Today’s Reading: Psalms 78-80
Today’s Reflection: Psalms 78:5-8
5) He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6) that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7) so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8) and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
A common theme throughout the scriptures, particularly the Pentateuch, is God’s people being called to remember. For example:
Exodus 13:3 – Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place.”
Exodus 20:8 – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Numbers 15:38-40 – 38) “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. 39) And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. 40) So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.
Deuteronomy 7:17-19 – 17) “If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ 18) you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, 19) the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the LORD your God brought you out. So will the LORD your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.
Time after time, God’s people were called to remember. Remember what God had done. Remember the covenant they had made with Him. Remember how God had led them in the past. Remember God’s law and remember to keep it. Remember the promises God had made to them. Remember He never broke one.
Psalm 78 continues this tradition. It starts out telling Israel to remember their God and has some very specific instructions and very specific purposes: fathers were to teach their children about God and what He had done for the children of Israel, so they would have faith in Him, keep His commandments, and not be rebellious like their ancestors.
All of this remembering begs the question, why do we forget in the first place. You would figure that after God did something amazing on your behalf, you’d remember Him and His goodness forever. You’d be wrong.
We forget because, as sinful beings, without extreme vigilance our focus shifts away from God and back to ourselves. Particularly when something goes wrong, we tend to forget what God has done for us in the past and demand something be done to address our current situation.
And sometimes when we forget we don’t completely forget, we just forget the inconvenient parts. Church traditions are based on Biblical truth, but we tend to get caught up with ‘visible’ traditions while the ‘invisible’ truth gets forgotten. When we allow traditions to drift away from truth our churches begin to resemble our personal preferences and prejudices rather than reflecting the love of Jesus Christ.
When we return to the scriptures and remember the goodness of God, we are able to put our challenges into perspective and live the truth of God’s word rather than the traditions of men.
Deuteronomy 31:9-12 – 9) Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10) And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, 11) when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12) Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law.