God calls on us to remember. As the psalmist has said,
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Thy work,
And muse on Thy deeds.
Thy way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
Thou art the God who workest wonders;
Thou hast made known Thy strength among the peoples.
Thou hast by Jacob and Joseph.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
Remember His wonders which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth.
When Moses stood before the Israelites at the end of his long life, he did not exhort them with polemics or moralisms. He reminded them of the works of God in history. He reminded them of their duty to remember (Deut. 32:1-43).
When David stood before his family and friends following a great deliverance from his enemies, he did not stir them with sentiment or nostalgia. He reminded them of the works of God in history in a psalm of praise. He reminded them of their duty to remember (2 Sam. 22:1-51).
When Solomon stood before his subjects at the dedication of the newly constructed temple, he did not challenge them with logic or rhetoric. He simply reminded them of the works of God in history in a hymn of wisdom. He reminded them of their duty to remember (1 Kings 8:15-61).
When Nehemiah stood before the families of Jerusalem at the consecration of the rebuilt city walls, he did not bombard them with theology or theatrics. He reminded them of the works of God in history in a song of the covenant. He reminded them of their duty to remember (Neh. 9:9-38).
When Stephen stood before an accusing and enraged Sanhedrin, he did not confront them with apology or condemnation. He reminded them of the works of God in history in a litany of faith. He reminded them of their duty to remember (Acts 7:2-53).
Remembrance and forgetfulness are the measuring rods of faithfulness throughout the entire canon of Scripture. A family that passes its legacy on to its children will bear great fruit (Deut. 8:2-10). A family that fails to take its heritage seriously will remain barren (Deut. 8:11-14). A people that remembers the mighty deeds of the Lord will be blessed (Deut. 8:18). A people that forgets is doomed to frustration and failure (Deut. 8:19-20). In fact, the whole direction of a culture depends on the gracious appointments of memory:
"Will Thy wonders be made known in the darkness? And Thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" (Ps. 88:12)
That is why the Bible makes it plain that there are only two kinds of people in the world: effectual doers and forgetful hearers (James 1:25). And that is why the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers is primarily to bring to our remembrance the word of truth (John 14:26).
Philip Schaff, the prolific church historian during the previous generation, argued stridently that we must be eternally vigilant in the task of handing on our great legacy - to remember and then to inculcate that remembrance in the hearts and minds of our children:
"How shall we labor with any effect to build up the church, if we have no thorough knowledge of its history, or fail to apprehend it from the proper point of observation? History is, and must ever continue to be, next to God's Word, the richest foundation of wisdom, and the surest guide to all successful practical activity."
So, remember our duty to remember.