“The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” (Psalms 34:16 ESV)
Leaving a legacy is a way that we try to express eternalness. We want to be remembered. We want our victories to be remembered and shared with others. We also want to have our loved ones remembered. Here in America, these two desires propel many to publish death notices. While not seen as often here, in West Africa I noticed many one-year-memorial announcements in newspapers and in flyers circulated around. All of these tributes attempt to validate a person’s life. They are paid advertising giving glowing reports of a person’s lifetime of accomplishments. They invite people to share in and celebrate those deceased loved ones’ well-lived lives. We only want to remember the beauty of our dearly departed ones.
But some people act in evil ways, do evil deeds. In 1998, in Ulan-Ude, Russia, I saw a statue of Stalin. It was said to be the last remaining tribute to him. On his death bed, Stalin was acclaimed by those around him. Some years later, a de-Stalinization occurred in Russia and his legacy erased. This erasure of history occurred in Iraq, too. I remember seeing video clips of the statue of Saddam Hussein pulled down after the liberation of Baghdad from his evil reign of terror. We don’t want to remember evil. We don’t want to remember those who commit evil deeds. Psalm 34:16 says the “LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the Earth.”
This forgetfulness can be applied to unpleasant experiences, too. As a child, with three brothers, we’d occasional speak of some rather unpleasant event at the dinner table. My mother would quickly say, “It turned out nice again!” to end the conversation.
Wiping out the memory of persons we consider evil seems scriptural, too. In today’s scripture, the LORD says He’s against those who do evil, and will make them forgotten. Yet at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, there is a plaque quoting Bal Shem Tov saying that which we forget, we are doomed to repeat.
Y’shuaJesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32 HCSB) Matthew Henry comments “Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, that she might remain a lasting monument of God’s displeasure against apostates . . .”
The writer of Hebrews used reminders of past difficult and unpleasant circumstances to encourage remaining confident in G-d. “Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.” (Hebrews 10:32 HCSB)
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert. Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:5-6 HCSB)
How do we make sense of all this forgetting and remembering? Here’s my take on it: We want to leave a legacy. G-d says if we do evil, our legacy is null and void. Our name, our achievements, will be forgotten. This may not occur until our eternal life with Y’shuaJesus begins. “In that day–the LORD’s declaration–you will call Me: My husband, and no longer call Me: My Baal. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names.” (Hosea 2:16-17 HCSB)
In the meantime, we remember the difficult events, situations, circumstances, that we might learn from them. We remember evil committed by people that we might discern the steps leading up to their turning point. Their lives show their failure, their evil, as warnings for us, that we should not repeat their evil acts, or might see the warning signs of new acts of evil, that we might escape.
Some lessons are simple, not so dramatic as Lot’s wife. G-d is concerned for our welfare, for our good (Jeremiah 29:11 HCSB). Occasionally He offers us a time of rest. Once, I turned down an opportunity of such rest, only later as I stood, freezing, awaiting a train to Paris did I understand what had been offered. I turned down a holiday on the warm coast of France, considering it too costly. I’d miscalculated the exchange rate from Francs to Dollars. I refused the gift of a holiday. I must remember this event, for it provides a lesson for the future. In this case, when the Lord provides rest, seize it!
Thank You, most Holy and Loving Father, for Your word, for Your Son, Y’shuaJesus, for Your Spirit. Empower us to live victorious lives worthy of Your calling, that Your acts in and through us should be remembered, that You be glorified. In the Name of Y’shuaJesus, AMEN.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .