Important Biblical Words – #14

Our Fourteenth Word is Remember

The common definition of remember – To purposely call to mind information that is true and valuable.

“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.” (Deuteronomy 15:15)

The Hebrew word translated “remember” means “to recall” information or events or “to summon to one’s mind” facts that are known to be true”. So, biblical remembering is an intentional and not some unconscious, haphazard thing. It isn’t hoping that memories and facts might just somehow spring to mind, it’s deliberately bringing them to mind.

The book of Deuteronomy is all about remembering. hen God informed Moses that he wouldn’t be leading the Israelites into  the promised land, the much loved leader started acting like a really nervous dad who was dropping his kids off at college. Sixteen different times he told them all to remember key moments from their history or important divine commands! And then, just in case any of them were tuning out all his reminders to remember, Moses shrewdly employed another phrase: urging them and time again not to forget.

So, why aren’t we better at remembering? The field of neuroscience suggests these two possibilities.

We lose some memories because we simply don’t access them often enough to keep them vivid. Think of writing something in the sand at the beach. You get distracted, look away, and before you know it, the waves have washed away your words. In the same way, without diligent efforts at preservation, our memories fade. This is why Moses begged the Israelites to be careful lest the things “your eyes have seen…fade from your heart”.

Another reason why we tend to forget is because our memories get over-written by other information or misinformation. Think of an eyewitness to a crime who is first grilled by detectives, then subtly manipulated and “coached” by an overeager district attorney, then befuddled by a slick defense attorney. Subjected to a steady stream of suggestive spin, dizzy from all the competing narratives the witness keeps hearing, the eyewitness may eventually forget what really did happen. In time they may find themselves “remembering” things that never really happened!

An old saint once said that the Bible only contains about eight big ideas, and God just keeps repeating them over and over.

Therein lies the value of returning to the Bible again and again. Not to win brownie points with God but to summon to our minds and to review the things that are True with a capital T.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Why do you think it is so easy to forget really important things?
  2. do you think there is such a thing as “spiritual dementia”?
  3. What are some spiritual truths you desperately need to remember?


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