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Memorial

Memorial [N]

The concept of "remembering" recurs prominently in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. God remembers his covenant with his people, whereupon God's people are enjoined to remember him. Remembering, frequently placed in opposition to "forgetting, " focuses not only upon the past, but upon the present and future as well ( Eccl 11:8 ).

God Remembering. In the Old Testament God may remember to have mercy or to judge. God's covenant with his people lies behind each occasion of God's memory, whether for grace or retribution. God's remembrance often yields forgiveness ( Jer 31:34 ). Calling on God to remember his people (or an individual) is the essence of prayer. When God recalls iniquity, remembering is synonymous with pronouncing judgment ( Psalm 109:14 ; Hosea 7:2 ). Not remembering the memory of the wicked is one of God's ultimate expressions of judgment ( Psalm 34:16 ) in contrast to the memory of the upright, which is a blessing ( Prov 10:7 ).

Human Remembrance of God. The most prevalent use of remembrance in the Bible is the command to remember the Lord and his mighty deeds. No biblical book utilizes this motif more fully than Deuteronomy, where God exhorted the people to remember him, the exodus, and the wilderness experience in order to prepare themselves for the conquest of Canaan. Even the Shema ( 6:4-12 ) stresses remembering the Lord as the fundamental element in the Israelites' theological education.

Psalm 105 is entirely devoted to rehearsing God's wondrous deeds. Ezekiel provides another notable example, but he often uses memory to chastise Israel for her sins ( 16:60-63 ).

Perhaps the single most significant expression of remembering God rests with God's self-disclosure through his name ( Exod 3:14-15 ). Israel must remember their God as the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, " the "I am, " forever.

The "memorial" is equivalent to a "sign" in the Bible. Numerous items and institutions serve as a reminder of Yahweh. The rainbow, which portended God's promise, symbolized the Noahic covenant; phylacteries recalled the Law ( Exod 13:16 ); and the Sabbath commemorated God's rest from his creative activity ( Exod 20:8-11 ).

Finally, even the gospel represents the recollection of God's mightiest act of salvation. This memory is epitomized in the Lord's Supper ( 1 Cor 11:24-25 ) whose purpose is to lead believers to recall the atoning work of Christ.

George L. Klein

See also Lord's Supper, the

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible

Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Memorial'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology". . 1997.