But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.
I read today’s text and I can’t help but picture Moses like a Charleton Heston in the movie “The Ten Commandments”, hands raised high, speaking his final instructions to Israel. After 40 years in the Wilderness the people of God are now camped on the plains of Moab ready to enter the Promised Land. But before they go forward they must look back. They must take care, Moses says, not to forget the things they have seen God do for them in Egypt and in the Wilderness. They must not let those things slip from their minds all the days of their life.
But who would ever forget what they had seen at the Red Sea as God parted the waters and they walked through on dry land! Who would ever forget God’s daily provision of manna, or the pillar of cloud and fire guiding them, or water from rock. But they did forget, and so do I. And God knows that!
Not unlike Jesus’ disciples forgetting His feeding of the multitudes in the wilderness (Mark 6:31-44; 8:1-9), I often forget God’s astonishing provision for me. I hear Jesus speaking right to me when He asked His forgetful disciples: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears and fail to hear? Do you not remember?” (Mark 8:17-18)
Oh the tragedy of not remembering! Moses knows that if the Israelites are to face the challenges of the Promised Land they must not forget what they have seen God do. Today’s text reminds us that the Bible is not a system of abstract ideas or nice moral maxims, but the story of God’s involvement in our stories. Like a modern day Moses the Jewish philosopher Abraham Heschel calls for people to never forget God’s wonders in the past:
To us Jews, the essence of faith is memory. To believe is to remember. For what is the function of faith? Each of us at least once in life has experienced the momentous reality of God. Each of us has caught a glimpse of the beauty, peace, and power that flows through the souls of those who are devoted to God…Much of what the Bible commands can be comprised in one word: Remember!” (Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays)
Remembering can open up a new future for you!
- What relationship do you see between Israel remembering the Exodus journey and getting ready to possess the Promise Land? Do you see any relationship between your remembering and your readiness to move into God’s promises for you?
- Take some moments to prayerfully consider the psalmist’s reflection on God’s care for His people in the Exodus:
Our ancestors, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wonderful works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
so that he might make known his mighty power.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry;
he led them through the deep as through a desert.
So he saved them from the hand of the foe,
and delivered them from the hand of the enemy.