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But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark…[1]  This has always struck me as an incredible verse, as if, in the midst of the destruction of the Earth through the flood of Genesis 7, God had forgotten Noah and his family, the only humans left alive.  Of course, God did not forget about Noah, but rather, when you come to know God, you would realise what He remembered and reminded Himself of are the plans He had for Noah before even the Earth was founded.

This is where we differ from God in our remembering.  We forget why we started our journey and we then adjust our plans and expectations according to the events of the journey until our goal is completely different from that which we started with.  Just like Israel, they forgot that they were the ones who cried out to God for deliverance from their slavery, and that the food they longed for in Egypt was ‘free’ because they were slaves.  We forget why we started the journey, and in the midst of the circumstances of our journey, we wish we hadn’t started and we compromise and change our direction.

Israel did just that again and again, and they tested God.  As early as Marah, they had forgotten how they came to be in the desert in the first place.  In Numbers 11, they began to crave for other food.  The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.  But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”[2]  And when they came to Canaan they heard the report of the spies, but believed the ten and wanted to go back to the desert.  They forgot that there was nothing in the desert.  They forgot about the bitter waters and they forgot about the slavery, all because what seemed to lie ahead of them appeared so difficult.

Likewise, our forefathers forgot the futility and slavery of the Law by which they hoped to attain righteousness, forgetting that all the sacrifices and ritualistic observance of the traditions never caused a single miracle in their lives, nor gave them a purpose or the joy and freedom that Jesus’ commands and teachings gave them.  And they were quick to re-embrace the watered down teachings of the Law that men like James the Younger and his disciples reintroduced, which led even apostles like Peter and Barnabas into hypocrisy.  They forgot the wrong things and remembered the wrong things.  Men like James the Younger, who would never have been of any importance under the old system – a son of a woman who was of doubtful reputation, having fallen pregnant before she was married, now by the grace and mercy of God had received servanthood and fellowship as an elder in the new system of life in Christ – now sought to pamper to the old system that had rejected him in the first place.  Then they [James, and all the elders[3]] said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.[4]

It is as if James was seduced by this sudden popularity that he and the elders now enjoyed with the Jews that they were afraid to offend them.  And even Paul was led astray, although earlier Paul had opposed Peter to his face in Galatia about catering to the zealousness that the Jewish believers still had for the Law.  They forgot what they should have remembered, that under the Law they were rejects… and remembered what they should have forgotten… the artificial and superficial veneer of godliness and holiness afforded to them by ritualistic religion.

They faced their trials of remembrance and forgetfulness, and we will face our trials of remembrance and forgetfulness.  And if we are not careful, we can become bitter and hypocritical before God and against God, just as the Israelites did and James and the elders did.

Remember the slavery from which you were set free, the slavery of sin that led to death and the hopelessness of palliative religion, which offers powerless words of comfort that fade away like the dew of the morning.  Words that made you feel good, but did not make you good, just like the free fish and food of Egypt that kept them alive for slavery, free food that offered no freedom.  Likewise, we all came from a land of words that made us feel good, but never made us good.  Whereas the manna from Heaven that looked like wafers and tasted like coriander may not have tasted good, but it was free food that gave them true freedom.  Likewise, the words of Jesus may not make you feel good about yourself, but they are words that make you good, such as:  Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish.  Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”[5] 

One of the first words of Jesus, when He began preaching was: “Repent…”  By that first word, He declared all to be sinners and none to be righteous, a truth many will find to be a stumbling block, especially those who are rich and confident of their own self-righteousness like the young man of Luke 18:18 who was rich and confident of his righteousness because he had kept the commandments.  To him, to sell all he had and give it to the poor and then to follow Jesus was a stumbling block, for it meant that his efforts to keep the commandments availed to nothing and his wealth was not a sign of his state of blessedness by God.  As such, neither is a man’s poverty and wretchedness a sign of condemnation from the Lord.  Rather, it is the willingness to repent and to ask for forgiveness that is the sure sign.

Had Israel cried out at Marah in repentance for the bitter waters, because they no longer believed in God’s servant Moses at the first sign of hardship in Exodus 5:21 when Pharaoh made them gather their own straw for the same quota of bricks, the waters would have become sweet without the wood.  Had Adam repented first, he would be spared the curse.  He would still die, but he might have died in the Garden instead of outside of the Garden.

