“Play it again, Sam” may be the most misquoted phrase from a classic movie. I’ve assumed that Humphey Bogart spoke those words in the movie, Casablanca. Instead, it was Isla, (played by Ingrid Bergman) who said, “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.” When Sam resisted, Isla hummed the tune and said, “Play it once for old times’ sake.”
My blogsite, Standing on The Promise’ is not a critique of movies, so what’s my point? As time passes, we sometimes recreate memories. Our childhood house once seemed much larger. However, more often we tend to forget significant things, and that is my point.
While reading about the ten plagues in Exodus, I have been impressed with how often phrases like “That you my know” or “That you may remember” or “Lest you forget” appear. Those phrases are repeated in Deuteronomy and throughout the Bible.
I share a few examples (emphasis mine):
Then Lord told Moses, to “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 10:1,2)
God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.’” (Exodus 9:13, 14)
Moses warned Pharoah, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.” (Exodus 9:29)
“But on that day, I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.” (Exodus 8:22)
God warned Israel against becoming overconfident when they finally enjoyed abundance in The Promised Land: “Take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
However, Israel did forget. They failed to pass on the story of God’s deliverance from slavery and of His provision in the wilderness.Here’s the way it’s described in Judges: “the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. … And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.”
Pause to contemplate those tragic words, “They did not know the Lord or the work that he had done.”
Parents had failed to pass the stories on to the next generation, and the consequence was monumental. Grandchildren did not know or love God. He had become irrelevant. Without God, “every person did what was right in their own mind.” That’s another way of saying “Do your own thing. Create your own truth.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
The book of The Judges contains some of the most sordid stories in the Bible. Crime and injustice prevailed. Immorality, linked to idolatry, ripped the fabric of their culture apart. Just like our culture pursues the idol of personal freedom. We live with lawlessness. Recently, I was reminded that the problem is not the degree of sin but the absence of God, because if there is no God, or He is just a museum relic from the past, we are free to do whatever we please.
Life is a relay race and each generation must pass the baton to the next. Dropping the baton of truth has serious consequences. Sharing our stories of God’s provision and protection is essential. If we don’t have a “God-story” to tell—only hand me downs—I wonder if we really know God? Or, perhaps, we just haven’t stopped to remember all the things He has done.
When Mary and I reflect on 57 plus years together, we are amazed at all that God has done. We recognize His hands have led, provided and protected over and over again. We have a story—a God-story—to share with our sons and our grandchildren.
After retirement from full-time ministry, I have sometimes wondered where to focus my energy. I want to finish well. Whether I continue to post blogs may not matter. Where I serve in our local church may be insignificant. If I ever write another book is irrelevant.
We have committed ourselves to write down our story about God’s leading in our lives. It was Kordell, our youngest grandson, who challenged me to write our story last year.
Our story will not be finished as long as we are still living. Most of our story resembles an old song like “As Time Goes By.” We sing about what God HAS done. That’s what praise is: singing to God and telling others about His faithfulness. The old songs are good. But with every remaining breath, I want to sing new songs as well.
Here are a few requests in the Bible to compose and sing new songs:
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly! (Psalm 149:1)
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts (Psalm 33:3)
Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 95:1-3)
I love Psalm 40 because it tells how David “waited patiently for the Lord” and how God answered his prayer by lifting him up out of a miry bog. He then credits God with putting a new song in his mouth.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)
My previous post about Joseph enduring injustice for at least twenty years before he discovered God’s greater plan was to use him to preserve Israel and the promised seed. I assume Joseph asked God “Why?” or, “How much longer?” The Bible doesn’t say, But I don’t need to assume Joseph discovered God’s better plan for his life. Whether or not Joseph ever lamented about his situation while in prison is uncertain, but one thingwe know, God put a new song in his heart! A song of praise and a spirit of grace toward his evil brothers.
So, shall we sing Old Songs or New Songs?
Doesn’t matter. Sing both.
Just sing them over again and over again. And again! And again.
Lest the next generation fails to know God and the things He has done.
Lest we forget as time goes by.