“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life” (Deut 4:9)
God has always been big on reminders. After the flood, God made a rainbow as a sign and reminder to Noah that He would never destroy the earth by way of flood again. The religious feasts of the Old Testament were established as reminders of significant events in Israel’s history. The Passover was a reminder of Israel’s delivery out of Egypt. The Feast of Booths was to remind Israel of their forefathers’ wilderness wanderings. The constant stream of animal sacrifices under the Old Law was a continual reminder of sin (Heb 10:3).
Why is God constantly reminding His people of past events and promises? Perhaps some Israelites grew weary of these constant reminders, thinking, “why do we have to do this all over again?” Old Testament history demonstrates that God needed to give these reminders because His people were constantly forgetting. The scenes of the Exodus were astounding: the plagues; the Red Sea crossing; the destruction of Pharaoh’s army; God thundering on Mt. Sinai; and the miraculous food day after day. But they could only complain. Throughout their unending complaints, Israel was constantly forgetting the promises and blessings of God.
As we come to the New Testament, we find that God is still big on reminders. When Paul sent Timothy to Corinth, part of the young preacher’s role was to remind the people of things Paul had originally taught them (1 Cor 4:17). Paul also charged Timothy to, “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers” (2 Tim 2:14). In his second epistle, Peter reminded Christians to pursue godly qualities like virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Pet 1:12). Perhaps the greatest reminder God has instituted is the Lord’s Supper, a weekly reminder of Christ’s suffering and agony on the cross.
Why all the reminding? Why take the Lord’s Supper every single week? Why keep preaching first principles? Because we are no different from Old Testament Israel. We are forgetful people like they were. We get wrapped up in our lives, we have short attention spans, and our resolve often wanes. Every time we sin we demonstrate that we have forgotten about Jesus’ sacrifice to take us away from sin. God knows we forget. God knows we need reminders.