The past several weeks have taken me through much of the book of Deuteronomy, and during my reading I have noticed a pattern develop that had escaped me in previous expeditions through the book. Everywhere in Deuteronomy God is telling his people to remember Him. Remember, remember, remember…For all the laws, festivals, and sacrifices listed, the focus is constantly returning to “remember.” Through my reading in Deuteronomy and beginning to notice the repetition of the command to “remember”, my mind turned back to the passage from Matthew where Jesus walks on the water. The two passages may seem to be completely unrelated on the surface, but what ties them together in my mind is the word “remember”. Peter began to sink in the waves because he took his eyes off of Christ and looked at the wind and the waves. He had forgotten who Jesus was and what he had done.
We live in a generation saturated with distractions, and I know that looking at my own life over the past 3 years of college I see a lot of “wave-watching” and not much “keeping the eyes fixed on Jesus.” This is where I found Deuteronomy fascinating. Remember. This is just as important today as it was for ancient Israel. God told Israel to remember who they were, where they came from, and who He was. As soon as they forgot his deliverance and His mercy, and started watching the waves around them instead, they would be on a slippery downhill slope, and that is ultimately what happened. The same is true today however. Although many modern Christians may not have had a physical deliverance from slavery, we have all been freed in Christ from sin. Although not all Christians have wandered in the desert for 40 years, we have all experienced times of drought and famine where God sustained and provided for us. Although we may not have verbally threatened to stone God’s prophets, God has been patient with us despite our rebellion. This is why it is just as important to remember who God is and what he has done here in the 21st century as it was in the early BC’s. Otherwise, just like Peter, we will get distracted from what really matters and begin to sink.
While no man can claim his experience is normative, I know that when I forget, when I start looking at the waves instead of my precious Savior, that is when I begin to drown. When I forget the deliverance that has been worked out for me, and the God who continues to carry me through the desert, that is when I fall the hardest. The church in the United States suffers from a passive Christianity in many areas. Instead (and I include myself among the guilty) of being reminded each week who God is and going out and acting on that knowledge, too many of us forget almost as soon as we exit the pew. When Israel forgot who God was and what he had done for them, they fell into war, oppression, and all the trappings of paganism. However, the falling away doesn’t have to be some long process like it was in Israel –Peter forgot and began to sink immediately.
Remembering can be one of the hardest things to do at times –or at least it has been for me. But throughout the Bible the importance of remembering cannot be overstated. Whether it was ancient Israel, Peter, the early Church, or the denominations in our contemporary world, the importance of remembering who God is, what he has done, and what he has promised to do, is just as important. The following verses are an exhortation of how every believer’s life should be:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” – Deut. 6:4-9
Never forget and never stop talking about who God is and what he has done.