Where did the bitter waters of Marah come from?  And why did it take a piece of wood to make them sweet?  And then at Marah, it is written:  There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there He tested them.  He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”[6] 

Does it not remind you of another time and another place, where God made a decree and a Law for them also, and gave them a new revelation they had not known before when He said, “This is My Son, whom I love: with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!”[7]  And Jesus was transfigured before them.

To us, each of those places are places of new revelations, but are they places of new revelations or are they places of remembrance for God?  Are they occasions that God uses to remind Himself, and to remember why He was also there with the Israelites in the desert and on the mountain with Moses, Elijah and the three disciples?

As surely as we remember like the Israelites and the elders remembered, what we had in slavery that seemed good but never made us good, so God also remembers, not as we would remember, but God remembers and remembers it His way.  And if you will learn to remember as God remembers, you will grow in your eternal life and truly come to know Him more.

But God remembered Noah…  What was it that God remembered Noah for?  …Was it to dry up the ground?  Or in the midst of the chaos and destruction when His beloved Earth was under water and drowned, God remembered… God remembered why Noah was there, why the Earth was under water and above all else, God always remembers this… that His Son, Jesus, is the Lamb crucified before… yes before… the foundation of the Earth.  God remembers why He started His journey with us and the price it costs, for He paid the price before Their journey began.  The price of having to crucify Jesus did not come after He said, “Let there be light,”[8] but before He said, “Let there be light,” Christ was already crucified.  So, in truth, if the Lamb was crucified before the foundation of the world, then the blood of the new Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is not new to God, but new to us.  The blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins was already there before the foundation of the Earth.

Repentance does not cause God to create forgiveness.  Repentance merely reminds God that He had already forgiven sin before sin even came into existence.  That in fact, sin was part of the plan.  It was as if God foreknew men would sin, and as such He paid the price beforehand so that out of those who sinned and repented, God would receive something for which He brought creation into existence… to bring into existence men, male and female in His image, who would not just obey Him, but love Him.

God does not remember the days before He created with longing as if they were better days, for if they were, He would not have started such a course of action so desperate in its execution that He prepaid the price before it began so as not to allow Himself to go back or even regret that He had made man, even though: The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the Earth, and His heart was filled with pain.  So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created from the face of the Earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”[9]

But God remembered Noah…  God remembers the price He prepaid for the salvation of creation—the price of Him who is perfect being brought into even greater perfection and moved on… and He sent a wind over the Earth, and the waters receded.[10]  It is as if God’s grief burst forth and the world was drowned in His tears and sorrow, but through Noah, a new beginning had come, and as it was a wind that blew and caused the waters to recede, so the Spirit of God moves and the sorrow of God recedes.

It is little wonder that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, for when God gave us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter; He gave us His Comforter, He who brings comfort to the Father and the Son.  And recognising that is the hallmark of your maturity in growth as one who has shared and partaken in the Holy Spirit.

God remembers as the Psalmist said, He remembers His covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac.[11]  If God remembers these temporal covenants to men who are flesh, forever, then how much more He remembers the Covenant He has with His Lamb, Jesus Christ His Son, forever, that through the blood of Jesus, sins, all sins against the Father and Son are forgiven, forever.

For He remembers these words that He gave His Son:  “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”[12]  That somehow, in the misery that sin would cause His heart, it is the very instrument by which love for Him would come.  That somehow, out of those who have many sins, a great love for God can come that through repentance, forgiveness can flow.  Out of that forgiveness, not only does the sinner experience the love, but God also receives the love, a greater love than from one who has been forgiven little.  Those who have been forgiven much therefore love much as well, so that from the greatest of sinners, God would receive the greatest love. 

As such, this is a harder truth, which is unpalatable for the self-righteous who are confident of their own holiness, because they have obeyed the Law flawlessly.  There is no sin against God or the Son of Man that is unforgivable, for they have all been forgiven already, for the Lamb of God was crucified before the foundation of the Earth, and God remembers why He started this journey.  For out of the worst of sinners, He will receive those who love Him the most with all their hearts, soul, might and mind.

