I decided to change up my Bible reading plan this year and go through the Scriptures chronologically instead of picking and choosing my favorite passages to read for nights in a row. I’m so glad I did. For the most part, I’ve historically seen the Bible as a moral guide for my life with a few awesome stories, but I’m slowly beginning to realize that all of the Bible is actually one big story pointing to one main Character and one redemption plan. Parts of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy have not been exactly “riveting,” but I’ve already learned so much in my attempt to read the Bible as a whole instead of fragmenting it and skipping over some parts entirely.
Many things have stood out to me as I’ve been reading, but perhaps the most striking one is God’s repeated call to his people to remember. Over and over, he tells the Israelites to “Remember how I brought you up out of the land of slavery.” “Remember the promises I made to you and your forefathers.” “Set up these stones so you will remember the victory I gave you in this place.” Remember, remember, remember. I wonder if the Israelites got annoyed with God for using that word so much. “Does he really think we are that forgetful?” Yes, he really did. In spite of his mercies, the Israelites forgot God, every day, all the time. Just like you and me.
It’s tempting for me to read parts of the Bible and think that the Israelites were idiots. When they beg God to send them back into Egypt where they were slaves (Exodus), complain about the good food he sends them (Numbers), and immediately do evil when a national leader dies (Judges), I find myself wondering how the Israelites could act so foolishly. But I do it, too. No, God didn’t part the Red Sea for me. He didn’t literally break chains off my feet and release me from bondage to someone. He doesn’t rain down manna from heaven for me in the mornings. However, I asked him for a child and he gave me one. He supplies my daily bread. He freed me from the slavery of my sin to give me freedom in Christ. And I still minimize his grace, or worse, forget it entirely.
We all have stories of God’s provision for us. Every day, he sets captives free from addictions, abuse, affairs, eating disorders, mental illness, terrible marriages, cancer, infertility, anger, and sin. Yet somehow, we’d rather go back to our own land of enslavement, where we were the gods of our lives. That place seems easier because we dismiss our own inadequacies and think that, though God has shown up for us in the past, he will fail to come through this time.
I’m running the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in three weeks, and there is always a moment of silence at the beginning of the race to remember those who died in the Oklahoma City bombing almost 20 years ago. We all remember 9/11. We remember heroes, shootings, births, and deaths. But we forget the One who saves us daily. And so, although God was technically speaking to the Israelites thousands of years ago in the Old Testament, His call to remember is for us, today, in 2014, because we need his grace more than we even know.
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
-Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (ESV)