Thursday, April 17, 2014

We Remember Because God First Remembered Us

 Exodus 28: 1-12

“Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron's garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

“And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. And the skillfully woven band on it shall be made like it and be of one piece with it, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance.

Isaiah 49: 15-16
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you. 

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.

We think of remembrance as our religious duty.  We take bread and wine in remembrance of Christ as he commanded the New Testament apostles.  We worship through spiritual hymns remembering "the deeds of the Lord " and all his "wonders of old" (Psalm 77), and as we keep his commandments, we "remember the Sabbath day, keeping it holy" when we feast on Word and Sacrament every Sunday in the divine service (Exodus 20).  But primarily remembrance is God's work, as by his righteousness and covenantal faithfulness he keeps his promises to us.  At key times during Israel's history, God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, hearing Israel groan under slavery in Egypt, when they suffered under various tyrants throughout the Book of Judges, and during Israel's exile in Babylon, each time delivering on his promises that he had made to his people to save them, years before in his prophetic Word.  

Likewise God remembers us through the new covenant in Jesus Christ.  Just as Aaron carried the 12 names of the tribes of Israel before the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, so Jesus took our names into the throne room of God, written in his Book of Life by our great High Priest.  Where he intercedes for us daily, bringing our prayers to remembrance before our heavenly Father as we pray under the covering of Jesus' name.  Jesus also brought us to remembrance before God on the cross.  Our names and more importantly our sins "engraved on the palms of his hands" nailed to the cross that interceded for us with the words "it is finished, your sins are forgiven", which God will never forget or forsake (as we so easily do), as he looks down on us from his "holy hill" and sees us signed,
sealed, and delivered through baptism with the righteousness of Christ.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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