Week 3: Remember not to forget
This five-week series addresses what God did for the Jewish people throughout the events recorded in the book of Ezra. Through failure, forgetting what is important, and sin, we may become exiles attempting to return to God. However, just as in the book of Ezra God reclaimed his people according to his promises, he also reclaims and redeems our lives for his purpose in this world.
Read the sermon summary below.
Remember not to forget.
“The Bible in the memory is better than the Bible in the book case”. C.H. Spurgeon
I’ve heard it said that history is a whispered warning. It’s not just enough to learn the lessons of the past in order to avoid repeating them in the future. We have to be able to recall and remember those lessons when needed. Ignorance has and will always be a tool for those who seek power because if you can control information, you will be able to get anyone to go along with pretty much anything, even if it’s the complete opposite results of what they truly desire.
The devil knows this. This is why one of his strategies for God’s people, both in ancient times and in modern time, is to keep people ignorant of God’s Word by either distorting the Truth or getting you to forget what you’ve learned all together. This is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 19:27 “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (ESV). I like also how the Contemporary English Version states it, “If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know” Proverbs 19:27 CEV).
You and I, as well as everyone who has ever lived, tend to suffer from important memory loss. It’s like a default setting we have which causes our minds to be more mindless of the present than the past. How many of us have repeated actions that we once swore never to do again? How many of us have ever forgotten important dates, meetings, deadlines, misplaced valuables, or even forgotten to pick up a child? The people of Israel, during the time of Ezra forgot a very important piece of information that almost kept them from experiencing God’s fulfillment of His promises in their lives. But once they remembered, they were able to restart the work and reestablish themselves through God’s mighty right hand.
The returning Israelites began to face immediate opposition as they worked to rebuild the Temple and their city. The devil knew that Jerusalem was the key to fulfilling Biblical prophecies, especially when it came to the future coming Messiah. He thought he had the advantage over God as long as Jerusalem was out of Israel’s hands. This is the same strategy that he still is trying to implement today. These local forces actually caused the Israelites to halt construction for a few years! This is when someone made a request and asked the then king, King Darius, to check the ancient archives for King Cyrus’ original decree that stated the empire would fund their project.
Ezra 6:1-12 recaps how King Darius had discovered the original decree from his predecessor. He then add to the decree one of his own, stating that no one is to interfere with the project, and if they do they will be impaled with beams from their own homes, leaving the remains as a “dung heap”.
Remembering the king’s decree is what helped the people of Israel to restart and complete the rebuilding of their nation. God Himself, throughout their history, would command them to remember His Words, in order to grow closer to Him and move forward in this world. All of the monuments, buildings, altars, customs, sacrifices, festivals, and feasts where meant to be consistent reminders of important truths. The King of Kings has spoken His promises to us. When we are able to recall them we are then able to reclaim His promises and restart His work in our lives.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”. Psalm 119:9-11 ESV
Many heroes of our faith that are found in scripture, and many who have lived long after Revelations was written, would commit to meditate on God’s Word, or store them up in their hearts like the psalmist wrote. Why would they commit themselves to memorize scripture in this way? In order to better recall and reclaim God’s promises, so that they may not sin or give the enemy an advantage over their ignorance. Like getting a tattoo on one’s skin, memorizing scripture etches God’s Words on our soul. Being able to regularly remember our Lord’s promises assures us that His work in our lives will continue. The King has spoken and will not allow our enemy to halt His progress in our lives.
You may be saying to yourself now, “That sounds great, but won’t I forget to remember what I memorize?” Yes, because you and I are human, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a backup plan.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” – Jesus (John 14:26 ESV).
Being a disciple of Jesus and learning how to better follow Him has as much to do with what we learn and what we are able to remember. But despite our forgetfulness, we should be grateful for God’s faithfulness. He Himself promises to help us recall and reclaim His other promises! He will not forget to do this, nor will He ever forget you. But there is one thing that God does desire to forget… your sins. He will refuse to remember any of your faults that you confess in His name! Just make sure not to forget that glorious truth while you remember to hide His many precious Words in your heart. They are the most valuable treasure that you are able to burry deep within your soul, and no devil, demon, or person can ever take it away from you. Just don’t let them cause you to forget what you have.