Encouragement From The Word

Remember

There’s a very important word in the Old Testament that not many people think about, but to the Hebrew people of old, like the Jewish people of today, it’s a word that’s deeply grounded in their culture.

It’s the word remember.

One of the earliest examples is during the exodus, and the reminder of the Passover meal:  “This is a day to remember.  Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord” (Exodus 12.14, NLT).

Another early example is right in the Ten Commandments:  “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20.8, NLT).  

When the Israelites did not remember their past, they disobeyed the Lord.  “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel” (Judges 2.10, NLT).  This story repeated itself over the course of history.

Of course, the most common remembrance today for Jewish people (for us outsiders) comes in the remembrance of the Holocaust.  If you’ve ever visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, or any of the other similar museums around the world, you were moved by the exhibits that will preserve the memory of the death of six million Jewish people for all time.  The same could be said of the prison camps in Europe: they exist as reminders of the past.

The Jewish people want to remember the past, both for the sake of their relationship with God and for avoiding the repetition of evil.

Thus am I troubled when I see news reports of people wanting to rename streets, take down monuments, and find other ways to attempt to erase history, because it is through that history that we learn.  “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it,” said Spanish philosopher George Santayana, famously.  While we may not want to glorify people for atrocities committed, we must keep those things which enable us to remember those atrocities, lest they be repeated.

Context is important, too.  If we remove all memory, for example, of John A. Macdonald or Egerton Ryerson (here in Canada), how will we remember the many good things they did for our country?  Rather than erase history, let’s put it in context, so we may be inspired by the good, and discouraged from the ill.

As followers of Jesus and people of the new covenant, we are called to remembrance as well.  Among the greatest of these remembrances comes whenever we gather around the Lord’s table, mindful that Jesus celebrated the last supper and called us to celebrate “in remembrance of me” (Luke 22.19, NLT).

As long as the church celebrates the Lord’s Supper, we will have a visual reminder that cancel culture has no place among God’s people.

Encouragement From The Word

Rest

Rest:  it’s important.

We all know it’s important.

Yet too few of us take time for real, significant rest.

We live in a time when the culture values busyness, almost as a badge of pride.  “How are you?” someone will ask.  “Oh, I’m great.  Really busy,” we reply.

A while back, I saw a meme online that showed the image of a cellphone battery in the ‘red zone’ – less than 10% power remaining.  It said, “You’d never let this happen to your phone.  Why do you let it happen to yourself?”

We are a society of the dangerously tired.  We so tightly schedule our own lives – and those of our children – that we leave little margin for God to work in our lives, or for us to notice God’s work in our lives.  We need rest.

The Bible follows an “order of creation” model for teaching us about the value of rest by suggesting that because God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh, we, too, should take one day a week for rest and re-creation.  Every week.  Yes, every week.

Many of us think that would be impossible to do, but it wouldn’t be impossible.  We just have to undertake the hard work of prioritizing what matters in our lives.

As I’ve said before, in a hundred years, the only thing that’s going to matter is what you did with Jesus.  Work does not prepare us for eternity.  Sports do not prepare us for eternity.  But worship and rest do prepare us for eternity.

Eternity is a long time.  Don’t you think that which prepares us for eternity deserves top priority?

Christians traditionally take Sunday as their day of rest, because it was the first day of the week that Jesus rose from the dead.  And it is from that day of rest and worship that we are able to have the energy to undertake all that the coming week holds.

I know that not everyone is able to take Sunday as a rest day in our secular culture.  But if you can’t take Sunday every week, at least take a day somewhere in there.

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20.8, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word is taking an eight-week hiatus while I take a long-planned and much-needed Sabbatical.  This weekly email will return on Friday, November 29, 2019.