Remember Me? (Isaiah 49:8-16a)

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So there it is again. Mocking me. Making fun of me. Teasing me with its promise that just never seems to come true. Right under the log in boxes with their places for user names and passwords, is that little check box “Remember Me.” Why yes please! That would be wonderful. How thoughtful of you. But it’s all a lie isn’t it? Because each time I come back to the site I need to log in again. It hasn’t remembered me at all. So I check the box again, hoping that maybe this time I will be remembered. But I’m not.

I know it’s not me, I’ve checked all my settings. I should be memorable – but I’m not. It’s one thing to be forgotten by people, but by your own computer !?! We all know what it is like to not be remembered. That awkward and uncomfortable exchange when someone you know can’t seem to place you. There is no better way of instantly deflating a person’s overgrown ego, than to hear someone say: “And you are …?”

The fear of being forgotten starts so many of our conversations. “Remember me? Last summer we had iced tea on so-and-so’s porch.” The fear of being forgotten leads many a youth to daring and foolhardy actions. “I’ll show them! They’ll remember the day they called me a chicken!” The fear of being forgotten inspires many a large work of philanthropy at the end of one’s life. But no matter how great or grand the gestures, no matter how foolish or foolhardy the actions, no matter how many times you type in the passwords and check the boxes, you will be forgotten. Time has a way of wiping clean the memories of even the best of us.

Is it any wonder that people are afraid that God has forgotten them? The Israelites in Isaiah’s day were afraid of it. 14But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” All the circumstances they were facing seemed to say so. Their own guilty consciences said so. God had to have forgotten them! Isaiah had painted the picture in bold strokes impossible to ignore. The Babylonians were coming with devastation, ruin, and wreckage quick behind them. Finally after all those years spent ignoring or forgetting God He was about to return the favour. The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.

And you know just how they feel, don’t you? You know what it is like to have the nagging doubt in your heart … that God has forgotten you. How long do I need to be away before He asks “And you are …?” How much time apart is too much? How many sick-bed prayers begin “Remember me, God? We used to hang out together in such-and-such church all those years ago.” How many misinformed souls go to daring and foolhardy lengths to “buy” God’s remembrance? How many death-bed occupants are moved to great and grand religious gestures in the hopes of being remembered before it is too late?

Fear not. We may forget. God does not! We may be forgotten by others … but never by God. Our God remembers. He remembers our sins and our failures, our weakness and our doubts. He remembers … and that is why He sent His Son. Before the people of God can cry out in fear of being forgotten God is already speaking to His servant Christ, on their behalf. Before the Israelites know how bad things truly are He has remembered their need and He is already working to provide a solution.

8I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, 9saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; 10they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them …13Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! for the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.

Luther described the work of this promised Messiah this way in his commentary:

The bound and imprisoned are weak in the law of Moses, freedom is offered to all of these captives through the Word. What does it say? All are saved by free grace without merits. He helps not only the bound but also the ignorant, he enlightens the blind, he teaches us the way of peace. The Gospel will go out and come in, that is, wherever it is, there will be pasture. If we preserve it, the Word will make us pure and will feed us and constantly expose and destroy errors, setting the captives free and giving light to the blind. You now have a different shepherd, one who is not a tyrant, but one who brings peace, who has pity, who enlightens, and who forgives sins. Here you see the state of the church, how it will be ruled by the Word of the Gospel. Thus also the Lord Himself is our Shepherd, who leads us. This Shepherd comes to the aid of this church. He provides for them this time of favor. Preach it to the fainthearted, the captives, to those who hunger and thirst, and to those who are terrified by the heat. A Christian experiences such emotions daily, so that beyond gross sins he also feels the great heaps of sins, blasphemy of God, wrath of God, and impatience, as we observe in the saints. Such people it will benefit that we teach them these things. Know, then, that a Christian is always struck by such feelings. Always, therefore, he will hunger and thirst for His Word. He cannot tire of it.1

14But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” 15“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands

God never forgets. His compassion for you is greater than even the most devoted of mother’s for her precious child. By hardship, suffering, the brokenness of soul and spirit even some of these may forget – but God will not. He cannot. God has seen to it that such a thing could never happen – He has carved you in the very palm of His hand. You are there every time our Lord Jesus looks at his own hand … right there in that nail-shaped scar that bears your name! Remember me? He certainly does! He always will!

AMEN.

1 Luther, M. (1999, c1972). Vol. 17: Luther’s works, vol. 17 : Lectures on Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (17:177). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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About kenmaher

When I'm not working I enjoy Astronomy, Camping, Comic Books, Epic Fantasy Novels, Games (both playing and designing), Hiking, Juggling, Sci-fi, and building strange things out of pvc pipe. I also enjoy being an honorary pre-schooler with my four great children ... much to their mother's dismay.
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