And just as the woman loved much, so you who love God much, He will allow no sin in your life to go unrepentant and therefore there will be no sin in your life that He will not convict you to repentance in order that you do not miss out on the love that awaits you.  For the more you have been forgiven, the more you will love.  As such, God will not permit you to not forgive your enemies, nor will He permit you not to forgive your mothers and sisters, nor will He permit you not to forgive yourself, for through repentance of all your sins, which are abundant and plentiful, will you experience the abundance and fulfilment that was prepared for all sinners before the foundation of the Earth.  And God Himself will receive the fulfilment that He prepaid for with the sacrifice of the Lamb.  So when God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”[13]  …He is not speaking of plans that come as an afterthought, but plans He has already made before creation came, before sin came, before death came.  Indeed, even before death came, the Lamb of God was slain.  No wonder death has no hold over Him, but rather, He has always held the key of Death.

As such, this time of distress is not an afterthought of God.  It is not coming because the church failed for 2000 years to declare the word of Truth with the power of the Spirit of Truth, but it is now here because it has always been here in the plans of God.  So, in the distress, do not remember as men would remember, but remember as God remembers.

Remember, we are here because we cried out for salvation in the wretchedness of our sins and God revealed Jesus to us, and refuse the temptation to remember the food of Egypt that fed you and filled your stomachs only to kill you.  Remember that you are not here so that you may feel good, but to know Good, and God alone is Good.

Remember you are not here to be made king, but to prepare for the arrival of the King.  In John 6, after the people were fed and they felt good because they were now healed and fed, it is written:  After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”  Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him King by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.[14]  Likewise, in the days of distress to come, your ability to do what Jesus has been doing and to even do the greater things will cause people to proclaim you as the prophet who is to come.  You may be tempted to forget why you came to be here at this time.  Do not forget, for even Jesus remembered the time was not yet right and He withdrew.

Remember, the days of distress that are coming are the distress that this world has stored up for itself and you are like the wood that makes it sweet.  But Israel had to move onto Canaan…  So likewise, don’t stop just because you feel good after the bitterness has turned sweet, but know that the best is yet ahead.  When the disasters come, do not think those people are worse sinners than you, for you who love much have been forgiven much more. 

In truth, we who live and believe and live are the worst of sinners.  If you remember nothing, remember this one thing: “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”[15]  As Mordecai said to Esther, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.”[16]

Likewise, do not think that you who have eaten of the hidden manna will escape if you keep silent.  And also, do not think there is any Egypt to go back to, for even if you wanted to return, the devastation of this Earth will mean there is nothing to return to.  As God brings us to the bitter waters of Marah, now learn this: it is the bitterness of the sins of the Amorites and the Egyptians, and of the world that have grieved God’s heart, that He wanted to share with them, that they may know the bitterness of God’s heart, which has been made sweet by the sacrifice of Jesus.

The willingness of the Lamb to be sacrificed before the foundation of the world is what God always remembers whenever God remembers…  So when you and I remember, let us repent of our remembrance, and remember as God remembers, for even in our remembrance, we have sinned against God.

Therefore remember this elect, all sins against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the sin against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.  Do not blaspheme Him and speak out against Him, for you are being brought to the place where you know Him and the magnitude of His sacrifice, a sacrifice that was not agreed upon before the foundation of the world, but a sacrifice that was a new thing, that the Holy Spirit who was only ever shared or partaken of by the Holy Father and the Holy Son would be poured on all flesh.  Regarding the last days, God said, “And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions… and everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”[17]

You are called to be witnesses of the resurrection of the Holiness of the Holy One, as those who were in the beginning were called to be witnesses.  So, when you come to bitter waters, remember as God remembers.  In the days of distress that are now here and are still to come, remember, God remembered Noah and all the wild animals.


 

[1] Genesis 8:1

[2] Numbers 11:4-6

[3] Acts 21:18

[4] Acts 21:20

[5] Luke 13:1-5

[6] Exodus 15:25-26

[7] Matthew 17:5

[8] Genesis 1:3

[9] Genesis 6:6-7

[10] Genesis 8:1

[11] Psalm 105:8-9

[12] Luke 7:47

[13] Jeremiah 29:11-12

[14] John 6:14-15

[15] Luke 13:3,5

[16] Esther 4:13-14

[17] Joel 2:28,32

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