the lesson was not just for Paul! It was for the brethren as well. They had to trust Yahweh and the Spirit to believe that they would be protected and they had to forgive the very man that had persecuted them. This is a very hard thing to do my friends. Forgiving and trusting someone who has a history of violence or destructive behavior is one of the hardest psychological hurdles for people to cross despite Yeshua telling us we must do so 7 x 70 times.

It’s also very easy to see other people’s trials as punishment by God. This is a trap that has existed for a very long time. When we see people begging on the side of the road for coins our reflex action is to assume they are charlatans. When we see people who have made bad decisions suffering for their poor judgment, thoughts like “well, that’ll teach ‘em” creep in to even the most compassionate among us. But what does Yeshua say about these things?

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered,“It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

Do you see the accusatory attitude in the disciples? They assumed because the man was blind that it had to be because of his sin or his parent’s sins. But the man was born blind, perhaps in excess of 30 years prior, for this one moment in time. God had a plan. How many eyes do you think were opened on the day that this man received his sight? Those disciples had their eyes opened much more than the blind man. His disability was put on him so that many would be able to see righteousness working.

This attitude check about those who are less fortunate is part of the judgment of Matthew 25:31-46. In fact, it’s the ENTIRE basis for the judgment! What do we see about the character of the righteous when Yeshua sits on His throne and starts separating the sheep from the goats? The righteous are the one who ministered to those less fortunate. The trials of the infirm, the malnourished, the poor, and the prisoners are a test for those more fortunate.

Yes, brethren, God has a plan for each and every person on planet earth. These plans are intertwined with others and their relationships. When we see someone in a trial, our reactions are recorded in the books. When we are in a trial, we also must give glory to the Most High. Because, like Joseph said so long ago, God meant it for good.

Remembering and Forgetting (Guardian Ministries)
On Memorial Day many Americans went to cemeteries to look at graves and gravestones, place flowers on graves, pausing to remember loved ones who died. I can reflect on my father and mother and be thankful that I was so blessed in this ‘luck of the draw’ as they say in poker. This is because none of us can control the time, place, culture, circumstances, genealogy, or the genetic structure of our birth. If you had good parents, remember them and be thankful. If you didn’t, it is not your fault in any way -- it’s just the ‘luck of the draw’.
God wanted his people to remember certain things. Remembering and forgetting are two very important functions of our minds. I have to control my mind and use these functions to enhance and edify my life. Some people remember the wrong things and forget the right things.
God warned the Israelites to “keep your soul diligently so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Again, “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11). And “Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 9:7). To remember the lessons of certain mistakes is important to keep from repeating them in the future.
But, despite these warnings, Israel did forget. “Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the LORD their God” (Judges 8:34).
Remembering and forgetting in relation to God are reciprocal. When we remember God, He remembers us. When we forget God, He temporarily forgets us. “Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6).
God told the Israelites to remember what He did for them in leading them through the wilderness and providing the manna for food, so that they would remember that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
To have a form of sympathy for your child, it helps to remember that son or daughter when they were small. God remembered Ephraim so His compassion would extend to him. “Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a delightful child? Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him; Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the LORD (Jeremiah 31:20).
Unlike us humans, when God forgives you He doesn’t remember your sins. Referring to the New Covenant we read: “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD’, for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
Because God wanted His people to remember Him, He established certain memory helps called ‘memorials’. The Passover was such a memorial. “Now this day will be a memorial to you” (Exodus 12:14).
Many often wonder whether their good deeds and their love for God will be forgotten. God has a ‘book of remembrance’ which He keeps (Malachi 3:16). And His remembrance is throughout all generations (Psalm 135:13).
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread and wine and used them as symbols of Himself and the blood of the New Covenant. He asked that His disciples take these “in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Paul wrote that when we take this bread and wine, “you do show the Lord’s death till He come” (KJV). But the Greek word for “show” literally means “to proclaim” or “to preach, to make known in public, with implication of broad dissemination, proclaim, announce.”
We are to remember several things: that the bread is a symbol of Christ’s body and the wine a symbol of His blood of the New Covenant. We are to remember that God has made this New Covenant with us.
We should remember that we are making a proclamation for all who see and proclaiming the meaningfulness of Christ’s death. But, most of all, we are to remember Jesus Christ and what He did, so that He could bring many sons and daughters to GLORY (Romans 8:29).
And, remember, this coming Sunday, June 4, 2017, is Pentecost.