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Monday, August 27, 2012

Remember (Zakar)

(I get to teach this Wed. and this has been banging around in my head for awhile, so I asked some friends for help and looked up some teachings and put this together.  May it draw us closer to the true God.)

Our goal is to study this word as it is used in the Bible.  From there we’ll look at how this knowledge can make us and our prayers more and more like Jesus.  Finally how does this concept apply to communion.

We may often think of memory as a purely mental faculty involving the retention of information. But when we examine the biblical concept of remembrance, we will see that ``remembering'' in the Bible usually leads to or results from purposeful action. We will also see that remembrance is an integral part of worship and of the function of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.
Remember, is an action verb.  The first usage in scripture is always the most important.
The story of Noah is the back drop for the first time, remember appears in scripture.
Genesis 8:1  But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.
When the Bible speaks of God remembering it is speaking of an action.  In this case the remembering leads to a wind from God that speeds up the drying process and causes the waters of the flood to subside.
The next two  occurrences are still in the flood story and speak of God seeing the rainbow and remembering His covenant never to have a world-wide flood again.  So in these cases the remembering is tied to restraining an action.
The next usage is a good reminder of the power of intercession.
Genesis 19:29
So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
God remembered Abraham and saves Lot.  Our intercession can be used to bring God’s active hand into the lives of people we care about.  In fact the angels actually grab Lot and family and pull them out of the city.  Genesis 19:16 But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.
Next God remembers and a barren womb brings forth life.
Genesis 30:22
Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.
 Joseph is the boy who came forth an important and pivotal character in the book of Genesis.
Exodus 2:24
``God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.''
In this case, God's remembering His covenant leads to His active intervention to rescue Israel from slavery.

The word remember (Hebrew - zakar) also appears prominently in the prayers recorded in the Bible. People like Moses (Exod. 32:13), Samson (Judges 16:28), Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:3), Nehemiah (Neh. 13:14, 22, 29, 31), Jeremiah (Jer. 15:15; Lam. 5:1), and Habakkuk (Hab. 3:2) pray that God will remember them and the rest of His people. Such prayers call upon God not just to be cognizant of their existence, but in addition to take action on their behalf.

We know how you have acted in the past God, and you are unchanging so we cry out, “Do it again!"  Rescue, show mercy, rebuild, empower, give us hope.  The hope is in knowing that God will act again! And in the meantime, your job is to go on in faithful obedience to what he has already shown you — however long ago that may have been.

One of the ways God shows us He remembers us, is by giving us some sort of sign that helps us through a time of suffering.   This is an area that is often so personal that few talk about it.  People who have lost a husband or wife, a son or daughter, a job, their health — people who are going through a great flood and sometimes are tempted to feel abandoned — they tell of some small but meaningful thing God has done to assure them that what they are enduring is not mere chance but rather part of the wise and loving plan of God.   (Anyone like to share.)

How does this understanding of “remember” affect our prayers and how do we answer the call to “remember the poor?”

Luke 23:42
And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”  
The thief on the cross understood this principle.  He understood that if Jesus would remember him, it would be more than a nice memory in His head, it would result in an action, that would forever change his eternal destiny.

Remember is combined with a plea for mercy from our lips, because we know we are not worthy of His kindness.  God declares this.

Jeremiah 31:20
“Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a delightful child? Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him; Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the LORD.
Habakkuk knew what the nation deserved, but threw himself (and through intercession) His nation, wholly on the mercy of God.  This is a good pattern for us to follow when praying for the nations.  Habakkuk 3:2
LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.
We really know nothing of patience in our culture.  Zechariah father of John the Baptist bursts forth in a prophecy when his tongue is finally loosed and in it he makes reference to God’s faithfulness to the Holy Covenant... He is referring to the covenant with Abraham.  Luke 1:72
To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant,
Any guesses as to how long ago the ‘promise’ was made that Zechariah is looking to?
This from the Psalms makes the point again.
"Remember the word to Your servant,
In which You have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
That Your word has revived me."
(Ps. 119:49,50)  There is a power in trusting and having faith in the God you are calling on to ‘remember.’  

Combining a request for mercy with a request to remember is a powerful prayer.  It recognizes His righteousness and His sovereignty and emphasizes our dependence on His goodness.

The call to remember the poor, is a call to act natural.  In other words, we have been shown great mercy and love from God.  We were poor, needy, without hope and He picked us up out of the pit.  We ‘go’ with that same love in our hearts to share with others.  NOT under obligation or some “we should" mentality, but because we can not stop our hearts from going, from loving, bearing fruit.

Communion is a powerful event in the Christian life and the concept of remembering makes it even more powerful.
Luke 22:19
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

We now have a deeper knowledge of the Biblical  meaning of the word remember.  In communion we are bringing the reality of what Jesus did for us on the cross into the moment.  His body was and is the sacrifice our sins required.  His blood was and is the cleansing we need.  We are “right with God” in a strong, unchangeable way.  We take the truth and power of the cross and apply it to our lives in the here and now each time we celebrate communion.  Our remembering is bringing the past event into the present reality with all of its power to change our lives.  Hallelujah!

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