We’ve just finished celebrating Memorial Day, a holiday established to help us remember those who gave their lives defending our freedoms. In preparation for a message on Sunday, I did a word study on “memorials” in the Bible. Many of the verses that mention memorials or remembrances have to do with things God established to help His people remember something about Him or something that He did for them. But I was surprised at how many of the references indicated that God instructed Moses and others to establish memorials, seemingly to remind God of something! Can God forget anything?!?
This September it will be two years since I was thrown from a big horse (think, quarter-horse/draft horse mix) and landed, fortunately, on my head, so very nothing important got broken. I did sustain a pretty good concussion, so some things upstairs got rattled around, and I’m finding that a few connections got cut, especially my memory of people’s names.
We’ve all had the experience of meeting someone, away from the venue where we originally met them, perhaps, and not being able to recall their name. You feel you should know it, but you just can’t bring it to mind. My trouble is different. I am having difficulty calling to mind the names of people whom I know. It’s a strange feeling to know that you know and yet not be able to speak it. It’s not like I’ve forgotten, it’s just that I can’t get the name out of the memory bank into my present consciousness to say it.
Maybe it’s because of things like this that God made His name really easy to remember: I AM! Probably not, but fortunately, I’m finding that once I do remember the name I’m struggling to find, or once someone helps me with the name, I don’t tend to have that problem again with that particular name. The connection in the brain apparently gets restored and a sort of memorial in my head is rebuilt in that person’s name.
Someone has said that the reason our memories begin to fade in old age is so that we can die with a clean conscience! Probably not! It seems to me that God places value on helping us remember things! He even seems to want help “remembering” things Himself! Check out Exodus 28, Numbers 10, and Malachi 3 for examples of things God established as memorials for Himself.
But does God ever really forget? It’s hard to imagine and reconcile in my little mind how an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God could ever forget anything. But I can tell you with absolute certainty, there are at least two things that God forgets.
In Psalm 88:5, the Psalmist speaks of the unbelieving dead when he writes, “Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand.”
This is the essence of Hell! Among whatever other torments await those who reject Christ as their savior, surely the worst is to be forgotten by God; to be cut off from His mercy and grace, to have absolutely no hope; to face eternal darkness and separation from Him who is the light of the world and the light of life. Can you imagine knowing that God had forgotten you forever; that there would never be any deliverance from your present miserable condition because God chose to forget you? This is unspeakably awful! Terrifying!
But there is good news! Although we are powerless to make even one of our sins right before a perfect, holy, completely righteous God, through the work of His son, Jesus Christ, who died and shed his blood on our behalf, we can be made right. It is a gift of God, completely of His grace and mercy, that we only need to accept by faith in order to receive this good news about the other thing that we can be guaranteed God forgets.
Hebrews 8:12 promises “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” This is repeated in Hebrews 10, and Jeremiah 31:34 promises us that in the coming age, “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Which do you choose: to have your sins forgiven and eternally forgotten, or to be eternally forgotten yourself?