Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites partook in a variety of God-appointed feasts and celebrations. It’s easy to get so lost in the details of the celebrations that we lose sight of their purpose – remembrance. According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the feasts were instituted as “regular religious celebrations remembering God’s great acts of salvation in the history of His people” (p. 567). The Jewish calendar was marked by these regular reminders to remember.
Remembering is an essential part of the Christian life, but all of us are susceptible to “spiritual amnesia” – the tendency to forget who God is and what He has done. How many times have we experienced God’s provision only to worry ourselves sick during the next time of need? How many times have we experienced God growing us in an area of weakness only to doubt whether He is willing and able to change us in another area?
Cultivating a good spiritual memory is one of the surest ways to fuel and sustain our faith. How can we trust God will be faithful today? By remembering the ways He was faithful yesterday, and by reading His Word to find countless examples of His faithfulness in the past.
The Old Testament judge Samuel was serious about remembering. On one occasion after the Lord led the Israelites to victory in battle over the Philistines, Samuel set up a monument which he called “Ebenezer” or “stone of help”, and he said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). Recalling this historical event, an eighteenth century hymnist penned the words, “Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’ve come.”
As we near the end of 2014 and look with anticipation to 2015, many of us are making goals and dreaming about the future. Planning ahead is a great practice, but it’s even more effective in light of what we’ve learned and experienced in the past. What has God done in your life in 2014? How has He provided for you? How has He proven Himself faithful to you? Remembering the words and works of God will propel you into a faith-filled new year. So before you pick up a pen to list goals, first try raising an Ebenezer of your own.