Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reminders – 2 Peter 1:12-15

For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. (NKJV)

What is it about us that we need reminders even when we already know? Peter certainly knew that after he died people would need some reminders of what he and the other apostles had taught. Peter was moved by the Holy Spirit as he wrote this and it emphasizes what God has done throughout the Bible.

Ex 13:9-10 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. (NIV) One of the most notable reminders in the Old Testament is the Passover feast. The whole ceremony recounts how God was faithful to bring the Israelite out of Egypt. It recounts the bitterness of their slavery and the process God used to wear down the Egyptians. The culmination of the feast reminds the Israelite that the blood of an innocent lamb was required to protect them from the same fate the Egyptians received – death of the firstborn in each household.

That reminder also foreshadows God’s liberating all mankind from slavery to sin. Just as Israel was in bondage to Egypt, ever person on the earth is in bondage to sin. Sin results in a bitter life. One that never satisfies but always requires more and more to get the same thrills. Eph 4:19 They don't care anymore about right and wrong and have given themselves over to impure ways. They stop at nothing, being driven by their evil minds and reckless lusts. (TLB) Of course, the end result is spiritual and physical death.

The lesson of the Passover is that God is at work in all sorts of ways to get our attention and bring us to a point where we will listen to Him. Israel had to endure many of the plagues that God brought upon Egypt. In addition, Israel was treated harshly and many times blamed Moses for increasing their bitter bondage. In the same way, many people blame the messenger who carries the Gospel for their problems. They don’t like to hear that their own sinful behavior has caused most of the difficulties in their lives.

The climax of the Passover is when the lamb must be sacrificed. Its blood is spread on the lintel (top beam over the door) and doorpost of the house. The lamb is cooked and eaten, but they have to be careful not to break any of its bones. This prophesies the death of the Lamb of God, Jesus. Jesus shed His blood on a cross – a beam and supporting post. None of His bones were broken. When the destroying angel saw the blood of the lamb on the doors of Israel, he passed over them. When God judges the world and sees the blood of Jesus applied to the lives of His people, He will pass over our sins and we will not have to pay the penalty for them. God will see that Jesus has already done that.

Jesus proclaimed at the Last Supper that this memorial would be carried on in a new way. Luke 22:19-20 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (NIV) Jesus indentified His body and His blood with the body and blood of the Passover lamb. Israel was given the Passover to remember once a year, but we have communion as a memorial that we can use to remember Jesus’ sacrifice very day. In a spiritual sense, we are eating the Lamb of God when we eat the bread of communion. I am remembering and declaring that His body was broken for me. His blood was shed for my sins. This is up close and personal or it is only a ritual and meaningless.

God knows that we need reminders. Ps 103:14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (NIV) Even as Christians, we can let become so accustomed to rituals or reading or praying that they become meaningless. But God wants us to be reminded, reminded that we were once on the path of destruction and that He saved us. He wants us to recall His great worth and our need for Him every day. Ps 145:1-2 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. (NIV) If we were able to do as David, by praising God every day, we would be exercising our reminders. We need to take a few minutes of every day to tell God how great He is and thank Him for saving us, not only to worship Him, but also to remind ourselves.

There is another reason that Peter was reminding us. It is because it is the only way to ensure that Christianity lives on. Oh, yes, Jesus and the Holy Spirit would make sure it does, but they work through us to accomplish that. Even in the Old Testament, this was the way it had to be. Ps 78:2-4 I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old — what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. (NIV) We continually need to remind ourselves of what God has done for us so that we can tell the next generation. This is the message that Peter is echoing. It has come down from God through the ages. Remind each other how great God is. Remind each other that Jesus has died for us. Remind each other where we would be if it were not for Jesus.

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