As we enter the holiday season, and all the anticipations and memories that entails, this timely devotion on the biblical nature of human memory, and the foolish memory of God, comes from Bonnie Poon Zahl.
I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord (NIV).
When God makes a covenant with his people, he creates an event to be remembered. The covenant is this: for all generations to come, he will be their God, and they will be his people, and never will God destroy them (completely). Despite having an event to remember, the people forget about God. They rebel and disobey time and time again—forgetting and dishonoring the covenant that God, in his mercy, has established for them.
“Yet in spite of this…I am the Lord their God.” Though the people continually break their covenant with God, he grants mercy through remembering his covenant with them. Though they forget, he does not. When God overlooks our offense and instead remembers the covenant he made with us, it is an act of mercy without reservation. Instead of judging us, he recalls a time in the past, a time when he promised to be our God who would never forsake us.
Though we do not remember as God remembers, memories are important to human beings. We take photographs, make scrapbooks, and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries because we want to remember important times. Memories tell us who we are and where we come from. It gives us a sense of connection with people who have been there with us. Memories keep relationships alive, for better or for worse. When we do remember God, we look past our worries and concerns of the day and bring to the foreground of our minds the times when God met us. When God remembers us, as he always does, he is lovingly and mercifully keeping our relationship with him alive for our sake.