Why do we have Memorial Day? Fourth of July? Columbus Day, President’s Day, etc.? Why do we humans mark days, times and seasons?
I believe it’s because humans have short memories. We don’t need to live in the past, but we do need to remember events. Our history is how we learn. You know the saying, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” I believe that to be true.
In the Old Testament, as God was forming His nation of God-minded people, He instructed them to make memorials. These were places where certain events in the life of the nation happened. This marking or remembrance of events would cause them to remember what happened and to instruct their children, so that the children would know the history of their people. The story of the Israelites leaving Egypt is recounted every year at Passover. In Exodus 12:14, Moses instructed the people to build an altar of stones at Mount Sinai to commemorate their covenant with God. In Joshua 4, they were instructed to pick up stones as they crossed the Jordan going into the promised land so they could build a memorial to that event. They were instructed to never forget the Lord Who had delivered them.
The history of a people gives identity and direction. It’s a bit like families. The mother and dad and the whole family history identifies where you come from, and something about who you are. Children should never to be constrained by that, whether for good or bad, but it’s a history that is important. It is identity.
In the Christian life today, our marking of memorials is our personal stories of our encounters with God, where we see Him working on our behalf. These stories are important. When hard times come, difficult places, we can look back and remember….our God has always been with us, even when we forget, but the stories of our encounters with Him and His care, where He rescued us or came through for us in dire situations, remind us and give us hope and faith. I used to sit and watch the 700 Club and the stories of people who had been healed made me cry as my heart was touched by the demonstration of God’s love for people. It is truly amazing! Those stories are also for those who may not be believers yet as it gives them hope too. That’s why we are to always be ready to give a reason to others for the hope that is in us, as 1Peter 3:15 tells us. Our stories give other people hope too. What God has done for us, He will do for others.
At Christmas, we mark the birth of Jesus. Perhaps it’s not really His birthday, but we mark it. I’m not sure it really matters that it may not be the right date. We mark it every year. We set aside time, a season, to celebrate the fact that God sent His Son as a baby to come and live on the earth…all for US! That is indeed something to celebrate!
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. ~~ Galatians 4:4-5
God Himself came to live under the law of Moses, those written rules and requirements which He had given to men. By this time, men were well aware they could not meet the law’s requirements. They needed a Savior, someone who could keep the law FOR them, and that is what Jesus did. God is no longer imputing man’s sins against them. All of His wrath against sin was satisfied in the sacrifice and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:19 “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them,…” We celebrate that sacrifice at the season of Easter. And that, my friends, is very good news!