“Remember” and “do not forget” are often-repeated statements in Deuteronomy and important to its readers.
Deut 15:15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you;
The principle of “love your neighbor as yourself” is the context. More importantly, the principle of “do to others what God has done for you” is important in Deut 15. Their past as slaves is to serve as a reminder of how undeserved they were, and still are, of God’s redeeming power shown to them in amazing ways. And this remembrance had to spur on their relationship of love with God and their demonstration of love to their fellow mankind.
Deut 32:7 Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.
The act of remembering God’s international power should cause them to tremble at His power and rest obediently and peacefully in the land allotted to them by promise (v. 9)
Deut 4:9 Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children
The lack of keeping one’s soul diligently in one generation would have an adverse effect on all the following generations until someone picks up the law of the LORD again and reminds the next generation of the works of the LORD that their fathers and seen and experienced.
Deut 8:11 Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,
Forgetfulness results in disobedience whereas remembrance results in obedience. The commandments that Moses was commanding the nation today was not only of importance today. What was commanded today had to have implications much longer after this day.
Deut 9:7 Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.
By not forgetting their rebellious past, but remembering it, the people would maintain a proper perspective of their blessings. Then their blessings will not be a temptation to forsake the LORD and trust in themselves or the gods of the nations, but rather a reminder of the goodness they have received from the LORD their God while they were unfaithful. The result would then be a relationship with the LORD characterized by love and loyalty.
What is the overall importance of remember and do not forget in the book of Deuteronomy?
First, each Israelite must remember the works of the LORD in order to teach it to the next generation. Forgetting would be detrimental to their generation, but also to the next.
Second, remembering God’s commandments and works is a way in which they would constantly be meditating on God and filling their mind with truth. This is part and parcel of living in a love-relationship with the LORD.
Third, the emphasis of remember and do not forget is a reminder to the nation that their relationship with the LORD is not defined by a distant list of do’s and don’ts, but rather, the relationship that they have with the LORD is personal and based on true stories that they and their fathers had experienced first-hand.
Fourth, remembering and not forgetting is the key by which the nation will remain faithful to the LORD throughout all generations. It is the one commandment that if obeyed carefully will ensure that the other commandments are known, understood and kept faithfully.
The same applies to us as believers today. May we never forget our unworthiness and God’s worthiness!
Although my memory’s fading,
I remember two things very clearly:
I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour