I had an interesting conversation with my daughter recently where she quipped, “I can forgive but not forget … is that ok?” As a father, I’m confronted with the fact that my daughter is asking increasingly thought-provoking questions and oftentimes, a Biblically-correct answer doesn’t adequately satisfy – especially for a PK (pastor’s kid).
For those who are parents, here’s a great promise from Isaiah 54:13:
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.”
At that moment, I felt I needed to share with her not just what’s in God’s Word, but also what’s upon His heart. Whenever our children come to us with a question we don’t have an answer to, we can always turn to our Heavenly Father. Most of the time, He wants to teach us as well.
1. He Forgets
I was led to this Scripture in Isaiah 43:25-26 which says,
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins.
Put Me in remembrance;
Let us contend together;
State your case, that you may be acquitted.”
In this verse, God said He’d not remember and yet, at the same time, He asked Israel to put Him in remembrance. Can you imagine being God for one moment? He knows all our sins, every transgression – past, present, and future – and yet chooses to forgive us and blot out our sins.
In Hebrew, the word ‘blot’ also translates into ‘destroy’ and ‘completely wipe away’. God has conquered, destroyed, and completely wiped away our sins for the sake of His Son. So, when we choose to remember Jesus and what He’s done for us, God forgives and forgets our sins.
Ever wondered why Jesus instructed His disciples at the Last Supper, saying, “As often as you do this, remember Me.” The new covenant in His blood, is the fulfilment of Jeremiah 31:34, “… For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh, which means ‘forgetfulness’. We must ask the Lord for holy forgetfulness when people wrong us, and we mustn’t constantly meditate on what they’ve done to us so that we can continue to honour and love with a clear spirit. “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5
2. He Remembers
John Piper put it this way – “God remembers and doesn’t remember. That is, He calls to mind or He doesn’t call to mind according to what’s good for us and what’s good for His glory.”
Isaiah 43:26 says, “Put Me in remembrance …” It’s not that God forgets His Word, but He wants to make sure that we remember what He said. When we bring the Word of God to Him, He’s faithful to fulfill it.
The word ‘remember’, or ‘zakar’ in Hebrew, does not simply mean to think about it. It means to take action. 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 see that ‘remembering’ in the Bible usually leads to – or results from – purposeful action.
So it gives more understanding to the verse that said God remembered Hannah and she conceived. He did not forget her, but when the time was right and she believed that God was all-powerful, power began to flow as God responded to her. So, when He says, “Put Me in remembrance”, He’s not saying, “Remind Me because I might forget.” He’s saying, “If you’d talk about it, something stirs in Me and I’ll perform it!”
During our Leaders’ Planning Summit this week, amidst the intense discussions and presentations of our planning for Cornerstone, we had moments of walking down memory lane where we recounted and joked about our ‘younger days’ as a church. We were simply blown away by the goodness and faithfulness of God!
Malachi 3:16 says, “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name.”
A Book of Remembrance is written for those who believe in Him. Just as the Lord hears the insults of one group, so He hears the faithful conversations of a second group of people who faithfully serve Him. I believe many of those faithful conversations at the Summit have been recorded and remembered.
The moment we trust in God, we trust in His judgment and not ours. We must remember that He’s powerful and sovereign over our lives; and forget those things that hinder us from moving forward.