Forgetfulness is the Fuel for Idolatry1
Forgetfulness is the fuel for idolatry. Spiritual amnesia often leads to apostasy. Continue reading . . .
“Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you” (Deut. 4:23).
Forgetfulness is the fuel for idolatry. Spiritual amnesia often leads to apostasy. This is the most important lesson for us in Deuteronomy 4:1-40. God’s concern is that his people might “forget the things” that they had seen and that the memory of their gracious deliverance might “depart” from their hearts. Thus we read here of the crucial importance of remembrance, of calling to mind again and again the history of God’s dealings with us and his faithfulness at every turn.
The Bible has much to say about remembering the past. But we do not remember or reminisce out of some romanticized nostalgia or desire to return to days gone by or even to relive the years of our childhood. Remembering is not for the purpose of complaining that things now are worse than they were then. The purpose for biblical remembering is to remind us that the God who acted in the past is the same God who acts in the present. Remembering is not designed to transport us back in history but to prepare and equip and encourage us for the future!
This passage also instructs us concerning the importance of passing on a godly heritage to our children and grandchildren, who in turn can pass along the truth about God’s grace and power to their children and grandchildren.
What will your children remember mattered most to you? Will they grow old thinking of you parked in front of the TV or glued to the internet or playing games on your smart phone or sending text messages rather than engaging them in meaningful conversation? Mothers, will they think most of the many excuses you had for not showing up at their dance recital or ballgame? Will they remember angry outbursts at their father and constant verbal criticism? Will they think only of the countless reasons for not taking them to church on Sunday or the many nights you weren’t there to read to them and pray for them as they went to bed?
What are you doing to preserve and sustain in your heart and in the hearts of your children the knowledge of God? What are you doing to keep both yourself and them mindful of his faithfulness? What are you teaching them that will build into their value system a reverence for God and confidence in his Word?
We must also remember in order to fuel our worship and love for God and gratitude for all he has done (see Psalm 103). Remembrance also brings power to overcome despondency, hopelessness, and doubt (Psalm 77). “I will remember the deeds of the LORD,” declared the psalmist; “yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph” (Ps. 77:11-15).
[This article was first published in the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible, available from Crossway Publishers, 2014.]