May 26, 2020
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 26 May 2020
Some things in the past must be forgotten (Phil 3:12-14) but others should never be forgotten. American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) famously stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Knowing the past is an exercise in remembering as opposed to forgetting, and that remembrance is fundamental to life itself.
Whereas some people regard history as interesting, many others perceive it as boring. The complaint against history is that it is merely involved with dates, events, and people that no one cares to know any longer. Many students have asked their history teachers, “How does the study of history affect me today?” One answer in response to that question is that history is remembering the events, faith, and individuals, which we recognize as foundational to our lives.
Throughout the Old Testament, one can easily discern the priority given to remembering. For instance, the Jewish people observed Passover to remember their enslavement in Egypt, and how God delivered and redeemed them from their bondage by the Passover sacrifice (Lev 23; Deut 16). Of course, believers today also have a Passover lamb — the Lord Jesus Christ — and his sacrifice does not need repeating (1 Cor 12:23-26; Heb 7:1-28). In the Old Testament, one can easily discern that the vitality of the nation of Israel was not only related to their continual trust in God, but also remembering the Lord’s actions on their behalf. Even the church has special days for remembering, such as the Lord’s resurrection, which believers recently celebrated as Easter Sunday.
Americans celebrate many memorable days on our calendar. Yesterday, we celebrated Memorial Day to honor and mourn the military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The most significant celebration of American independence and individual freedom will be remembered soon on the Fourth of July. In several months, Americans will celebrate Veterans Day, which is dedicated to the honor of all military veterans. The memory of our nation is enshrined in concrete and granite, such as Mount Rushmore and the Washington Monument. Even our coins and currency are continual memories of America’s illustrious history. If we forget our history, we will be reshaped into whatever forms that new leaders desire. The consequence, however, will not be a “new” people, but a lost and dying population. For this very reason, First Corinthians 10 exhorts believers to remember the past.
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall (1 Cor 10:11-12).
We need to apply knowledge of the past to our current experience. There is a danger in knowing historical events in a merely academic manner, which means knowing something intellectually but not applying that knowledge in a manner that impacts our life. There is an ongoing relationship between what we confess to believe and what we actually do. God's people must guard against viewing the Old Testament (or the New Testament) as an interesting record of merely historical events; we also need to examine how our lives are impacted based upon what those truly historical events teach us.
Only living in faith and obedience to God’s Word will result in enduring satisfaction. The “beloved” of God are exhorted to remember the words of the inspired Word of God to live in a manner wherein we continue to receive the blessings of God’s love. When God’s people are most satisfied in Him, then He is truly glorified the most in us.