Memory is a remarkable gift of God. There are events in life that we gladly remember; others that we call to mind with sorrow, and yet others that we would rather not remember at all. But memory is invaluable to those who wish to avoid repeating past mistakes.
When the Israelites ended their long journey from Egypt to Canaan, Moses commanded them, “thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee, to know what was in thine heart”, Deut. 8. 2. We also do well to recall Israel’s experiences, for we are men “of like passions”, able to make the same mistakes, having to do with the same unchangeable God.
Events do not just happen. There is a cause for every event, but God Himself is behind every cause. Note how the psalmist puts is, “He called for a famine … He sent a man before them …He sent Moses his servant … He sent darkness” and other plagues in Egypt. Then despite the repeated complaints of ungrateful Israel, “he brought quails … He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out… he brought forth his people with joy”. It is a happy recollection of God’s goodness and mercy.
When the ageing patriarch Jacob thought that Joseph had long since been destroyed by a wild beast, and that he was to lose his treasured son Benjamin, he exclaimed, “all these things are against me”, Gen. 42. 36. But all these things were working together for the good of the whole family. Jacob did not know then that Joseph’s brothers had sold him as a slave, and that he had now become the Lord of all Egypt, controlling the only food that could save them all from famine. When Joseph confronted his conscious-stricken brothers with their sin, he said, “God did send me before you to preserve life … it was not you that sent me hither, but God”, Gen. 45. 5, 8; 50. 20.
Israel’s history is the story of a gracious, longsuffering God seeking to overcome the evil of a proud self-centred people. It is the story of mankind. It is the story of each one of us. It is the story of God’s triumph over evil. No wonder the psalm ends, “Praise ye the Lord”.
“Wherefore remember”, Eph. 2. 11.
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