“Remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2 nkjv).
Remember! One of the most frequent commandments throughout the Bible is “Remember!” Remember the road you’ve traveled, the struggles and trials you’ve faced. And remember Who brought you along your path. Remember Who provided for you, cared for you, and calls upon you to remember and observe His commandments. Remember.
We often turn to God in our times of need. When circumstances, finances, diagnoses, and life are too overwhelming, then we turn to God. We cleave to Him through those wilderness times of our life, relying upon His presence and provision. But, once He brings us through those times and we find ourselves upon a firm footing, standing in the Promised Land, how quickly do we forget, rely upon ourselves, and ultimately turn from His ways? Remember.
The festivals that God gave Israel within the Old Testament served two purposes: 1) They were connected with the agricultural cycle, particularly the harvest times, and 2) they called the people to remember what God did for them in the wilderness, how He led them and provided for them. The agricultural nature of the festivals called upon the Israelites to remember Who sent the rain in its season so the crops could grow, and ultimately Who was responsible for their sustenance and provision. The connection with the wilderness wanderings called upon the people to remember a time when their need for God and His provision was more acute, to remember where they came from.
During the fall harvest festival, Sukkot, God instructed the children of Israel to construct temporary shelters, or booths, that they lived in for the duration of the festival. “Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:42-43 niv).
Dwelling in booths was to remind future generations—generations that did not experience the hardships and uncertainty of the wilderness—how God provided for His people. When later generations found themselves living prosperously in the land, the booths reminded them of a time in their history when their forefathers lacked such prosperity, and in that moment they should remember God, Who brought Israel out of Egypt.
What is the ultimate goal of this remembrance? We find it in the passage from Deuteronomy quoted initially: “Remember … whether you would keep His commandments or not.” We confront our limitations and smallness in times of need. We realize how finite and limited we are. It becomes easy to turn to God in those moments. And, as a loving Father, He comes to us. But when we find ourselves in times of prosperity, it’s too easy to think we stand alone on our own two feet, and turning from God and His commandments becomes easy.
Remember—where He has taken you. Remember—His commandments. Remember—He is King.
Father, thank You that You take us through the wildernesses of our lives and provide for us. May we always—in good times and in bad, in plenty and in want—remember You and Your commandments. Amen.